I have been a long time fan of CompUSA and am lucky enough to have an actual brick and mortar CompUSA right here in Jacksonville. It is a store I am comfortable shopping at in person and I have ordered from them online many times in the past.
My most recent purchase from them was just a few days ago and what I used to view as an innocuous thing seems to have turned into a sneaky practice on the part of CompUSA and their anti-virus software partner TotalDefense Anti-Virus.
When you shop at CompUSA, who is owned by TigerDirect.com, there is always a free gift in your shopping cart at checkout. This six month subscription version of Total Defense Anti-Virus software is marked to cost you nothing as a free gift should.
However, take a closer look at the entry in your shopping cart, which by the way, is the first place this shows up in your CompUSA shopping experience.
I have highlighted the W/ARS portion of the entry which is tucked in between everything else and not readily apparent. There is no explanation for what ARS means nor any link to fine print.
So a couple of days after my order shipped I received my shipping confirmation email for my hardware I bought along with this email about the Automatic Renewal Service or ARS I apparently subscribed to with this order.
And right below that portion of the email, in small print, was the explanation of what ARS is for the first time in anything I had seen so far.
† Your software subscription is part of Automatic Renewal Service, which is provided by CompUSA.com to ensure there is no lapse in coverage for your software subscription by automatically renewing your subscription at the then current renewal price (plus applicable tax). This is available when you purchase a download version of the software using an American Express, Visa, Master Card, Discover, or Diners Club Credit Card, which does not expire before the renewal of your software subscription. CompUSA.com will notify you by email each year prior to the expiration of your current subscription. Do nothing, and the then current subscription renewal price (plus applicable tax) will automatically be charged to your credit card, and you authorize CompUSA.com, Total Defense, formerly CA Technologies e-commerce partner, to use the contact and billing information you provided for your purchase today to charge each renewal.
If you do not want your subscription automatically renewed, you may discontinue Automatic Renewal Service at any time.
Your credit card statement will show CompUSA.com the official ecommerce partner for Total Defense, formerly CA Technologies
If you wish to cancel automatic renewal service, please click here and follow the disenrollment process. If you disenroll from automatic renewal service, you will need to renew your subscription manually in order to continue benefiting from your software subscription.
I did click the link to disenroll and that was very straight forward thank goodness. I had visions of the only option for cancellation meaning I would have to pick up the phone, wait on hold for an indeterminate amount of time, and then hopefully be able to cancel.
In this entire evolution the cancellation process was the best part.
Now I did go visit the TotalDefense Anti-Virus Six Month Subscription product page and this is what you would have seen if you were browsing the online store:
As you can see ARS is mentioned but there is no explanation, fine print or anything to highlight what exactly that means. Once again the first notice someone would get for the Automatic Renewal Service is an email that shows up in your inbox a few days later.
According to the fine print, which is quoted above, there is likely one more opportunity to catch this and that is just prior to the current version expiration at six months.
I am not sure how long this has been going on but whether there is one or ten emails telling you about the renewal the process of automatically subscribing you after the fact without explaining what ARS means at any point in the ordering process is unprofessional, misleading and downright an unacceptable practice. It should be stopped immediately by CompUSA.
What do you think? Ever been caught by something like this or maybe even this process itself? Let us know in the comments below.