Why Do Software Companies Insist on Tricking Their Customers?

One of the things software companies do that really irritates me is tricking users into doing something they didn’t ask to do. I’ve talked about this before when you install a software application only to find out that a new toolbar was added to your Internet browser because the option to do this was selected by default during the installation.

Well, here’s a new one I just discovered while coaching a client of mine last week. My client used the Norton security suite from Symantec. Her annual subscription to the security suite was about to expire and to remind her to renew, the software changed her Internet browser’s home page to a “remember to renew your software” web page.

Just because there is an option, doesn’t make it right

Oh, I’m sure somewhere in the Norton security suite there is some option that says something like “remind me when my software needs to be renewed by changing my home page on my Internet browser”. This exists just so companies can cover their you-know-whats when someone complains. But c’mon, seriously, does anyone really want this option?

As further proof, getting rid of the renewal message was one of the two reasons my client hired me to come out to her house. So, in a sense, Symantec’s sneaky little move to get people to renew cost my client more than just a renewal fee.

If I can give any shred of fairness to this story it would be to tell you that the renewal notice home page had instructions on the bottom of the page on how to switch back to your “normal” home page. One problem, most noobies don’t have a clue what their normal home page is.

My client was no exception. She knew it was some sort of AT&T home page but she didn’t know the address for it. She told me it just displayed every time she opened her Internet browser.

Lucky for all of us, I happened to know the web site address that AT&T uses for their clients when they set up their Internet connection. A few clicks and I had my client back to her normal home page.

Here’s the best part

Do you want to know the kicker of this story? When I asked my client if she wanted to renew her security software she said yes. So I opened the Norton security suite and went to the subscription options. And right there on the screen was a plain-as-day message that read something like, “Your subscription is set to auto-renew every year.”

If I was handing out onions right now, the Symantec corporation would be my first stop.