Amazon Prime’s 30 day free trial advertisement has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after complaints that it was misleading. The ban came after six official complaints to the ASA over how it was not clear that a paid subscription would start automatically. The ruling means that the ad must not appear again in its “current form”, without warning consumers of the financial commitment.
The advertisement was sent through emails to Amazon account holders which stated:
“I’m sending you this letter because I want you to know that you are eligible for a free trial of Amazon Prime. You may already know that Prime includes Unlimited One-Day Delivery on over 7 million items on amazon.co.uk, but did you know Prime also gives you unlimited access to thousands of digital Movies and TV shows? Start your 30-day free trial today and watch as much as you want”.
The ASA said the problem stems from a lack of clarification on Amazon’s part, as to what the consumer would actually have to pay. On a report issued on ASA’s website, the authority stated, “on all but one of the occasions on which the word “free” was used, it was preceded by “30 day”. ASA considered this misleading, arguing that, “a paid subscription starting automatically at the end of the trial was a commitment and a significant condition of the “free” offer, and should therefore be made clear to consumers”.
Though Amazon argues that the ad included a “learn more” link, the ASA did not feel this was sufficient enough for advertising standards. The £79 yearly charge was not made clear, and for users that were automatically subscribed, after making their first ‘prime’ purchase, they were unable to get any form of refund. The ad is no longer permitted to appear in its current form.
In order to maintain a positive relationship, companies must communicate appropriately with their consumers. Ruth Gordon, Director of Digital Marketing for Teradata International, a large data firm, argues that brand loyalty comes from how a business treats its customers:
“It is clear from the research that consumers are more likely to interact with those brands who treat customers as individuals and get it right”.