Amazon has finally been forced to change its “smoke and mirrors” online payments page after being found to have duped customers into signing up for a Prime subscription as they tried to pay for goods.
The company has been accused of using so-called “dark UX” to get shoppers to join Prime for years. And a recent survey carried out by Which? showed that almost a third of members have accidentally signed up to the scheme, with many only realising when they later checked their bank statement.
The new clampdown has been sparked following a spate of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority from users who believed they were duped into joining the £8/month (£96/year) service after being confronted with the confusing payment options.
The page carries the headline: “We’re giving you a 30-day free trail of Amazon Prime, starting with this order.” Underneath a prominent box reads: “Order now with Prime. Continue with FREE one-day delivery, pay later.” To the left, a single line in far less prominent text reads: “Continue and don’t gain Amazon Prime benefits.”
In its defence, Amazon claimed customers who cancelled at any time during their 30-day trial period “could still take advantage of their Prime benefits for the entire 30-day duration of the trial” and insisted that consumers really did intend to sign up and pay £8/month for free parcel delivery.
Despite data being provided by Amazon on the number of users that signed up and continued to subscribe to Prime after the free trial, the ASA said it believed there was “little incentive to cancel” during the trial and no way of knowing whether those who went on to pay for Prime did so intentionally or because they had intended to cancel but failed to do so.
The regulator added: “The option to continue without signing up for the trial was presented as text stating ‘Continue and don’t gain Amazon Prime benefits’, which was small and placed in a position which could easily be missed by consumers. It was also in a faint colour, and compared to the option presented in the grey and gold boxes it was significantly less prominent.”
Concluding that the presentation of the options was likely to mislead, Amazon was ordered to fix its payments page to make Prime and non-Prime payments options much clearer.
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