Wednesday, September 10

Why I hate Norton

Sorry for being so quietly lately. Computer troubles compounding computer troubles. It's been a tad crazy.

This whole debacle started two and a half weeks ago when my computer imploded.

Okay, okay, it didn't really implode.

I'm not sure what it did, exactly. But the result was some program called "AntiVirus 2008" clogging up the computer. The sneaky devil would let us surf the internet anywhere but Norton. And it wouldn't be cleared away (though it did show a place we could pay for the service).

Less than two months ago, we had renewed our subscription for $50. While I was still grumbling about the price, I was at least sure things would be fine, if inconvenient.

Oh, naive little me.

Tim was told that it would cost $100 for the help necessary to get the program off the computer. Normally, the techs can work remotely on your computer -- one of Norton's main selling points for Tim. But apparently that couldn't happen in this case.

I got on the phone and laid out the facts as I saw them:

  1. We paid $50 a year to be protected from the sorts of programs now plaguing our computer
  2. Despite the subscription, we now had a nearly non-functioning computer.
  3. They wanted us to pay even more money... to fix something that we had paid them to protect us from.
  4. The idea didn't thrill me.

Basically, the operator was not the best customer service purveyor in the world. He informed me that I had to understand that there were new threats all the time.

I interrupted. Yes, there are new threats all the time. That's why we continue our subscription. For the updates. For added safety. Which didn't protect us.

Then he managed to politely blame me for the situation. We had downloaded the program at some point. That's why it wasn't covered.

Um, isn't Norton supposed to a) scan things you're downloading and/or b) warn you about potentially dangerous content. (Neither Tim nor I could remember the last time we'd seen a Norton warning pop up.)

Oh, no, said the operator. See, you must have downloaded it directly. So no warning would have popped up.


Not even broaching the fact that we hadn't downloaded anything that month except Firefox and a print application from I was under the impression that programs like Norton were there to help keep us safe so we could play on the Internet without fear of computer implosions. If a security program isn't going to warn us when we're using dangerous content, what's the point?

We went around and around for awhile, but the central arguments remain the same. I insisted that we hadn't downloaded anything sketchy. The operator insisted he could go through the records and pinpoint exactly when we had, in fact done it. Left unspoken was the fact that this couldn't happen, of course, until the problem was fixed. Which would be $100.

So we had two choices:

  1. Admit that we had blindly trusted a security program and our $50 was money down the drain OR
  2. Pay the company and hope this didn't happen again.

If we paid, one of two things would happen:

  1. The employees would prove we downloaded something; we'd be out $100; we'd finish out our subscription not feeling protected.
  2. The employees wouldn't find anything to blame on us; the company probably still wouldn't refund the money; we'd still never feel like Norton was protecting us very well.

Since both those options meant giving Norton more money and feeling less safe, we decided to cut our losses.

By then, Tim had turned off the computer, which had shown the "blue screen of death" as he calls it. Meaning the computer notices a virus corrupting things and shuts itself down to prevent further damage.

Tim's dad had recently graduated a worker retraining program about computers. So he took our tower down to a professor he knows. Allegedly, it will be fixed by the end of the week. Worst case scenario, the guy will have had to wipe the hard drive, which means we'll have to reinstall all our programs, and we'll have lost all our files. Think positive thoughts for me, people.

So, now that I have reliable Internet access again, I plan to write a controlled but angry letter to Norton letting it know just how very disappointed I am by this experience. How I would like some assurance that our money wasn't completely wasted on their product. How I will happily go rant to every friend with a PC and on consumer blogs like Etc. We'll see if anything gets accomplished. I'm not optimistic.

I'll get to posting some real frugal type stuff no later than tomorrow afternoon. And we can all pick back up where we left off!

Thanks for your continued patiences (and readership).


Blogger Rachel said...

Ouch. We had the same problem with Norton Antivirus a few months ago. A lot of antivirus programs do not scan downloads that you initiate, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

With us, my DH had accidentally downloaded the virus because it was disguised as a Windows update and he doesn't read those closely when they pop up, he just hits "yes." If you looked really closely, it wasn't a Windows update, but without reading the popup window, one might not have known. I FINALLY got it cleared off his harddrive without wiping it or using Norton's "services" but it was a PITA and took hours.

Good luck getting everything back up and running!

September 11, 2008 at 8:21 AM

Blogger Revanche said...

Oh man! First thing you get when the computer is alive: Get Avast! It's free, it's good, and recommended by your teenage computer whiz. Seriously. It's the antivirus that smart-ace little cousin uses, and that kid knows computers. [And I use it now, too, because I'm just smart enough to take good advice ;)]

September 13, 2008 at 5:46 PM


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