Finallyfast.com maker to refund thousands in spyware case

After consumer complaints, PC tune-up seller Ascentive has promised to change business practices

The company whose late-night commercials promised to "make your computer run fast the way it's supposed to," will pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines and refunds to settle charges that it engaged in deceptive advertising.

In a settlement with the Washington State attorney general's office, Ascentive, best known for its FinallyFast.com Web site, will pay $78,000 in penalties and offer $17.90 refunds to thousands of its Washington State customers who purchased the company's PC cleanup products but did not use them.

At FinallyFast.com, PC users download software that tests their system for any performance bottlenecks and then offers to clean things up -- for a fee. Consumers complained that the software didn't work as advertised and that Ascentive racked up charges without properly notifying customers.

According to Assistant Attorney General Jake Bernstein, the company was peddling scareware -- software that always found severe problems no matter what the condition of the computer being scanned. "They basically crossed the line in terms of advertising to consumers," he said.

Bernstein's office has a list of complaints against Ascentive, which echo consumer grievances that can be found online.

In court documents, the Washington attorney general's office said that until March 2009, Ascentive's free scan software came with adware and endless, annoying pop-up warnings that exaggerated problems on the computer. "The free scan categorizes everything that it identifies as an 'error,'" the filings state.

Customers who wanted to cancel their subscriptions were forced though a cumbersome process and finally had to respond to an e-mail message before their accounts would actually be closed. The company has now agreed to fix the way it advertises and bills for its products, Bernstein said.

Ascentive sued Google in June 2009 after the search engine company began refusing to run advertisements for its products. It dropped the suit a month later, and Google is again running ads for Finallyfast.com.

Ascentive could not be reached for comment.

However, it looks like the company has made a lot of money. Ascentive claims there have been more than 20 million downloads of its free scans. In a YouTube video interview with Ascentive CEO Adam Schran, filmed on Richard Branson's Necker Island Caribbean resort, Schran describes how he's enjoying the money he's made with the company, "It's important to spoil yourself along the way," he says. "Treat yourself to trips to Necker Island or a local spa or massage. Whatever is fun."

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Washington State Attorney General's OfficesecurityAscentiveCivil lawsuitslegalsoftware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?