In the most extreme action taken against the firm by the agency’s chair, Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Wednesday, accusing it of illegally pressuring customers to subscribe to its Prime membership and making it difficult for them to quit.
The FTC claimed in its lawsuit that Amazon had “duped millions of consumers” into signing up for Prime by employing “manipulative, coercive, or deceptive” website design techniques known as “dark patterns.”
Additionally, Amazon “knowingly complicated” the cancellation process with burdensome steps when customers wished to cancel.
Lengthy Procedure To Cancel Their Prime Membership
Over 200 million individuals worldwide are Prime subscribers. The subscription service costs $139 a year or $14.99 a month in the US and £95 a year in the UK.
It includes shipping benefits, access to streaming films, and other advantages.
Because “those changes would also negatively affect Amazon’s bottom line,” the agency claimed in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle, the company tried to make it impossible for consumers to opt out of auto-enrolment.
It also claimed that Amazon forced consumers who wanted to cancel through a time-consuming “four-page, six-click, fifteen option” procedure, which the FTC dubbed “Iliad” about the Greek classic about the “long, arduous Trojan War.”
The FTC claimed that although Amazon changed the cancellation procedure soon before the case was filed, the company’s actions violated consumer protection laws.
“Amazon tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money,” FTC reports.
Amazon was aware that it was signing up customers for Prime without getting their permission and that it was challenging for them to understand the complex canceling process.
The Company neglected to take any significant action to rectify the problems and claimed the lawsuit until they were well aware of the FTC’s inquiry.
The FTC requests a court order requiring Amazon to alter its practices and specific monetary penalties.
Response from Amazon to the Issue
Amazon said that when the case was unexpectedly filed, it had been resolving the problems with the agency.
“The truth is that customers love Prime, and by design, we make it clear and simple for customers to both sign up for or cancel their Prime membership,” the company said.
Amazon and the F.T.C. recently resolved legal disputes. To resolve commission allegations that its Alexa home assistant devices had improperly gathered children’s data, the corporation agreed to pay $25 million last month.
The business also reached a privacy settlement with the F.T.C. involving its Ring home security division.
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