Written Jul 1, 2016
Earlier today, I posted the story of how a certain VPN company created a fake testimonial. In the post, I talk about how I pressed TotalVPN’s support rep for more information regarding the testimonial’s origins – but there was a deeper purpose. I got one reply on Reddit that inspired me to write this post (and some of what I’ll say it repeated there). The user explained that I was too hard on the support rep and that my chat session was unproductive. They were missing the bigger picture.
I wasn’t really upset that a support rep couldn’t answer a question about their website’s marketing. I was taking the opportunity to illustrate that many of these companies do not intend to run a real service. While I may have pressed the support rep harder that I normally would, and maybe even come off rude, there’s a more important lesson to learn from this chat log and phone synopsis.
Some VPN companies just don’t take your privacy seriously.
I’ve used somewhere around 25 of them in the last 6 months. I’ve seen good ones and bad ones. TotalVPN was deflecting at every corner, refusing to let me speak to a manager, changing stories, giving me email addresses for departments that will DEFINITELY not be able to answer questions. Then the phone rep claiming to be a senior executive and not 5 minutes later telling me he was a lowly support rep. Lots of these companies are made on the cheap by a handful of people, often from a parent company (as we see here), using canned sites, servers, and support farms, and they expect us to be okay with their lazy, unethical behavior at every level.
Many governments around the world silence the people of their countries and strip away their unalienable rights (for example this week after the bombings in Turkey, that government shut off social media), or earlier this spring during certain elections in some African countries, the same. A commercial VPN is a service that the user should have the utmost confidence in on every level. They should expect it to be competently run, by honest and transparent people who are passionate about privacy and understand what is at risk for their users. Everything from maintaining their privacy to political dissidence against oppressive regimes that may even wish harm on the one practicing their speech. We aren’t talking about some product from Walmart breaking or an order getting screwed up at McDonalds – the gravity of company policies and actions with a VPN have far greater consequences for people than not allowing them to watch Netflix, when things go wrong.
Lives are at stake.
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