Don’t be ‘tricked’ by Ama­zon Prime

The on­line re­tailer is out to re­cruit you to its Prime ser­vice. We ex­plain how to use it free for a month and avoid its full-ser­vice sub­scrip­tion

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If you’ve ever bought any­thing on Ama­zon, you’ll be fa­mil­iar with the end­less tick­boxes and pop-ups ex­tolling the virtues of sign­ing up to a 30-day free trial of Ama­zon Prime. Mem­ber­ship of Prime, which costs £79 a year, pro­vides free one-day de­liv­ery on cer­tain items, free ac­cess to Ama­zon’s video-stream­ing ser­vice, un­lim­ited on­line stor­age and other ben­e­fits. This guar­an­tees Ama­zon a lu­cra­tive mar­ket of ‘loyal’ cus­tomers, some of whom have been ‘tricked’ into sign­ing up. Here we ex­pose the meth­ods used by Ama­zon to bring you into the Prime fold and how you can best avoid their traps.

That said, we ac­tu­ally think a free month of Prime is worth try­ing out, es­pe­cially if you tend to buy a lot from the web­site. So we’ll also ex­plain how to give it a go with­out sign­ing up to to the full, paid-for ser­vice. And there’s no point in try­ing it with­out know­ing how to ac­cess all the best bits, which is why we’ll re­veal how to get the most from be­ing an Ama­zon Prime mem­ber.

Be­ware Prime’s tick­boxes

As soon as you sign in and try to add any­thing to your bas­ket, you’ll see Ama­zon’s first ef­fort to tempt you with Prime. This ad­vert (see screen­shot below left) cun­ningly hides the 30-day trial within an of­fer of ‘Free One-day De­liv­ery’. Tick­ing the box will get you one-day de­liv­ery, but you’ll also be signed up for a 30-day Ama­zon Prime free trial that will au­to­mat­i­cally roll into a full year.

The dark arts of per­sua­sion don’t end there. When you place an item in your bas­ket, then click the Bas­ket but­ton to start the check­out process, you’ll be prompted to ‘Choose a de­liv­ery pref­er­ence’. Again, you’ll see a tan­ta­lis­ing ‘Free OneDay De­liv­ery’ of­fer linked to a free trial (see screen­shot below).

There’s still no men­tion of the sub­scrip­tion cost of Prime here, nor that you get free de­liv­ery on any or­der over £20 (or £10 if you’re buy­ing books) whether you’re a Prime mem­ber or not.

The hard sell

Con­grat­u­la­tions! At this point, you’ve suc­cess­fully sidestepped two tempt­ing of­fers to get ‘free’ next-day de­liv­ery, but now Ama­zon re­sorts to the hard sell. En­ter your credit-card de­tails and a browser-sized mes­sage fills the screen ask­ing “Why pay for de­liv­ery?” be­fore as­sur­ing you that you can “Save on this or­der when you try Prime”.

The ad­vert con­tains a large yel­low ‘Try Prime Free’ but­ton, while the link to close the mes­sage with­out sign­ing up is barely vis­i­ble to the naked eye (see screen­shot above). The word­ing on the link (‘Con­tinue and don’t gain Ama­zon Prime ben­e­fits’) plants seeds of doubt and hints at missed op­por­tu­ni­ties. It’s clever, but sneaky.

At least the ad­vert’s small print ex­plains how much the com­pany will charge you for Prime once your free trial runs out. It also makes it clear that you can stop Ama­zon au­to­mat­i­cally en­rolling you into full mem­ber­ship at the end of the trial.

Watch out for pop-ups

Just when you thought you were safe, Ama­zon’s next ploy is to foist pop-up ad­verts on you (see screen­shot below left), that once more tempt you with the prom­ise of one-day de­liv­ery. Again there’s no men­tion that the trial will lead to a full paid-for mem­ber­ship, but you can quickly dis­miss it by click­ing the ‘No thanks’ but­ton.

Stop Ama­zon auto-en­rolling you into full mem­ber­ship

If you do de­cide to sign up for an Ama­zon Prime trial, the first thing you should do is make sure that Ama­zon can’t au­to­mat­i­cally move you on to the paid-for ver­sion at the end of the 30 days. To do this, move your cur­sor over Your Ac­count (top right), click ‘Your Prime Mem­ber­ship’, then click End Mem­ber­ship.

Don’t worry, this won’t end your free trial. At the end of those 30 days your Prime mem­ber­ship will sim­ply end. If you don’t click End Mem­ber­ship, Ama­zon will as­sume you want to con­tinue with the ser­vice and will charge you for a full year’s sub­scrip­tion.

Ama­zon will tempt you into join­ing its Prime ser­vice with prom­ises of free oneday de­liv­ery on your or­ders

Ig­nore ad­verts that pop up as you shop - click ‘No thanks’ to dis­miss them

Be­ware Ama­zon’s hard sell and click this link to avoid sign­ing up for Prime

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