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Amazon deliberately tricks customers into signing up for Prime

The company knows it’s using shady practices, but has yet to change anything.

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Image: KnowTechie

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Amazon Prime is one of the most popular subscription services in the world. As it turns out, Amazon has been tricking its customers into signing up for the service.

And what’s even worse is that the company knows that its practices are shady but hasn’t done anything about it.

According to internal documents from Amazon obtained by Business Insider, the popular online shopping platform has been discussing these tricky practices since at least 2017.

The publication also spoke to six former and current Amazon employees about these practices. Apparently, several fixes have been suggested for this potential problem over the years, but nothing has been changed quite yet.

So what makes Amazon’s Prime signups shady? The company uses manipulative design, known as “dark patterns” to trick people into signing up for the service.

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Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

For example, clicking the “Get FREE Two-Day Shipping with Prime” button at checkout will automatically sign a customer up for a 30-day free trial of Prime. After that free trial is up, the Prime subscription will turn into a paid one automatically.

Similar sources told Business Insider that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has had its eye on Amazon’s Prime practices over the past few years.

An Amazon spokesperson told the publication that signing up for and canceling Prime are “simple and transparent and clearly present customers with choices and the implications of those choices.”

READ MORE: How to cancel your Amazon Prime membership

This definitely isn’t a great look for Amazon. Amazon Prime is already a huge success, with more than 200 million subscribers worldwide. But tricking customers into signing up for Prime to boost that number is definitely a sketchy practice.

It will be interesting to see if Amazon finally changes the wording on its Prime signups. Although, if it hasn’t changed in the past five years, then I wouldn’t expect any changes coming soon.

At least, not without persuasion from outside entities, like the FTC.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Staff writer at KnowTechie. Alex has two years of experience covering all things technology, from video games to electric cars. He's a gamer at heart, with a passion for first-person shooters and expansive RPGs. Shoot him an email at alex@knowtechie.com

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