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How Amazon manipulates consumers to keep them subscribed to Amazon Prime

Report by Norway’s Consumer Council (NCC) / Forbrukerradet – YOU CAN LOG OUT, BUT YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE: “Executive summary In this report, we show how Amazon makes it unreasonably cumbersome to unsubscribe from the Amazon Prime service. The process of cancelling an Amazon Prime subscription is riddled with a combination of manipulative design techniques, known as ‘dark patterns’. 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. As we argue in this report, the sum of these practices is a process that seems designed to be obscure and manipulative, in order to keep consumers bound to the paid service. These practices were observed on Amazon’s platforms in both the US and in Europe. In our opinion, the use of dark patterns to prevent consumers from leaving a service is in breach of consumer law. Although Amazon is one of the largest online platforms globally, the dark patterns described throughout this report are emblematic of a broader problem. Consumers are faced with dark patterns on a daily basis; whether they want to use an online retailer, unsubscribe from a service, protect their privacy, and in many other situations. These manipulative design features undermine consumers’ ability to make free and informed choices by making us act against our own interests in favour of the interest of service providers. We call on service providers to stop using dark patterns and on consumer authorities to crack down on infringements of consumer and marketing law..”

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