FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION: Were You Charged for Amazon Prime Without Your Permission?
By Federal Trade Commission // June 26, 2023
FTC: Amazon made it hard for customers to understand they were starting a Prime subscription
(FTC) – Online shopping can be convenient and easy. But with sometimes lots of screens before you get to check-out, you could wind up signed up for a service without even knowing it.
What’s worse, it can be tough to cancel. Read on to learn how to protect yourself from unwanted services and charges.
Today, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Amazon, saying the company violated the law by enrolling people in its Amazon Prime subscription service without their permission, continuing to charge them, and making it hard to cancel.
The FTC says the company used a series of hurdles — known as “dark patterns” — to make it hard for customers to understand that they were starting a Prime subscription. These dark patterns also made it hard for people to cancel their Prime subscriptions by making them hunt for the right place to cancel online, and then click through complicated extra pages to cancel.
Often, consumers would call Amazon’s customer service, only to be referred back to the website to cancel, making the process even more frustrating.
To help avoid unwanted services and charges when you shop online:
■ Watch what goes into your shopping cart. Even if you empty your cart and leave the site without completing your purchase, you still could have been enrolled in a subscription service.
■ Watch for pre-checked boxes. They may sign you up for a product or service.
■ Carefully review your order before completing a transaction. If something got added that you don’t want, make sure to remove it.
Make sure you didn’t get charged for something you don’t want.
■ Check your order confirmation to see.
■ If you did, contact the company to cancel and get a refund. Make sure you get — and keep — the written confirmation.
■ Watch your bank or credit card statements.
■ If you’re in a subscription, you’ve tried to cancel, and the company won’t stop charging your account, dispute it with your credit or debit card issuer.
■ Look for auto-renewals. Unless you cancel, you’ll continue to be charged.
If a company signed you up for a subscription service without your permission, or if you have problems with canceling a subscription service, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.