FTC sues Amazon for ‘tricking and trapping’ people in Prime subscriptions

The FTC sues Amazon, alleging the company “tricked and trapped” people into buying Prime memberships that were purposefully hard to cancel.

Lawsuit filed: The Federal Trade Commission claims that Amazon used manipulative, coercive, or deceptive designs to enroll shoppers into auto-renewing Prime subscriptions.

  • Alleges that Amazon built a convoluted, multi-step cancellation process to discourage people from quitting.

In context: Prime memberships cost $139 a year or $14.99 a month and account for $25 billion of Amazon’s annual revenue.

  • Prime subscribers tend to spend more on Amazon than other shoppers.

Dark patterns: The FTC says Amazon’s website used manipulative design elements to trick users into making decisions they would not have otherwise made.

  • Options to sign up for Prime were prominent, while options to shop without Prime were harder to spot.

FTC’s goal: The agency seeks monetary civil penalties without specifying a total amount.

  • This will be the first FTC case against Amazon to go to trial under the agency’s chair, Lina Khan.

View original article on NPR

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