Amazon intentionally made it difficult to cancel Prime subscription in secret project

Project ‘Iliad’ put multiple layers of questions and offers between the main Amazon page and the final cancellation

Adam Smith
Thursday 17 March 2022 16:26 GMT
Amazon MGM
Amazon MGM (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Amazon intentionally made it more difficult to cancel Amazon Prime by drawing out the process, new documents reveal.

The project, code-named “Iliad” after the lengthy poem, put multiple layers of questions and offers between the main Amazon page and the final cancellation in the hope that users would eventually stay on the service.

After this was implemented, Prime cancellations dropped as low as 14 per cent at one point in 2017, Business Insider reports.

Amazon has maintained a multi-step cancellation process today in order to retain users and has faced serious criticism for it.

In January last year, The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) said the process was a “deliberate attempt to confuse and frustrate customers”, Forbes reports.

"Throughout the process, Amazon manipulates users through wording and graphic design, making the process needlessly difficult and frustrating to understand," it continued, with one in four Norwegian customers saying they had difficulties unsubscribing.

"Customer transparency and trust are top priorities for us. By design we make it clear and simple for customers to both sign up for or cancel their Prime membership. We continually listen to customer feedback and look for ways to improve the customer experience," Jamil Ghani, VP of Amazon Prime, told Business Insider in a statement.

Tech companies have often used a design language called “dark patterns” to make it harder for users to quit services. This can include fine print, big “accept” buttons, and free deliveries.

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