Amazon has knowingly tricked people into signing up for Prime for years

Amazon has knowingly tricked its users into signing up for its premium Prime subscription offering, documents shared with Business Insider reveal.

The documents revealed that the company has been concerned that its user interface on Amazon.com has led customers to feel pressured into signing up for Prime, since at least 2017.

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These specific design decisions, which are commonly referred to as “dark patterns,” intentionally push users into acting unintentionally through misleading captions or imagery.

If a user clicks on the “Get FREE Two-Day Delivery with Prime” tab at check out, there is no additional confirmation steps and the shopper is automatically signed up to the 30-day free Prime trial, which after 30 days will incur a cost.

In order to cancel the subscription they unintentionally signed up for, users have to navigate through a number of pages to end the subscription.

Despite the ecommerce giant being aware of these complaints for a number of years, it did not take any serious action to amend it, according to the documents and six current and former employees who were interviewed by Business Insider.

In a number of cases, fixes for the issues were put forward for consideration however resulted in lower subscription growth when tested, so were canned as a result.

Some Amazon employees have also expressed concerns over increased attention from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the matter of subscription sign-ups, which may force Amazon to take further action.

The regulator has kept a watchful eye on Amazon’s subscription practises over the past few years, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to Business Insider.

Amazon vice president of Prime Jamil Ghani told Business Insider that the the sign-up and cancellation process for Prime are “simple and transparent and clearly present customers with choices and the implications of those choices.”

“Customer transparency and trust are top priorities for us. By design we make it clear and simple for customers to both sign up for or cancel their Prime membership. We continually listen to customer feedback and look for ways to improve the customer experience,” he said.

Somo chief strategy officer Ross Sleight believes that Amazon could benefit from positive friction at checkout.

“Online retail should strive to have as little friction as possible, but, when it is present, it needs to be in the right place,” he told Charged.

“This is a good example of a case for positive friction – ensuring customers are aware of what they are signing up to, even if it means developing an additional step in the process to check.

“By putting the customer first, Amazon can still offer a seamless experience but one that is more transparent and will go a long way to improving customer experience beyond a single transaction. ”

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15 Comments. Leave new

  • Not only this, but if you accidentally sign up for Prime, then cancel it… They will automatically re-enroll you after a month or so. Regardless of if you have the “renew subscription” option checked. Except, of course, it isn’t called that it’s called “remind me before renewing”… And naturally, the cancellation procedure is just as convoluted and misleading as the way they trick you into signing up in the first place.

    Hopefully somebody with some influence will see this and put together a legal case against them, because speaking to their customer service team is literally useless.

    Reply
  • alan marshall
    August 8, 2022 8:24 am

    went to buy somthing on amazon when i saw amazon prime did not buy anything they still signed me up ( i did not notice till i got a email telling me my free trial is coming to a end we will take a payment out in august )

    Reply
  • They have made me so nervous with their obsession to automatically renew a free Prime Trial that I have also removed my credit card until I do buy from them again. Scary to see such a consumer beware world corporations like Amazon are creating.

    Reply
  • I also don’t know how I got signed-up for Amazon Prime. There were so many steps in the cancellation process that I’m not sure that the cancellation went through.

    Reply
  • Uhhh yeah. My credit card was blocked a few days ago before they could withdraw money from it… i didn’t know I was subscribed to Amazon Prime until I received an e-mail this morning telling me that my payment for amazon prime didn’t go through… thank god my card was blocked. I’m not putting another one.

    Reply
  • I had a price changed on me but luckily I caught it, They put my cc as default and I deleted it from them. This happened a few years ago. No further incidents until yesterday. I was checking out, in the past they offered me a free Prime Trial. I ignored them, I had Prime a few years ago and didn’t want it any longer. I was checking out and they informed me they gave me a trial of prime. I couldn’t find it so I finished checking out and paused Prime until I could calm down. Today, I cancelled prime, I had to leave one card until my purchase is cleared but the others are gone.

    Reply
  • Gareth McMullin
    November 22, 2022 4:12 pm

    Is there any way that amazon can be stopped from trying to trick people into having prime I and many others have dyslexia and can easily tick the wrong box unknowingly. If this happens it upsets the person and makes them feel they are in inadequate. Hopefully you can help many Thanks Gareth

    Reply
  • As I went through the checkout process at amazon.com yesterday, I noticed that a free one month subscription had been added to my order. Luckily, I hadn’t chosen my payment method yet, so I looked around to see how to decline that offer, but couldn’t find out how to do that. I emptied my basket, started shopping all over again and upon going through the check-out process again, prices for two items had increased by about a dollar each. Exact same items from exact same seller (Amazon), but at a bit higher prices. No “free” one month trial was “given” to me, but the price of two items were increased. Dirty pool if you ask me. For that reason, I emptied my Amazon cart completely, signed out of amazon.com and don’t plan on going back in the foreseeable future. Not much of a loss as far as I’m concerned. Amazon has become too big for its britches, if you ask me, and many of their Marketplace Sellers are price gouging.

    Reply
  • I was going to order a doll for Christmas for my granddaughter, it said “Eligible for free delivery” as it was over £20, however it turned out to be only free delivery with Amazon Prime. I cancelled the order, I don’t want Amazon Prime and I resent having my arm twisted every time I place an order. I suppose it is like everything these days, money, money, money. Wake up Amazon and stop trying to bully us who don’t want Prime.

    Reply
  • I was charged for Amazon Prime without my consent, only found this on my credit card transactions, no emails?? How can they do this, don’t they make enough money already. Managed to cancel and get a refund, probably many people don’t, what a great revenue stream for this retailer giant. Considering closing my account.

    Reply
  • I only found out I had been signed up to prime usa when I checked a bank statement….119usd a year for 6 years. Didnt notice it before because I was buying heaps from amazon.com so the odd 119usd went unnoticed mixed in with my other purchases. I then went thru all my purchases over six years and I had been charged postage on all 40 of my purchases. 400usd in postage fees. I eventually found a live executive on email and complained….saying I cant even get prime.com tv in Australia as it is region locked. He advised me they could not do a refund as I had been given free postage on my purchases during the six year period. I then advised him that I had paid my own postage on all my purchases. He replied….you received free postage…cant help you.
    Amazon prime are a bunch of crooks.

    What planet are these people from. I deliberately do not press the free postage button because I know they trick people into signing up. I guess I must have pressed the wrong button one time. They eventually offered me 119usd as a goodwill gesture….The mongrels owe me 500 plus usd.

    Reply
  • For the second time in about 2 weeks, I noticed that I had been assigned Prime without my consent. On Dec. 13, I called Customer Service and received an email saying that it was cancelled. Today, I was about to put in an order and realized it said no shipping due to Prime. I called Amazon Customer Service again to complain – asked for an associate- and to say that this was illegal. She sent me the link to cancel and said that my account would be credited. I asked her to put it in writing and to email it to me so I can maintain a paper trail on this illegal activity and said I’d do a search and I’ve just read the messages here and I am not the only one having this problem. FYI Amazon’s number is 866-216-1072. I just received another email confirming that Prime was cancelled.

    Reply
  • This is STILL happening! Last night I went to order and I kept seeing Prime. I had to get out of that screen, get to my emails where I had “Welcome to Prime” which I promptly changed it back. Note to Amazon – STOP CHANGING ME TO PRIME

    Reply
  • As much as I like Amazon I am no longer using them because I cannot get rid of prime.

    Reply
  • I refuse to order anything from amazon, I can’t afford to pay for something I dont want. I’ve read too many horror stories.

    Reply

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