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CCleaner Pro Lifetime Licence - why has it expired?

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I think I need to clarify a couple more things. As previously mentioned we currently and always have offered CCleaner under one license term (which is 1 year in length), we do however offer two options for renewal. These are Manual renewal whereby a customer can choose to pay and extend their license at their discresion. The second being the subscription renewal (we started selling these in Feb-18) whereby the customer is billed automatically and the license term extended automatically every year. They are reminded via email of this seven days prior to taking payment and given the option to cancel it.

Finally we are not pushing our exisitng customers onto subscription renewals, this is a decision they have to make themselves if they renew.

@Ron The Bear Could you please send me a copy of that Cleverbridge email

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I received a reply from Piriform's support that I think explains what's happened here.  In a nut shell, the purchase of Piriform by Avast! has caused this confusion and they are directly responsible for what has recently transpired and the lack of communication behind those changes.

First, some facts.

  1. Piriform never offered a perpetual lifetime license - the small, hard-to-find print in 2012 verifies this.  It could best be described as a "single year, voluntary subscription model".  If you chose not to re-subscribe, then Piriform didn't care, and they didn't enforce the expiration following that first year.  Because of that and the way their program was written, none of us customers had any reason to suspect (or care) that we were using a subscription-based product (even if it was expired) since the product functioned just the same as it always had.  The CCleaner software just called it a "License", expired or not.  Further, Cleverbridge didn't make note of this, because again, NO ONE CARED and it wasn't enforced.  It truly was up to you to re-new when you wanted to, IF you wanted to.  It was so obscured in text that you specifically had to go digging in the EULA and legal terms to find subscription-related verbiage.  Essentially, Piriform did a horrible job making sure everyone knew that the Pro+Plus bundle was a per-year, subscription-based product.
  2. When Avast! bought Piriform and associated programs last year, they noticed right away that people had been buying the paid licenses but the current paid customer base did not reflect that all those customers had been renewing their license each year. Therefore, they introduced the renewal notices for customers who had expired licenses to remind them that their license had expired.  They did that without any communication to their customer base at all, and instead just snuck the code changes in with a regular release.  We were just supposed to somehow "know" that the so-called "Lifetime Perpetual License"-ride was over, even if it had been working just fine for the last 6 years.
  3. Avast's official stance is that if a user is going to be using the professional features, they need to keep their licenses current, or revert back to the freeware version.
  4. Avast! obviously couldn't care less if you're upset by this or not, since they are notorious for being lousy communicators and terrible at customer service.

I'd like to thank John Kelly at Piriform (Avast?) support for bringing me up-to-speed on what affected all these changes - I truly appreciate your time and detail.

The rub, of course, is that we were all under the [mistaken] impression that we were getting perpetual freeware with our initial purchase.  I thought so too, but that was just due to the fact that Piriform had no intention of enforcing their [hidden] subscription model, so they had no reason to make it painfully obvious like Avast! has recently decided to do.

So, hate Avast! for (A) Making these changes, (B) Not communicating the changes to anyone, (C) Setting themselves up for failure.  They could have easily done the math here to see how this would look, but instead they just decided to Nuke it from outer space rather than find a better way to preserve Piriform's customer base.

I really, REALLY liked these tools and utilities, and I really wish Avast! hadn't meddled with this - especially if this is indicative of how they'll handle problems in the future.

For what it's worth, if Piriform has asked me to re-up, I would have.  If Avast! asks me, well, I think we all know what MY answer would be at this point...

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I just registered to comment in this thread... I feel a bit cheated given the free app has been great, but the only feature I wanted was automatic updates so Í wouldn't have to deal with annoying prompts (and I doubted how much those updates actually improved the utility of the app). Now after a year it's asking me to pay up again... it's feels like I thought I was helping a good developer who had made decent software for free and sold a perpetual "pro" version for a reasonable price... only to find out it's anything but. Time to decide between going back to free or just uninstalling.

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On 09/11/2018 at 12:20, Sonartech said:

Ron, could you post the full e-mail from Cleverbridge for us to see?  I'm &^%$# stunned that not even THEY would be aware that Piriform's purchase model is a subscription.  It seems like everyone except Piriform is under the impression that this was never a subscription-based product - including the people that happily took our money.

Hi Ron,

Thanks for writing in.   I would be more than happy to help you out with this inquiry.

Not sure why you are receiving those notifications.  This does not look like its a subscription based product meaning it is a perpetual license (one time charge).

I refreshed your download link, giving you two weeks to download your CCleaner Professional Plus when it’s convenient for you. You’ll find the download link and all the other order information by clicking HERE [link removed].

You’ll also find information on how to get in touch with Piriform in case you have any questions about how to install or use your product or service, or if the key is shown as invalid.

Please let us know if there’s anything else we can do for you, and thanks for contacting cleverbridge!

Sincerely,

DeMarlo B.

cleverbridge Customer Support

--
cleverbridge AG, Cologne
Management: Craig Vodnik, Martin Trzaskalik, Reinhard Wille
Supervisory Board: Dr. Michael Inhester (Chairman)
Registration: HRB 58900 Commercial Register - Local Court of Cologne

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Yikes, so that confirms that even Piriform's Payment Processor has no clue this was subscription-based product, so it ain't just us!  O.o

 I guess they're guilty of not reading the Software T&C's, too.  @Ben Piriform - Regardless of policies old or new, the fact remains that it would appear the vast majority of your [paying] customers weren't aware that this is a yearly subscription kind of thing - and neither is your payment processor.  If you didn't even tell THEM the payment model for this software, how could you possibly expect us to have known that, since it hasn't been enforced for the past 6+ years? 

Sorry, I'm not going to beat myself up for this one anymore...

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Pity that when Avast aquired Piriform and noticed this anomaly, that they didn't just give 'grandfathered in rights' to Pro users before the acquisition date.

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On 10/5/2018 at 09:47, Nergal said:

Believe me i'm not wrong, as I said i've been a mod here much longer than Pro has been out.  It has always been a year for the two things I mentioned.  The rest works as it did when you paid for it.  I'm not sure why you have so much anger about losing auto update and priority support.

duh...angry because it had one price tag on it....just like buying a shirt. You don't pay for the shirt every year.  Do you?    

 One price UNLESS it specifically says the 'price for a year is, etc."  

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I just signed up for a forum account to say this one thing.

 

This bait and switch is bullcrap. I have used CCleaner since its launch and became a pro user 3 years ago in early 2015. NO WAY IN HELL was i ever told about having to renew. This is pure nonsense. 

 

I am so annoyed with this new popup that says I am expired all of a sudden 3 years later. So annoyed i will just use another tool like a lot of people will probably do until avast gets its head out of its but and fixes piriform's products.

 

Its a wonder company's don't look to Amazon for example for success. The customer comes first no matter what! 

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On 11/12/2018 at 22:17, hazelnut said:

Pity that when Avast aquired Piriform and noticed this anomaly, that they didn't just give 'grandfathered in rights' to Pro users before the acquisition date.

^ this is what i was trying to say. And this is comming from a moderator! Someone DM me when its resolved. i found malwarebytes has a nifty cleanup feature very simaler to ccleaner but a little less thorough. 

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Before I paid for this product back in 2015, I searched high and low and could not find any reference to a yearly subscription. I only paid because I thought it was worth making a contribution to a well-respected program that was for the better part, free. Auto update does not interest me but support would be nice. If it had of been advertised as a yearly subscription, I would not have been interested. Since the Avast takeover, we have had last year's hacking debacle, unwanted cookie setting and now this. As far as I'm concerned, Piriform's reputation has gone from a rooster to a feather duster. I will never again use anything remotely related to Avast. 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Eagle Beak said:

Before I paid for this product back in 2015, I searched high and low and could not find any reference to a yearly subscription. I only paid because I thought it was worth making a contribution to a well-respected program that was for the better part, free. Auto update does not interest me but support would be nice. If it had of been advertised as a yearly subscription, I would not have been interested.

In the same boat. I'm philosophically opposed to ongoing payments and don't use any software that requires them. Have paid the one-off lifetime subscription fee for things like Plex and Roon.

I pay, I own.

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As disappointing as this is, there are still three facts here that we shouldn't forget.  I also paid for what I thought was a 1-time license fee, so don't think for one second I condone Avast!'s behavior here.

  1. There was never a lifetime license made available by Piriform.  They simply chose not to enforce the yearly renewal fee, either through nag mail or through software (that has perpetually said "licensed" instead of "Subscription Information" until recently).  The Wayback machine confirms this, but you did have to dig through and read the legalese to find it - but it was there to find.  None of us (including myself) actually confirmed this was a lifetime license when we made our purchase, and none of us (including myself) asked Piriform about the discrepancy.  Piriform just didn't enforce their own EULA, nor did they choose to remind people that their "1 year subscription had ended" on the web site, or in the program itself, or any other place beyond the EULA.  The lack of prominently-placed subscription detail both on the web site, within the program itself and on the payment details page led us all to believe this was a perpetual license fee.
  2. Cleverbridge (Piriform's Payment Processor) wasn't even aware that this was a subscription product.  This is most damning, in my opinion, and the reason that Avast! should at least make SOME effort to recognize this as the massive communication's mistake it has been and offer some sort of recompense.  At the same time, I'm delighted that I have been able to use CCleaner as a paying "subscriber" without any nags for the past 6 years - and if Piriform had told me at the time that I was paying $25 for a 6 year subscription instead of 1 year, I would have still made the purchase and been completely happy with doing so.
  3. "Avast! noticed right away that people had been buying the paid licenses but the current paid customer base did not reflect that all those customers had been renewing. Therefore, they introduced the renewal notices for customers who had expired licenses to remind them that their license had expired.  Avast!'s official stance is that if a user is going to be using the professional features, they need to keep their licenses current. Otherwise, they can the free software."  That's from Piriform's Professional Tech Support.

So, yeah, this sucks, but it's ultimately due to poor communications and Piriform's choice to not enforce their own EULA.  That's really all this boils down to.  When Avast! took over, they modified the subscription-enforcement policy and decided to actually enforce the EULA (that we had all been taking for granted) and add software nags.

As I said, I think Avast! should damage-control this.  At the same time, everyone who paid that $25 for what they thought was a one-time fee [and didn't bother to read the EULA and ask about the 1-year subscription details mentioned therein] should be quite happy that they've managed to get (in some cases) 6+ years out of a 1-year subscription fee.  I know I am, and I focus on this fact to remind me that I probably should have a closer look at EULA's in the future.  I'm only annoyed at Piriform for not being perfectly clear about the subscription fee up-front, but I'm pissed-off at Avast! for springing this on us 6+ years after it happened.  Still, though, the fact that even Cleverbridge didn't know the terms of the EULA and wasn't asked to note this purchase as a 1-year subscription anywhere in the payment process is still the elephant in the room that Avast! needs to deal with.

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Before I paid for this product back in 2015, I searched high and low and could not find any reference to a yearly subscription. I only paid because I thought it was worth making a contribution to a well-respected program that was for the better part, free. Auto update does not interest me but support would be nice. If it had of been advertised as a yearly subscription, I would not have been interested. Since the Avast takeover, we have had last year's hacking debacle, unwanted cookie setting and now this. As far as I'm concerned, Piriform's reputation has gone from a rooster to a feather duster. I will never again use anything remotely related to Avast. Any details as to the term of the licence and what it costs should be in bold print, clearly displayed in both the web page and the Clever Bridge payment contract. Not hidden away in the fine print. Failure to do so is blatant false advertising by omission. 

 

 

 

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I'm loving how they will give you a 50% discount on Pro for Cyber Monday but they marked it up so high that it's still $19.95.  I'm about to uninstall my free copy.  These people have no ethics. 

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42 minutes ago, yourfutureex said:

I'm loving how they will give you a 50% discount on Pro for Cyber Monday but they marked it up so high that it's still $19.95.  I'm about to uninstall my free copy.  These people have no ethics. 

Ya I got a popup for cyber Monday for the same thing. I'm glad I uninstalled. Treat your customers like dirt and we will leave. Plenty of other products out there. 

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Well, the jerks at least are doing a slightly better job of telling people what they're about to get into with the fine print at the bottom of the page.  That's way more than they ever told any of us.  The communication STILL sucks, however, so they haven't learned much.

Terms and Conditions
This promotion is for a one-year subscription to CCleaner Professional. Subsequent renewals will be charged at the undiscounted price in effect when your subscription is renewed (pricing subject to change). Promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Piriform reserves the right to amend, withdraw or extend this offer at any time.

Way to kill-off your paying customers, Avast!.  Apparently you forgot that you need our business a whole lot more than we need yours.

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I seem to be in a slightly different position to most of the people commenting here in as much as my copy is a boxed retail version allowing installation on unlimited PC's for home use. As such, I currently have it on two desktops and two laptops, all of which have been able to automatically update to the latest version whenever it's released for no extra charge. I  bought mine on February 20th 2015. There was zero mention on the sealed box or the sale details of any further subscriptions ever being required . I have both the original box and the sale invoice in front of me as I'm writing this.

The only hiccup I've come across in the past three years is when I need to do a fresh installation, for example when I have built myself a new PC. If I download the latest professional trial version and try to upgrade it using my key it says it's expired, so up to now, I've always got around the problem by installing from the original disc and then upgrading to the latest version from that.That has always worked without a hitch. Today is the first time that hasn't worked and that's because I just bought a new tablet for my wife, which obviously hasn't got an optical drive so I copied the files from my original disc to a USB stick and tried to install it from that but got a system message that it isn't compatible with the version of Windows the tablet is running  (It's the very latest Windows 10 October update one installed this week) So, I downloaded the professional trial version, tried entering my key, which of course didn't work and then came to this site to try and find how to fix it. I tried the "Lost key" link but that didn't work. I didn't buy it directly from Piriform so they don't appear to have any record of my email address. Finally I've come to the forum to see if it's known problem and found it is.

I haven't had any of these nag screens other people have mentioned. I was using the free version previously but paid $33.99 on the basis that it was a one off payment, was useful for my main PC to have the extra utilities it offers and the fact I could use it on my other machines was a bonus. They don't get much use so the free version is probably good enough for them anyway. There's no way I would ever pay an annual subscription for any software though. There are multitudes of programs offered free or for a one off payment as an alternative. I won't be happy if I get asked for extra payment to continue using what I already have, although I accept the time might come when Windows or PC specification progress might mean a completely different version might have to be purchased. I have a number of programs I've been using since the 1990's that I have had to replace with a newer version multiple times. However, I won't be considering anything that requires a subscription.

Although I bought the software from a US retailer, I am in the UK. In this country, and I believe, throughout the EU, it would be completely illegal to sell sealed software in a box that has no mention of a subscription and then request further payment a year later. That is classed as misleading advertising and can result in a court conviction and a large fine. In the case of multiple cases of such malpractice, the fines can run into millions of pounds or Euros as some of the biggest US companies have found to their cost. It is a grey area in my case though as the seller is in the States and I'm in this country so I'm not sure which consumer protection laws apply.

Anyway TL;DR, CCleaner Pro has definitely been sold in the past with the appearance to all intents and purposes of being subscription free.

 

 

ccleanersub.jpg

ccleanerpro.jpg

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Derek, could you take some good-quality pictures of all sides of the box and post those for us to see?  Along with Cleverbridge (Piriform's payment processor) not even knowing that this was subscription-based software, this is especially damning proof of negligence.  Nothing would delight me more than to see Avast! held accountable for causing this issue.  There's a thousand ways they could have couched this updated enforcement policy, but it seems they chose the "Too bad - it was your fault - you should have paid better attention" route.  It's even more intriguing that the only people apparently aware that this was a subscription-based product either (A) Read the EULA and asked Piriform for confirmation, or (B) Are employees of Piriform.  Seems the people that should have been aware this was a one-year subscription product (i.e., Cleverbridge and paying customers) didn't get that "slightly important detail" until Avast! came on board and changed the enforcement policy without so much as a slap on the ass.

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Here are pictures of all 6 sides of the box and of the tray and installation disc inside. The box was sealed, but there was nothing inside apart from the cardboard packing tray and disc in a paper cover. No instruction booklet or anything else.

As you can see, there is zero indication that this might be a subscription product. It was priced at $33.99, which I imagine was considerably more than the initial subsciption when sold on that basis. I've checked the disc and there is no easily readable EULA on that and I cannot see one in the installation folder on my PC now it's installed either. It seems the only way the EULA could ever have been read is if the installion process had been interrupted to see it then and how many people do that? Even then, the disc can only be accessed after the packaging seal is broken so I doubt it anything in the EULA that contradicted the apparent sale conditions would hold up in law in this country, or anywhere in the EU. The US and other countries will have their own consumer protecion laws, which may be different.

As I said previously, I haven't had any request for additional payments, so it could be the boxed retail version I have, does have a different EULA to the direct download from Piriform. The only way I could see that though is by doing a clean install from the original disc and I don't have a spare PC to do that.

 

CCleaner_front.JPG

CCleaner_rear.JPG

CCleaner_top.JPG

cleaner_bottom.JPG

CCleaner_leftside.JPG

CCleaner_rightside.JPG

DSCF0625.JPG

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I agree with the above posters that the apparently yearly subscription was severely undercommunitated, and thus shouldn't be considered valid. There are laws for that in the UK, where Piriform Ltd. resides. The company is supposed to provide the customer with all needed information about the product at point of purchase, pursuant to the UK Consumer Rights Act 2015 c. 15 s. 11(1). Retroactive expiration of licenses is likely covered by c. 15 s. 11(5) in the same law, which says the customer have to agree to the change in license terms for it to be valid. Even the country of residence in which the customer resides would likely deem this illegal by their legislation. Anyhow, I'm attaching my own invoice from Cleverbridge, further proofing that no word of a subscription was found.

cleverbridge invoice.png

EDIT: Comparing a product key request from 2016 and a newly inquired one seals the suspicion of retroactive expiration of my license.

license expiration.png

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15 minutes ago, Derek_S said:

I hadn't realised Piriform was a British company. However, it was dissolved last October, presumably as part of the takeover.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/05565433

That's a shame, however this breach of contract should still be covered by applicable EU consumer laws (Avast is based in Czech Republic). The evidence is pretty clear at this point.

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Its astonishing that a piriform tech commented on this thread and now they have gone quite on us. 

 

Its sad when good companies fall prey to larger companys (cough avast cough).

 

This seems like a repeat of Norton ghost. Now that used to be the best 15 years ago lol. 

Edited by Kuktar

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On 28.11.2018 at 16:25, Kuktar said:

Its astonishing that a piriform tech commented on this thread and now they have gone quite on us. 

Agreed. The least they can do is aknowledge the situation and compensate those affected.

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