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12 Jul 2019

Accidentally signed up to Amazon Prime? You're not alone

28% of people we surveyed have inadvertently been enrolled with Amazon Prime

Almost a third of Which? members have accidentally signed up to Amazon Prime, with many only realising when they later checked their bank statement, according to a recent survey.

Amazon's subscription service offering free next-day delivery on items, along with other services, is a tantalising opportunity. And with Amazon Prime Day almost upon us, many will be weighing up the benefits of the service with the cost.

However, our survey reveals that many subscribers signed up without actually knowing it.

28% accidentally joined Amazon Prime

We surveyed 1,199 Which? members in June 2019 and more than half had a Prime membership or had previously been a subscriber.

Of those people, 28% said that they had accidentally signed up to Prime, with 18% of that group only realising when Amazon sent them an email indicating that their subscription was about to renew.

Almost a quarter didn't actually realise until they checked their bank account and saw that they had been charged for Prime.

Amazon told us that 'all customers who join the Prime programme actively decide to sign up and each has the option to cancel at any time. The sign-up process is clear and transparent, with multiple touch-points asking the customer if they would like to proceed'. However, some Which? members would seem to disagree.

What Which? members told us

Some members misunderstood what Prime actually was. 'I was given it when I purchased an item but then it seemed to cost a monthly subscription to have TV channels etc that I did not want,' a respondent said.

Others were confused by the sign-up process. 'I signed up accidentally because the button is more prominent than the alternative.'

Some only discovered they had been signed up to Prime months, or even years later. 'I don't know how I got signed up to Amazon Prime. I only realised after four years when I became puzzled by a subscription on my bank statement then found the same payment for four years running. I emailed Amazon to tell them this was a mistake and they refunded all the payments without quibbling.'

Amazon told us that it's continually making improvements to the Prime signup experience, and encourages any customer with a question about their membership to contact the customer services team. It said that it would 'welcome any feedback we receive from customers or others about how we could make [messaging] even clearer.'

How Amazon signs you up to Prime

Many of us regularly use Amazon for everything from weekly essentials to browsing for bargains, so it's easy to breeze through the checkout process without paying too much attention. If you're not sure you want to join Prime quite yet, it's worth keeping an eye on what you're doing.

Delivery dilemma

When you make your way to checkout you'll be asked to choose a delivery option. It defaults to 'standard delivery', but note the bold banner in the screenshot below promising 'fast' and 'expedited' delivery.

This, in fact, is the option to sign up to Amazon Prime. It's presented as fast delivery for your item, rather than an entirely separate subscription service.

Expedited sign-up

If you've never had Prime before, Amazon will offer a free trial. But if you have and cancelled it, you're presented with the screen below nagging you to switch from standard delivery to the 'unlimited expedited', or Prime.

As you can see below, the 'Sign up and pay' button is the same colour and design as the familiar 'Buy now' button.

The option in the middle to say 'no thanks' is in blue text that looks like it's part of the terms and conditions below. It's easy to see how someone could click on the 'Sign up and pay' button instead.

'Welcome to Prime'

You've now signed up to Amazon Prime, but only a yellow banner shows this. As Amazon has signed you up to a £7.99 pay-monthly subscription, it doesn't add anything to your order cost.

If you only look at what you're paying now, you might not even realise that you've even signed up to a separate subscription.

Also, despite the annual £79 Prime subscription working out cheaper, in this situation Amazon adds you to the more expensive monthly package. You have to manually switch to the annual deal in your account settings.

How to cancel Amazon Prime

If you're not a Prime subscriber - and don't want to be - take care when choosing your delivery options on Amazon and avoid anything that says 'fast' or 'expedited' delivery.

If you're presented with a page prompting you to join, look carefully for the option to decline, and pay attention to what you click on.

If you suspect you've accidentally signed up, check your Amazon account or your email for a confirmation message.

You can easily cancel your Prime membership in your Amazon account settings. Go to 'Your Account' from the 'Accounts & Lists' menu, click the Prime box at the top right, and select from the Membership Management options on the left.

If you've been charged after accidentally signing up, contact Amazon's customer services to request a refund.