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Amazon duped 'millions of consumers' into enrolling in Prime

The Federal Trade Commission says Amazon used 'manipulative, coercive, or deceptive user-interface designs known as 'dark patterns' to trick consumers into enrolling in automatically-renewing Prime subscriptions.'

Reuters
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A man walks past a logo of Amazon Prime Video during a launch event in Mumbai, India, April 28, 2022. Photo: Reuters
A man walks past a logo of Amazon Prime Video during a launch event in Mumbai, India, April 28, 2022. Photo: Reuters

The Federal Trade Commission filed suit against Amazon.com Inc Wednesday, charging the retailer with enrolling millions of consumers into its paid subscription Amazon Prime service without their consent and making it difficult for them to cancel.

The FTC said it filed suit in US District Court in Seattle charging "Amazon has knowingly duped millions of consumers into unknowingly enrolling in Amazon Prime." The FTC said Amazon used "manipulative, coercive, or deceptive user-interface designs known as 'dark patterns' to trick consumers into enrolling in automatically-renewing Prime subscriptions."

Amazon Prime offers fast, free shipping on millions of items, various discounts and access to movies, music and television series, as well as other benefits. Prime members in the US generally pay US$139 (about RM645) per year and drive much of Amazon's sales volume. Prime has more than 200 million members worldwide.

The FTC has been investigating sign-up and cancellation processes for the Prime program since March 2021. "Amazon tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan.

Consumers who attempted to cancel Prime were faced with multiple steps to actually accomplish the task of cancelling, according to the complaint.

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