How Broken Is Norton 2005 Activation?

Opinion: It's hard to tell how widespread the problems are, but there appear to be enough of them. Here's hoping that Norton 2006 finally gets it right.

The record for feedback in my security blog easily belongs to the entry on the brief problem I had with activation of Norton Antivirus 2005.

I knew beforehand that other people had complaints about activation, but this thread has taken on a life of its own. It appears to have acquired significant Google karma. Google "Norton 2005 activation problems" and it shows up No. 2. Im impressed.

My own problem was quite minor, and I blogged it because I thought it was curious. Out of the blue, my NAV said it had to be activated, months after I had already done so. I reactivated it and (this is more than four months ago) there have been no problems since.

(Incidentally, I run a variety of antivirus scanners on a variety of systems here, just to keep an eye on them. I also have Trend, McAfee and BitDefender scanners running on other systems.)

But read the blog feedback and youll find a large number of unhappy Symantec customers, with the general complaint being, "I bought the box from [large retail store like Staples] and it wont activate, and Norton wants me to pay $29.95 just to talk to them!" For a $49.95 product, I can see hanging up and griping.

I tried to defend Symantec on the feedback thread for a while, but clearly theres something wrong. How wrong is it? I was about to write "only Symantec knows," but maybe even it doesnt!

Face facts, the $29.95 charge for phone support—even though it says prominently that the "fee may be waived if support representative determines that the issue was caused by the product"—is a big fat "not welcome" mat at Symantecs door. Im sure lots of people are discouraged from seeking support. Certainly a lot of readers in the blog feedback complained about this issue.

By the same token, Symantec is big enough that it must find out quickly about any problems in its products, and it doesnt deny that people have problems with activation of NAV, as we can see in its document on what to do if you have problems activating. This document suggests that parental control software is often a problem (perhaps users have a whitelist and the activation servers arent on it).

Next page: Other activation problems.