19 June 2019: The CMA is continuing to gather and review information. The investigation is currently focused on a number of areas associated with the automatic renewal of subscriptions, including:
whether consumers expressly agree to be automatically renewed
if there is express agreement to pay a higher price when auto-renewed and if not whether businesses can charge a higher price
whether customers can easily prevent renewal
whether they should be entitled to refunds if they no longer want or need the service
We have written to a number of anti-virus firms following concerns that some of their practices and terms associated with the automatic renewal of subscriptions may breach consumer law, and we have required them to provide information to understand more about their practices. Once we have completed our analysis of the information and other evidence gathered we will consider what, if any, further action might be required. At this stage, we have not reached a view about whether there have been any breaches of consumer law by the firms currently under investigation.
We have also written to 16 other anti-virus companies across the sector asking them to review their practices and terms and conditions to ensure that they are compliant with consumer law and put them on notice that they could also face an investigation if any consumer law concerns are identified.
Launch of enforcement investigation
19 December 2018: The investigation will examine whether the business practices and terms and conditions associated with the automatic renewal of subscriptions are fair.
In particular, the investigation will consider:
whether automatic renewal is set as the default option
whether notification of renewal is sent and, if so, the timing of the notification
when renewal payments are taken and whether the renewed subscriptions are charged at a different price to the original subscription