November 16, 2022
On November 9, 2022, a proposed class action lawsuit against Amazon Inc. was filed to the Western District Court of Washington, in Thomas Dorobiala v. Amazon.com Inc., Case No. 2.22-cv-01600 (“Class Action”), for the use of dark patterns, specifically overburdening the cancellation of Prime Subscriptions.
According to the Class Action, Amazon violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act (Wash. Rev. Code §§ 19.86.010, et seq.), by intentionally engaging in unfair and deceptive practices to keep its prime members locked into their memberships. The dark patterns were employed in the wording, graphic design and redundancies, to make Amazon’s cancellation process “needlessly difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating to users”, as follows:
Whereas signing up with Amazon is simple and intuitive, cancellation involves navigating through three “clicks,” just to start the process. Members who want to unsubscribe first need to log in to their Amazon account, navigate to the Amazon account menu, and find the “Prime membership” option. After clicking the “end membership” option, canceling a Prime subscription further requires multiple clicks, decisions, and confirmations. Prime members are required to navigate as many as six additional webpages which include confusing or manipulative messages, while clicking on one of the warnings (such as: “by ending your membership you will lose access to your Prime benefits“, another dark pattern using confirm-shaming to discourage members from canceling their membership) takes the user to a different Amazon page that stops the cancellation process. Other dark patterns used were naming the call-to-action button as “cancel my benefits” as opposed to “cancel my membership”. This allowed Amazon to continue to collect, process, and retain the personal data of misdirected Prime members.
The lawsuit covers all Amazon Prime members in the United States that attempted following November 9, 2018 to cancel their Prime membership online by clicking at least two pages in the cancellation process and who incurred a membership fee after failing to cancel their membership for that period, for which Amazon did not reimburse them.
APM Technology and Regulation Team.
This document is intended to provide only a general background regarding this matter. This document should not be regarded as setting out binding legal advice but rather as a practical overview that is based on our understanding. APM & Co. is not licensed to practice law outside of Israel.