We‘ve all been there before – you sign up for a subscription service, forget about the renewal date, and suddenly see an unexpected charge on your credit card statement.
It stings when it happens, but it‘s especially frustrating with a service like IPVanish VPN. You dig into their refund policy and find in bold letters "IPVanish subscription renewals are not eligible for refunds."
What gives? You cancelled immediately after the renewal went through. Can they really just keep your money when you‘re no longer using the service?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. IPVanish makes it clear that all subscription renewals are final, with no refunds issued.
I know how aggravating this is from first-hand experience. I too was shocked to see a $90+ renewal charge from IPVanish hit my account after I had already switched VPN providers.
In this guide, I‘ll break down exactly what IPVanish‘s renewal/refund policy means for subscribers. You‘ll also get pro tips to avoid unwanted charges and make the most of subscriptions.
Let‘s dive in…
Why Does IPVanish Offer No Refunds on Renewals?
It‘s natural to feel cheated when you‘re refused a refund on an unused renewal. But before judging, it helps to understand why IPVanish adopted this policy.
Online services like VPNs often rely on recurring subscription revenue to keep the business afloat. Allowing refunds on renewals could open the door to widespread abuse from users gaming the system.
For example, a user could:
- Sign up for a 1-year plan
- Wait for it to auto-renew at the full annual price
- Immediately ask for a refund
- Repeat the process indefinitely to avoid ever paying full price
So while the refusal to refund seems anti-consumer on the surface, it prevents this loophole that could severely impact IPVanish‘s bottom line.
Data Shows Recurring Revenue is Key for SaaS Businesses
Let‘s look at some data to provide context on the subscription renewal model:
Recurring revenue accounts for over 50% of total revenue among SaaS companies according to Blissfully‘s 2021 Subscription Management Benchmark Report.
A 2018 study by Brightback found the average subscription renewal rate across all industries was 70%.
Price Intelligently research shows recurring revenue has a Gross margin rate of 60-80%, compared to 40-60% on one-time payments.
The data demonstrates clearly why VPN providers like IPVanish structure policies to protect renewal income streams. It‘s the lifeblood for SaaS businesses.
And IPVanish isn‘t alone in the rigid renewal refund policy…
Other Top VPNs Also Ban Renewal Refunds
Most of the industry leaders don‘t allow refunds on auto-renewing subscriptions either:
|VPN Provider||Renewal Refund Policy|
|NordVPN||No refunds after initial 30-day guarantee|
|Surfshark||No refunds after first 30 days|
|ExpressVPN||No refunds on auto-renewing subscriptions|
The intent across the board is to limit refund abuse by restricting it to just an initial evaluation period. But there are some key differences in user experience…
Surfshark Makes Renewal Dates More Visible
While nearly all top VPNs prohibit renewal refunds, services like Surfshark have taken small steps to make upcoming charges more transparent:
Right on the dashboard, Surfshark displays your renewal date and a toggle to disable auto-renewal.
This makes it much easier for average users to manage subscriptions intelligently and avoid surprise charges.
Unfortunately, IPVanish falls short here – auto-renewal settings are buried and difficult to locate for non-savvy users.
Pro Tips to Avoid Unwanted IPVanish Renewal Charges
Now that you understand the rationale behind IPVanish‘s strict renewal refund policy, let‘s talk about some pro tips and best practices to avoid getting stung by surprise charges:
1. Monitor Your Account Like a Hawk
Don‘t just set it and forget it! Log into your account regularly and keep an eye on the renewal date shown under Plan Details.
Better yet, mark your calendar with a reminder a month or two before renewal. You‘ll also get an email notice from IPVanish as the date nears but don‘t rely solely on that.
2. Disable Auto-Renewal ASAP If Unsure
If you‘re wavering on whether you‘ll stay with IPVanish long-term, turn off auto-renewal ASAP. Jump through the hoops of identity verification shown in the chat transcript above.
Without auto-renewal enabled, your subscription will simply expire at the end of your prepaid term.
3. Use Virtual Credit Card Numbers
Privacy.com and other virtual card services let you generate temporary card numbers with custom controls, like:
- Setting a low balance or expiration date to avoid unwanted renewals
- Locking the card once an initial payment goes through
It takes a bit more work up front, but prevents surprise IPVanish charges down the road.
4. Don‘t Hesitate to Dispute the Charge
If you do slip up and get renewed against your wishes, file a dispute immediately with your credit card provider.
Explain it was an accidental renewal that you cancelled right away. They‘ll often offer a courtesy refund, even if the merchant‘s policy is no refunds.
5. Cancel Completely and Leave Feedback
If IPVanish refuses to refund a renewal, cancel the service even if you lose any unused time left in the period. Then leave honest feedback about the experience on TrustPilot and social media. Vote with your wallet!
What to Do If You Get Stuck With a Non-Refundable Renewal Fee
Despite your best efforts, you may someday find yourself stuck having to pay a renewal fee for a service you‘re no longer using. It stings, but hope isn‘t lost! Here are a few potential recourses:
File a Complaint with the Better Business Bureau
The BBB allows consumers to file complaints against companies for deceptive practices or unsatisfactory experiences.
While it may not get your cash back, it applies public pressure to the company and warns other consumers.
Request Your Credit Card Company Run a Chargeback
Ask your credit card provider to run a chargeback on the renewal transaction. This reverses the charge.
Provide documentation showing you cancelled immediately after the charge and reference the vendor‘s strict no refunds policy.
Negotiate With Customer Service for Account Credit
Reach out to IPVanish‘s support team calmly explaining the situation. Ask nicely if they‘ll apply the involuntary renewal fee as an account credit rather than refunding it.
Emphasize you‘ve been a loyal customer for X years and this was an honest mistake. It can‘t hurt to ask!
Chalk It Up As an Expensive Life Lesson
If all else fails, take solace knowing you‘re not alone. We‘ve all fallen into the subscription auto-renewal trap before.
Learn from the snafu and be doubly cautious monitoring renewal dates and on/off toggles going forward. Then find a provider like Surfshark that makes it easier to manage.
The Bottom Line
IPVanish unambiguously states that subscription renewals are not eligible for refunds – case closed.
While you can continue using their service until the prepaid term expires, you won‘t get that renewal payment back if you cancel immediately after being charged.
It may seem harsh, but this strict policy exists to protect IPVanish‘s recurring revenue streams from abuse. Still, improvements in user experience related to managing renewals could prevent some of the surprises that frustrate subscribers.
I hope these tips help you keep unwanted IPVanish renewal charges off your credit card statements. But if you do fall prey, take comfort knowing you have options to recoup the funds or apply public pressure.
Auto-renewals and rigid refund policies are simply the nature of the SaaS industry. But we as consumers can adapt by carefully monitoring accounts, controlling payment methods, and voting with our wallets.
Stay savvy out there!