Amazon Pinged For Misleading Prime Sign Up – ASA

Amazon has been called out by the UK advertising watchdog, the ASA, over its “misleading” Prime subscription sign up during the checkout process.

The Prime options has been available for a number of years now, and it gives users speedy deliveries and access to its streaming TV and music content, all of which has helped drive up profits at the e-commerce giant.

But the ASA has ruled that Amazon’s check out payment page was misleading and could have led people to sign up for Amazon’s subscription service, Prime, inadvertently.

Misleading webpage

According to the ASA ruling, ten people had complained to the ASA about this part of the check-out process at Amazon.

It said that the checkout payment page, the “continue and don’t gain Amazon Prime benefits”, option was “small and placed in a position which could easily be missed by consumers.”

“It was also in a faint colour, and compared to the option presented in the grey and gold boxes it was significantly less prominent,” the ASA added.

“The information provided by Amazon did not demonstrate that the average consumer was not likely to be misled by the presentation of the options,” it concluded. “Because we considered that the average consumer was likely to view the text within the grey and gold boxes as the only two options available, with the ‘option’ in the grey box allowing them to continue without signing up to Prime, when that was not the case, we concluded that the presentation of the options was likely to mislead.”

“The page that formed part of the check-out process should not continue to appear in the form complained of,” the ASA said.

Amazon said it was “disappointed” by the ruling.

“The evidence from millions of transactions demonstrates that customers have had positive experiences,” Amazon was quoted by the BBC as saying in a statement.

“The ASA has instead based its ruling on a handful of complaints and a subjective opinion of the page,” it said. “We will continue our discussions with the ASA.”

Amazon reportedly insisted that users had understood the options and only “a very small number of members” who signed up through the page had cancelled their membership within three days.”

The “vast majority” had made active use of their membership, it said.

Second setback

Amazon Prime costs either £7.99 per month, or £79 per year. Users benefit from free one-day delivery, coupled with access to music, books and video streaming.

This is the second piece of bad news for Amazon in the past week.

Last Friday the Pentagon awarded its lucrative JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft, as opposed to using AWS.

Amazon was surprised by that decision, as it had been considered by some as the leading contender. It may appeal against the decision.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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