YouTube cracking down on discounts obtained via VPN workaround, users report


YouTube Premium

Hey YouTube Premium subscribers! Did you use a VPN in order to get a cheaper subscription rate on YouTube’s ad-free Premium service? 

If so, it looks like your subscription may soon be getting canceled – if it hasn’t already.

According to reports on social media, YouTube is canceling subscriptions for Premium subscribers who used a money-saving workaround meant for users living in specific countries. A Reddit thread that was posted in r/YouTube on the cancellations is full of users sharing their own experiences.

The detail trying together all these YouTube Premium cancellations: They signed up via a VPN, which virtually placed their accounts in countries where prices are lower.

YouTube Premium purchasing power parity

Purchasing power parity has recently gained popularity among online services. 

Basically, companies with purchasing power parity pricing offer users in certain countries a lower price for a product or service than what they usually charge elsewhere. The cheaper pricing is meant to give local consumers an affordable option to pay for a product or service at a cost more in line with their country’s currency and standard of living.

As Android Authority points out in its report, YouTube currently offers Premium subscriptions in Ukraine for around $2.44 per month due to purchasing power parity. In the U.S., for example, that same subscription costs $13.99 per month.

Using a VPN, YouTube users can basically “trick” YouTube into making it look like their account is logging in from a country where the video platform provides lower pricing. From there, users can sign up for Premium at the cheaper monthly rate and then use YouTube ad-free via their Premium subscription.

YouTube Premium accounts canceled

It seems like this workaround for lower Premium subscription pricing has become popular enough for YouTube to start clamping down on it.

Premium subscribers who utilized this method to sign-up have been receiving automated emails from YouTube that show that their account has been canceled. 

“Your YouTube Premium membership has been canceled,” reads the automated email from YouTube to users who subscribed using a VPN.

Redditors who contacted YouTube’s customer service report that the YouTube representative told them that their subscription was canceled because the user had “moved” and now needed to sign up from the location where they now reside. Android Authority notes that they have yet to hear cancellation reports from users who actually did move from a country that’s offered a lower-priced YouTube Premium subscription.

Recently, YouTube has become more serious about shutting down workarounds to avoid ads. YouTube has begun warning users with ad blocking extensions that they would experience buffering or playback errors unless they deactivated the ad blocker. Then, just last week, YouTube began testing out a new ad-serving technique, which makes it much more difficult for ad blocker extensions to operate.

YouTube is making it clear that they want viewers to use the ad-supported version of the platform or pay for a Premium subscription for an ad-free experience – and that Premium subscription price should be paid accordingly based on where the user actually lives.

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