NordVPN no longer deserves the reputation it seemed to deserve.

After being a customer for almost 3 years and coming to the end of my subscription of NordVPN, I decided I no longer wanted to use the service. I found that the company had charged me €110,48 for another year. The auto renewal feature is on by default, that seems to be normal practice. I didn’t turn the function off yet, so they could apperently charge me. But that was weeks before my subscription ended!

Off course I submitted a cancellation (storno in Dutch) with the bank of my checking account. They immediately complied with this so I got my money back. That problem was solved. You will understand that I turned off auto renewal in my NordVPN profile immediately. I probably would have waited until closer to the expiration date, but that puts you in the trouble I just described.

Sorry NordVPN, this is not the way my cookie crumbles. This could have been prevented, is what I want to say.

That NordVPN is charging me for a service that hasn’t begun yet, and still hasn’t, seems kinda weird to me, but this practice is almost certainly written down somewhere in the regulations I agreed to when I subscribed to the service. It feels like NordVPN stole my money for a service that hasn’t started. I must be honest: it was not yet known to them that I no longer wished to use it. But that was because I did not see an option anywhere on the site to cancel my subscription!

As I write this post, I still have a few more days before my initial 3-year subscription ends. In ‘normal circumstances’ that would have given me ample time to end my relation with NordVPN. But where is the button? Why is there no link? It has become clear to me that there is no possibility to cancel my subscription in a normal way. Turning off auto-renewal seems to be the way. So you actually let the relationship go out like a night candle.

I’m not happy with the support and the company’s predatory practices regarding their customer’s money, but hey, in that respect I should have known better by reading the terms and conditions. I came across stories on the internet from customers who had run into the same problem as me. They contacted the help desk (I didn’t) to request a refund. Is it true that this was rejected? I would find that very disrespectful or even illegal.

They were told that the auto renewal feature was automatically on for ‘security reasons’ so the service would not be disturbed when the initial subscription ended. It’s all by the book, I don’t doubt that. Us naive customers should have just read it. It’s probably not even written in fine print. I suppose it’s rather easy to find too. But I repeat my objection: why can’t I just cancel my subscription with a same, easy to find, link?

I don’t doubt that many services have auto renewal on by default, so this isn’t out of the ordinary or fraudulent. The fraud doesn’t even begin when the money is debited from the customer account before the service covered by that charge begins. Let’s say that’s just really inconvenient. NordVPN seems to refuse to refund the money, but I am unable to check that for truth.

I would prefer the auto renewal to be switched off by default. Or I want NordVPN to remind custumers way in advance that they are planning to debit money before the expiration date, in case the auto renewel is not switched off in time. They should make customers aware of what is being charged without them directly executing the transfer. I just hate it when services do this auto renewal crap even if you don’t want to use the service anymore.

My real objection is that you can’t cancel a subscription at any time. (Anti virus software companies like Norton I known for this too). It seems to be a deliberate omission not to give the customer the normal opportunity to cancel his subscription. Turning off the auto renewal function is the substitude for a proper cancellation. I think that’s a crazy way to communicate. It reminds me of the rules that apply in Hotel California (you can check in any time you want, but…well, you know the song).

Is it a tactic by some companies to assume that you will forget about disabling your auto renew setting and then to charge you long before the expiration date? A little bit of negligence of the customer means profit for them, but what does it do to customer satisfaction? Today I broke a window of this nice hotel and fled. Too bad I had to free myself in a less friendly way than I intended. I left the ‘NordVPN bible’ on the bedside table though.

My conclusion must be that NordVPN acts very customer unfriendly when it comes to their customer’s money. Charging weeks in advance feels wrong and should have gone through me first. But my main concern has been mentioned and hopefully it will get through to NordVPN: just allow customers to unsubscribe at any time (complete with the deletion of their profile).

I highly recommend people to avoid supporting a company with such practices and to go with a better VPN, instead of a VPN that’s just popular. This company no longer deserves the good reputation it once deserved. However, in order not to end up in a bad way, I also want to say something that may be in their favor (although it is not a compliment): something tells me that all companies are using the above practices these days.