The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of "knowingly duping" millions of US consumers into signing up for a Prime subscription. According to the FTC, Amazon employed deceptive website design practices, making it difficult for users to cancel their Prime subscriptions and ultimately costing them significant amounts of money.
FTC Chair Lina Khan announced the lawsuit on Wednesday, stating that "Amazon tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money." The US regulator claims that Amazon used underhanded design techniques, known as "dark patterns," to manipulate users into signing up for a subscription. These tactics included prominently displaying a button to subscribe to Prime during the shopping process, with the button labeled as "free shipping" or "free trial."
Moreover, the FTC alleges that Amazon made it challenging for users to cancel their Prime subscriptions, forcing them through a "complex and confusing process" consisting of multiple steps. This approach not only left consumers frustrated but also led them to unwittingly continue their paid subscriptions. The lawsuit seeks to hold Amazon accountable for its deceptive practices and aims to ensure that consumers are not misled in the future.
The FTC's lawsuit against Amazon highlights the growing scrutiny faced by major tech companies for their business practices. As regulators increasingly focus on protecting consumer rights and ensuring fair competition, the outcome of this case could have significant implications for Amazon and other tech giants. Ultimately, the lawsuit serves as a reminder to companies of the importance of transparency and ethical design in their digital offerings.