A virtual private network (VPN) provides a secure and anonymous network connection. A subscription-based VPN with a “no-logs” policy, keeps all the user’s online activity hidden. What a VPN does is:
- bypasses and defeats net censorship
- thwarts geo-blocking that restricts access to sites through IP address detection.
- helps online shoppers find online bargains outside their geographical boundaries
VPNs keep online activity private and anonymous
A VPN is like a private tunnel between the users’ devices and the sites and services they access. Websites detect and categorize users by means of detecting the address of their internet service provider. With a VPN, the user can connect anonymously to a server at another geographic location.
Most important, a VPN encrypts the user’s network. This is especially useful while using a public Wi-Fi, in an airport, for example. The user’s secured connection allows secure web browsing and transmission of personal and financial information without fear of hackers.
VPNs with no-logs policies add another level of user privacy not typically offered by free VPN services. Free services can only be free by monetizing their users. They employ user activity logs, IP address access records, and traffic logging provide a goldmine of big data for advertisers, marketers– and hackers intent on identity theft.
The best VPN choice is a service like Surfshark, which has a strict no-logs policy, premium additional services, no limits on the number of user devices, and a free trial period.
VPNs thwart net censorship
With VPNs, users can log on anonymously and choose from an array of outside servers. Some governments block their citizens from accessing sites with controversial political content. VPNs bypass that censorship.
VPNs are an end-run around geo-blocking
Geo-blocking is one of the biggest obstacles to free and unrestricted access to the internet. This internet technology, as implied by its name, blocks or restricts access based on the user’s IP address.
Region-restricted websites are common. Those restrictions may be governed by local copyright regulations, which require online streaming services like Netflix to block out-of-area users. On the other hand, geo-blocking is often used in unfair marketing and sales by ecommerce merchants.
A VPN bypasses geo-blocking and permits the user to sign on an encrypted server outside the user’s country. While services like Netflix try to detect and block known VPN servers, the best VPN providers stay on the move by continually changing their server IP address.
VPNs help shoppers find better deals online
The value of ecommerce by 2021, according to one Statista report, will grow to $6.6 trillion by 2021. The total value of all goods and services in the U.S. and UK—i.e., the GDP—is $24.17 trillion. So, online business will amount to over 21 percent of all the money, services, and products generated in both those countries.
As online shoppers flock to Amazon, and traditional brick and mortar organizations like Home Depot opt for a hybrid approach to cloud business, thrifty consumers have more choices. Nevertheless, some online retailers prevent access or charge different prices to their products and services based on geographic location.
For example, some retailers will:
- block website access from other countries
- prevent the user from completing an online order if the product website detects an outside IP address
- deny delivery of shipment to foreign addresses
- show different prices and conditions based on location, nationality, or country of residence of the customer
Online shoppers, then, don’t always receive the same treatment. Location plays a big role in what vendors and service companies charge. Consumers can usually expect higher prices if they live in more affluent countries or even different postal codes in the same country.
Known as “dynamic pricing” the foregoing practice has emerged as a strategy among many e-tailers. In fact, some commercial sites have been known to charge users more based on whether they are using a PC or a Mac.
So, ecommerce is flourishing. Online shoppers have gained experience and have passed along tips for saving money. The best tip is to simply use a VPN.
Whatever the market will bear…
Differential pricing strategy is used by companies like shopping sites, airlines and other ticketing companies, rental car agencies, hotels, and online streaming services. Often at different IP locations in shopping for the same airline ticket, the shopper will see vastly different prices for the same trip.
Other researchers have found that online behemoths Amazon, Staples, and Steam have different prices by geographic location. That variance can be as much as 166%. It is not illegal, and based on the philosophy that if people are willing to pay those prices and are happy with the service, let them pay.
Another shady but perfectly legal practice is price steering. That is when shopping websites personalize prices for each user. Then the site steers the user toward higher-priced items. This phenomenon can occur even for users in the same geographic location.
Price steering is the result of online vendors tracking the user’s search history. Then they up the price as the user keeps on searching for the item. They know the user’s search history and apply other knowledge.
- Orbitz discriminated between users who were logged into their service, rather than searching as a guest. Logged-in customers saved an average of $12.
- Travelocity offered a $15 discount to users logging in with Apple’s operating system.
- Home Depot suggested highly priced products to people using a mobile price rather than a desktop computer.
So, the best defense against unfair pricing is to use a VPN and do some virtual globetrotting and compare deals. For example, ProPrivacy author Ray Walsh’s article,Top 10 Things You Can Buy Cheaper With a VPN, highlights online products and services and suggestions on how to bypass area restrictions.
VPNs are the user’s secure, encrypted connection to a private online experience. VPNs bypass net censorship, defeat geo-blocking, and are the best solution for secure online shopping and bargain hunting.
Online retailers use geo-blocking to screen out foreign access to their products. They employ other practices like displaying different prices based on the user’s location. To get the best deals online and protect against tracking, the best solution is to use a no-logs VPN with multiple overseas servers.