An Amazon Prime advertisement offering consumers a free 30-day trial has been banned in the UK by a consumer watchdog agency because it wasn’t clear a paid subscription would start right away if not cancelled.
Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority made the decision to ban the ad after receiving complaints from six people that Amazon Prime had not made it clear they would be charged a subscription fee for failing to cancel their account. They also complained about the ad not stating Amazon Prime subscription costs, according to The Guardian.
The plastic direct mail coupon from Amazon Prime said: “Dear (recipient’s name), I’m sending you this letter because I want you to know that you are eligible for a free trial of Amazon Prime… Start your 30-day free trial today and watch as much as you want… That’s all there is to it…”
It would have given customers access to free shipping for a month along with a list of free videos streaming online, but instead sparked a storm of comments on Twitter.
Small letters printed on the bottom of the Amazon Prime card said, “Paid subscription starts automatically after free trial unless cancelled,” but that wasn’t enough for the advertising watchdog agency, which said the ad was misleading.
“We did not consider that it was sufficient to include the information about the automatic paid subscription in the small print of the ad only and therefore did not consider that that information was sufficiently prominent to make clear the extent of the commitment consumers must make to take advantage of the offer. We concluded the ad was likely to mislead.”
Amazon Europe said it was normal for companies to convert free trials to paid subscriptions if they weren’t cancelled and consumers would know this. They also said users were reminded of the fee again during the registration process.
The BBC reported that 10 million people signed up with Amazon Prime during the last three months of 2014.
The agency also said the advertisement misled consumers by not clearly stating they would be charged £79 a year for membership or that the charge for Amazon Prime Instant Video was £5.99 a month.
The agency banned Amazon Prime from sending out the ad again in its current form.
As reported by the Inquisitr, Amazon Prime video offerings this month will include the movie Taxi Driver, the TV show Drunk History, Donnie Brasco and the movie Hustler.