FTC files lawsuit against Amazon over auto-renewing Prime subscriptions

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Close-up of the Amazon logo on a window, depicting the FTC Amazon Prime auto-renewal trial.
(Photo credit: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock)

Overview of the FTC lawsuit for Amazon Prime auto-renewal:

  • WHO: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com Inc.
  • For what: The FTC says Amazon intentionally makes it difficult for its Amazon Prime subscribers to cancel their membership, in an effort to bolster the company’s bottom line.
  • Or: The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit accusing Amazon of using “dark patterns” to mislead consumers with the automatic renewal of their Amazon Prime subscriptions.

In a heavily redacted complaint, the FTC argued that Amazon used “manipulative, coercive, or deceptive user interface design” as a means of tricking customers into purchasing Amazon Prime subscriptions.

“Amazon tricked and tricked people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users, but also costing them a lot of money,” FTC Chairwoman Lina M. Khan said in a statement. statement.

The FTC says Amazon has “deceived millions of consumers” into unknowingly signing up for Prime memberships, in addition to knowingly complicating the cancellation process for Prime subscribers seeking to end their memberships.

The primary function of the Amazon Prime cancellation process is to prevent cancellations, FTC claims

The FTC argues that the primary function of Amazon Prime’s cancellation process is not to authorize cancellation, but, in effect, to prevent members from being able to cancel.

Amazon management, in an effort to prevent Prime members from being able to easily cancel — and, therefore, boost the company’s bottom line — slowed down or rejected changes that would have made the process easier, according to the FTC. .

These manipulative tactics harm both consumers and law-abiding businesses. The FTC will continue to vigorously protect Americans against ‘dark patterns’ and other unfair or deceptive practices in digital marketplaces,” Khan said.

The FTC voted 3-0 to allow its staff to file the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

A class action lawsuit was filed against Amazon last year by a consumer arguing the company intentionally makes it difficult for Amazon Prime members to cancel their subscriptions.

Did you have trouble canceling your Amazon Prime subscription? Let us know in the comments.

THE FTC lawsuit over Amazon Prime auto-renewal East Federal Trade Commission v Amazon.com, Inc.Case No. 2:23-cv-00932, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

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