“Deceptive practices”: US authorities are suing Amazon. Giant’s response: “False accusations. Users love Prime.”

“Deceptive practices”: US authorities are suing Amazon.  Giant’s response: “False accusations. Users love Prime.”

Easy sign-ups without approval and impossible cancellations. With this accusation, the FTC wants to sue Amazon, for using unfair and deceptive practices with the intent to enroll consumers with Prime, and then make the cancellation process complicated. Accusations rejected by Jeff Bezos: “False allegations.” “Amazon has deceived and trapped people into signing up without their consent, frustrating users and costing them vast sums of money,” said Lina Khan, chair of the US independent panel. According to the agency, the giant was going to design its site to push the consumer through the so-called «dark patterns» – Ambiguous, hidden paths – to perform unintended actions, such as signing up for a subscription, making it more difficult to complete an intentionally complex cancellation process. Khan has previously criticized the multinational, but this is the FTC’s first lawsuit against Amazon under his direction, which began in June 2021. The independent authority’s legal action is part of the broader effort to counter the excessive power of multinational corporations, after the actions taken against Meta for its acquisition of competitors Instagram and WhatsApp for allegedly finding themselves in a monopoly situation, and against Microsoft’s $70 billion agreement to acquire video game house Activision Blizzard.

Jeff Bezos’ response

But a response from Jeff Bezos’ company was not long in coming, dismissing all allegations as “false”. No machinations or malicious site engineering. “The FTC’s claims are factually and legally false. The truth is, customers love Prime, and our service is designed to make signing up for and unsubscribing from Prime easy and clear. Dissatisfaction with not being informed in a timely manner of what’s going on while talks were ongoing,” the press release reads. We are also concerned that the FTC announced this action without notifying us in advance, while we were in discussions with FTC staff to fully support the facts, context, and legal issues, and without our opportunity to speak with the commissioners themselves prior to the commencement of the case.” The memo concludes, “Although the absence of this type of involvement is very disappointing, we are confident in our ability to prove our position in court.”

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