According to hundreds of complaints on a website launched by Consumer Affairs, the worst offenders are Norton, McAfee and CleanMyPC. A Norton user, to take just one example, found he couldn’t install the Norton program; his computer froze. Norton tech support told him if he paid $155, they could get it installed. Another Norton customer was told it would cost her $300 to remove a virus. Another guy said his computer ran slowly for two years until he discovered that Norton was a resource hog. When he removed it and switched to the free program Avast, all went smoothly. (Bob refused to use Norton many years ago after numerous problems and said so publicly several times.)
Complaints from McAfee users were just as bad. A woman said she waited an hour for tech support and then was told she’d have to pay $249 to clean out her computer. Convinced she must have called the wrong number, she checked it again and says she did have the company’s actual number.
Of course, we can’t be sure who’s telling the truth here. It’s always possible that some of these stories are made up. Some may have called a number from a scammer’s advertisement because it came up first in a Google search. However, we were present when this happened to a disabled friend. McAfee wanted to charge our friend with cerebral palsy a few hundred dollars to clean out a virus that their software should have removed automatically.
The ConsumerAffairs site has no complaints about the anti-virus programs from Bullguard, Avira, or Kaspersky. We saw no complaints on Avast, the free software we’ve often recommended. Besides the consumer reviews, you can get their buyers’ guide at www.consumeraffairs.com/computers/antivirus-software/.