Ascentive, perhaps best known for its FinallyFast.com commercials, must offer refunds to an estimated 5,500 Washington consumers as part of a settlement reached with our Consumer Protection Division.
Our suit accused the Philadelphia-based software company of violating Washington's Computer Spyware Act, Consumer Protection Act and Commercial Electronic Mail Act, and alleged the company:
- Misrepresented that consumers’ computers are at risk of harm through banner ads that resemble warning messages, pop-ups and graphical images.
- Sent deceptive e-mails that suggest the company’s software is recommended by Microsoft
- Offered free scans that were bundled with other programs that launched excessive pop-up warnings and nagging alerts until the user either purchased the company’s product or uninstalled the software. The scans often identified harmless files as errors.
- Failed to disclose that by downloading one program in its suite of services, an additional program – essentially an advertisement for other software products – would also be installed.
- Added additional products to orders during the checkout process. Consumers had to uncheck boxes next to the products in order to avoid being charged.
- Failed to clearly disclose that consumers who purchased products were actually buying an annual license and would be automatically billed each year unless they cancel.
- Made it difficult for consumers to cancel orders or obtain refunds.
Under the settlement filed in King County Superior Court, Ascentive agreed to a number of restrictions on its marketing and billing practices and to refund customers who paid for both a a back-up CD and the company’s Extended Download Service but didn't use them. Today's news release includes additional details.