In the digital age, e-commerce giant Amazon has undoubtedly revolutionised the way we shop. With its vast selection of products, convenient services, and enticing deals, it has become a go-to platform for millions of consumers. However, recent allegations have surfaced, suggesting that Amazon employs deceptive tactics to trick customers into purchasing subscriptions and makes it arduous for them to cancel. These manipulative practices were brought to light by the FTC, which filed a lawsuit against Amazon in the US.

FTC blames Amazon of tricking customers


The complaint

The Federal Trade Commission recently alleged that the e-commerce giant Amazon has been tricking its users, into buying the expensive Amazon Prime Subscription by designing its platform in such a way. The users only wanted to stream videos but are tricked into buying the subscription. Not only this but the cancellation process is also made difficult in order to frustrate the people, who eventually choose not to cancel. 

The FTC head Lina Khan said, “Amazon tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money.” Amazon also has made it difficult to cancel the process. The official added a “four-page, six-click, fifteen option” process designed for the cancellation.

FTC alleges Amazon on Manipulation


Ms Khan was appointed by President Joe Biden to look into the policies related to online shopping. This lawsuit marks the third action from the FTC involving Amazon in recent weeks.

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The company agreed to pay $25m last month to settle charges it had violated child privacy laws by keeping recordings of children made on Alexa. It also agreed to pay another $5.8m to resolve claims of 2018 against Amazon for violating privacy protections by giving staff unrestricted access to customer videos and failing to implement precautions against hackers.

What are the key features of this manipulation?

The Seductive Subscription Offer

 Imagine a scenario where customers innocently browse Amazon’s website for a specific product. Suddenly, they encounter a compelling pop-up advertisement promoting a free trial of a premium subscription service, promising exclusive benefits, discounts, and fast shipping. Amazon strategically employs persuasive language and enticing visuals to capture customers’ attention and lure them into signing up for the trial.

FTC: Amazon tricks customers to buy expensive subscription

Nafis Hasan

Concealed Terms and Conditions

Unbeknownst to the customer, buried within the lengthy terms and conditions lies the crucial information that the free trial automatically converts into a paid subscription after a specified period. Amazon cleverly obscures these details, taking advantage of customers’ tendency to overlook or skim through lengthy legal jargon. By keeping the terms inconspicuous, Amazon increases the chances of customers unwittingly entering into a paid commitment.

Complicated Cancellation Process

Upon realising that they have unwittingly subscribed to a service they don’t want or need, customers attempt to cancel their subscriptions. However, they soon discover that navigating the cancellation process is a convoluted and frustrating ordeal. Amazon strategically places obstacles in the path of cancellation, such as hidden links, complex menus, or intentionally misleading instructions. Customers find themselves trapped in a labyrinth of web pages, leaving them feeling frustrated, deceived, and ultimately resigned to continuing their unwanted subscriptions.

Financial Consequences

The deceptive subscription practices employed by Amazon have severe financial repercussions for consumers. Many customers unwittingly continue paying for services they no longer use or desire, draining their financial resources over time. The added burden of cancelling subscriptions can result in wasted time, increased stress, and damaged trust in the e-commerce giant.

FTC says Amazon makes it difficult to cancel the subscription


Tricking customers into purchasing subscriptions and making it difficult to cancel would erode trust in Amazon and damage its reputation. It is essential for consumer protection agencies, like the Federal Trade Commission, to scrutinise such practices and ensure fair and transparent business practices across all e-commerce platforms. As consumers, it is crucial for us to remain vigilant, carefully review terms and conditions, and advocate for clear and accessible cancellation processes to protect ourselves from potential deceptive practices.