Amazon comes under fire for “manipulative” methods

Concerns have been raised by several watchdogs about Amazon’s “manipulative” design techniques that make it unreasonably difficult to unsubscribe from its Prime service.

A study by The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) said that the process of cancelling an Amazon Prime subscription is “riddled with a combination of manipulative design techniques, known as ‘dark patterns.’”

The NCC has filed a legal complaint with Norway’s consumer protection authority, the BBC said on Wednesday.

US consumer watchdog Public Citizen is also leading a coalition of groups that is filing a complaint about the methods with the Federal Trade Commission, the news broadcaster reported.

It also said that consumer groups across France, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Switzerland are calling for action.

The NCC said that consumers who want to leave the service are faced with a large number of hurdles, including complicated navigation menus, skewed wording, confusing choices, and repeated nudging.

The Council accused the process of unsubscribing as intentionally “obscure and manipulative” and said it was used to keep consumers bound to the service.

It said that these practices were observed on Amazon’s platforms in both the US and in Europe and that the use of these dark patterns to prevent consumers from leaving were “a breach of consumer law.”

The Norwegian body said that the dark patterns described throughout its report are emblematic of a broader problem, suggesting that consumers are faced with these methods on a daily basis.

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