Users of Amazon Prime must be able to cancel their subscriptions with two clicks. This has been agreed by the European Commission, the consumer authorities of the EU member states (including ACM), and Amazon. Amazon Prime is a premium service for deliveries and also a streaming service for series and films. This way, it has become easier for users to cancel their subscriptions to Amazon Prime. Before this agreement had been made, it was easy for consumers to take out a subscription, but it was extremely cumbersome to cancel subscriptions. For example, users had to scroll through dozens of pages, and click away warnings. That is no longer necessary.
Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “Businesses should not make it difficult for consumers to cancel their subscriptions. More and more often, we see that businesses influence consumers into making choices they otherwise would not have made, for example, by making it very difficult for them to cancel their subscriptions. This type of manipulation by the design of the app or website may be a violation of consumer protection rules. We take action against such practices in order to protect consumers.”
ACM and the digital economy
The digital economy is a key topic on ACM’s Agenda. People and businesses must be protected against online misleading practices. That is why ACM has published its ‘Guidelines on the protection of the online consumer’, among other guidelines. These guidelines have been based on European consumer protection rules, and explain at what point online persuasion turns into deception. These guidelines form the basis for investigations and enforcement actions by ACM. They also help promote fair competitive relations between businesses. These guidelines are currently being revised.
Eight European national consumer organizations, including the Dutch Consumers’ Association (in Dutch: Consumentenbond), requested authorities to deal with these practices. The national consumer authorities of the EU member states and the European Commission work closely together with the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network. They accepted those requests. The results apply to the whole of Europe.