Webroot SpySweeper – The curse of the automated renewal

PLEASE NOTE – This is a personal blog and the article below is just a summary of my experiences when I tried to cancel my subscription. I have seen more and more comments coming through for approval, posted by people requesting cancellation of a Webroot subscription is cancelled. Unfortunately I can’t help with that as I have no connection with the Webroot company and/or their products. If you want to cancel your Webroot subscription, you should contact Webroot direct either by phone or by email. Good Luck.
Great software. Not so great service.

Great software. Not quite so great service.

For many years as a Windows PC user, I used various bits of security software. One such product was Webroot SpySweeper and I have to say that it worked very well and generally got good reviews for its performance. However, on switching to the Mac I naturally no longer had a need for it and you’d think that would be the end of the story, but unfortunately it wasn’t.

The problem is that when you buy Webroot SpySweeper and give them your credit card details, they put you on an automatic renewal system. This was not a choice, it was something that was done automatically and while companies will argue that this is convenient for their customers, it’s an approach that I happen to dislike for reasons that will become obvious. So, in early February I received an automated email from Webroot informing me that my subscription to SpySweeper will be automatically renewed

“This email is to remind you that your subscription with   will automatically renew soon.  If you would like to cancel your subscription, please visit the link below:
http://www.findmyorder.com

Please note: This email message was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message.

Sincerely,
Webroot Software, Inc. Customer Service
http://www.findmyorder.com”

As to be expected I followed the link to http://www.findmyorder.com, logged in and started searching for the ‘Cancel my subscription’ link. Nothing. Nowhere was there a link, button or anything else to take you to somewhere you could easily cancel an automated renewal. There seemed to be nothing else to do but to use their online email form to contact Sales and request that my renewal be cancelled. That’s where I hit the next problem – I filled in the form on their website, gave them all my details, email address etc., and clicked on the submit button. A few minutes later I got an email telling me that postmaster@webroot.com couldn’t deliver the message. For some reason they’d coded their online email form to generate an email and send it to an undeliverable address!

This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.

Delivery to the following recipients failed.

noreply@webroot.com

Reporting-MTA: dns;WEBROOTGATE1.boulder.webroot.com
Received-From-MTA: dns;sv4-mta-51a.us.emailfiltering.com
Arrival-Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2009 05:52:17 -0700

Final-Recipient: rfc822;noreply@webroot.com
Action: failed
Status: 5.7.1
X-Display-Name: Sales Help

Hang on a minute. I’m sending them an email using their own online form on their own website… and it doesn’t work? Thinking it might be a glitch in the system I waited a while and tried again. Same result. Ok, so you can’t use that option to cancel your renewal. Next step – try raising a helpdesk ticket using their online support feature. That way I’d get a helpdesk ticket reference and I could track it. So off I went and filled in a helpdesk request, got everything logged and got my helpdesk ticket number. Great, I even got an automated response saying:

Your question has been received. You should expect a response from us within 24 hours.

24 hours later? Nothing. 48 hours later? Nothing. 72 hours later I got fed up and added a comment to the ticket asking them to reply. I waited another 48 hours. Still nothing. Finally, with the renewal date looming I figured there was no alternative but to call them. I found a UK telephone number for the company and then spent more of my time and money telephoning them to cancel this automated renewal. The phone call was short and sweet but the message got through and the person at the other end of the phone assured me that my subscription would be cancelled, and indeed a while later I received an email confirming it.

But then yesterday I received another email from Webroot…

Automatic Renewal Cancellation

We recently notified you that your Webroot security software would be automatically renewed. However, we are having a temporary error with our automatic renewal system.

Your Webroot software will NOT be renewed automatically.

Renew your subscription today.

Please visit http://support-uk.webroot.com or call Customer Support at +44 (0) 845 0822 498. We have extended your subscription for 30 days to ensure you have plenty of time to complete your renewal.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Thank you for being a valued Webroot customer!

Sincerely,
Webroot Customer Support

Maybe the temporary error was that I didn’t actually want to renew! I am now nervously watching my credit card statements in the hopes that a charge to Webroot doesn’t magically appear.

My advice to anyone who is a Webroot customer and who wants to cancel this automated renewal scheme they operate, is to telephone them, get the person’s name and get them to confirm in writing that they’ve cancelled the renewal. Then watch your credit card statement just to make sure.

And my advice to Webroot? Well thanks for a great product, but I think you need to fix a few problems with your website and to make the option to cancel more obvious and more straightforward. There was a time when I would have recommended Webroot SpySweeper to Windows users without any hesitation. Maybe now I’m not so sure.