The Federal Trade Commission is suing Amazon for enrolling customers in its Prime program without their consent and making it difficult for them to cancel their subscriptions.
In a complaint filed Wednesday, the FTC accused Amazon of “knowingly” using “dark patterns” to trick millions of customers into subscribing to Amazon Prime. Specifically, the FTC described Amazon’s checkout process as offering customers too many options to subscribe to Prime, making it difficult to find the option to simply complete the purchase. The Commission also alleges that Amazon required customers to take several unnecessary steps before successfully unsubscribing from the program.
FTC Chairman Lina Kahn said in a statement Wednesday that “Amazon deceived people and trapped them into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users, but also costing them substantial money.” These manipulative tactics harm consumers and law-abiding businesses alike.
Much of Wednesday’s complaint is still redacted, but the FTC said Amazon described several opportunities to prevent these forced additions, but chose not to make the changes.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Before being confirmed at the FTC, Khan rose to prominence after writing a 2017 article titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” He later served on the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, playing a key role in investigating Amazon and other tech companies for anticompetitive behavior.