Is Amazon employing a deceptive strategy to keep its Prime members subscribed?

Amazon.com, Inc. is using a deceptive tactic to keep Prime members subscribed. Several complaints have been filed in recent years, requesting an investigation into Amazon Prime's cancellation process.

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Have you ever tried canceling Amazon Prime membership? Canceling Prime membership is nothing but a frustrating process full of trick questions, exclusive benefits, manipulative design, decisions, and confirmations, regardless of the device or platform being used. AND Amazon is well aware that unsubscribing from Prime requires navigating through at least five different pages, but undoing that decision only requires a single click.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been found to be deceptive in its efforts to keep Prime members subscribed. Amazon Prime is a monthly or annual membership program that offers many exclusive shopping benefits as well as access to other services such as Prime Reading, Prime Music, Prime Gaming, and Prime Video without having to pay a separate fee for each of these services. It has more than 150 million Prime subscribers globally.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received several complaints in recent years requesting an investigation into Amazon Prime’s cancellation process.

The research was conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, and the findings point to one conclusion: “Amazon Prime’s subscription model is a “roach motel,” where getting in is almost effortless, but escape is an ordeal.”

According to internal documents obtained by Insider, Amazon deliberately dragged out the process of canceling a Prime membership under the project code “Iliad.” In this project, the retail giant added multiple layers of questions as well as some attractive offers to lure Prime members before they could cancel the subscription. In fact, when the project Iliad was launched in 2017, the number of Prime cancellations dropped by 14% as fewer members navigated to the final cancellation page.

In January 2021, the Norwegian Consumer Council also filed a legal complaint against Amazon for violating the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD).

Process to Cancel Amazon Prime Membership

If you want to cancel the Prime membership, you can find the “End membership” button under the “Manage membership” tab. However, this is not as easy as it looks.

The first prompt will show you how many days are left until the next billing cycle.

The second prompt informs users how much money they would save if they switch from a monthly to an annual payment plan. Please note that starting February 18, Amazon’s annual Prime membership fee increased from $119 to $139 and the monthly fees increased from $12.99 to $14.99.

The final prompt asks users to confirm their cancellation of membership. Existing Prime users are once again perplexed by the first three yellow buttons on the page, which ask if they want to pause their memberships with certain conditions, keep their membership, or be reminded later.

Two final yellow buttons appear further down the page, each listing different options for when to cancel the membership.

Amazon’s response

Amazon’s spokesperson stated in an email to Insider that the signup and cancellation processes for Prime are “simple and transparent and clearly present customers with choices and the implications of those choices.”

“Customer transparency and trust are top priorities for us. By design, we make it clear and simple for customers to both sign up for or cancel their Prime membership. We continually listen to customer feedback and look for ways to improve the customer experience,” Jamil Ghani, VP of Amazon Prime, said in a statement.

What are your thoughts on Amazon’s strategy of making the Prime membership cancellation process more confusing and complicated for customers?

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