An Amazon ad for its Prime membership programme has been banned for misleading consumers with options encouraging them to opt into the scheme.
The ad on Amazon.co.uk, seen during the checkout process, stated: “We’re giving you a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime! Starting with this order.”
Underneath, a gold box with the text Order Now With Prime was contained within a larger grey box that read “Continue with Free One-Day Delivery. Pay later,” while another option written separately to the left and in fainter blue writing allowed customers to “Continue and don’t gain Amazon Prime benefits”.
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.”
Seven people complained that the presentation of the options was unclear and misleading.
Amazon said their primary objective was to make sure that consumers who joined Prime did so intentionally.
The site provided data that it believed proved that consumers were clear that they could continue with their order without signing up for Prime, while also showing that consumers expressly intended to sign up and had not been misled.
Upholding the complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the option to continue without signing up for the trial was small and placed in a position which could easily be missed by consumers, faint in colour and significantly less prominent.
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.”
It added: “The information provided by Amazon did not demonstrate that the average consumer was not likely to be misled by the presentation of the options.
“Because 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, we concluded that the presentation of the options was likely to mislead.”
An Amazon spokesman 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.”