The Refund Diaries – Who Can You Trust to Give Your Money Back?
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)
• We noticed reviews in which users complain about not receiving refunds from VPN providers. • We ran our own test to see who honors their refund policy and who does not. • We tell you who you can trust and who you cannot Share
“Money back guarantee.” Three words that every consumer loves to hear. They offer a sense of security; the knowledge that, should the product or service your purchasing fall short of your expectations (or should you simply change your mind about wanting it) you have something to point to and say “but you said I’m entitled to a refund!”
Why do we seek this comfort? Because we know that some of the merchants we buy from are not “businesses of their word,” so to speak. We are aware that just because someone says you are entitled to your money back if you are not satisfied, that they will honor this promise. It’s sad, but true, and this is no different for VPN providers. Love them as much as we may – and we do here at VPNMentor – our experience is that not all of our privacy-vending friends are as honest as we’d like to see them be.
In our time as purveyors of VPN knowledge, we have seen quite a few reviews stating that some providers are not keen on giving the refunds their customers deserve, which is why we did some research of our own to see which VPN vendors live by the code, and which weren’t willing to part with their customer’s money.
We systematically signed up for month-long memberships with providers that we saw to be in the habit of not giving refunds, and promptly requested cancellation of our memberships, as well as refunds from all of them. I must clarify, when I say “cancel.” After all, I only signed up for one month, right? Technically, I did. However, many VPN companies are big on renewing a subscription without being told explicitly to do so once the month-long subscription has ended. If you don’t look at your bank statements, you can end up being charged for months of VPN service without even knowing until it’s too late. We’re not crazy about this industry practice, but it is just one of those things we all need to live with for now.
To our surprise, quite a few of the VPNs we signed up with were, in fact, happy to give us refunds. We were very happy about this; we are not looking to tarnish anyone’s reputation, simply protect those we serve by telling them the facts. The majority of them did email us with the usual “is there an issue we can help you resolve that is causing you to leave us?” One even offered us a 50% discount on our next invoice if we agreed to change our minds, which we applaud. Needless to say, we proceeded with our request anyway. Here are our findings:
|Hall of Fame||Hall of Shame|
To HideMyAss, Ivacy, MyIP.io, Private Internet Access, VPN Area, and Unlocator, we say “congratulations” on passing the test. IPinator, VPNMaster and Privatoria, we will explain in further detail.
When we originally made a request to cancel and receive a refund, they responded, informing us that they had received our request and would cancel any future subscriptions. However, they ignored our request for refund, to which we gently replied that we would still like a refund and have not installed nor used their VPN. To date, we still have not heard anything back. Here is the correspondence.
What can we say about this one? They have never ceased to amaze us, and why should that change now? The screenshot of our lengthy but uneventful correspondence with them says it all. It is basically them telling me repeatedly, over a period of ten days, that my request has been escalated to their senior admin, who is either on vacation or is simply very bad at his job. To add insult to injury, after still having not heard back, I received an invoice telling me that I will be automatically charged for my second month of service in 15 days. For the resulting correspondence, see the conversation on the right below. (Hint: it involves the senior admin).
We are not thrilled that they denied us a refund, but they there are some extenuating circumstances that somewhat justify their actions. For one thing, almost every vendor, somewhere on their main page or on the purchase page, has something in the vein of “X days money-back guarantee.” Privatoria does not, so this certainly counts in their defense. In response to my request, I received a pleasant email asking me to explain any issues I might be having, as well as a link to their refund policy page. To this, I responded that I am not having any issues and would simply like a refund. The response was the same, stating that “Our Refund Policy describes all possible conditions for refunds and we need to respect it.” The policy does, in fact, outline legitimate reasons for refund and unfortunately for me, a change in heart is not amongst them. In the end, while I do think it is in their best interest to respect refund requests, I have to respect their policy.
As you can see, just like with most businesses, there are those that have no problem giving a refund with virtually no questions asked, there are those who flat out refuse to refund (legitimately or not), and there are those in between, who either ignore requests or make you wait for exorbitant amounts of time, which is almost as bad. The latter, in my opinion, is in no ones best interest as it is extremely unprofessional, and while it may save them from handing back a few dollars, hurts their business in the end. As the consumer, you deserve to know who you can trust to honor their word, and who simply does not offer a refund policy. Again, in the case of Privatoria, they have not done anything wrong, but consumers need to know that they do not accept “change-of-heart” as a reason to refund.