Amazon fined in Poland for dark pattern design tricks

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Amazon has been fined successful Poland for misleading consumers astir nan conclusion of income contracts connected its online marketplace. The sanction, of adjacent to $8M (or successful section currency: PLN 31,850,141), besides calls retired nan ecommerce elephantine for deceptive creation elements which whitethorn inject a mendacious consciousness of urgency into nan purchasing process and mislead shoppers astir elements for illustration merchandise readiness and transportation dates.

The country’s user watchdog, nan UOKiK, has been looking into complaints astir Amazon’s income practices since September 2021, pursuing complaints from shoppers, including immoderate who did not person their purchases. The authority opened a general investigation into Amazon’s practices successful February 2023. Wednesday’s punishment is nan conclusion of that probe.

The UOKiK recovered consumers who ordered products connected Amazon could person their purchases subsequently cancelled by nan tech elephantine arsenic it does not dainty nan infinitesimal of acquisition arsenic nan conclusion of a income contract, contempt sending consumers confirmation of their order. This includes aft consumers person paid for nan product. For Amazon, nan conclusion of a income statement only occurs erstwhile it has sent accusation astir nan existent shipment.

In a press release detailing nan enforcement, it said Amazon grounded to intelligibly pass this salient item to shoppers, uncovering it only provided nan accusation astatine “the past shape of purchase”. It besides recovered nan accusation was sometimes “difficult” for consumers to access, noting for illustration Amazon could usage a grey font connected a achromatic inheritance successful matter displayed astatine nan very bottommost of a page — a classical illustration of alleged ‘dark shape design‘.

The UOKiK contrasts that deceptive creation prime pinch suggestive messaging Amazon shows to shoppers connected income buttons — which publication “Buy now” aliases “Proceed to finalize nan purchase” — which it said connote that by ordering nan merchandise nan shopper is concluding a statement pinch Amazon. Which is not, successful fact, nan case.

“Thus, Amazon misleads consumers arsenic to nan infinitesimal of conclusion of nan income contract,” nan authority wrote [in Polish; this is simply a instrumentality translation]. “For galore people, this tin besides person antagonistic consequences: The user does not person nan product, truthful he cannot usage it, he loses nan opportunity to bargain astatine an charismatic value that whitethorn nary longer apply, and his money is stiff until he returns it.”

Some of nan complaints it received besides recovered accusation astir really to cancel an bid whitethorn beryllium provided agelong aft it was placed, pinch nan UOKiK citing nan lawsuit of cancellations of e-book scholar orders wherever nan captious item was not provided for a month.

Its enforcement besides calls retired Amazon for utilizing deceptive creation to promote shoppers to click bargain by presenting misleading accusation astir merchandise readiness and present windows — specified arsenic by listing really galore items were successful banal to beryllium purchased and providing a countdown timepiece to bid an point successful bid to get it connected a peculiar transportation date. Whereas its investigation recovered Amazon does not meet ever meet these deadlines for orders, nor vessel products instantly arsenic they whitethorn beryllium retired of banal contempt claims to nan contrary shown to consumers.

“Amazon treats nan information it provides connected readiness and shipping day arsenic suggestive but nan measurement it is presented does not bespeak this,” nan UOKiK noted, adding: “Consumers tin only find retired astir this successful nan position of waste connected nan platform.”

Commenting successful a statement, nan UOKiK’s president, Tomasz Chróstny, said: “Information astir merchandise readiness and its accelerated shipping is very valuable for consumers and for galore group it whitethorn beryllium nan main logic why they make a acquisition decision. However, specified accusation cannot beryllium a lure. If nan entrepreneur provides a circumstantial transportation date, he aliases she must meet it. This believe by Amazon is classified arsenic alleged acheronian patterns because it uses unit to make nan user bid nan merchandise arsenic soon arsenic possible.”

While Amazon does connection a transportation guarantee, offering a refund if items do not vessel wrong nan stated time, nan authority recovered it grounded to supply consumers with accusation astir nan rules of this work earlier placing an bid — only offering details astatine nan bid summary stage. And past only “if nan user decides to publication nan consequent links specifying transportation details”.

Shoppers who did not travel nan nexus to publication much whitethorn not person been alert of their correct to apply for and person a refund from Amazon if location is simply a hold successful shipment. It besides recovered nan ecommerce elephantine grounded to provide information astir nan “Delivery Guarantee” successful nan acquisition confirmation sent to shoppers. 

Amazon was contacted for remark connected nan punishment but astatine nan clip of penning it had not responded. It has nan action to appeal.