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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securitylegalsoftwareCivil lawsuitsWashington State Attorney General's OfficeAscentive

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

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?