Avast's free version works much better than anything Norton has ever put out, and I will go to my grave cursing Norton and the scams they pulled.
A person's opinion of a particular security product naturally depends on whether it has let them down or not. Some people experience problems with Norton and some don't but I suppose this can be said about any AV/security program. It is also the case that we'll usually only hear from those who have had problems. Not from the vast majority who haven't.
As said, no AV program is perfect. If I search the Internet using the search term 'norton sucks' (or bad - poor - infected etc) there will be many results. However, typing the same keywords along with a few other big names in the security field brings up no shortage of people unhappy with some of those products. Try this with your own choice of program. Also visit the forum dedicated to a particular program to read of problems.
I think it's true that there will be more cases of Norton being troublesome but I believe this is because new MS Windows computers come bundled with it. Hence it has more users that can potentially get trouble. If new computers came bundled with another big name, I think there would be just as many customers unhappy with that program as there are with Norton.
In a way, Norton isn't done any favours by their software being installed on new computers. Perhaps Norton should take a back seat and let new computers come bundled something else so that a different product becomes the target of high-profile dissatisfaction.
I can't see that a new computer would have been necessary because of an infection(s). A format and reinstallation of software would cure it, or using the recovery procedure if an installation disk wasn't supplied with the computer.
Have a look into using disk images for when the worst happens and sandboxing for preventing it from happening.