AMAZON HAS BEEN KNUCKLE-WRAPPED by UK regulators for a ‘misleading' promotion for its Amazon Prime premium service.
The problem was with the checkout process on the Amazon UK site that provided confusing information about Amazon Prime.
"We're giving you a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime! Starting with this order." it beamed.
It was in a grey box, centred around an "Order Now With Prime" button. Meanwhile, the option to "Continue and don't gain Amazon Prime benefits" was a single hyperlink in smaller plain text to the left of the box.
The seven complainants to the Advertising Standards Authority felt that this was misleading and unclear.
Upholding the complaint, the ASA added that the small print which warned of a recurring £7.99/m fee for Prime, which would automatically trigger at the end of the free month, was hidden away, without direction to it.
That was kind of important as it was the only place to warn: "By signing up you acknowledge that you have read and agree to the Amazon Prime Terms and Conditions and authorise us to charge your credit card after your 30-day free trial."
Whilst for UK readers, the fact that this just ‘isn't cricket' may be obvious, but let's be clear - this was no accidental infraction.
In fact, it's standard wherever Amazon can get away with it, and indeed is still being used on orders from the Amazon.com site.
Meanwhile, at least on the Amazon.co.uk site, you won't see it again - the ASA has upheld the complaint and banned Amazon from using the practice again.
Amazon has previously been warned by the ASA for its vague use of the term "next day delivery", one of the listed benefits of Prime, that sometimes promises more than it, or Yodel can deliver.
Although this is a victory for e-consumers in the UK, its a valuable lesson in being absolutely certain of what you're signing up to.
Just because this time the ASA stepped in, other sites not based in the UK may not have to comply with these rules - buyer beware. µ
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