For nearly the past two years Avast has used iYogi to provide free phone support to our users, primarily our free users. With over 150 million users around the world, we naturally have some users that desire phone support. Delivering free phone support to the users of free products is obviously a challenge. As such, the freemium support model used by iYogi and others was very useful. With this support, Avast users received free phone support for any issue to do with Avast. Then, after helping the user, the user would be offered an opportunity to upgrade to an annual iYogi remote support package for any issue with their computer.
In general this model worked very well and provided free phone support to 20,000 – 30,000 Avast users a month. Customer satisfaction levels were also very high with just sporadic complaints. However, as Krebsonsecurity.com, a well-known blog on cybercrime and security issues, highlighted yesterday, at times this model did not work correctly. Instead, iYogi service representatives appear to have attempted to increase sales of iYogi’s premium support packages by representing that user computers had issues that they did not have.
Avast is a very non-traditional company in that positive referrals and recommendations from our user base drive our product usage. We do not distribute our products in retail, via computer manufacturers, or other similar channels. This model has served us well and has made us the most popular antivirus product in the world. Last year we added over 30M new users on top of almost 30M new users in the previous year. As such, any behavior that erodes the confidence our users have with Avast is unacceptable. In particular, we find the behavior that Mr. Krebs describes as unacceptable.
We had initial reports of this behavior a few weeks ago and met with iYogi’s senior executives to ensure the behavior was being corrected. Thus, we were shocked to find out about Mr. 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.
In the meantime, users can receive support via the other support options provided on our website. We will also work to ensure that any users that feel they have been misled into purchasing a premium support receive a full refund. We ask that users send any complaints or concerns to email@example.com or even to myself, the CEO, if desired, firstname.lastname@example.org.