If you have ever tried to cancel an Amazon Prime subscription, then you will know first-hand how unintuitive and cumbersome the process is. For a website that prides itself on its smooth and easy checkout process, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that this is 100% by design.
The practice is what is known in the design industry as ‘dark patterns’ and it is a practice that is by no means exclusive to Amazon. Dark patterns use psychological tricks, color cues, and impressive buttons to convince users to click on what the company would rather you click, and not necessarily the option you wanted.
EU Puts An End To Amazon Prime Dark Patterns
The EU has been taking a keener interest in the practices of internet giants over recent years with both Google and Facebook facing investigations and fines over certain online practices deemed intrusive and in breach of EU data rules.
Now Amazon Prime has come under scrutiny from various EU consumer groups which has led to successful changes being brought across the EU last week. The good news for UK consumers is that these rules will also filter through to them by the end of August, even though the UK is no longer considered part of the European Union, the same protections are being extended.
The consumer council in Norway was one of the consumer groups behind the EU complaint. They said that had Amazon made it deliberately difficult to cancel Amazon Prime memberships, using manipulative design techniques known in the industry jargon as “dark patterns”. Norway joined the complaint as a member of the European Economic Area, which covers the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway who will also implement the two-click alteration.
“Consumers must be able to exercise their rights without any pressure from platforms. One thing is clear: manipulative design or ‘dark patterns’ must be banned.”Didier Reynders, EU Justice Commissioner.
In a statement, Amazon failed to address the specifics of the ruling and almost just ‘toed the party line’. There is no pressure for the US marketplace to follow suit with their Amazon Prime subscriptions as the online rules that govern across the EU are much stricter than those that cover the US.
“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 feedback and look for ways to improve the customer experience.”Amazon Spokesperson
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