Amazon faces legal challenge over Prime cancellation policy

By Jane Wakefield
Technology reporter

Publishedduration2 hours agoshareSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionPrime brings benefits, but is Amazon making it too complex for people to unsubscribe?

Amazon is being challenged by consumer watchdogs in Europe and the US over its use of manipulative "dark pattern" design to promote its Prime service.

The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) found that cancelling a subscription required scrolling through six pages and making several complex choices.

It has filed a legal complaint with Norway's consumer protection authority claiming the design breaches EU law.

Amazon rejected claims the process was unfair or difficult.

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In the US, consumer watchdog Public Citizen is also filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. And consumer groups in France, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Switzerland are also calling for action.

The study from the NCC said that on each of the six pages in the cancellation process, the consumer "is nudged towards keeping their Prime membership".

The pages include yellow warning triangles with an exclamation point inside and buttons containing the text "keep my benefits".

This, is said, is an example of "dark patterns" – which it defines as techniques or features of design that are meant to manipulate users.

The watchdog also spoke to 1,000 Norwegian consumers about their experiences and found that one in four recalled having difficulties unsubscribing from digital content services.

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