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Following Discovery of a Scam, Avast Suspends Ties with iYogi

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March 20, 2012

Following Discovery of a Scam, Avast Suspends Ties with iYogi

By Madhubanti Rudra, TMCnet Contributor

Avast, the provider of anti-virus software announced that it has suspended its relationship with iYogi, one of the company’s third party live-support operators.

In a post on its company blog, Avast clarified that it had taken the step following a controversy that erupted when Avast discovered that iYogi call center representatives were trying to sell expensive and unnecessary support contracts to Avast users.

Avast! Free Antivirus is the freeware version of the Avast! antivirus software package, available to Microsoft (News - Alert) Windows and Linux users. Avast! Pro Antivirus is offered to businesses and users who want additional features for a price. For nearly the past two years, iYogi has been providing free phone support to Avast! users, primarily its freeware solution users.

With millions of users worldwide, iYogi’s support model proved extremely successful. Under this model, Avast users received free phone support for any issue to do with Avast. The model allowed iYogi to reach out to prospective customers in which, Avast users were offered an opportunity to upgrade to an annual iYogi remote support package for any issue with their computer.

According to Avast, the model was successful in preserving the interests of both the parties. But recently, a well-known blog on cybercrime and security issues, highlighted that at times this model did not work correctly. The blog claimed that, at times, iYogi service representatives attempted to increase sales of iYogi’s premium support packages by claiming to find false problems with users’ computers.

In his blog Brian Krebs said that he had installed Windows XP on his Apple (News - Alert) using a virtual machine utility just before calling the company helpline and the various faults the engineer claimed to have detected using a remote support tool were non-existent.

It appears that the representative tried to pursue Krebs into buying an expensive support package, telling him that the problems would take a week to be corrected by Avast, but could be resolved immediately upon payment to iYogi.

The revelation has prompted Avast to suspend its contract pending an investigation.

“The behaviour that Krebs describes is unacceptable ... Thus we were shocked to find out about Krebs' experience.”

“As a consequence, we have removed the iYogi support service from our website and shortly it will be removed from our products. We believe that this type of service, when performed in a correct manner, provides immense value to users. As such, over the next weeks, we will work with iYogi to determine whether the service can be re-launched,” Avast chief executive officer Vince Steckler said in a statement published on the company blog.

In the meantime, the users are advised to receive support via the other support options provided on Avast website.

In a letter published on Krebs' blog, Larry Gordon, iYogi's president of global channel sales, called the investigation "a Tylenol moment for iYogi and the leadership team".

“Despite the recent turn of events, we believe that this model is a perfect complement for the major freemium anti-virus player and has enhanced their brand's engagement with this group of consumers. This view is endorsed by the customer satisfaction scores for Avast customers over the last nine months that show over 95 per cent of the respondents are satisfied, with a large majority being extremely satisfied (84 per cent). Four per cent are not satisfied and we need to do a better job with them, and will figure out how to fine-tune the agent sales process even further. The technical process has not been a question,” Gordon explained in his letter.

Last month AVAST Software launched avast! Free Antivirus 7 solution, enabling users to receive faster information from the cloud regarding new and emerging threats. The security program is designed to make security fast and easier for users, and new Remote Access and Account features enable family and friends to help solve others' IT issues easily, the company said in an earlier news.

Edited by Chris Freeburn

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