Earthlink Tries To Sell You Anti-Virus Protection When You Contact Them To Cancel Your Anti-Virus Protection

Sometimes we feel sorry for CSRs who have to try to sell you stuff you don’t want or need when you’re contacting them to correct a billing mistake. It’s just so sad. Reader ajlei contacted Earthlink’s chat support to cancel an anti-virus service that wasn’t supposed to be included on her bill, after canceling, the chat support rep kept asking her if she wanted a more expensive version of the service. When she said no, the chat rep asked her again, in bold this time… because asking in bold will make customers want more expensive versions of services they just canceled?

ajlei says:

I had a billing issue with Earthlink DSL: they were charging me a $2.95/month fee (pittance, but it’s really the principle of the matter) for something called ‘PCC Pro’ which seems to be some antivirus/spyware etc. program which I never opted for upon signing up.

For what it’s worth, when signing up, as any good Consumerist would, I asked what, if any extra charges, extra packages, extra anything would be cropping up, and I was told ‘none’. However, the page for the PCC Pro says it’s a free 30 day trial, $2.95/month after that, so maybe it’s added automatically upon signing up, but I told the rep when signing up that I didn’t want anything extra (and believe me, he asked if I wanted just about every extra they have to offer).

Anyway, I called about canceling the PCC Pro in June and they said they would remedy the situation. However, my July bill reflected the same issue so I decided to try their live chat to solve the problem. ‘Krystal Z’ seemed capable of helping me with my billing issue. She told me she’d be issuing me a credit for the last two months (more than fair) and just as I was about to close the window, she started to ask about my computer problems:

Krystal Z: Does your computer ever run slowly when you have a couple of programs running?
ajlei: Nope, my computer works fine
Krystal Z: Okay.
Krystal Z: As you might be aware that Security threat is increasing day by day for all the Internet users. So, a security program is advisable to have on your computer. We have a very good service called Norton 360 which has the Anti Virus, Firewall and tools to improve the computer performance and speed up the computer.
Krystal Z: This service will make sure that the computer is free from viruses, spyware, spam, registry errors cookies, etc.
Krystal Z: Norton security provides advanced protection for everything you care about on your PC. All-in-One Security features includes: 1. PC Security & PC Tune-Up 2. Advanced Phishing and Spyware Protection 3. Blocks Hackers and Unknown Threats 4. Online Identity Protection 5. Automated Backup and Restore * If you subscribed to all of these sites individually, you would pay more than $12 per month, but with EarthLink’s Norton 360 Online Bundle, we offer all of these for just $6.95 a month. * We are currently offering a free 30 day trial of this package, which will continue at a low monthly rate of $6.95 with no commitment!
ajlei: Thanks, but I already have virus protection on my computer
Krystal Z: We are currently offering a free 30 day trial of this package, which will continue at a low monthly rate of $6.95 with no commitment! (It should be noted that this second mention of their security package was bolded in the chat, as if to intimidate me into signing up for something more expensive than the similar service that she just un-signed me up for.)
ajlei: No thank you
Krystal Z: Okay. Not a problem.

At this point, I thought she was done. But, she kept going:

Krystal Z: How many computers do you have?
ajlei: um.. why?
Krystal Z: If you have more than one computer in your home, EarthLink’s Home Networking service lets you have all your computers linked to your high speed connection wirelessly, allowing them all to be online at the same time.
ajlei: Yep, I have all of my computers hooked up already.
Krystal Z: Okay.
Krystal Z: Is there anything else I can help you with?
ajlei: That’s all, thanks
Krystal Z: Okay.
Krystal Z: Take Care!
Krystal Z: Bye!

I know everything came out fine in the end (well, I’ll wait til next month’s bill before I swear on it) but it just amused me how after I deactivated the virus protection, she tried to get me to sign up for a more expensive alternative, and then started asking about things unrelated to billing. The wireless question was one I was asked at initial sign-up, at which point I assured the rep that I was fully capable of setting up wireless in my household, no I did not need a wireless router, or wireless cards for my computer, or a tech to come install it.

Earthlink is great price-wise, and my only other option is Comcast, so I’m fine with them, but they might want to take some Give It a Rest 101.

Thanks for listening!


Edit Your Comment

  1. mariospants says:

    Ironically, it’s my Norton/Symantec antivrus software that causes MY computer to “run slow”

  2. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @mariospants: Norton is the worst! If you value your sanity, dump Norton and get NOD32 or Kaspersky’s. NOD is very easy on the system. You can get a free 30 trial here:


  3. MaliBoo Radley says:

    Well, they were created by a nutball Scientologist .. I wouldn’t put anything past them.


  4. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @Meg: Asking in bold is the online sales rep’s version of the Vulcan Mind meld. It probably didn’t work on ajlei because he’s a Ferengi.

  5. DoubleEcho says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: Another vote for NOD32 – I use this at home and it has the smallest memory usage I’ve seen on any antivirus application. It’s got plugins for other stuff too like email protection, and it’s caught many a virus/malware.

  6. Nick1693 says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: NO. My mom accidentally downloaded Kaspersky AV 2009. FAIL. It kept opening fake craigslist pages made to make you download it. Then, it made it fake restart, where it says for $50, you can get rid of the errors. When the “errors” it found were fake. I checked.

    Not willing to:
    1. Pay $50.
    2. Let this thing keep bothering me.

    I just reset my system to factory settings. Losing everything. (Thank FSM for F12!)

  7. Ben Clayton says:

    @Nick1693: I’m sorry but it sounds like you mom downloaded something that wasnt Kapersky at all, and you should have backed up what you had before reformatting it, maybe you should get her a book on computer or something so she doesnt fall for that again?

  8. legwork says:

    @Nick1693: Don’t be silly. You got a bogus copy of something.

    1. Kaspersky (both AV and IS) is still at v7, 2008
    2. No craigslist pages will appear
    3. Full retail direct price is $59 for AV, but it’s cheap through discounters. Full IS 3-packs go for $29.

    My favorite is NOD32 too, but Kaspersky seems to work out better for most users.

  9. howie_in_az says:

    [] is the one I used when I had to run Windows. There’s also [] to eliminate malware/spyware. Both are free, with free updates. The former will put up a window with an ad about buying their ‘full’ product whenever it updates, but that’s it.

  10. Nighthawke says:

    There is always avast! []

    18 month license, free to be had, free registration, 10 megs download, but it’s trim and does not kill you system like NAV does.

  11. thepassenger says:

    My wife called to cancel her father’s Earthlink dial-up service after he had passed away, and spent about ten minutes deflecting and rebuffing the CSR’s various suggestions as to why she should not cancel.

  12. dragonvpm says:

    I really wonder how companies train their CSRs nowadays. Even great companies like Newegg have CSRs that do things that show they clearly weren’t even listening to/reading anything you said and it just doesn’t make sense.

    Considering how thorough CSR training manuals tend to be (esp when it comes to upselling etc…) you’d think they could handle “simple logic to minimize actively antagonizing the people who call”. IMO there are few CSR traits that are more aggravating than telling/suggesting you do something that you just told them you did and had problems with.

  13. beast464 says:

    This is like when Verizon asks me if I want to try their anti-virus and I tell them I have a Mac. Most of the time they continue their script until I tell them it won’t work. I did let them go through the sign up process once after telling them it won’t work. Then they asked me what version of windows I have. I just laughed.

  14. purplesun says:

    Macros, probably pre-programmed to go across or required to be sent by the agent, lest they get dinged on a survey for not following the rules.

    I work in a call center and there’s a certain way we have to address the customer, certain things we should say at the end of the call, things we need to specifically ask, etc. If we don’t, it could affect our raises, not to mention employment.

    At least once the employee got the required nonsense out of the way, she closed the chat in a friendly way and let the OP go. Couldn’t ask for more, really.

  15. Keter says:

    Just for the record, I canceled Dish Network recently (just don’t watch TV anymore due to lack of personal time), and the CSR prefaced his required upsell script with “I’m sorry, I have to read this, I know it doesn’t apply.” This was appreciated by me; it showed that he understood what I was trying to do and was just doing his due diligence so he could get paid.

  16. arl84 says:

    I work in a call center too.

    I HATE HATE HATE all that corporate scripted crap they push on us to say to every single customer.

    I usually don’t say it and just get in trouble for it. The bonuses aren’t worth the chewing out I get from the angry customers, or the disappointment(with me) I hear in the customer’s voice when I read that crap, on an otherwise very friendly call.

    I do chat now, and I can safely say I would probably do the same thing this customer service rep did, except the bolding, that was a little tacky.. Either way, it’s just copying and pasting that is required, and I think that the rep ended the chat friendly enough when the offer was declined.

  17. galactus5000 says:

    I’m a long time adherent of AVG and their brilliant free edition, but they seem to be abandoning it.

  18. JoshReflek says:

    I fully uninstalled the symantec that auto installed itself with either windows or my MoBo,…..and i still get a ‘missing bla bla symantec file’ message everytime i boot up…..i will never buy their crap