CMA takes court action against Norton for withholding information in auto-renewing investigation

March 25, 2021

The CMA is taking a leading anti-virus software firm, Norton, to court after it refused to provide certain information for an investigation into auto-renewing contracts.

During its investigation into the anti-virus software sector, the CMA has identified a number of key concerns that Norton’s terms and practices for automatically renewing contracts could result in customers paying for services they no longer want or need.

To progress its case on the basis of relevant evidence, the CMA requested information from Norton, including research undertaken by the software firm on how customers responded to website information on auto-renewal and pricing. NortonLifeLock UK Ltd and NortonLifeLock Ireland Ltd, have refused to comply with this request in full. The CMA considers Norton’s non-compliance to be in breach of its legal obligations and the CMA will now use its powers to enforce the request for information through the courts. This is the first time the CMA has needed to take this step in a consumer protection case.

A rollover or auto-renewing contract automatically renews at the end of a set time period onto a further set period. It means the customer – whose payment details are kept on file – is charged unless the customer actively takes steps to cancel the contract.

During this case, the CMA is investigating whether Norton:

  • provides sufficiently clear or prominent information that a contract will automatically renew, both before the customer enters into the contract and then before it automatically renews;
  • provides the customer with adequate ways to cancel the automatic renewal;
  • uses price promotions that present a regular introductory price as a sale price;
  • uses unfair contract terms to increase the prices paid by customers when contracts automatically renew.

The CMA has made an application to obtain a court order requiring Norton to provide the outstanding information.