Melissa Kite

Real life | 6 September 2018

I have unsubscribed from the software but I can’t remove its presence, or personality, from my computer

Real life | 6 September 2018
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Leaving Norton, the antivirus software package, is a bit like trying to leave the EU.

You may think, once you have decided to click the ‘X’ button in the box that says you don’t want to subscribe to this expensive protection outfit any more, that you have left. You may think that it was your decision to make, and now you’ve made it, you’re free. You’re right if you hold your nerve. But then there is the whole issue of Norton’s feelings on the matter, which are only marginally less difficult to deal with than Jean-Claude Juncker’s feelings about Brexit.

Like Juncker, Norton 360 antivirus software wants you in a way that you didn’t really grasp the potency of until you decided to say goodbye. I mean, you had some inkling, but you didn’t quite understand it fully.

Even though it’s a big outfit, you still half expected them to say something along the lines of: ‘We’re sorry to hear you’re going. Thanks for all the loyal years you’ve been with us. Take care and do let us know if we can do anything for you in the future.’

It’s not as if they didn’t play their part in you having to leave. Like the EU, Norton was costing me so much money to do something so convoluted that in the end I decided I would rather run the risk of encountering whatever complex catastrophes it was claiming to be keeping me from by going it alone.

It has been taking my money on an automatic subscription renewal for years and I have been too confused about what it actually does, and who else might do it cheaper, to do anything about it. But they must have an old credit card number because a month ago they started asking me to put in my payment details again, in advance of the subscription running out.

And in an act of defiance that surprised even me, I didn’t put them in. There then began a month-long process of daily warnings about my protection expiring.

When the last day came, I was given my last warning, and I clicked the X again. And the subscription expired. I thought that must be the end of it.

But from that day forward a new warning flashed up daily on my computer: a red box informing me that my protection had ended, and that I needed to restart it or fall prey to cyber attacks. There appears to be no way to remove this red box. Ever. It comes up every time I start my computer and then at regular intervals.

So I don’t have Norton protection any more but I can’t remove Norton’s presence, its personality, from my computer. If I right click on the Norton icon it just gives me the option to renew.

But I must stick to my guns. As a point of principle, I don’t want to be involved with anyone or anything that tries to frighten me into thinking I can’t do without them.

This is why I become more adamantly pro-Brexit the more I am told I am not allowed to be because it will mean the end of everything.

Every Brexit voter I know feels the same. Mad for it, we are. Whereas before we weighed up the pros and cons and thought that on balance we would prefer to leave, now we would back Brexit in defiance of any evidence that could be presented to dissuade us.

In a second referendum, I’m sure more people would vote Brexit, spurred on by the magnificent bloody-minded truculence that binds us Brits stubbornly to the idea of freedom even while a tide of fashionable minority opinion is urging us to sell boring old freedom down the river or risk being seen as stupid and outdated.

At around the same time as the warnings from Norton began, I heard the dogs barking at the door and when I got there a handwritten letter had been pushed through it. I recognised the careful writing immediately. It was a letter from the ex-builder boyfriend in which he spelt out his feelings on the matter of our estrangement. The general thrust of the letter was a sort of grudging apology coupled with a reminder that I will be needing him soon enough, so I might like to give him a call now.

He noted that I had managed to get the front of my house repointed and painted in one line of faint praise, which he tempered by citing this as evidence of me being the sort of survivor who battles on regardless, against all odds, as impending ruin bears down on me.

But the point he’s missing is that sometimes even ruin is worth entertaining as the price of being free.