Amazon Makes It Hard To Stop Automatic Renewals Of Its Prime Memberships

March 2, 2014
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I am a huge fan of Amazon and a frequent customer. But I wish the company was not sneaky about the way it handles automatic renewals for its Prime memberships.
Try going to Amazon.com to find a place where you can stop your automatic renewals for Prime membership.
There is no such place.
That is what I discovered today when I tried to turn off the auto renewals.
It recently dawned on my wife and I that we both had prime memberships. Like many other consumers we don’t always check things as closely as we should.
Anyway, after making a couple of purchases on Amazon today I went looking on the site to find the link that would end the automatic renewals for my account.
Couldn’t find it.
So I got on Amazon’s chat line and Maybelle from Amazon.com straightened me out.
To end the automatic renewals, she informed me, one has to click “End membership.”
That is not a consumer friendly way of dealing with this issue. End membership could mean end membership now. It doesn’t necessarily mean stop automatic renewals.
Now I know that the number of Prime members is a big issue for Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and for investors, but is this the best that Amazon can do?
I hope not.

 

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52 Responses to Amazon Makes It Hard To Stop Automatic Renewals Of Its Prime Memberships

  1. Matthew McCay on March 3, 2014 at 4:54 am

    I had no difficulty. When I opened “my prime” I clicked “end membership” and it let me now my membership would expire in Aug. and not be renewed.This was a few months back.
    Most likely I will renew anyways.

    • faye on February 24, 2015 at 9:28 am

      End membership leads me to believe the service ends right then and there, even if you had already paid for it in advance. This happened to me with a DVD to your door service (maybe blockbuster, or its predecessor). I canceled the day after I paid for an upcoming month. I was confused why I couldn’t access my account, and when I called support, they said it was because I cancelled. I said, “but I just paid for the upcoming month yesterday. Don’t I still get to use it for the next month?” “nope”. Clearly Netflix has won for a reason.

  2. bork on March 3, 2014 at 5:33 am

    So there was “no such place” to end automatic renewal, but then you were alerted to the pretty obvious account section where there indeed was such a place?

    • Brent Minder on January 24, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      NO. There is NO SUCH PLACE! Amazon purposefully changed the previous do not continue option for this more profitable and slimy one. “Alerted”? Are you kidding me? He had to f***ing call. That’s not alerting. His point is valid and spot on!

  3. bork on March 3, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I’ve dealt with numerous other subscriptions that are sneakier and tougher to cancel. Amazon has its flaws (like how it treats its warehouse workers) but this is not one of them.

    • Ann on June 26, 2016 at 7:48 am

      It is more than a flaw, it is dishonest. Furthermore, Amazon Prime now often takes 4-5 days for delivery. I paid $99 dollars for this service and do not plan to renew my Prime membership in August. Upon thinking about this I had a sneaking suspicion that Amazon may have changed my account preference to manually renew to automatic renewal. Sure enough that is the case. This is so dishonest that I am going to cancel Prime now and shop elsewhere.

    • Ugh amazon on March 24, 2017 at 11:39 am

      They just automatocally signed me up for it, so I had no idea how to end it as they do not have a phone number to call. I had to get the number from my credit card company. There is a class action lawsuit

  4. Pachungo on July 30, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Actually the complaint is legit. “End membership” implies end it right now and one could think even though you’ve paid for the full year this will prevent you from continuing to use the service effective immediately. Especially because it says, “Are you sure you want to end your membership?” which everyone is accustomed to seeing right before they’re about to do something irreversible and “lose everything”. Amazon is clearly being sneaky about it; they know enough by now about UX/UI and customer behaviour on their website to make a “mistake” like this. Shame on them!

  5. Phill on September 30, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Very legit complaint. It’s a subtle trick on Amazon’s end to retain customers by simply being vague. It’s actually one of the reasons I really am “ending” my prime membership right now. But I admit I’ll probably be back. There’s great benefits, just not enough for me to justify the expense quite yet. Cheers!

  6. HostileFork on November 18, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    The complaint is legitimate. But there is actually an aspect where “End Membership” leads to two different options. One is if you were in a grace period of cancelling where you got a refund and it really does end when you push the button, or if you can are just ending the renewals.

    So there’s a dialog with two panels in the next step after “End Membership”. If you’ve paid and waited long enough there’s no refund option, so the actual “End Membership” side is grayed out…and the only one of the two options you have is to cancel the auto-renewal.

    Still sneaky. But I typically see way worse (for whatever that’s worth).

  7. midfat on December 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Way legit complaint. I used Amazon’s “END MEMBERSHIP” link and even received an email confirmation of such. I was issues a partial refund of my Prime membership fee because i was less that half-year into the membership and simply didn’t use it. Then, last week, I see a charge on my credit card for $108 from Amazon Prime. Those bastards auto-renewed my cancelled membership. That’s not just sneaky, that’s outright THEFT!

    • Dot Nelson on November 10, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      You are so right. I rarely order but two weeks ago placed a order for a needed item and in a week was charged $109.00 to my credit card for a Prime Membership. I am a senior citizen and furious. I will not order anything for months to over a year. So do not need Prime !! I have tried for an hour to cancel. I am headed to my Bank in the AM and file a complaint of fraud! ☹️

      • rose on December 26, 2016 at 9:04 am

        Filing a fraud complaint with your bank and your local da is what everyone should do.

  8. Randi on December 5, 2014 at 5:44 am

    SO GLAD I read this before spending any more time dealing with this very frustrating issue! I too assumed, as many of us apparently did, that pushing that END button would result in immediate loss of membership status when I only want to turn off the automatic renewal that’s scheduled for 8 friggin months from now. I might be okay if they gave me a prorated refund but would be super pissed if I were to lose over half of my membership term without any returned membership dues and/or was canceled only to be recharged like one commenter was. Not sure what I’ll do about it. It is without a doubt sneaky though. Even if not initially intentional, they have to be aware of the issue at this point and could VERY EASILY fix it. Would likely take all of 5 minutes for them to execute.

  9. Tracy on December 9, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Thank you for this very informative post! I had this issue today. I have been an Amazon Customer for years and was very disappointed today when I found out $99.00 was taken away without my knowledge of knowing about the auto renewal..what a waste, shame on you AMAZON PRIME

  10. Fedup on December 16, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Same old story. Found a $99.00 charge by Amazon for
    something I did not want and will never use. I just went through the same thing with Webroot Software.
    Amazon has lost me as a customer permanently.

    • JOHN Smith on January 13, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Fred, or anyone else to whom it applies: if you have not yet placed a prime eligible order since your membership renewed, Amazon will refund you the $99. It does say this clearly on their website terms, so not to worry. Just send them an email or get on chat / phone support and they’ll straighten you out.

      • sandra easterling on September 26, 2015 at 7:56 am

        yes they healed out 190.00 out off my checking account know i going to have checks go back.that is alright im calling attorney general&better buiness burio today

        • keith eusebio on January 4, 2016 at 3:05 am

          Can you sue amazon for this kind of actions? I’ve already been charged 4 times for my amazon prime I’ve cancel everything it happens and it just continues to happen this is annoying

          • George Gombossy on January 4, 2016 at 10:41 am

            a complaint to the better business bureau would be better

      • Dianne Knox on February 22, 2016 at 2:54 pm

        Is there any phone number to talk to a customer service representative?
        I could not find an email address or a chat/phone support.

        • George Gombossy on February 22, 2016 at 5:53 pm

          1 (888) 280-4331

  11. Neel Sendas on December 30, 2014 at 5:32 am

    And they keep bragging that they put customers first!

  12. Pete Gilbert on January 16, 2015 at 12:04 am

    Thanks for posting this. It’s definitely a non-intuitive way to de-activate an auto renewal. ‘End membership’ implies that access will be disabled….which isn’t the case. Come on Amazon….you’re better than this!!

  13. a. fuji on January 23, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    How about this??

    So about 8 months ago, I discovered I had a prime account. Prior to that, I had never made a purchase on Amazon to subscribe to a free trial period. My boyfriend had made a couple purchases, but the last purchase he made was perhaps a year prior. ok cool, so somehow we have free prime. Consider this though, since it wasn’t something that we signed up for, the likelihood of us being aware of an auto-renewal, let alone a date is pretty slim to none. I woke up this morning to find my checking account a hundred dollars short. A hundred bucks to most people is a lot of money, and something we have to budget for. But, how can you budget if you don’t know about it. Truth be told prior to this, I purchased some stuff from Amazon, and was pretty excited to see it arrive in only a couple days. If they would just email out reminders to people, I can definately speak for myself in saying that I probably would had made an attempt to see if I could afford the service for another year. But, I’m a little irritated and less apt to do so when they just simply take a hundred bucks from people with no forewarning.

  14. Dave on February 11, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    As of today, Amazon’s wording makes it clear that “End Membership” means your Prime benefits end when you end your membership. I don’t know if this is true but it certainly states this.

    Here is the wording on the page:

    “Are you sure you want to end your membership? You will no longer have access to: ”

    On a separate page, they also state clearly that you will not receive any refund by ending the membership.

    This all implies to me that if I click “End Membership”, I lose all my benefits instantly as well as the money for the remainder of the term.

    Amazon has started shipping everything USPS to me which means I’m lucky if I receive items at all let alone within the 2-day Prime period. I’d love to be able to cancel the auto-renewal but as it’s worded, it seems like I’d be out all the services and the money if I do so.

    • Pam on February 21, 2015 at 11:17 am

      I’ve experienced the same problem with Amazon shipping things USPS (in the 2014 holiday season) and not receiving them til day three or four. It was a poor choice on Amazon’s part.

  15. Susan on February 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    I bravely clicked on “End Membership,” ignoring the dire warnings. On the next screen, I could choose to either “end membership now” with no refund or “end membership on July 1,” which would otherwise be my auto-renew date. It is a very unintuitive way to cancel auto-renew, and clearly that is intentional.

    • Anthony on October 29, 2016 at 1:38 am

      Confirmed. You actually have to click END MEMBERSHIP on at least two consecutive screens before you get to the screen that lets you choose to end the membership on your anniversary date. I agree that they wanted it to look like the button would immediately cancel your membership. Prime is very profitable for Amazon and they want you to keep it. They also have raised the threshold for free shipping to $49.00 for non prime members. Clearly they are trying to push customers toward Prime.

  16. Pam on February 21, 2015 at 11:16 am

    This article was exceptionally helpful — I accidentally autorenewed my Prime membership this morning, and was able to cancel it for a full refund by following the advice in the comments.

    Of course if a screen pops up asking me if I want to “end my membership” I’m going to assume it means right now — thanks to this article and the comments, I was able to successfully navigate to the option of “ending now” or “ending later” and click accordingly.

  17. lillian on February 25, 2015 at 12:20 am

    So I thought I was signed up for the free trial, and I now have an error message about “something wrong with payment method” type deal. however, just wanted to try it out, now as i got to the my prime stuff to try and cancel, it just gives me the error again. It doesn’t give me a button to unsubscribe or anything. Anyone else have that issue yet? and how do i fix it?

  18. Eff See on March 5, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Prime is a sham, a money making deal for Amazon and a crummy deal for the consumer. It used to be that Prime actually arrived in the two days promised. Of the last ten orders I placed, I have had to call Amazon to find our when, where or how they’d be delivered. The last, oh and final order I will ever place with Amazon arrived a day late, came via Amazon Fresh which I don’t have a membership in. The driver said he/she/it couldn’t gain access to my front door. Thing is anyone can walk right up to my front door. I don’t live in a gate guarded community or anything like that. I think he/she/it just didn’t feel like delivering the item, went to the wrong address, or was brain dead. The tracking said to contact the shipper which was AMZ_US you have to Google that to find out it’s Amazon Fresh. So I contacted their customer service and was told that since I didn’t place the order through Amazon Fresh they couldn’t help me. So, I have to ask, how does my stuff get on an Amazon Fresh delivery truck and I can’t get an answer from them as to why it wasn’t delivered or where it is. No, I had to speak to another in a string of morons at Amazon and they, too, really couldn’t do anything.

    This led me to go to Amazon and look for a place to shut down the autorenew of Prime. The path does look like your membership will end the moment you click to end membership. I’m glad to find that this isn’t so. I also agree that this is a deliberate concealment designed to continue to suck money out of consumer wallets.

    I like them better as a book company because they suck at on-line retailing and customer service. Long and short of it, I’m done with Amazon as a customer for anything other than e-books and streaming video.

  19. FrostTrunks on March 27, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for this information.

    I too have had issues with Amazon using USPS. It never gets to me in 2 days when they us USPS. It usually happens when I order something small (DVD, video game, ect…).

    The button does need changed. However, I can verify that when you click end membership, a popup will display asking if you want to end on the renewal date or end now. In my case 4/22 was my renewal and I chose this. Somebody said Amazon Mom get’s half off prime? I am a member of both. But my renewal was still set at $99 for Prime? Hmmm…

  20. Tim on September 28, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    I completely agree. It seems intentionally vague, and I disagree with those stating there’s no issue. For a company that has such wonderful customer service, this struck me as uncharacteristically underhanded.

  21. Helma on October 26, 2015 at 6:53 am

    I have had big problems with automatic renewal since 2012! Each prime membership account has an option for “automatic renewal” that can be unticked. I did so 2012 when I got my account. But 2013 it was renewed and I only noticed more half a year later (Spring 2014). At that moment I thought, “what the heck, half of the money is gone and prime is handy for me right now, lets leave it for the rest of term.” I unticked renewal, again, but come October, without me noticing (I dont use amazon that often) it renewed itself with me only finding out in spring 2015. Again I let it go, unticked ~”automatic renewal” and just now I found beginning of October it renewed itself AGAIN! This seems to me illegal practice! At least this time I caught and I ended my membership there and then. I very much hope, there is no further fuss…

  22. SUSAN on November 2, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    Glad to see others are also angry about this outright theft. I bought something this year on Amazon and I was asked if I wanted to sign up for Prime, maybe it was free, or $1 but suddenly I have a $101 debit in my bank account. First of all I never authorize sites to keep my credit card on record and I never agreed to the auto renewal. When I went to end membership, the website said there would be a $25 charge to end my membership. I will call them in the morning to cancel that charge as well. This is just theft. I will think twice about using Amazon in the future.

    • Ron Pendleton on November 22, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      I am here right now because of this exact issue. I went to see when my Acct was ending and was told Nov 25th I was scheduled to Automatically renew. I did not want automatic renewal and, as we all know, was only met with the CANCEL PRIME MEMBERSHIP NOW. I ass-u-med it would cancel immediately. Its all about the sneakiness of corp America and it stinks. And I didnt want to have to battle with Cust Service to get it turned back on.

  23. Lex on December 6, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Like everyone else I hesitated to “end membership now” on my prime membership since it still had about a month to go. I never wanted “auto renewal” in the first place but that is not an option apparently when you sign up. IMHO Amazon isn’t doing itself any favors by being so money hungry…they are starting to come across as Walmart who doesn’t care for anyone and certainly least of all staying in their customers’ good graces.
    FYI If you hit “end membership” you get 2 screens like this and then like someone else said the 2 buttons with the one grayed out if you will not be getting a refund and the other one that in my case said:

    “Your membership will end on December 31, 2015. After that date, you will lose access to your benefits and your card will not be charged.”

    So it did honor my membership until the end but it managed to make me suspicious about giving Amazon my credit card in the future. Clearly Amazon executives don’t believe in the rule that you can catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  24. Al Metcalf on December 23, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Amazon Prime has become a joke. Order day 1, ships next day if you are lucky, arrives 2 days AFTER first ship day so 4 days total and they claim that is 2 day shipping. Been emailing support about this and they act like this is the way it has always been. Sorry, I remember when I could order in the morning, have it shipped that night and it would show up at most 2 real days later. Also, one time I paid for 1 day shipping and it showed same delivery day as standard 2 day prime shipping. I was like, WTH, so I looked and it put the shipping day off one extra day when paying for 1 day shipping LOL, what a rip off! Needless to say I removed the one day and went back to regular 2 day. I have had several items show up 1 week later this year and they say it still got here 2 days after it actually shipped. Oh, ok, so ship it out 4 days later because you are running behind and still claim 2 day shipping. Whatever. I will be ending my Prime membership this year.

  25. Lexi on December 27, 2015 at 4:52 am

    I’ve cancelled my Amazon prime membership 3 different times bc they keep renewing it without my permission. I just called customer service and flipped out and the girl said she turned off my auto-renewal so it shouldn’t happen again. but now I feel the need to go to my bank and get a whole new debit card so I don’t have to worry about being charged without consent AGAIN. I got a refund each time but still it’s extremely frustrating.

  26. dawn on January 5, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    I cancelled by prime membership after 4 years because having it became a joke once the USPS became involved. 2 day shipping typically translates into 4 days to 2 weeks.Thanks, everyone, for sharing your experience with cancelling prime..made the process much easier.

    • vicki on March 31, 2016 at 10:52 am

      i’ve also been a many year member. I think this is my last. will look around for alternatives this coming year. I find this site because was looking how to turn of auto renew. there was a debaucle in which i tried out the amazon fire phone which included one year of prime membership. i didn’t like the phone and sent it back – at first they were going to give me the one year free anyway, then changed their minds and automatically charged me w/o asking. If a package is late, now when i call, they say thanks for letting us know- but they no longer offer any compensation. i had a same day package take one.

      And returns are starting to be very inconvenient. Especially with more 3rd party merchants, i’ve been getting more junk and have needed to make more returns. But i don’t have my own printer so either i have to go thru inconveneince of going to a ups or staples or fed ex to print or pay 1 dollar- and if i pay the 1 dollar, they won’t send me a usps label, which i prefer so I can stick in mailbox, but only ups, which is inconveniently located for me. So i’ll look to this year to break my addiction and find something that better meets my current needs. nothng lasts forever and the party must be moving somewhere else

  27. vicki on March 31, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Delete your credit card from your account before you renew. Or set your preferred payment to a bogus credit card. then youll get a message saying your prime is suspended unless you give a valid card within 30 days.

  28. Jay teah on April 9, 2016 at 6:12 am

    I am really bummed, I have kindles, fire TV, echo and I’m sure none of them will work without prime. But I’m so upset with the way Amazon conducts business, I’ll just have to take the hit. A big thank you to those that posted how to kill autorenewal

  29. Joe on May 9, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Sneaky sneaky stuff…

  30. Rachel on September 24, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Regardless of how sneakily it is marketed (and it IS marketed in a very shady way) I will never understand Amazon Prime as a commercial proposition. The very minimum I expect when ordering online is for my items to arrive within a reasonable amount of time (2-5 days max) and for a reasonable or free postage cost. If you can’t manage that without billing me separately for the privilege, forget it – I’ll buy from the many physical stores or alternative online vendors that exist.

    And as for trying to bundle streaming video services into the deal – WTFingF? What the hell has home delivery of physical products got to do with films or TV? I don’t even have a television. Like a fair percentage of the human race, I’ve moved away from that form of entertainment. So trying to sell it to me as a “benefit” when I’m just trying to order stuff is merely wasting my time.

    Also, I suspect that ‘Prime’ customers are simply getting the same shoddy service as everyone else. If it even did what it claims to do, that’d be one thing. But I hear again and again about late deliveries and shoddy service.

    Amazon used to be good. But that all changed some time around 2014. To be honest, I avoid them at all costs now. From the constant nag dialogs to join their crappy Prime service every single time you put an item in the basket. To their equally crappy customer service when it comes to the appalling Amazon Marketplace (e.g. I had to take one vendor to Court to get refunded for a £50 purchase that they thought I wouldn’t bother pursuing.) To their dishonest reviews system (I’ve lost count of the negative feedback I’ve left sellers that simply quietly disappears – you can’t trust a company that whitewashes like that.) They have become a thoroughly unpleasant company to purchase from. I avoid them whenever I can, which is most of the time.

  31. rp on October 7, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Just click cancel membership, it will say are you sure, click yes! all the way through, then a page will come up saying do you want to keep membership till renew date click on it. this will cancel your renewal, and You keep your membership till the end of your years service it also says your card will not be charged! To be on safe side the day your renewal was to take effect contact your Credit Card holder and check to see if Amazon charged another year,and check 2 days later again to be on the safe side.

  32. Adam Smith on January 2, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Amazon worked out a sales tax deal with my state, and I now can find better deals elsewhere on about everything. (If you’re even going to say I must pay a use tax no matter what, well forget that.) I’m stuck with the remainder of my membership that I can’t use. Not a good deal.

  33. C D on January 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Amazon is sneaking. I did a trial period as a prime member and immediately called to cancel such subscription so I wouldn’t be charged. Come 1 year later and Amazon started billing me monthly because they claimed I auto renewed EVEN THOUGH I WAS NEVER AN ACTUAL MEMBER but just on a trial. Whats worse is that the first charge was on my bank account and the second charge was on my credit card. 2 cards that I have on file with my free subscription from Amazon. BIG SCAM in my case.

    • ML on January 13, 2017 at 11:09 pm

      Similar experience. I signed up for a 30-day free Amazon Prime membership trial in October 2016… and I cancelled it 3 weeks later. My account showed I was no longer a Prime Member and said I had not been charged for my free trial. Well…. 2 months later… my credit card was charged $108.41 for Amazon Prime automatic renewal!!! I did a live chat with an Amazon Rep and she said my account was set to renew every December 7th. I gave her the information that my Amazon site said I was NOT a Prime member. So she apparently cancelled my Prime membership. But I think I will have to delete my credit card that is on file with them. All I can say is WATCH OUT!!! I thought Amazon was an honest, upstanding company. But this has been an ongoing issue since at least 2014 by the posts on this thread.

  34. O on March 30, 2017 at 12:29 am

    I just placed some items in my cart careful not to step on prime and even before I go to pay I get a message your prime will renew in march 2018
    I search and sure enough they had already charged my credit card the fee for prime I was able to cancel prime and amazon will refund my money
    This is a very sneaky way of signing you up for something you do not want

  35. Jennifer Budrock on April 5, 2017 at 1:11 am

    When Amazon Auto Renewed last year, I went into the settings and turned off Auto-renew. Guess what? It renewed. I called up to tell them to cancel it because I didn’t want Auto-renewed and that I turned it off the year prior.
    So we went through the canceling process together over the phone and was told I’d get my money back.
    Check my bank account this morning. $100 to Amazon Prime. What the hell is going on?





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