While we love technology, sometimes its purveyors make our blood boil. We're talking about annoying policies and practices, whether a new PC stuffed with junkware or how we have to switch providers just so we can get a better mobile phone.
Software that nags you to buy or upgrade
Major offenders: Intuit, McAfee, Symantec
Talk about irony, McAfee Internet Security and similar applications aim to simplify your life by protecting your PC, but they annoy the heck out of you in the process. They never stop nagging you to upgrade to a bigger, better version or to renew your subscription (even though it doesn't expire for another six months). It's like dealing with a pesky little kid who's always demanding your attention.
Larry Campbell, a retired US Air Force captain, recently found himself nagged to distraction by software maker McAfee. Although his antivirus utility's subscription wasn't due to expire until May of this year, the company started campaigning for a renewal last October, sending no fewer than eight email alerts, enough to prompt his decision: "I am not renewing," he says, "but will switch to another company in May."
If such non-stop nagging can actually drive customers away, why do companies do it? McAfee's explanation is about what you'd expect. "McAfee sends promotional offers to subscribers that feature discounts on the current product they have subscribed to and/or discounts on suites that offer additional levels of protection," said a company rep. "We want consumers to remain protected and not experience any lapses in protection." The rep went on to note that customers can easily opt out of such offers by unsubscribing. She also apologised for annoying Campbell with all the email.
The fix: Unfortunately, nagging seems to be a part of modern computing. Any company that has taken your money once will work hard to take more of it. You can always try freeware alternatives such as Avast 4 Home Edition and Avira AntiVir Personal offer robust virus protection, for instance, but don't be surprised if you get nagged to buy their commercial counterparts.
Full screen ads that precede home pages
You head to your favourite site in search of the latest news, only to be stopped cold by some lame splash-screen advertisement or you visit a job site to peruse the latest postings, but a come-on for a resume builder or an online degree program intervenes -and it isn't just a pop-up, either, but a full-screen blockade.
Sure, these 'interstitial'or 'transitional' ads pay for your free content and services - PC Advisor couldn't exist in its current, free form without the advertising we carry. But there's a limit, right?
"They're no different than commercial breaks, and most users are willing to accept advertising to not pay for content," says Pesach Lattin, CEO of ad agency Vizi. But can't marketers wait until we get to the site before bombarding us?
The fix: Firefox users should try the Adblock Plus Extension, which suppresses not only button and banner ads but also transitional ads. Internet Explorer 7 users can find similar capabilities in IE7Pro. Meanwhile, advertisers take note: you could grab more eyeballs by creating ads that make us want to watch. Show us something funny or surprising. Offer a freebie. Visitors may click past the ad anyway, but at least make an effort!
NEXT PAGE: Automated email responses