Norton Tech Support Gives Away Free Product Keys!

Post by Maxime Rousseau

I was at work the other day, a lady came up wanting a preventive checkup (included in her extended warranty) and AV reinstall on her Mac. As funny as I thought the idea of having an antivirus product on a Mac was, I sold the lady the latest Norton AV for Mac, and took her computer in for a parts check. Turns out PC-Check doesn't have the right drivers to run on a Mac, as the keyboard stops working once it boots (tested with 6.05 and 6.21), but a custom launcher with command line arguments works flawlessly.

So yeah, in the end, all the parts were OK, I did some maintenance (which on a Mac can be resumed to updates, blowing some air in the cooling slots), and ran into some problems when re-activating the Norton product. Our tech-bench version of the software doesn't have any activation keys printed on them! For those of you not familiar with Norton products, the product key stickers look like this:

In the two boxes that I have unwrapped, both of the product booklets came without the yellow sticker containing the key. Concerned, I fired up a livechat session with a Symantec rep. Here's the integral transcript for your very own reading pleasure, I'll  be highlighting the important stuff.

As soon as I got a hold of somebody, I inquired on how I could find the customer's product's activation key elsewhere than it usually is. I had already tried entering other numbers I saw on the box as the activation key, with no avail. The only question that I got was for a billing address which the dude said was for quality assurance purposes only, and that I sadly couldn't supply as to protect my customer's identity. The dude's response?

PrasadDuvvi(Sat May 23 12:42:42 EDT 2009)>
No problem.

PrasadDuvvi(Sat May 23 12:43:37 EDT 2009)>
The activation code is (*********)

PrasadDuvvi(Sat May 23 12:44:38 EDT 2009)>
Please try to activate the program and let me know

It was that easy to get a key. I was totally puzzled. I actually asked the guy how come he gave me a key without asking for a proof of purchasing and without questionning me any more than he did. His response was that he simply carried out what I wanted and gave me a key. 

What is to be learned from this? That the OS-X antivirus products are so unprofitable that you can give them away for free and not see a difference. I understand that they guy probably only wanted to get rid of a quick case by giving away something that wasn't worth very much, but what kind of message this give to consumers like me?

Now this brings me to think that maybe I could do this with other Norton products. I haven't tested it yet, but my main server OS disk is in dire need of changing and I would really like a free copy of Ghost. I'll keep the post updated if there is any avail. Post in the comments if you try it out!