Score one for consumer protection as Amazon agreed to follow the rules set by the European Commission and will make canceling a Prime subscription a lot easier.
The process has been greatly simplified to follow a "two-click" process after consumer groups complained about how anti-consumer (opens in new tab) the process originally was. Now, European subscribers can go into their Prime account where they will be met with some text explaining how canceling will work. Afterward, they'll select the prominent “End membership now” button. Gone is the maze of menus that people dealt with previously.
The updated process will be making its way to Amazon on desktop and mobile devices. Customers can still adjust their payment options and change the cancellation date to a slightly later one.
Clarity is key
Clarity was a major sticking point for the European Commission. This all started when several European consumer organizations, including the Norwegian Consumer Council, published a report bitingly titled “You Can Log Out, But You Can Never Leave (opens in new tab)”. The report detailed how difficult it was to cancel an Amazon Prime subscription and referred to its design as having “dark patterns.”
The report claims these dark patterns aimed to manipulate people into keeping their subscriptions. Screenshots provided in the report show the old cancellation process and it is rather confusing. Users had to navigate through a series of menus, “skewed wording, [and] confusing choices.” And along the way, Amazon would prod people to stay by repeatedly reminding them of what they’re losing out on.
Not one to blindly trust, the European Commission states that it and government authorities will continue to keep an eye on Amazon to make sure it's following the rules. We asked Amazon about this decision and if these changes will be making their way to American users.
An Amazon spokesperson told us, "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 feedback and look for ways to improve the customer experience, as we are doing here following constructive dialogue with the European Commission."
For the US, Amazon Prime will be staying the same. That same spokesperson did say Amazon is open to feedback from users, but there are no changes at this time.
The European Union has, in recent years, been particularly harsh toward tech giants. Several new laws have been put into place to increase consumer protection and chip away at monopolies. Back in March, the EU laid out its Digital Markets Act (DMA) which may allow users to uninstall default apps and use services on other platforms.
Not satisfied with software, the EU has its eyes set on establishing a universal charger standard. So instead of having a thousand different cables, you can just have one. Unsurprisingly, the tech giants aren’t too happy. Apple is totally opposed to the idea of a universal charger.
If you’ve decided to keep Prime, be aware that Amazon Prime Day takes place on July 12 and July 13, 2022. In preparation, TechRadar published a guide on the hottest deals for those days.