/ Technology

Ever been surprised by antivirus renewal costs?

Antivirus written on keyboard keys

One of the biggest gripes we hear about is the cost of renewing anti-virus software. Well, a new site claims to save us £1,200 by comparing renewal prices. Have you been caught off-guard by antivirus renewals?

Many people don’t realise that the initial cost of the anti-virus/internet security software you buy (£30 RRP for Norton Internet Security 2011) is just the start.

After the first year, you’ll also have to pay an annual subscription fee (roughly £30 for Norton) to receive software updates, without which your anti-virus software simply won’t work very well. Is this a small price to pay for peace of mind?

New anti-virus price comparison site Renewalbuddy.com claims ‘consumers are being misled by anti-virus software vendors when it comes to the cost of renewing their solutions’. It reckons that, just by shopping around, you could save a whopping £1,240 over a lifetime.

Anti-virus comparison tool is good news

A tool like this one is, in many ways, long overdue. The fact is, the security software industry does confuse customers with its prices and sales model. We’ve already highlighted the unfairness that any existing time left on an old software subscription isn’t transferred when you upgrade. On that Conversation PJ told us that:

‘I’ve been using Norton Internet Security for years and have learnt the hard way months can be lost from a subscription if you’re not careful about how you renew it. My advice is to go to Amazon or whoever is offering the best deal and buy the latest version of the product just before the old one is due to expire.’

Also, when you’re asked to renew or upgrade your software, the vendor (such as Symantec) will quote its RRP, skipping over any potential special offers that might be available – Amazon.co.uk is offering £20 off Norton Anti-virus 2011 today, for example.

In principle, Renewalbuddy.com is a great idea, as it provides a one-stop shop to let people shop around for the best available deal. It claims it will show you the cheapest renewal price on your existing software and also show you cheaper alternatives.

Of course, there’s more to security software than price alone. You’ve got to think about quality as well – only two packages were up to receiving one of our Best Buy awards.

Why pay anything at all?

That said, there’s no need to pay anything at all for decent security software. There are a number of free packages out there that provide more than adequate protection, notably Microsoft Security Essentials.

With these, there’s no up-front fee and no ongoing or unfair auto-renewal subscription costs. You don’t need a price comparison site to tell you that that’s a good deal!

50Hertz says:
25 July 2015

i use Microsoft security essentials, on this occasion however it can’t detect or remove this annoying advert “media view” or “media viewer” came along with “OffersWizard.exe” it’s not a clue about it.
And just got a Jump to a page that verbally tells me to ring an American number with a credit card to remove an infection wet myself laughing at that.
Only solution wipe the drive and reinstall from a backup.

Also sick of those annoying adverts I go to NAI and http://www.Youronlinechoices.eu
To change the cookie but two seconds later they are back bandwidth on the internet must be 70% adverts now no wonder we pay so much.

I have had Norton 360 for some years now and have always allowed an automatic renewal by my credit card. This year the renewal cost was £84 and yet the same virus guard can be bought for around £40. I chatted to Norton online and they instantly offered me a 50% discount. The excuse is that the renewal is at full cost but the new product is on offer. I don’t accept this at all as the product has sold around that price for some time. It seems Norton hope customers will simply automatically renew without checking the cost. No value place on loyalty it seems. If anything customers should get a small discount for staying with Norton and renewing automatically. I’m absolutely appalled that such a large company should behave like this and am reluctant to give them further business. If not actually illegal this is certainly sharp practice.

Automatic renewal more than double!
No warning. Sharp practice.
I cancelled but 10-12 days processing they said.
Major problem for January finances.

dave says:
14 March 2019

This is nothing new, auto renewal is somethignthat happens for motor insurance unless you opt out. This is a total rip off more often than not with cheaper deals to be had elsewhere often for less for same level of cover. But the Government think this a service the we need! Two years ago I had bought car insurance for around £350 yet hen the renewal letter came through I was quoted £1300! for the same cover even though I had made no claims. not had any convictions and nothing had changed. Needless to say I shopped around and got it elsewhere a heck of a lot cheaper

I’ve just been quoted $197.99 to renew my subscription for 3 years with norton. I’ll be shopping around first thanks.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I have had McAfee antivirus for a good number of years now,. I find their auto renewal quotes are far dearer than for the same product on their web site. I am not going to renew this year just out of protest for being treated so badly as a customer .I do not like the idea of automatic renewal in any circumstances and have turned it off also.

That is a danger of auto-renewal or even remaining loyal to a company. If you change antivirus provider it’s important to uninstall the previous version before installing the new one.

Paul says:
8 October 2021

Norton 360 for 10 devices
Automatic Renewal price £94.99
New Subscription on their website £44.99
Manual renewal clicking the link in email following cancellation £24.99

Three different prices from Norton for exactly the same product. The cheapest is 74% cheaper than the most expensive.

A new subscription from Amazon costs £16.99

I’ve been with Norton for about 4, to 5, years. So long as you need any help or assistance it’s good . The second you do, they don’t want to know . Their idea of English, is strictly American. – Full stop.
Anything else is all promises, – empty promises . I keep promising myself every year , I won’t go back.

Which? says little about customer service in its reviews of anti-malware suppliers and maybe most people never need support. I’m one of them. You have worked out the best solution, Eric, and don’t forget to uninstall Norton before installing new software.

With insurers and energy suppliers, I am prepared to pay more for good service.

That is particularly important with insurers. You will only find out how good they are when you come to make a claim – not only how much but how quickly.

I have been happy with NFU Mutual for motor insurance and breakdown cover. They handled an accident claim after a dog run in front of my car and took my car to my trusted garage recently after it developed a problem some months ago. It’s a real bargain to have breakdown cover for £17.50 a year and no need to have to deal with tiresome companies like the AA and RAC that hike renewal premiums. Unfortunately, luck is a factor and one of our contributors has reported a very poor experience with NFU.

I would never have chosen Scottish Power as an energy supplier, based on Which? reviews, but landed up with them through a collective switching scheme. Nevertheless, some are happy with their service.

My son had an extremely good experience with NFU when his car was stolen. A hire car was on his drive the same day, money was provided to buy a new child seat, and a figure negotiated that was very fair.

He had taken out insurance with them when I recommended them based on Which? reports. I had also been with them for 5 years but after a particularly large rise in premium – 20% – and no explanation I moved to another good provider – LV – with a very substantial saving for the same cover. I didn’t need the RAC cover as I am covered by the AA; each year I have to phone up to much-reduce their (AA’s) requested renewal premium. That time has come. Hopefully the experience of the previous many years will be repeated. I have had excellent service from them in the past.

That’s very true, my experience with the NFU is all on record. The main issue was the appalling way in which they dealt with my no fault claim.

The ombudsman were very consoling and sympathetic and compliant with my request to settle the case before my car insurance renewal date to enable me to switch to another insurer. I am currently with Saga.

Wavechange, did the dog cause any damage to your car?

I said that I did not need a hire car because the repair was expected to take a couple of days – the only damage was to the bumper, number plate and a headlight – but NFU insisted. The hire car was delivered to my drive and after mine was returned the repairer took the hire car back to the depot which is near their garage.

I have rejected both the AA and RAC after they hiked my renewal premium. When I have phoned them to tell them to say I had arranged alternative cover because of price hikes for renewal both said that I should have phoned them to negotiate. I explained that I don’t play games. So far NFU has behaved responsibly, so for the time being will keep this customer.

Back on topic, I was disappointed that Bitdefender wanted to charge me significantly more this year but it seems that last year was an introductory price for new customers. I have renewed but might move next year. Maybe I should have looked for a Black Friday deal, but that could mean paying more. 🙁

As my comment, on 25th above, my renewal has come through in the post from the AA. As usual it is hugely different from the price I negotiated last year (with which I was happy – I have had good and prompt service from them when I’ve had a car problem). Just negotiated the next 12 months at £10 less than I negotiated last year; couldn’t get quite down to the Black Friday offer, but I do have some extra benefits a new member would not get.

I know some do not like this sort of haggling, and I am not a fan, but while it exists and works I will take the opportunity. Even if I left on principle nothing would change. Pragmatism.

If we assume that anti-malware software is necessary, is there much to choose between different products regarding protection? Apparently free software is quite good but I have avoided it because it could have advertising.

The only problem I have had was with IBM Rapport, which was provided by some banks. I believe that the PC version was OK but Mac users found that it could make a fast machine rather slow.

I look for subscriptions that cover multiple machines.