Webroot SpySweeper – down but not out?

Webroot SpySweeperI wrote an article a little while back (here) about problems I’d had in cancelling an automated annual renewal that Webroot had set up for my SpySweeper software. The story ended with me having managed to finally cancel the renewal by telephoning the local Webroot office and speaking to someone. Despite having done that, I then received another email informing me that some sort of system error had prevented my automated renewal from happening and that they’d extend my subscription for a while to give me the opportunity to renew. Of course having ditched Windows XP in favour of a new Mac I didn’t take them up on their offer.

Today I received another email from Webroot stating:

Your Webroot Spy Sweeper subscription expires in one week
Right now, we’ve got you covered. But in one week, your subscription to Webroot Spy Sweeper runs out and you’ll lose all the valuable protection Webroot Spy Sweeper provides.

Without safeguarding your computer with constant spyware protection, you could be at risk for viruses, identity theft, slow computer performance and more.

Renew Webroot Spy Sweeper for $19.95 to ensure protection against spyware threats that emerge every week.

I was curious. I didn’t want to renew but I did want to see if this automated renewal feature was obvious so I followed the link. Sure enough, on the second page of the order form I was greeted with the following message:

Uninterrupted Protection Webroot Software will conveniently protect your PC from ongoing security threats by automatically renewing your subscription at the standard subscription renewal price plus applicable tax. You’re always in control as you will be notified by e-mail before the expiration of your subscription to confirm your renewal and provide you with cancellation options. When you purchase your subscription, you authorize Webroot to use the contact and billing information you provide to automatically renew your subscription. If you do not want to be automatically renewed, you may discontinue this service at any time. For additional information on auto renewal and cancellation options click here. Please note that you will not be able to remove auto renewal until you have completed your order.

Now, credit to Webroot for making it more obvious as to what’s happening, however this is still an ‘opt out’ rather than an ‘opt in’ system. You don’t get a choice at the time of placing your order, so if you buy Webroot SpySweeper you are automatically enrolled in their automated renewal system and then you have to opt out. A simple tick box on the order form asking whether you want to enable the automated renewal feature might be preferable.

So, how easy is it to opt out of your automated renewal? Well that question is a bit more tricky. If you follow the link on their order form it takes you to a page (here) that explains a bit more about the automated renewal process, but which still appears to be very vague on exactly how you go about cancelling it. Sure there’s a link on that page about how to request a refund, but that’s not the same as “How do I cancel my automated renewal”.

One thing I don’t intend to do is to try and find out the hard way by buying their software again. As I said before, I had no problems with the software itself while I was a Windows user, and SpySweeper has received many favourable reviews in the press. What I can’t vouch for is how easy it will be for you to cancel your automated renewal if you do buy it, and there are no signs that they’ve clarified this or made it any easier since my experiences and having to telephone Webroot in order to cancel it after repeated attempts to do it via the web and their online helpdesk system had failed.

Good luck!