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By | Dan Goodin 26th June 2007 20:40

Symantec offer sticks in craw of some Chinese users

'Lacks seriousness and sincerity'

We were skeptical on Monday when Symantec said it would atone for a bug that crippled the PCs of tens of thousands Chinese users by giving them free software. "Cockroach in your salad, sir? Have some free salad," was how we put it.

Sure enough, critics in China's electronics industry are pouncing on the compensation offer, which calls for affected users to get a free one-year subscription to Norton AntiVirus. That's the very application that in May wrongly categorized two critical system files in the Simplified Chinese version of Windows XP and left about 50,000 PCs unable to boot up. It seems some PC users in China have had enough salad.

"As a company with an international name, Symantec's response to its Chinese consumers lacks seriousness and sincerity," Alamus, deputy director of China E-commerce Association, was quoted by CCTV. "It's obvious that Symantec avoids mentioning compensation. It is trying to get away with such words as 'offer' and 'goodwill.'"

Lu Benfu, director of the Chinese Academy of Science's Internet Development Research Center, was quoted in the same article saying: "Symantec's offer is better than nothing. But it is not good enough. It's not a real compensation program. The data lost can't be made up for by any such offer or improvement in services."

Symantec declined to comment on the criticism other than to reiterate previous statements that it deeply regrets the error, which was caused by an automated process that has been in place for many years. Symantec estimates the glitch affected a maximum of 50,000 PC, but some critics say the number is higher.

At least two lawsuits have been filed over the incident. ®

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