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McAfee To Pay For PC Repairs After Patch Fiasco 212

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the in-over-their-heads dept.
Barence writes "McAfee has offered to pay for the PC repairs of consumers affected by last week's faulty antivirus update. The problematic patch falsely identified the SVCHOST.EXE Windows file as a virus, causing PCs running Windows XP SP3 to crash or enter endless reboot cycles. In a blog post addressed to 'Home or Home Office Consumers,' the company offered to reimburse PC repair expenses, though there was a notable caveat. 'If you have already incurred costs to repair your PC as a result of this issue, we're committed to reimbursing reasonable expenses,' the company said. 'Reasonable expenses' has yet to be formally defined."
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McAfee To Pay For PC Repairs After Patch Fiasco

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  • Reasonable cost? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by areusche (1297613)
    I'm pretty sure that reimburshing my IT department's lost money and time is pretty reasonable considering I spent two days walking to every computer on the campus.
    • Re:Reasonable cost? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday April 26, 2010 @10:52AM (#31984378) Homepage Journal

      maybe you should put a Linux partition on all of the boxes with some remote access software?
      Not actually trying to be a smart ass but if you could do that then it might have been possible to fix the issue remotely.
      I am not sure since my office has a small network and we didn't have the problem. I would think that it should be possible to replace the missing file and disable the anti virus or maybe replace the definitions file remotely. Most modern Linux distros can mount NTFS partitions.

      Of course right now the idea of light clients and Windows terminal services probably doesn't sound so bad!

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        That's why Intel made Vpro.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          If you have a box running so you can use the VPro client software.
          Actually VPro looks very cool. The question is how do you get it? Seems like it must be built into the system at the motherboard or bios level.

          • by thsths (31372)

            > Actually VPro looks very cool. The question is how do you get it? Seems like it must be built into the system at the motherboard or bios level.

            Yes, it is just like any other feature: you buy a PC that has it. My office PC for example has Intel AMT (nearly the same thing), but they wont tell me the password.

    • by PIBM (588930)

      Did you not so read the summary to miss the 'home or home office' part ?

  • Reimburse? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Monday April 26, 2010 @10:32AM (#31984136)
    Reimburse them ... or ... maybe what they should do is give the "victims" extended subscriptions instead ... that's probably exactly what they want ;-)
    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      Exactly what I was thinking, that they would give you "free" extended coverage for the "life of the machine", which of course, is -3 days since they killed them.

  • by topham (32406) on Monday April 26, 2010 @10:33AM (#31984148) Homepage

    A 2 year extension? What, so they can have 730 more days to do it again?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      I actually think they deserve some credit for this. It will cost them a fortune. Better that they hadn't made the mistake in the first place, but then again, these things happen occasionally and cases of software companies paying for damages caused by their bugs are extremely rare.
      • Maybe it will cost them a fortune. Or maybe they'll make everyone trying to file a claim jump through unreasonable hoops and end up paying almost nothing.

        Extending a license for 2 years costs them NOTHING if the customer would have left.

        And that's just for home users. There's still no word on other users (like school districts).

      • by mzs (595629)

        They do deserve some credit. It will also be an example in the future when those higher-up than me make a statement like, "Why should we use this open source thing, who will pay when they mess-up?" I'll just be holding my head in my hands again then I guess because this plus support are the two biggest bullet points that kill open source year after year on projects.

    • This reminds me of the story where my grandpa chipped a tooth eating some peanut brittle or something. My grandma sent the company that made it a nasty letter and they returned an apology and another box of peanut brittle. My grandpa chipped another tooth on the first bite.
  • by Hebbinator (1001954) on Monday April 26, 2010 @10:38AM (#31984214)

    I don't see how this even begins to approach the amount they are in for.. they are going about it the wrong way. In signing up to pay home/ home office users, they are automatically assuming guilt for themselves (as if anyone wasn't sure that they were guilty in the first place?)

    First off, they are starting with home / home office users. This population will incur the highest cost per computer to fix - i.e. instead of paying 1 IT guy 30/hr to fix a bunch of computers in one place, this is one-at-a-time visits to Geek Squad (ugh) or whatever which will run 50+ per computer..

    This is just opening the door for future corporate lawsuits - i.e. "Clearly they have said that they were the cause of this issue and are willing to refund some of their users to the tune of X for just ONE computer. My company lost 1000 computers, I want 1000x dollars, plus lost productivity."

    • I always thought McAfee was included with shitty software bundles because it wasn't used on corporate networks.

      Do yourselves a favour and switch to ESET Smart Security.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Good luck on that, it's not unusual for consumers to have completely different rights than corporations. Nor is it illegal for corporations to be nicer than they legally can be. Stuff like you describe is the reason why you ALL get shitty service in the US, because if one knowledgeable guy answers a question outside the script he'll call back more and demand that service or cry foul and sue or the next person who gets an average drone will cry foul and sue for discrimination or whatnot absurd reason. It's v

    • by JamesP (688957)

      First off, they are starting with home / home office users. This population will incur the highest cost per computer to fix - i.e. instead of paying 1 IT guy 30/hr to fix a bunch of computers in one place, this is one-at-a-time visits to Geek Squad (ugh) or whatever which will run 50+ per computer..

      This is just opening the door for future corporate lawsuits - i.e. "Clearly they have said that they were the cause of this issue and are willing to refund some of their users to the tune of X for just ONE computer. My company lost 1000 computers, I want 1000x dollars, plus lost productivity."

      Well, tough...

      Don't wanna play the game, go home.

      Kudos for them actually, for saying 'it's my fault'

    • by blair1q (305137)

      "I don't see how this even begins to approach the amount they are in for.."

      It doesn't.

      They are offering something that costs them nearly $0, in compensation for large-cost effort repairing machines broken by rogue software, which is precisely they were originally paid large-cost actual $$ to prevent.

      Not getting more revenue is not at all the same thing as "paying for repairs". In "paying for repairs", they would transfer $ to the affected parties, and those parties could still buy a competing product and b

  • by chaffed (672859) on Monday April 26, 2010 @10:50AM (#31984352) Homepage

    I was thinking this would be a boon for me. I do in home and business support in my off hours, good spending money. However, due to my issues with McAfee, none of my regular clients use McAfee AV products.

    So, if I had recommended McAfee to my clients, I would be a rich person now. Damn, doing the right things doesn't make as much money!

    • by King_TJ (85913) on Monday April 26, 2010 @11:11AM (#31984620) Journal

      Heh.... Doing the right thing almost always *ensures* you'll make less money -- at least in the world of computing.

      I do on-site service too, and honestly, that's one reason I charge higher hourly rates than some of my competition. I've seen, first-hand, the way they leave a PC after they're supposedly done "cleaning up a spyware infection". Typically, they run a couple of their favorite programs on it, letting them run through and remove whatever they find, and they declare it "clean" - charging their fee and leaving.

      I actually take the time out to test a system after I clean a virus/spyware issue, and if I see any evidence that, say, pop-up windows are still occasionally coming up in Internet Explorer, or error boxes are displaying from files that got deleted but not removed from the registry entries referencing them? I go back in and fix all of that. If I can't get it to where I'm satisfied it's 100% back to normal, I sometimes back up all their documents, bookmarks/favorites, Outlook email store, autocomplete files, photos, music, and whatever else - wipe the drive, and rebuild the whole machine.

      Honestly, that stuff takes many HOURS to do right, and I can't really bill a person for all of the time that takes - so I just "cap" things at that point with what I think is a fair price, and "eat" the rest of it.

      If I was less honest, I'd do what the other guys do and just do a quick, easy automated "once over" of things, take my money and run. Chances are good they'll call back and pay a second or third time to go back and mess with the remaining junk that was left behind anyway. And if not, at least I wasn't stuck putting in hours of unpaid work to do the job right....

      But I dunno.... there's still something satisfying about knowing you did a job the best you could -- even if it usually goes relatively unappreciated.

  • Since this has come out I've decided to charge my family and friends $1000/computer, which they can pay to me upon being reimbursed by McAfee.

    • Since this has come out I've decided to charge my family and friends $1000/computer, which they can pay to me upon being reimbursed by McAfee.

      It's exactly because of this, and the "My P3 got fired, so I replaced it with a 16-core uberputer" that McAfee had to specify "reasonable".

  • Offtopic (Score:2, Interesting)

    AV industry is just one big fuck up.
    Instead of building a true behaviour based, sandbox'y style AV solutions, they peddle their ugly products and never exchange their virus signatures leading to a situation when no AV can detect all existing viruses, and no AV is even remotely future-proof in defeating unknown malware types.
    And let this McAffee debacle become the next little step in embracing of open source OS'es by the corporate world.

  • I wonder.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 26, 2010 @11:02AM (#31984492) Journal
    What, if any, level of incompetence would (legally) be "indistinguishable from malice"...

    Obviously, by installing an AV product, you indicate a desire for it to perform certain operations on your system, and an acceptance of the fact that it will probably tank your I/O performance and so forth. And, in general, courts have generally accepted the notion that vendors are nominally, at best, liable for buggy software.

    In this case, albeit unintentionally, McAfee ended up committing several hundred thousand hack attacks. Disabling thousands of computers, including plenty that would fall under the CFA's definition of "protected computers".

    Thought experiment: If some punk kid had accidentally disabled some hundreds of thousands of computers(along the lines of that old accidental self-replicator worm, or something), what parts of the book would they be throwing at him right now? Are McAfee's actions just a desperate attempt to keep some of their burned customers, or do they fear something more serious here?
    • by Ogive17 (691899)

      Thought experiment: If some punk kid had accidentally disabled some hundreds of thousands of computers(along the lines of that old accidental self-replicator worm, or something), what parts of the book would they be throwing at him right now? Are McAfee's actions just a desperate attempt to keep some of their burned customers, or do they fear something more serious here?

      I'm guessing he'd have to pay some form of restitution, just like what McAfee is doing.

    • Make it a nifty screensaver with kittens and puppies and all that sort of crap so that people install it willingly. Tack on a standard disclaimer absolving the programmer of all responsibility to whatever happens to your computer.

  • reasonable expenses shouldn't exceed the average cost that a data recovery business would charge. And it would be simple enough to see that the drive is okay, that all you need is to fix the missing files in question. If I had to guess, I'd say $99 max comes to mind.

    I say the simplest option would be to provide some free service. Maybe a couple year's worth. This way they wouldn't have to write out a check to everyone. I'm not saying this isn't a bad thing that happened, but I'm just thinking of easy soluti

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Monday April 26, 2010 @11:05AM (#31984532)
    "Ladies and gentlemen, coming to to you all the way from Seattle, Washington, the one, the only - Patch Fiasco!"

    or perhaps...

    (Twelve bad guys lie dead or mortally wounded on the street, surrounded by astonished and bewildered townsfolk. One speaks up.)
    - Who are you?
    (the man lights a cigarette, drags it in and exhales, then adjust the brim of his hat.)
    - My name... is Patch Fiasco. (turns around and starts walking away. music: mournful slide guitar)
    • "Dr. Patch Fiasco?"

      "Yeah, they started calling him that after he tried to cure his last cancer patient with the power of laughter. Turned out chemotherapy would've been a better choice."

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday April 26, 2010 @11:08AM (#31984572) Homepage

    At this point, an offer to pay "reasonable" expenses is about as generous as Ford apologizing for selling a car airbag that deploys as soon as you sit in the seat. Plus, it's covered in broken glass and rusty nails. Also, lemon juice.

    It's nice that they're taking responsibility and all, but a bodyguard who beats up his own client isn't really the sort of person that you give second chances to.

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Monday April 26, 2010 @11:13AM (#31984644)

    Come on guys, I hate McAfee as much as you do but "reasonable expenses" makes perfect sense and it's not something you can easily quantify everywhere... but we all know how ridiculous some potential charges are or how some stupid customers are. I can see some stupid, stupid people thinking they need to go out and buy a new 500 dollar computer to fix this problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slimjim8094 (941042)

      I can see some stupid, stupid people thinking they need to go out and buy a new 500 dollar computer to fix this problem.

      Replace "some stupid, stupid" with "a lot". There's a depressingly tremendous percentage of people who are convinced that the fix for a computer that's gotten slower over 2 years is a new computer. These are people with C2Ds with 2GB ram and 500GB hard drives.

      Most people don't get the distinction between hardware and software. Most think that when the OS gets bogged down with craptons of spyware, the computer simply needs replacing; they just wear out over a few years. Dell obviously loves this, but it's tr

      • by barzok (26681)

        Incidentally, this is why Apple's doing so well. They want their computer to work like a microwave or TV - works indefinitely until it becomes inadequate for your needs, or breaks. Apple is perfectly happy to sell them something that works like that, and that's what us geeks don't understand.

        I am a geek, and that is exactly what I want. I want to buy my computer and have it Just Work until it can't do what I need it to do anymore, then it'll be passed on to someone else with lesser computing demands or put

        • The clear implication was "geeks who bitch out Apple for making an appliance". You clearly don't fall into that camp; neither do I. So one could easily deduce that the comment doesn't apply to the people it doesn't implicate.

          It's a Slashdot comment, not a mathematical proof.

  • ... Must just be licking their chops. Why?

    1. They all but admitted they fracked up. They even used the word "faulty" in their post. What were they thinking?
    2. Whatever their definition of "reasonable" is, it's not going to make everybody happy. That's sure to generate a few phone calls to lawyers.

    Expect the the class action lawsuits to be filed shortly.

  • Get a bunch of fake receipts and retire.

  • by Livius (318358) on Monday April 26, 2010 @01:01PM (#31985886)

    But svchost.exe *is* a virus; there just isn't a way to remove it. Almost as big a security breach as iexplore.exe.

    • But svchost.exe *is* a virus; there just isn't a way to remove it.

      I find that this [debian.org] works wonders. Or, if you're not as hands-on, you may want this [ubuntu.com] instead.

  • I've been on McAfee's side for this whole thing. They have to get some props for being the first AV vendor to come right out and admit that Windows itself IS the virus.

    However, apparently the general population doesn't agree.

    Don't worry McAfee, I agree with you.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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