The pain of unsubscribing from Amazon Prime is over – at least if you live in Europe.
There is definitely power in numbers. Consumers from the EU and the European Economic Area †EER) can sign out of Amazon Prime with just two clicks, using a prominent and clear “cancel button”.
Compare this to the previous process that involved numerous steps, such as these:
How did the change come about?
It’s all thanks to extensive lobbying by consumer organizations in the EU and the EEA. They wrote a masterful report titled 2021″You can log out, but you can never leave†
Why is canceling Amazon Prime so annoying?
The report describes the process of canceling an Amazon Prime account as “riddled with a combination of manipulative design techniques known as ‘dark patterns'” — interfaces designed to trick you.
In other words, consumers who want to leave the service face many hurdles. These include complicated navigation menus, skewed wording, confusing choices, and repeated pushing. This process is infringing EU consumer protection rules aimed at limiting the hold Big Tech has over individual consumers.
Unfortunately, despite these same impractical practices being home to, there’s no obligation to change the subscription cancellation process in the US – but here’s a step-by-step process on how to cancel your subscription subscription†
Next, automatic renewals – please?
In the US, there is a movement around those pesky auto-renewal subscriptions. They may charge you for a product months after an initial free trial, unless you opt out.
More than 20 states have passed automatic renewal laws. For example, starting this month, companies will be selling automatic renewal plans to: California Consumers with annual subscriptions must send reminders 15 to 45 days before the renewal date to remind them of their automatic renewal unless canceled.
But as state laws progress, there is no federal law.
This means that US national consumer law is now far behind the EU, especially Germanywhich introduced a strong consumer protection subscriber law earlier this year.
In 2019, a group of American politicians submitted a bill in 2019. It’s called the Unsubscribe Act, and would enforce national regulations. But it still has to go through the necessary channels for a vote.
Curiously, some of the biggest proponents of consumer law include: Visa and MasterCardwho have imposed strict requirements on sellers in response to customer complaints and lawsuits.
This week strengthens the strength of the EU/EEA as a collective critical mass when it comes to consumer protection. The question is whether US consumer protection will ever be able to reach parity as states pick up the slack. Therefore, many customers continue to fight against individual companies and resort to lawsuits.