Consumers sue McAfee over pop-ups

Security firm accused of duping customers into subscribing to third-party services

Two California women have sued security company McAfee, accusing it of duping customers into subscribing to third-party services and passing consumers' credit or debit card information to the service supplier without their permission.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Melissa Ferrington and Cheryl Schmidt, asked a San Francisco federal court to grant the case class-action status, and demanded that McAfee be barred from continuing the practice. The pair also asked for compensatory and punitive damages, which would be decided at trial.

When customers purchase McAfee security software online, but before the download beings, a pop-up with a large "Try It Now" button appears.

"The pop-up, mimicking the look of the other pages on the McAfee site, thanks the customer for purchasing McAfee software, and prompts McAfee's customers to click a red button to 'Try it Now,'" the lawsuit alleged. "The pop-up contains no obvious visual cues or conspicuous text indicating that it is an advertisement for another product, or that clicking on 'Try it Now' will lead not to the delivery of the McAfee product but rather to the purchase of a completely different product. Instead, all the visual cues suggest that 'Try It Now' is a necessary step in downloading the McAfee software."

By clicking on the pop-up, users agree to a $4.95 per month fee charged by Arpu, a company that creates Web ads "enabling an advertised product or service to be obtained with a single click," according to the Washington D.C. firm's Web site .

Arpu's site lists McAfee as one of its partners. "Whenever a McAfee customer completes a purchase on McAfee.com, an ad will appear for a related product or service. Interested customers can choose to subscribe to the product or service using the billing method just entered in their recent McAfee.com purchase," reads Arpu's site . "This convenience to the customer streamlines the purchase flow and increases the overall conversion rate."

Ferrington and Schmidt said that they were billed $4.95 per month for a service described on their credit card statements as "PERFECTSPD," a reference to the PerfectDisk Live online disk defragmentation service sold by Raxco Software.

"A single click on the deceptive pop-up causes the purchase of an unwanted product from Arpu, a sale made without the knowledge or authorization of customers, using credit/debit card billing information that they have entrusted solely to McAfee," said the women's lawsuit.

Schmidt alleged that when she called McAfee to complain, she was told "they could not do anything about the charge," the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit claimed that McAfee violated several state and federal business practice and consumer protection laws.

McAfee did not respond to a request for comment.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags mcafeesecurity

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?