I’m pissed off!
I did some way overdue computer housekeeping today. Having satisfied myself long ago via various tech-savvy sources that Norton and McAfee suck and that the best of the free anti-virus/anti-spyware programs – AVG, Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy – do the job just fine, I set about the once-routine task of running all three, clearing the cache, deleting temp and internet files, running Disk Cleanup, defragging…
I used to be diligent with this stuff and do it weekly. But bit by bit, I’ve returned to my default state of slackness. Dunno when I last ran Spybot Search and Destroy, but when I tried to update it I discovered it had been replaced with AntiSpywareBOT.
Not to worry. Spybot Search and Destroy is one of the good guys. No tricks. A quality program. And free when they say they’re free. It’s right there on their home page. See?
Without hesitation, I accepted the free download invitation, then ran the program as instructed. Spunky new skin. Nice. Let’s put this baby through its paces. I selected the C drive, clicked on ‘Scan’, watched for a minute to make sure it was working, and went off to lunch.
Returning a good hour later, I was surprised that the scan was still in progress. Did I say scan? On closer inspection, I noted it was a “deep scan“. OK, then.
Off I went for a cuppa and a browse of the paper. A while later, returned to find the tenacious lil soldier still rifling through the C drive. Deep meant deep. And even though I had already run AdAware, I noted that my new chum had ferreted out 194 previously undetected “threats”!
Off I went again to program the evening’s TV on the DVD recorder. When I returned the scan had, finally, finished.
Naturally, the next step was to clean the offending uninvited hitchhikers from my system. Just a matter of a single click, it seemed, so I duly clicked.
Oh. Up came a window informing me it was necessary to register before the threats could be removed. OK.
I filled out the info: name, email, address etc. THEN, and only then, was I informed of the PAYMENT OPTIONS.
Look, I’ve been around the web a lot of years now. Certainly long enough to have been conned into doing “free” online spyware and virus scans that turn up armies of nasties, which you then discover are removable only after you fork out a payment to some software company. Well, what good’s a “free” diagnosis without the cure? Huh? HUH?
It’s a compelling sales presentation…you’ve gotta give ’em that. The identification of hordes of bugs nesting in your puter – represented graphically as nasty, red, pulsing, weevil-like creatures – leaves you with knitted brow, doubt scratching at you like scabies, and you feel inclined to fetch your credit card and give in. Most of these programs are only $20 or so. Not much really. What price peace of mind (and a faster computer performance…after all, nothing short of the speed of light is quite fast enough, is it?)?
Well, they ain’t getting me that way. I have no problem paying for essential software if a quality equivalent is not available for free. But I do have a problem with deceptive sales practices. On principle, I will not reward sleight of hand.
And make no mistake, this “free download” shit IS sleight of hand. Yes, literally they have fulfilled the promise of a free download, but clearly, the intention is to give the impression that the software itself is free.
This deceptive practice is especially effective when the company is well-known as a provider of quality free software and acclaimed by the likes of CNET.
But the deception goes further. Google for ‘Spybot Search and Destroy’ and the first entry that pops up is as follows:
Click on the red link and you arrive at this website:
Yes, they actually refer to the AntiSpywareBOT program under the name of the free SpyBot Search and Destroy program. Why wouldn’t you think you were downloading a current version of SpyBot Search and Destroy?
When you google for ‘AntiSpywareBOT’, you arrive at another site that doesn’t mention SpyBot Search and Destroy. Voila:
This is nothing less than a scam, a con, call it what you will. As is evident from the above, the deception has been well thought out. They got me, and I didn’t come down in the last digital shower. Anyway, the bottom line is: not only is AntiSpywareBOT not free – it is not the successor to SpyBot Search and Destroy.
I resent wasting an hour plus getting uselessly deep-scanned under the illusion that I had downloaded the free successor to the genuinely free (and excellent) SpyBot Search and Destroy. I resent being conned.
So fuck you, AntiSpywareBOT. You won’t be getting a sale outta me now, however good your software is. And by exposing your deception here, I hope I save at least a few folk out there the time I wasted today with your bullshit ‘free download’.
PS: My thanks to Bananaman, who pointed out in the Comments below (in response to my initial post, which has since been modified) that the genuine Spybot Search and Destroy program is still available, updated and free. The AntiSpywareBOT con is clearly nothing to do with the creators of Spybot Search and Destroy.
Just make sure you download Spybot Search and Destroy from a reliable site, like that Bananaman supplied: http://www.safer-networking.org/. I have just done so and ran the genuine, updated Spybot Search and Destroy – as Bananaman states, no problems at all. If anything, Spybot Search and Destroy is faster and better than ever.