Symantec declares Chinese offer a success, withholds numbers

Symantec declared its compensation offer for Chinese users a success, but declined to say how many users accepted the deal.

Symantec Corp. declared its compensation offer for Chinese users who saw their computers damaged by a bad software update a success Sunday, but declined to say how many users had accepted the deal.

Symantec ran into trouble May 18, when the company issued a faulty software update for its Norton antivirus software that wrongly identified two system files in the Simplified Chinese edition of Windows XP as malware, and quarantined them. That blunder rendered an estimated 50,000 Chinese PCs unusable, Symantec said.

The incident also provoked an angry outcry from Chinese users, who demanded compensation for the damage wrought on their systems by Symantec. At least two users filed lawsuits against Symantec over damage done to their PCs by the company.

Five weeks after the bad update was released, Symantec offered free software to those Chinese users who were affected. The company offered Chinese consumers a 12-month Norton license extension and a copy of Norton Save & Restore 2.0. Corporate customers were offered Symantec Ghost Solution Suite licenses, depending on the number of PCs affected. Symantec did not extend Norton licenses for corporate customers affected by the bad update.

The compensation offer, which was valid for two and a half weeks starting from June 27, ended Sunday night. However, the Web site created for users to apply for compensation remained up at the time of writing, on Monday morning.

In an e-mail statement sent Sunday, Symantec declared the offer a success, saying the gesture had been "well received." But the company did not offer any information to back up that claim.

Symantec's offer was widely criticized in the Chinese press when it was first announced.

"Symantec's response to its Chinese consumers lacks seriousness and sincerity," Alamus, the deputy director of the China Electronic Commerce Association's committee on legal and policy issues, said at that time in a report by China Central Television (CCTV), the country's national TV broadcaster.

While Symantec's compensation offer officially ended Sunday, the company is keeping the door open for users who missed the July 15 deadline.

"After this date anyone who missed the registration date should contact Symantec Customer Support or email and we will give consideration to extending the date for that individual customer," the company said.

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