15
Mar 12

Avast Antivirus Drops iYogi Support

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

iYogi Refers to Incident as ‘Tylenol Moment’

Avast, an antivirus maker that claims more than 150 million customers, is suspending its relationship with iYogi, a company that it has relied upon for the past two years to provide live customer support for its products. The move comes just one day after an investigation into iYogi by KrebsOnSecurity.com indicating that the company was using the relationship to push expensive and unnecessary support contracts onto Avast users.

In a blog post published today, Avast said it came to the decision after reports on this blog that “iYogi’s 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,” Avast CEO Vince Steckler wrote. “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.”

Steckler said Avast had initial reports of the unnecessary upselling 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,” Steckler said. “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.”

Steckler added that Avast will also work to ensure that any users who feel they have been misled into purchasing a premium support receive a full refund. The company asked that users send any complaints or concerns to support@avast.com or even to the CEO himself, at vince.steckler@avast.com.

iYogi executives posted several comments to this blog yesterday and today in response to my reporting. After Avast announced its decision to drop iYogi, Larry Gordon, iYogi’s president of global channel sales, sent me a formal letter that was unapologetic, but which promised that the company would endeavor to do better. Gordon called the incident, a “Tylenol moment for iYogi and the leadership team.” His letter is reprinted in its entirety below.

Hi Brian:

I have enjoyed reading your blog, except for the last post; for obvious reasons. But even all the latest comments provide iYogi with opportunity.

I’m the president of global channel sales for iYogi, and I am writing to communicate our model for providing freemium services. As you probably know, remote tech support is still a new service category and creating a market and meeting consumer demand for subscription-based services required an innovative marketing approach. So we invented a “Serve to Sell” model for ourselves. Similar to antivirus products, and now mobile games, we want as many people to try our service as possible, and then we use that service-experience to upsell our subscription-based all-you-can-eat tech support, which many think is a pretty good deal at $169/year. We call it “try it before you buy it.” It works well. The trick, of course, is not to turn anyone off in the sales process.

For this reason, we have focused on creating a terrific service experience; we audit 30% of our agent engagements through KPMG and have CSAT rates that our amongst the highest in the world for any type of CE service or product, not just tech support. But this is the new world of total transparency. Any type of flaw or snafu can be broadcast and amplified. It’s thumbs up or thumbs down. That is why we need to be perfect. And need to get better.

In the last five years we have grown rapidly and now have close to two million subscribers, across four geographies and deploy over 5,000 tech experts. At this scale of operations, it is likely that given all the variables of a services business, a customer could experience an over enthusiastic or an erroneous sales pitch from a tech agent, as described in your post.

We market to consumers through the Internet and partner with high-growth technology companies like Avast. While technology in some respects is becoming simpler and easier to use, in some cases and for some people it has become more complex. It requires assistance with setup, installation, integration or application support. We have worked with Avast for almost two years and assisted 363,605 of their customers. They can also seek support through the Avast forum, but these customers choose voice and remote support as well. Despite the recent turn of events, we believe that this model is a perfect complement for the major freemium AV 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% of the respondents are satisfied, with a large majority being extremely satisfied (84%). 4% 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.

Which brings us to the opportunity we face. This is a Tylenol moment for iYogi and the leadership team. We have a great offering, our guys do great work, and we have helped millions of people for free. We have kept them safe. We have saved them time and aggravation. We are the only guys doing this. We have also made a mistake and will improve to keep it from happening again. We know how to do it. It will cost us some time and money, but it will be well spent. Like the makers of Tylenol we think that we can improve even more. Keep an eye on us, just like our partners and customers do. Tell us again how we are doing a few weeks from now.

Larry Gordon

President, Global Channel Sales

iYogi

NY, NY

Tags: , , ,

69 comments

  1. Indarapatra@Suleiman

    iYogi is synonymous to scaretactics… They use scare ware via remote access/session and tell you you have lots of nasties in your system so you have to purchase something to clean ‘em up. ‘Tis like dropping a trojan but thru the “in ya face!” way… I ain’t dissin’, I’m speaking through experience.

  2. While upselling can benefit both parties in certain situations where a technician can and will provide value (actually fixing something instead of pretending to do so), “Bait and Switch” must not be tolerated.

    The person helping Brian during his call to your service provided absolutely NO value while trying only to sell services that Brian certainly did not need! If it’s not broken, don’t say that it is and try to sell something the customer does not need!

    An question to Larry Gordon and iYogi employees? Are you providing any value to your customers or just signing them up for something they don’t need?

    • It’s not jsut that sell something they don’t need. I have seen them remotely try to fix something to the point where it blue screens then at that point the customer has to call me to save data and do a reinstall.

  3. European Network and information Security Agency (ENISA)

    Stock taking questionnaire for an Inventory of Information Security sources

    March 2012

    The Agency has launched a stock taking exercise , using a questionnaire to establish an Inventory of publicly available sources on Information Security. Using already existing information in an aggregated format will lead to faster assessments with less effort.

    Therefore, collection and aggregation of existing data and sources is an effective tool to raise information security.

    A main objective of this work is to include publicly available information on information security risks and opportunities, to be used in all upcoming assessments. The result of the stock-taking exercise/questionnaire is an online inventory.

    In the framework of the Agency’s work on “Identifying and Responding to the Evolving Threat Environment” in 2012, ENISA assesses emerging risks and opportunities. This forward-looking activity is an essential step to address future information security challenges. Collection and aggregation of existing quantitative data is a long-term objective that will be refined in future versions of the Agency Work Programme.

    The questionnaire is among other things looking at organisational issues, security risks, opportunities, and security trends.

    How to contribute?

    Fill in the stock-taking questionnaire

    http://www.enisa.europa.eu/media/news-items/stock-taking-questionnaire-for-an-inventory-of-information-security-sources

  4. Totally by chance, I had the exact same experience with iYogi support yesterday. Here’s my account, along with a response from iYogi. It verifies what Brian said in his earlier post.

    http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/260532/steer-clear-iyogis-scareware-tactics

    cheers

    dt

    • I note your comment, “The most chilling thing to me about this is not that iYogi was using scareware tactics to sell its products, it’s how iYogi practically owns Google. Nearly every result on the first three pages of searches for iYogi are sites owned by iYogi. Searches for “iYogi complaints,” “iYogi reviews,” and “iYogi scams” lead nearly always to URLs controlled by iYogi, or anonymous blogs that appear to be little more than shills for the company.”

      That’s something I advise people to look out for when researching a company they’re thinking of dealing with. If a company feels the need to do search engine optimization for words like “scam” and “complaints” associated with their own company’s name, they’re trying way too hard to bury other people’s comments.

      By the way, some of those pages sound like they might be appropriate to report to Google as misleading search results:
      http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=93713

  5. In response to your investigation and resulting article, Kaspersky Lab would like to express our company’s appreciation for bringing iYogi’s business practices into question. To support their business model, iYogi has purchased key search-engine terms, which causes their links to display prominently in search-engine queries for Kaspersky Lab support. We have tried to legally prevent them from this practice, but they have re-implemented this activity in recent months. Kaspersky Lab has never engaged in any sort of formal business relationship with iYogi (as was the case with Avast), but we regularly encounter customers who have expressed frustration with iYogi. In most cases, these customers were under the impression that they were receiving support from a Kaspersky Lab employee, or an authorized Kaspersky Lab representative. The impression we are given from customer claims is that they were asked to pay very expensive fees without obtaining a positive result.

    It is disheartening to receive correspondence from angry customers – complaining about “our rude and unknowledgeable service technicians” and our “exorbitantly expensive repair fees” – only to then explain that iYogi is not associated with Kaspersky Lab, and Kaspersky Lab’s customer support, including live phone support from a technician in North America, is free. While iYogi has maintained that they have fulfilled legal requirements in disclosing their non-affiliation with security vendors, it is clear that in practice, visitors to the iYogi website and phone lines believe they are receiving support directly from the vendor.

    Dave Mello, Vice President, Support & Services, North America, Kaspersky Lab

    • With all due respect to the Kaspersky guy, iyogi’s actions are inexcusable but Kaspersky is no angel either. Forget support. I needed to get rid of Symantec last year. We had 3500 licenses. Kasperskys product beat them hands down. I tried to purchase online but we required too many licenses so the site told me to contact a certain email address. I did, the mail bounced due to invalid recipient. I tracked down sales people in 8 different regions which were advertised on the site. All email bounced, except south america, who couldn’t sell us licenses in europe and didn’t know who to contact. I just renewed the symantec license for £35k.

      Next year we might use webroot

      • Ken – Would love to know your region, and what regions you contacted. The North American Kaspersky site appears to be working properly, but I would like to make sure the other regions are working appropriately.

  6. I am an employee of Iyogi, working there for past three years . We are working on customer experience based selling model, the term used scaretactics in above mentioned comments and blog are misleading upto an extent because there is a very thin line between customer education and scare tactics, if a call landed in iyogi despite of the mode of acquisition it only means that customer is seeking support and support is provided by iyogi because we are skilled and efficient enough to help our customer, we are providing support dock, an amazing tool that actually helps our customer to get the maximum out of their PC, we are providing 24 *7 support 365 days a year… for just 169.99$ , this is one time technician charge at US of A . We’ve been doing this day in day out for past 5 years, its one call that had issue there was 1000 call where we supported with unmatched customer experience and best possible solution , if we survived till now it means we have the correct measures, ethics and skill in place at iyogi. I am sure you all had issues with microsoft, dell or hp like giants they have created such scenarios to indulge us to provide support.

  7. Moreover, every call is precious to us, not only we are providing support but the way we are supporting that call can get monitored randomly, so every call is important.
    We have biggest quality teams in place to ensure the best customer experience on every call. Iyogi has gone through a lot, it has best people from the industry now and we will ensure that no body from the whole world would point out finger on us because we know how to learn from mistakes , we will excel again . We believe in GOOD KARMA and we know a good deed will never get wasted.
    We know our short falls and we are working hard to improve on every development opportunity and yes we are focusing on revenue to implement best measure to provide best experience . We are already providing value for money and we will exceed expectation from all of you. We will upgrade our skills, we will work hard to remove language barriers and we are passionate enough to achieve the success once again.

  8. Ex Iyogi Employee

    I am an ex iYogi employee. I agree to the fact that scare tactics and iYogi are synonyms.
    iYogi basically runs multiple campaigns for customer acquisition. The major acquisition campaigns are AVAS (Anti Virus Anti Spyware), Tech Sales, Tech Inbound.
    AVAS: Runs primarily on SEM campaigns and customer acquisition from channel partners like CA, AVAST etc.
    Tech Sales also runs on SEM campaigns
    Tech Inbound model is a model where all existing customers land up along with new customer acquisition from their pure sales team.
    All of these processes/campaigns are sales driven and are very aggressive on their sales numbers. There is no rigor is meeting customers satisfaction level or resolution to customers issue. Unethical sales has always existed in iYogi and the company is making a lot of money from it.
    The tech support and sales executives go through regular classroom training where they are trained to show invalid and incorrect infections on customer’s computers.
    And apart from all of this there have been multiple instances where customer’s credit card information has been misused by employees. Even though iYogi does not endorse such malpractices but their idea to curb such behavior is very funny and sadistic. Anyone who has been caught indulging on such activity is beaten up by the management. The CEO (Uday Challu) and his management team on multiple occasions have bashed up their employees on such accounts.
    In short iYogi is not a company whom one should pay to get any services rendered. People can easily get better solutions directly from OEMs and Software companies like Microsoft for a little extra cost but it would always be worth it

  9. Iyogi is not into any scam. Anyone who does fraud with the company or our customers should be beaten up before handing over to the cops so that no one dares to do the same again and Iyogi by doing this did nothing wrong.

  10. I am an ex employee of infinite computer solution bangalore. Iyogi tech support is provided here. …

    This company really doesnt provide service the customer.They simply cheat the customers by showing TEMP,event log, Prefetch, startup.They tell the customer that computer should be cleaned up. Their might be infection.. and force them to pay for subcrition.

    Its not the agent fault. They demand the agents to give at least 20% conversation. That means 1 sale on 5 calls.
    you may recive blank calls also.those things wouldnt be considered. Call is call..even in a blank call you have to make a sale.

    They are talking about quality of service and internal quality check…

    This is absolute joke…

    bunch of funny guys do some audit.. if you go a smoke with them get them something ..no zt or no errors…If you donot co-operate you are out of the company.

    Most of quality team member — dosent even know the spelling of word ” QUALITY ”

    You donot have proper managment.Even a house keeping boy things they are ceo. No respect is given to any individual.

    HR – Three guys are there… They will speak to new commer who have been hired to refer the employess of previous company. They may ask complete list of your previous companies fellow employess.

    if you see their room board…They might have writted

    sitel – 35 emp
    sutherland – 100 emp

    like this ,,,means they have stolen the details of employess of these companie and there phone numbers…they will call them and offer them to join……so many promises will be given

    People who unfortunately joins like me its a complete nightmare….

    Traning team– its a biggest joke….They donot know what traning means… what they will do…. they have to train the employees how to cheat the customers…

    If you donot pass the ojt in 2 months from the joing the company you are thrown out without any mercy….

    If you want to see HELL in earth …please join this company.
    I was in hell for 6 months… fortunately i got a better oppourtunity…..

  11. MrUnFixit-Maybe

    Keywords that anybody that has spent time in the IT industry will recognise: Indian, outsourcing support, Search Engine Optimisation, professionalism, greed…

    Did I miss many?


Read previous post:
Hackers Offer Bounty for Windows RDP Exploit

A Web site that bills itself as a place where independent and open source software developers can hire each other...

Close