Amazon agrees to drop ‘dark patterns’ of Prime cancellation in Europe

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Amazon has agreed to streamline the process needed to cancel a Prime subscription on its sites in the European Union, both desktop and mobile, following a string of complaints from regional consumer advocacy groups.

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Coordinated complaints about Amazon’s convoluted and confusing cancellation process for Prime were announced back in April 2021 — so it took the e-commerce giant a little over a year to agree to change its methods.

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After interacting with EU regulators today the commission said that Amazon has begun making some changes to Prime’s web interface – like making the cancel button more clearly labeled and shortening the explanatory text – but today’s announcement is that it has agreed to make things even easier by reducing the text even further so that consumers don’t get distracted by warnings and keeps from canceling.

The commission confirmed that Amazon is implementing additional changes from today.

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Commenting on the statement, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said:

“Choosing an online subscription can be very convenient for consumers as it is often a very simple process, but opting out of a subscription should be just as easy. Consumers should be able to exercise their rights without any pressure from the platforms. One thing is clear: manipulative design or “dark patterns” must be banned. I applaud Amazon’s commitment to simplifying its practices so that consumers can unsubscribe freely and easily.”

The EU chief executive entered into dialogue with Amazon as part of a coordinated complaints procedure involving a number of national consumer protection agencies.

According to the Commission, EU and EEA consumers will now be able to unsubscribe from Amazon Prime with just two clicks, using what it describes as a “visible and clear cancel button.” He adds that this reformed process is now in line with EU rules for consumers, though along with national watchdogs, he said he will continue to monitor implementation to ensure Amazon’s commitment to compliance doesn’t slip back into “sucks.”

The two-click cancellation process is certainly a radical simplification compared to the layered, friction-filled cancellation “dance” that Amazon has been rolling out in some member states.

At the time of the complaint, the Norwegian Consumer Council published report detailing the cynically convoluted workflow that Amazon developed to dissuade consumers from canceling Prime, finding the process riddled with manipulative design practices, also known as “dark patterns”.

“Consumers wishing to opt out of service face a host of hurdles, including complex navigational menus, garbled wording, confusing choices, and repetitive nudges,” they wrote at the time, concluding, “The sum of these practices is a process. it seems baffling and manipulative to keep consumers tied to a paid service.”

Consumer groups in the US joined the coordination effort by filing local complaints as early as 2021, but we have confirmed that the changes announced today only apply to Amazon’s European online stores in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden.

As such, it appears that US Amazon store users who are also Prime members will not be offered the same simplified cancellation process.

However, we understand that Amazon has made a commitment to apply simplifications for European stores in its UK store, despite the fact that the country is no longer a member of the EU.

Amazon sent us this statement about the regional changes in the Prime cancellation process:

“Transparency and customer trust are top priorities for us. By design, we have made it so that customers can both register and cancel their Prime membership. We are constantly listening to feedback and looking for ways to improve our customer experience, as we do here. after a constructive dialogue with the European Commission“.

European Union lawmakers recently agreed to include restrictions on the use of “dark pattern” platforms in Digital Services Law (DSA), so new legislation expected to be enacted for platforms such as Amazon in early 2023 will place strict requirements on intermediary market giants such as Amazon not to use manipulative interfaces otherwise they can be fined up to 6% of the world’s annual turnover in case of violation of the rules.

The Commission will take over the oversight of the so-called very large online platforms (also known as VLOPs) under the DSA. And as part of that role, he can give them guidance on issues like preventing manipulative and/or misleading UI design to support their compliance — so the dialogue Amazon has in the process of canceling a Prime membership can give it a try. , what is going to happen.

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