Monday, August 18, 2008

Anti Virus Experience

As the title might suggest, I ran into a situation with my anti virus software over the weekend. The software was Norton AntiVirus. To be honest, I forget what my original annoyance with the product was. It was completely overshadowed by my miserable experience trying to cancel my subscription to the product. I was eventually able to cancel my subscription, I think, but that sense of uncertainty is yet another aspect of this ordeal I highly recommend other people avoid.

My journey to prevent Symantec from taking any more of my money started out on their web site. I was completely unable to find any information about my account even though they require you to create one to use their products. After much clicking around, I ended up at a page deep in their support site. I found a Flash video of all things that explains how to cancel your subscription. Until recently, this information could not be indexed by any web search engine and at this point no one could convince me this was an accident on the part of Symantec.

So I fill out the form that the flash video directs me to and submit it. But I have this little voice nagging me. "If Symantec is this bunch of computer experts, why do I need to fill out a form that appears to need manual intervention to cancel my account. They can figure out who I am. When I install the software, they require me to sign into an account. Why can't I sign into that account and just cancel my subscription?" This prompted me to search around on the internet and found out that there are many complaints about Symantec's customer service in regards to account management. Many of the complaints take some form of "I filled out the form before my card was charged, my card was charged anyway and Symantec said it was my fault. I then had to take it up with my credit card company which was easy, but it shouldn't have come to that." And I agree. And I wasn't convinced that my subscription would actually get canceled.

At this point I remembered about all those emails that you receive when you sign up for new accounts on the internet. Within one of those emails I found an address for Norton account management. Wow, the account management page I was searching for. I found a list of my products and a convenient little 'cancel subscription' button. I wonder why there aren't any easy to find links to this site on Symantec's main web site. Fine, I'm not that naive. I don't wonder at all. But I do wonder why the people in charge of making this decision think that it won't upset people greatly.

For some strange reason, I was still not entirely convinced that my subscription was truly deactivated. I would hazard a guess that the reason was all the distrust that Symantec so cleverly engineered their web site to so efficiently create. However, Symantec was nice enough to inform me that my credit card on file with them was going to expire before my next auto renewal and that was the only warm, fuzzy feeling that the customer service features of the Symantec web site were able to instill in me.

I promptly went out and researched some other antivirus software. The one I chose was BitDefender. While they provide more or less the same services at comparable prices, the best selling point for me was the first link on the top most navigation menu 'My BitDefender'. I couldn't log in yet, but I was sold. They didn't disappoint either. After buying the product and creating my account I clicked on that link. I was sent to a log in page. After logging in I clicked on the 'My Page' link and was treated to a list of my products, their status, and actions to be taken including 'renew'. Oh, and the software seems to be doing a good job so far and is easy enough to use as well. Keep up the great work BitDefender.

As a software entrepreneur, I could draw many conclusions from this experience on the importance of quality customer experiences, but I just don't need to. It's already been done. Successful entrepreneurs and writers such as Joel Spolsky and Eric Sink have already put these things down on paper in much more understandable ways than I ever could. That and I'm just too busy writing my own software to take the time. =)