Can’t figure out how to end your Amazon Prime sub? These complaints could help… – TechCrunch

Amazon’s use of a dark pattern that adds friction to the process of ending a major membership is being targeted by 16 consumer rights groups in Europe and the US taking coordinated action to urge regulatory intervention.

One of them – the Consumer Council of Norway (NCC) – has also published Report good Stating what it is Of ecommerce giants “Manipulative” and “End the process for the “unreasonably cumbersome” prime minister. The report is surprisingly titled ‘You can log out, but you can never leave‘.

He said, “Ending the subscription should be as easy as subscribing in the first place.” Amazon should facilitate a good user experience rather than locating customers and getting them stuck in paid services continuously, ”NCC Director of Digital Policy, Finn Lutzow-Holm Myerstad, said in a statement.

He said, “In our view, this practice not only betrays the expectations and trust of consumers, but breaks European law.”

Prime subscriptions are an important tool in Amazon’s arsenal, which reliably generates recurring revenue, as well as encouraging users to lock themselves through carrots of unlimited ‘free’ fast shipping (qualifying on the market Applies to a subset of items).

Other perks include streaming movies, TV shows, music and games, plus exclusive shopping programs, and discounts in the Amazon Prime Membership (though the exact bundle varies by market).

However, according to the complaints, the lock-in vibe also applies when trying to terminate a Prime subscription, as Amazon requires users to successfully navigate multiple menus, choosing from confusing multiple-choice options. And scroll past various distracting and / or irrelevant intervals and dead. Space to find the button that actually unsubscribes them.

And, don’t forget, this is the same company that famously patented the ‘1-click’ button for consumers’ cash …

NCC has posted Amazon below depicting various dark patterns that try to get Prime subscribers away from unsubscribing – including a dog barking cartoon because, uh, we have no idea …

Complaints against Amazon’s click-heavy process for prime unsubscribing are being filed by consumer groups in Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, and Norway and the US – so include a variety of national and regional consumer protection laws.

Of NCC complaintFor example, it refers to Norway’s Marketing Control Act – which enforces the EU’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive – “allowing the terms of marketing, commercial practice and service providers to be used in different markets” Provides a framework for. In complaint.

“The Marketing Control Act Section 6 applies the general clause in Article 5 of the Directive stating that an unfair commercial practice is prohibited. The formation of an unfair commercial practice is defined in the second paragraph of section 6, which states that a commercial practice is unfair if it violates ‘good business practices’ towards consumers, and that a consumer’s financial conduct is significant Form, so that the consumer decides they would not otherwise, ”argues NCC.

Some of the coordinated complaints will be less formal, in the form of letters written to consumer protection agencies urging them to investigate. In the US, for example, the FTC would be urged to “examine Amazon’s practices and analyze whether they violate Section 5 of the FTC Act”.

The VZBV Consumer Protection Agency in Germany told us that it is currently assessing Amazon’s cancellation process for Prime – which noted that it seems “slightly different” to one of the Norwegian complaints – saying It is not yet clear whether it will file court intervention. on the issue.

A VZBV spokesman said, “Unlike other consumer organizations participating in this concert action, we are not sending complaints to the authorities.” “My employer, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) is able to send legal warnings and, if the closure and removal demands are not met, the litigating companies violate consumer protection laws in their own right. We It will do so if there is sufficient legal merit in this case. But as I said, it is not completely decided yet. “

We contacted Amazon for comments on complaints against the Prime Unsubscribe process and denied it was unclear and difficult for members to cancel their membership, arguing that it was only “a few clicks” online or “a quick call Call “.

See its full statement here:

Amazon makes it clear and easy to cancel your subscription at any time, whether through a few clicks, a quick phone call or by turning off auto renewal in your subscription options. Customer trust is at the heart of all our products and services and we reject the claim that our cancellation process is unfair or creates uncertainty. We take great pride in Prime Service and the number of ways to make our members’ lives easier, but we make it easy for customers to leave whenever we choose. The information we provide in the online cancellation flow gives complete information about the benefits and benefits being canceled by members of the services.

Consumer groups banding together to pressure tech giants to change questionable practices is no new phenomenon. In the back 2018, For example, several European groups coordinated complaints against Google’s ‘misleading’ harvesting of location data. Just down one year ago The Irish Data Protection Commission opened a formal investigation – which is continuing.