US Government Sues Amazon, Alleges Company ‘Tricked and Trapped’ Customers
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Wednesday, accusing the company of engaging in deceptive practices to enroll consumers into its Prime program without their consent and making it difficult for them to cancel their subscriptions.
In the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the FTC claimed that Amazon used “dark patterns,” deceptive designs, to mislead consumers into signing up for the program. It also alleged that purchasing items on Amazon without subscribing to Prime was intentionally made more challenging, and consumers were sometimes unknowingly enrolled into Prime when completing their transactions.
Internally, Amazon referred to this process as “Iliad,” drawing a parallel to the ancient Greek poem about the lengthy siege of Troy during the Trojan War. The complaint further revealed that company leaders deliberately hindered changes that would have made canceling the subscription easier.
The FTC argued that these practices violated the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act. Amazon’s Prime program, launched in 2005, boasts over 200 million members worldwide who pay either $139 per year or $14.99 per month for benefits like faster shipping, free delivery, returns, and access to Prime Video.
In the first quarter of this year, Amazon reported a 17 percent increase in subscription revenue, totaling $9.6 billion. The FTC’s complaint, although redacted, contains numerous allegations supporting its accusations against Amazon.
FTC Chair Lina Khan stated, “Amazon tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money. These manipulative tactics harm consumers and law-abiding businesses alike.”
Following the announcement, several anti-monopoly groups celebrated the lawsuit. Amazon has previously faced legal action regarding the complexity of its Prime cancellation process. In response to the FTC’s investigation, the company published a blog post in March providing instructions on how to cancel Prime memberships.
Amazon has not yet responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit. The tech giant has faced increased regulatory scrutiny as it expands its e-commerce dominance and ventures into other markets, such as groceries and healthcare.
This lawsuit comes after the FTC’s recent victory against Amazon. The company agreed to pay a $25 million civil penalty for violating a child privacy law and $5.8 million in customer refunds for privacy violations related to its Ring doorbell camera.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
Source: The Western Journal
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