March 4, 2024

Amazon has agreed to simplify the process for canceling Prime in Europe, which means customers in the region will be able to terminate their subscription in just two clicks, The European Commission announced. The changes, implemented as of July 1, should end the “multiple pages” filled with “dispersed information” and “fuzzy button labels” that Amazon previously used to add friction to the cancellation process.

The European Commission says the changes apply to the European Union and the European Economic Area. Although the UK will leave the first from the start of 2020, Watchman Reports UK subscribers will also benefit from a two-click opt-out process. But when contacted for comment, an Amazon spokesperson dodged questions about whether it would implement similar changes in the US, saying it “has no changes to announce at this time.”

Screenshots of the new simplified cancellation procedure.
Photo: European Commission

“Customer transparency and trust are our top priorities,” company spokesman Bradley Mattinger said in an emailed statement. “By designing we make it clear and simple for customers to sign up or cancel their main membership. We constantly listen to feedback and look for ways to improve customer experience, and we don’t have any changes to announce at the moment.”

Amazon has agreed to make the following changes complaint by consumer groups in the European Union including the Norwegian Consumer Council, which produced a lengthy report on Amazon’s opaque cancellation of Prime in January 2021. The report contains screenshots of multiple pages users have to scroll through to opt out, which it said contained “manipulative design techniques” also known as “dark patterns.”

Examples of a previous opt-out are highlighted in a report.
Screenshots: Amazon

The European Commission says Amazon needs to change its process to comply with the bloc’s measures Directing unfair business practices. Amazon previously agreed to change its web interface to name the cancel button more clearly and shorten distracting text, but now says it will shorten that explanatory text further. Changes will be made across desktop, mobile and tablet.

“Consumers should be able to exercise their rights without any pressure from the platforms,” ​​Commissioner of Justice Didier Reynders said in a statement. “One thing is clear: Manipulative design or ‘dark patterns’ should be banned. I welcome Amazon’s commitment to streamline its practices to allow consumers to opt out freely and easily.”

Future EU legislation could place further restrictions on user interfaces like these. The Digital Services Act (DSA), which EU lawmakers provisionally approved earlier this year, is expected to include an outright ban related to the use of “dark patterns”. The DSA is expected to enter into force 15 months after it is voted into law, or as of January 1, 2024, whichever comes later.

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