The Advertisement Standards Agency (ASA) has banned an advertisement by Amazon that encouraged people to sign up for its Prime subscription scheme.
Seven people complained about the advert, which appeared during the checkout process, saying it confused them about the options they were presented with.
It stated: “We’re giving you a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime! Starting with this order.” Under the text the user was presented with a gold box asking people to “Order Now With Prime,” which was contained within a larger grey box that read: “Continue with Free One-Day Delivery. Pay later.”
Small print at the bottom of the page stated: “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.”
The option to avoid the subscription, “Continue and don’t gain Amazon Prime benefits” was presented in fainter blue text to the left, which users said made the process unclear and misleading.
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Amazon has said it was disappointed by the ruling. The company said in a statement, said: “The evidence from millions of transactions demonstrates that customers have had positive experiences.”
“The ASA has instead based its ruling on a handful of complaints and a subjective opinion of the page. We will continue our discussions with the ASA.”
According to Amazon, only “a very small number of members” who signed up through the page had cancelled their membership. The “vast majority” had made use of their member. The company said that its goal was to ensure that customers that did join Prime did so intentionally and became active members who would reap the most benefits from the subscription.
In its ruling, the ASA said: “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.”
Amazon said the way it presented the boxes changed periodically, and that it used “customer satisfaction data to inform such adjustments and identify potential issues”.