The next time you're buying antivirus software, don't go direct to Symantec or McAfee. Don't download free antivirus. And definitely don't see Harvey Norman. Ask your bank — they're quite literally giving the stuff away.
For years, free antivirus software from AVG or Avast has been top choice for those who don't like paying for protection. But their edge over paid-for equivalents is being gnawed away in Australia — not by direct competitors but by banks.
NAB, Commonwealth Bank and St George have offered their customers 25 to 50 per cent discounts on various security products for some months now. But Westpac recently upped the ante by offering its customers several PC Tools products — antivirus, browser privacy protection, and firewall — absolutely free for 12 months.
Westpac's offer throws a spanner in the works, not just for AVG, but for Symantec, McAfee and Harvey Norman. Why? It now makes more sense to join a bank, if only for a year, to get the best price for PC security products compared to any other source.
Take Symantec's current pricing for the Norton range. Symantec charges AU$130 for Norton 360 version 2, AU$49 for its Norton AV 2008, and AU$99 for Norton Internet Security 2008 for three users per year.
Standard charges for maintaining a bank account meanwhile sit around AU$5 per month or AU$60 per year. So instead of activating the security software that comes pre-installed on your new laptop, simply open an account with Westpac — even if you don't actually use the account, you'll still be better off than spending up at Harvey Norman!
It's an interesting change for banking consumers also. This could be the first time in a decade that consumers financially gain from paying what are seemingly pointless monthly fees to a bank.
Oh, how good it is to be a customer in Australia.