This month our mystery shopper is looking for security software for PC and Mac in and around Liverpool

Liverpool Mystery Shopper


I spent a few minutes looking at a large range of security software, including a bay for Norton, Kaspersky, Webroot and a display unit for Trend Micro. I requested advice from a passing saleswoman who said she would fetch a more suitable colleague.

A few minutes later a salesman approached to talk to me about security software for PC and Apple Mac. “We have a sale on all anti-viruses including Norton and Kaspersky, which are now £23. Norton, Kaspersky and Webrootare all on a par, but with Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 (£29.99 three-user license) you also get some free software called Tune Up Utilities which cleans
up the junk on your PC and can make it run quicker.”

When I asked him about the Trend Micro product that was on offer for £15.99, he said: “All of them do pretty much the same, but Kasperskyhas a CD in the box to install it, whereas you need to go online to download Trend Micro’s software.”

We then moved to the Apple section of the store. The salesman picked up Kaspersky for Mac Anti-Virus, priced at £39.99. “This one will be the best for your Mac. The interface uses the same one as Apple does so it is easier to use and you will recognise the icons. It will last for a year and then you will need to renew it.”

A pleasant shopping experience. The salesman was friendly and to the point without bogging me down with too much jargon. He’d listened to my requirements and tried his best to find a product that fit.
SCORE: 8/10


A two-metre anti-virus software bay featured Norton, Kaspersky, Webroot and Trend Micro products with shelf advertising stating that all were on sale. After five minutes of browsing I went in search of help and ended up at customer services.

“You won’t need anti-virus for your Mac,” the assistant said. “I have had a Mac for five years now and I have never had the need to put any type of anti-virus on it. You see the Mac operating system is a lot more secure than Windows so it is unheard of that an Apple Mac will get a virus. Even the Tech Guys here who fix laptops and computers have never seen a Mac with a virus before.”

As we approached the security software section, he pointed out Kaspersky Internet Security 2011, stating that this was the best. “Have you have ever heard of Which? magazine? It reviews all things technological and it is raving about Kaspersky at the moment. It says that Kaspersky is the best by far compared to any other anti-virus on the market. So that would be the one I’d get and as I said you won’t need one for your Mac.”

I then asked him about Trend Micro and he replied: “That firm is quite new to the market, I don’t really know much about the product, apart from having to download some information from the internet before you can install it. Unlike Kaspersky, which has a CD in the box.”

It was good to hear the recommendation was based on a reliable source of consumer product review but there was little information about comparable products. Overall the visit offered a suitable product for my PC needs but I was surprised that my request for an Apple alternative was dismissed.
SCORE: 6/10


I entered the store and was greeted straight away by a male staff member who was standing by the entrance. I told him my requirements and he looked a bit puzzled, before saying: “You don’t need any anti-virus on your Mac. I’ve had one for four years now and have never needed it. You see the operating system is a lot more secure than Windows, so it is almost impossible to get viruses that can penetrate it.”

We walked around the store to the security software section, which had a two-metre bay filled with Norton, Kaspersky and Webroot products. “Norton is the best by far,” the salesman said. “The company has been around for a long time so it knows what it’s doing. We’re selling Norton Anti-Virus for £22, but Norton 360 is a lot better as it gives you Anti-Virus Plus. This is PC tune-up software, which optimises your PC performance with a disk cleaner, giving you a reduced start-up time for your PC. There is also back-up available for all of your files, photos and anything else you have on your computer. There is even identity protection, giving you more security.”

He told me that Norton 360 costs £59.99, “We actually have a deal on at the minute because it is end of the line and there is further ten per cent off the price.” He paused to hold up a starter pack and said, “Or, for less money you could buy this and get Norton 360, a laptop bag, a wireless mouse plus a 2GB USB stick.”

I was not too sure about his advice regarding the Apple Mac but this was based on his own personal experience. The ‘Starter pack’ selected for the PC was a great deal for Norton 360 and made me feel appreciated as a customer.
SCORE: 7/10


This store was situated in on the outskirts of Liverpool City Centre, in Wavertree. It was quite a small store with glass display cabinets housing laptops and desktops with other computer accessories dotted around. A man behind the counter greeted me as I walked in.

He said: “We use BitDefender, which costs £29.99 and can be used for up to three different PCs as long as they use Windows. I don’t know anyone who uses an anti-virus on Macs because their system is very
secure and they don’t tend to be open to viruses.”

Enquiring about BitDefender, he informed me: “It’s the new kid on the block and spending a fortune on advertising. I’ve seen the firm at the football ground and we love them here because they give us mugs!” He laughed, holding up his BitDefender mug. “We also do McAfee but we don’t have any in stock at the moment. I’d say that the only one you need to steer clear of is Norton, as it is so hungry it can slow your PC and can be difficult to remove.” 

The sceptic in me felt as though I was being sold the only anti-virus in stock, but in fairness I wasn’t aware of BitDefender and the information given was interesting and relevant.
SCORE: 7/10

From the outside the store appeared closed, but ringing a bell allowed me access to the sales area, which had a number of PCs displayed and a large Bitdefender display unit. 

The young lad behind the counter asked how he could help. I explained what I needed and he told me that they use BitDefender on everything they have in store “We used to use AVGbut we had a falling out as it kept on changing things all the time. One minute internet banking was included then it wasn’t, then something else would go. Then we used BitDefenderand it actually caught viruses for us that AVG didn’t.” 

“Can I use BitDefenderfor my Mac as well as PC?” He talked to a colleague for a few minutes, then came back: “Our resident Apple geek says you don’t need security on a Mac. It won’t get a virus as the operating system is a lot stronger than Windows.” He let me take a BitDefender dummy box home as he didn’t have spare leaflets. 

He also told me that the only anti-virus that I should not get is Norton as it could slow down my PC and I could get pop ups. 

The BitDefender software seems very popular with indies, but I was surprised the Mac version wasn’t mentioned.
SCORE: 7/10


A Kaspersky display unit was at the entrance to the anti-virus section promoting a special half price offer for Internet Security 2011. Noticing a member of staff, I quickly grabbed his attention and asked for some advice. 

He walked me over to a two-metre bay which was half filled with Norton, McAfee and Kaspersky anti-virus software. “I would recommend either Norton or Kaspersky but I think Kaspersky is less likely to slow down your PC, plus Kaspersky Internet Security is half price, at only £24.98.” 

“I have a Mac as well, will this work on both?” I wondered. 

Pausing to read the box, the salesman looked confused. “I think this should work on both; you should be fine. This edition has real-time protection and scans any websites and emails you receive to check for problems.” 

I thanked him for his advice and made my excuses. This shopping experience was nothing to write home about. The staff member who helped me was friendly enough and probably did his best from his knowledge, but if I had taken this anti-virus product under his advice it would have involved a return visit to bring it back.
SCORE: 5/10

I was surprised to find that only one store pointed me towards Apple Mac anti-virus software. I appreciate that that particular salesman did offer good advice, but internet security companies are beginning to highlight the Mac as the next big target. I expected to hear stories of doom for not having software installed already. Certainly if the projections of attacks on Apple devices are to be believed.

In the national retailers Kaspersky has seemingly become the favourite.

BitDefender was definitely popular with the independent retailers in the area, but I had not heard of the brand until now.

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