Disclaimer: The below review is my opinion, which I will try to provide as many examples for and as much evidence as possible to support. Readers can learn more about how I conduct my reviews, my methodology, etc – here. More information on review badges here.
This review’s roll was #29 (at the time of the roll, Doublehop)
Updated Jun 1, 2018
Signing up for the service: When going to Doublehop’s website, the first thing I noticed, was that, while it had some basic marketing, it wasn’t the typical, “100% SECURE, BEST VPN EVAR” BS). Signing up for service was easy as there was an obvious link front and center on the main page. When signing up, you are asked to provide one form of contact info – email or a “Telegram” number. Kind of unusual, but it gets the job done I suppose. Doublehop only had two plans – 1 month or 1 year. Again, simplicity was the name of the game here. Where plans are concerned, however, that’s not always ideal. There are much better options if you want more flexibility with regard to duration.
In any case, I selected 1 month of service and went on to pay. Note that Doublehop ONLY accepts Bitcoin – which is a nice option when a company will include it – but scary and maybe even inconvenient for users who want to pay using another method. (On a side note, Bitcoin fees are getting silly these days, so that jacks the price up even more with no alternative). Regardless, I went ahead and paid for the month’s service using Bitcoin.
Once sending funds, the user must then wait for it to post, and then manually press a “Process Order” button. This is pretty clunky in my opinion. I received a welcome email (in my spam folder) which said I would be contacted within a week… (“sometimes sooner!”) because Doublehop is a side project and the team that runs it is small… I was never redirected to a user portal or login or anything after submitting payment. After a few minutes of studying the “payment complete” page (which looks almost exactly like the “please submit payment” page), I saw that there was an added “ID” field, which supposedly indicated an assigned User ID. They could definitely have been more descriptive here. Even after locating the ID, I still had no idea what to do with it, as the website has no clear “login” or “client area” button. I reached out to support for assistance, see below for the detailed results of this exchange.
While I initially appreciated the simplicity of Doublehop’s site, functionality and clarity are more important – and Doublehop’s site did not have this where it counted. This left me confused as to what my options even were. It seemed like I had sacrificed my Bitcoin to the abyss.
Configuring the service: (I was never able to get the service working, as no support representative replied – see below).
Speed & Stability tests: (I was never able to get the service working, as no support representative replied – see below).
Getting support: As mentioned above, I sent an email to Doublehop support asking how I might log on to actually use the service once I subscribed. After two days of waiting for a response, none came.
Getting a refund: As it says in Doublehop’s terms of service, they do not give refunds – and, I suppose I can say, based on not receiving any response from the company, they are true to their word.
“This is exciting stuff. Exciting like, inviting bosoms and a smoke show of a keister. Ok not quite, sorry; it’s all legalese. Following tradition, we’ve even made the font really tiny. Grab a coffee? :)”
When it comes to a company’s terms of service, there’s an understanding that there will be a little legalese, and attempts to make it a little less dry are always welcome, but this was all throughout and felt really forced. Often, the “fun” version of the term was longer than the legalese version. If that’s the case, why are they even bothering? Buried beneath the “totally rad” term explanations, there were some land mines buried in the fine print.
Doublehop is providing this service on an “as is, as available” basis without representation or warranty of any kind. Doublehop does not guarantee as to the continuous availability of the service or of any specific feature(s) of the service.
I know companies provide this “catch-all” clause in their terms pretty typically, but it ALWAYS strikes me as lazy. I would prefer a statement explaining that reasonable measures are taken to ensure service uptime, and then possibly a link to some of the specifics if I were interested in reading more. Almost anything seems better than just saying “we make no promises – now please give us money!”
You agree that Doublehop, in its sole discretion, for any or no reason, and without penalty, may terminate or suspend your use of the Service at any time. Doublehop may also in its sole discretion and at any time discontinue the Services in their entirety, or any part thereof, with or without notice.
…but try not to think about that when your cursor is hovering over the “pay” button.
Doublehop does not offer refunds or reimbursement for any reason.
Buyer beware – no refunds.
Doublehop makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee as to the reliability, timeliness, quality, suitability, availability, accuracy or completeness of the Services. Doublehop does not represent or warrant that (a) the use of the Services will be secure, timely, uninterrupted or error-free or operate in combination with any other hardware, software, system or data, or (b) the Service will meet your requirements or expectations.
Seriously. Buyer. Beware.
You hereby expressly and irrevocably release and forever discharge Doublehop, including the company’s directors, employees, agents, representatives, independent and dependent contractors, licensees, successors and assigns of and from any and all actions, causes of action, suits, proceedings, liability, debts, judgments, claims and demands whatsoever in law or equity which you ever had, now have, or hereafter can, shall or may have, for or by reason of, or arising directly or indirectly out of your use of the Services. You hereby agree to indemnify and hold harmless Doublehop, including the company’s directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, independent and dependent contractors, licensees, successors and assigns from and against all claims, losses, expenses, damages and costs (including, but not limited to, direct, incidental, consequential, exemplary and indirect damages), and reasonable attorneys’ fees, resulting from or arising out of (i) a breach of this Agreement, (ii) the use of the Services, by You or any person using your account, or (iii) any violation of any rights of a third party.
I almost didn’t include this whole paragraph. You probably get the point after a sentence or two – but I thought it started to sound like a parody of itself, and goes to prove my point, so, here it is.
No traffic logging
No DNS request logging
No timestamps logging
No bandwidth logging
No IP address logging
The one bright spot of their terms is putting their finger on exactly what ISN’T logged.
As you can tell, Doublehop goes to great lengths to craft a set of terms and policies that will shield themselves from any and all claims and liability. If only they spent as much effort building a clear website with useful instructions for new users. Since Bitcoin is the only payment option, you won’t even have a fall-back to dispute the transaction through a credit card company, Paypal, or anything.
Final thoughts: I was actually a very disappointed by Doublehop. In the past, they had actively reached out to me asking how they could improve their site, and appeared to be somewhat receptive (for instance, their no logging terms were made more clear at my suggestion sometime last year). Despite that reception, Doublehop shows that their priorities are in the wrong places. Where they spend time coming up with (supposedly) witty term paraphrasing, they could have revamped their sign-up process. Instead of making mindless videos to explain aspects of the service, they could have added a bit more functionality to the site to make it possible to use. Their support was nowhere to be found, nor any perceived way to actually use the service once paid for – and I am not waiting for a week to get information virtually every other VPN company in existence can provide immediately after paying. I honestly don’t know what happened here, Doublehop doesn’t even feel like an actual, professional service – but a self-admitted “side-project” – and unless I hear back with some valid explanations or clarifications, and soon, I won’t be keeping it on the comparison chart much longer.
Update (4-9-2017): Doublehop has reached out a couple of times after this review. The first time was almost a week after it was published (Mar 21st), to provide an excuse as to why I hadn’t heard back. Tell me if this sounds like a good excuse: The people who run it were at a music festival, the weather was bad, and their original tweet – that was sent much earlier, didn’t go through for some reason. They also listed some concerns (or gave a sob story, depending on how jaded you are at this point) about not being able to support journalist/media accounts without donations – in light of getting a bad review and people being turned away as a result. The review had been published for days at this point. I had no comment and didn’t respond.
Today I received another PM on Twitter to see if I would be publishing an update to the review, since “[My] review suggests that [they] never got back to [me] or provided certificates, which isn’t the case.” So, I’m writing this update. Over 2 weeks after I PUBLISHED, (not STARTED) the review, my Doublehop account was hypothetically usable and I had finally received my welcome email. This happened, fittingly, on April 1st – as this experience was from beginning to end, a joke.
As a result of the overall experience, I have removed Doublehop from the comparison chart. I don’t relish having to do so, but it is not fair to potential customers to list them alongside real services who are set up to handle things like customers.
Update (6-1-2018): Doublehop has since reached out, notifying me of several changes they have since made to their site and service. I have re-added them to the charts.
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