In my last post I wrote about comment spam. Today, I’m writing about BullGuard, the anti-virus / spam software. Unfortunately, I’m not writing about BullGuard because of their software – I’m writing about them because one of my relatives lost their money when he tried to renew his subscription.
My relative would prefer that I don’t publicly identify them on the Internet, so for the purposes of this post, I’ll call them Jack.
Jack received a subscription renewal notification in early April and duly paid for another two year’s subscription (AUD$134.95). Six weeks after paying, he has received neither the subscription, nor his money back.
The BullGuard software is no longer working and I’ve had to replace it with Avast. At this stage it seems unlikely that he will receive his money back.
The Full Story
The story started in early April. Jack was advised that his subscription was about to expire, so he went to BullGuard’s website and placed an order for another two years subscription.
When he reached the payment option section, he chose not to use credit card, due to the various stories he’d heard of people losing money because of keyword logging software etc. Instead, he chose to pay by cheque. It was here that the problems started.
BullGuard don’t have an office in Australia, but their website provided instructions to make the cheque out to Global Collect BV and to send it to a Locked Bag in Lakemba, Sydney, NSW.
Jack followed these instructions and sent the cheque. Three days later (in mid-April), the cheque was cashed and the money left his account.
The money never made it to BullGuard. Presumably the money is with Global Collect, an international payment service. The problem is, Global Collect doesn’t have an office in Australia either. Who knows who actually cashed the cheque! Perhaps an agent who works for Global Collect in Australia?
Two weeks later, the BullGuard subscription expired and BullGuard stopped working. At this point, Jack hadn’t realised that the renewal hadn’t gone through, so he was left completely unprotected for a whole day while he tried to sort things out with BullGuard.
BullGuard advised that it can take 2 to 3 weeks for payment to appear in their account, so they extended the previous subscription by several weeks, so that Jack’s computer was protected.
They also suggested sending “a scanned bank statement as a proof of your payment”. However, Jack wasn’t willing to send a scanned bank statement, showing all his bank account details, to anyone (not just BullGuard).
Subsequent emails from BullGuard were nicely worded, but stated that they could not make any inquiries to Global Collect without this. They stated: “All we need is the bank statement containing a visible BullGuard payment”.
The problem with this (apart from the fact that Jack wasn’t willing to send it), is that the bank statement only shows “Personal Cheque” along with the cheque number and the amount. It doesn’t mention BullGuard at all!
BullGuard had already been supplied with the name on the cheque, the date it was cashed, the cheque number, who it was made out to, the amount it was made out for. The only extra information on the statement were the words “Personal Cheque”.
After emails back and forward over a two week period, this is where it ended. BullGuard need to see the statement, but Jack wasn’t willing to send it. He’s trying to get a letter from the bank as proof of payment, but of course the cheque was not made out to BullGuard (it was made out to Global Collect BV), so it remains to be seen if this will be of any use.
The additional subscription period expired and BullGuard stopped working again. I helped Jack out by adding Avast to his computer so that he is protected against viruses and spam.
Jack also sent a letter to the same Locked Bag that he sent the cheque to, asking for the situation to be rectified. He did not hear back.
Bad For Business
BullGuard haven’t followed up since the subscription expired for the second time. That seems to be pretty poor customer service to me.
I’ve spent most of my career working, in management roles, for an international software development company. I’d never have let this situation develop as far as it has. No company is perfect, but if I had a customer complaining that they’d paid, then the extended cover expired, I’d at least contact them again to touch base.
Note, I’m not saying that they should have extended the cover (although there is an obvious case for that), I’m just saying that they should have contacted the customer! Is that too much to ask?
BullGuard are operating in a fiercely competitive market, dominated by companies such as McAfee, Norton, Trend Micro, Kaspersky and with free alternatives such as Avast, AVG and AntiVir. BullGuard have done well for themselves, but don’t want to get a reputation for bad customer service.
Also, they are sitting on a lawsuit waiting to happen. It’s only a matter of time before someone has the same problem, is left unprotected as a result and is infected by a virus. If you were to lose all your data in such circumstances, wouldn’t you consider legal action?
You Win Some, You Lose Some
So who are the winners and losers in this farce?
Jack is the big loser, having paid AUD$134.95, which he will likely never see again, for nothing! But he is not the only losers – BullGuard are losers too:
They’ve lost a customer, they didn’t get the money that the customer tried to pay them, and they got a little bad publicity to boot. Also, as I mentioned above, this sort of thing is bad for business.
GlobalCollect (or whoever collects their cheques) are the winners – they are $134.95 up and it appears unlikely that it will be passed on to the intended target. If they do this often enough, then they’ll being seeing nice profits!
Let me emphasise: I do not believe that BullGuard or GlobalCollect intentionally ripped anyone off. I’m sure that this is not a scam. I think it is just an administrative mess up.
However, the result is the same: Jack paid his hard earned money to get a service from BullGuard. He ended up with neither the service, nor his money.
This whole episode has left a bad taste in Jack’s mouth. He is still hoping to make some progress with BullGuard, but has almost given up. I can’t say I blame him. I certainly won’t be using BullGuard at any point in the future.
Anyone out there like to comment on their experiences, good or bad, with BullGuard?