How Not to Do Business Online

Stop - Go No Further!Renewing an existing subscription should be the simplest possible of online transactions, so it’s amazing how consistently AVG manage to screw this up.

I have two PC’s, both currently running AVG Internet Security. I moved to AVG from McAfee because it doesn’t slow down the PC performance as much.

But two things where McAfee was great were customer service and renewing subscriptions.

AVG, by contrast, consistently make this an extraordinarily difficult and frustrating experience.

The subscription for my desktop expired last January, but when I tried to renew it the system told me my licence key was invalid. And when I tried to log in to my account the system kept returning me to the login in screen.

No joy there. At all.

I did eventually manage to get AVG sales to respond to my emails and after a week or so my renewal went through.

At the time I took careful note of the licence keys for both my laptop and desktop and assumed that when the time came to renew my laptop licence I wouldn’t have the same problems.

Well, you know what they say about assumptions..!

Sure enough, my laptop licence comes up for renewal next month and 3 days ago I received the renewal reminder from AVG.

And, once again, the system told me my licence key was invalid.

This time I was, at least, able to log in to my account to raise a trouble ticket, but the drop down menus for specifying my problem didn’t have any options for renewal problems.

So I picked the one that said ‘licence key not working’ and got an automated email that came nowhere near solving my problem.

So far I’ve emailed sales at AVG, renewal at AVG and followed up on the automated response to my trouble ticket and I’m no nearer renewing my subscription than I was this time last week.

Not even the courtesy of a reply from either of the two email addresses.

How can companies make it so difficult for me to give them money..!!??

As I said at the outset: renewing a subscription has to be the simplest of all online transactions and they’ve managed to turn it into the most frustrating experience imaginable.

So I’ve researched other Internet Security Suites and will be canning AVG for something with better service. (If you have any recommendations let me know – leave a comment).

And the moral of the story?

When you’re transacting online make sure you understand very clearly the journey you’re expecting your customers to go through.

I always do a flow chart when I’m setting up new sites to sell stuff online.

Being able to see the customer journey on a flow chart highlights points that will cause frustration to your customers, so you can correct them.

I also always test out my customer journey thoroughly by going through it myself and seeing what happens – including if a fault or error occurs.

For example, I’ll click submit before filling in all the required fields, or I’ll put a date in an address field, and see what happens.

Finally, I also describe clearly to my visitors on each screen what they have to do, what will happen after they click the ‘Next’ or ‘Submit’ buttons, and what to do if the expected result doesn’t happen.

It may seem like the screamingly obvious to you, but it’s the first time your customers have seen your sequence of screens and, possibly, the first time they’ve bought anything online.

So you need to give them as much confidence as possible because, if they lose confidence, you’ll likely lose a customer: they’ll simply abandon their shopping cart.

Keep things simple, make sure you know what you’re putting your customers through and make sure you explain, at every step of the way, what they should do and what they can expect as a result.

If you have a favourite Internet Security Suite let me know in a comment.

I’m currently considering Norton Internet Security 2010, Webroot Internet Security Essentials 2010, Security Shield 2010, Kaspersky Internet Security and Trend Micro Internet Security 2010. (And if you’re an affiliate for whatever you suggest, please let me know – thanks!)


Martin Malden

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Boris C. Aug 4, 2010 @ 0:29

    I use at the moment Avast! Antivirus which is free, but recently heard about Microsoft Security Essentials, which is also free. If i will plan to change my current protection to paid service then i will consider NOD32.

    • Martin Aug 4, 2010 @ 7:02

      If you’re doing any serious business online I’d really suggest you increase the level of protection from the free versions.

      They don’t contain defences against keyloggers (which can steal all your login IDs and passwords) and other nasties which can turn your PC into an agent for spreading spam and viruses around the web, with people in your address book being the first targets.



  • Boris C. Aug 5, 2010 @ 23:58

    So you support the paid protection and suggest to not use free software?

  • mazda Sep 5, 2010 @ 1:29

    Hi Martin
    I have used Norton Internet Security for the last 3 years and have always found it very good. I know some people don’t like Norton but I have never had any problems with them and no viruses either.

    • Martin Sep 5, 2010 @ 5:52

      Hi Mazda,

      I used Norton Internet Security some years ago and it was quite good, but when I got a new PC and tried to install my existing version of NIS I got a message telling me it was out of date and that I should upgrade to the latest version.

      But instead of taking me to an NIS page it took me to Norton 360, and led me to believe that this was the replacement for NIS.

      It cost a lot more, of course, and I discovered after installing it that it caused all sorts of problems by suppressing parts of perfectly legitimate pages.

      I also later discovered that there was, in fact, a later version of NIS which they could have taken me to.

      But, of course, Norton 360 was more expensive so they just took me there and implied that this was the replacement for NIS.

      Because they misled me, and because 360 created all sorts of problems on perfectly legitimate pages, I will not use a Norton product again.

      (A perfect example of how to lose a customer by breaking their trust 🙂 )