Bloomberg reports that "three Amazon executives were accused by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission of participating in an alleged plan to make it difficult for customers to cancel subscriptions to the company’s Prime membership service.
"Senior Vice Presidents Neil Lindsay and Russell Grandinetti, along with Vice President Jamil Ghani, were added as defendants Wednesday in a lawsuit the FTC filed against Amazon in June. The regulator said they helped orchestrate the plan and ignored pleas by employees to stop using techniques 'to mislead or trick users' into 'signing up for a recurring bill.'
"Lindsay oversaw the membership program, Grandinetti handled the international consumer business, and Ghani was responsible for Prime’s subscription program, according to the filing. The FTC cited internal memos at Amazon going back to 2017 discussing concern that enrollment wasn’t designed to be easy for customers to cancel."
The FTC filed the original lawsuit in June, saying that Amazon with "duped consumers into signing up for Prime and deliberately made it hard to cancel."
Amazon responded to the filing with a prepared statement:
“These leaders have worked tirelessly to make Prime an exceptional program that customers love, and they have our full support … To claim that their efforts were made in anything but the utmost good faith is unfounded and represents a radical departure from the FTC’s own standards for such claims. We’ve always made it clear and simple for customers to sign up for and cancel Prime, and we look forward to demonstrating that the FTC’s claims to the contrary are wrong.”
- KC's View:
As a Prime member almost from the moment it became available, I remain confused why Amazon would want or need to deceive anyone.
But the FTC says it has memos - which, if true, might complicate Amazon's denials, even if the company has made it easier to quit Prime in recent days.
If the FTC's position is proven to be accurate, we can mark it down as an unforced error by Amazon. It would be so much easier just to make Prime better as opposed to making quitting harder.