The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Wednesday, alleging that the online retail giant misled millions of customers into subscribing to Amazon Prime by using deceptive user interface designs. The FTC’s lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against Amazon.
The case that was submitted to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington takes aim at Amazon as well for allegedly attempting to prevent users from cancelling their memberships by preventing them from cancelling their subscriptions.
“Specifically, Amazon used manipulative, coercive, or deceptive user-interface designs known as ‘dark patterns’ to trick consumers into enrolling in automatically-renewing Prime subscriptions,” the FTC complaint said. “Dark patterns” refers to a type of user interface design. It went on to say that Amazon purposefully made it much tougher to cancel subscriptions than it was to register in Prime. It is said that the corporation designed a “labyrinthine” cancellation process in order to divert or prevent customers from carrying out their intention to cancel their subscriptions.
The case is the FTC’s most major action to date against company practises that, according to the agency, affect consumers by either drawing them in or keeping them stuck through psychological gimmicks. The FTC argues this practise harms customers by either luring them in or keeping them trapped. It is the culmination of an inquiry of Amazon Prime’s practises that lasted for several months and included evidence from the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, as well as its CEO, Andy Jassy.
Additionally, it touches on an important aspect of Amazon’s operation. In 2021, the number of paid Prime customers for the corporation surpassed 200 million. This growth was spurred in part by major investments in both original content and speedier shipping. Amazon Prime provides an incentive for customers to spend more time and money on Amazon platforms while also allowing the company to generate billions of dollars in revenue from subscription fees.