For the millions of consumers who enjoy the benefits of their Amazon Prime membership, Amazon’s annual Prime Day has effectively become a new Black Friday in July. But while Prime Day may be a chance to grab a great deal, Amazon’s popular Prime program has, at times, drawn attention from regulators.
A new FTC case alleges that these consumers are not willing members of Prime, but instead are trapped or misled into their membership. In June, the FTC filed a complaint against Amazon for their usage of “dark patterns” to manipulate consumers into enrolling in the company’s Prime subscription and overcomplicating the process to cancel. The agency alleges design features, such as the location of the subscribe button on the online checkout screen and the multiple webpages required to click through to initiate a cancellation of Prime, are “tricking and trapping” consumers into their subscription.
Amazon rejected the “concerning” claims of the complaint in a statement,maintaining that they “make it clear and simple” for consumers to subscribe and unsubscribe from its Prime service. As many have pointed out, unlike some services, cancelling Amazon Prime takes a mere six clicks and not the more cumbersome processes many consumers experience with gyms, newspapers, or cable, where they can click to subscribe but must call or go in person to cancel.
As Prime Day’s popularity shows, Prime members remain members because they find the service valuable. In fact, following the popularity of Prime, other large retailers like Walmart have launched their own similar services. Many retailers, including Target and Macys, will also have July deal weeks to counter Amazon’s Prime Week. Shoppers continue to have an abundance of choices when it comes to retail — both online and offline — and feel that consumers have many options.
The gaming market remains competitive with a wide variety of options available to them. Many factors, including the availability of games, go into a consumer’s decision about their gaming consumption. In addition to multiple console options, the gaming ecosystem also includes P.C. games and an increasingly popular mobile gaming market. The Microsoft-Activision deal allows Microsoft to acquire popular franchises including Call of Duty and Candy Crush, but it will still face significant competition from Sony and Nintendo.
Begin with Bidenomics’ hallmark: record spending. The president likes to claim he’s cut the deficit, but his allies in a unified Democratic congress have enacted $5 trillion in new spending over the decade. In an old-fashioned move, they have put most of it on Uncle Sam’s credit card rather than engaging in the politically unpopular move of paying with new taxes and spending offsets. As a result, annual budget deficits will grow over the next 10 years to around $3 trillion. For perspective, remember that just before the pandemic, the annual deficit was around $1 trillion.
This is no partisan argument. Looking at the spending trajectories under different presidents and Congresses, one realizes that this has been going on for a long time. Each administration and Congress irresponsibly outspends its predecessors, and each kicks the can down the road for future generations to deal with. This includes Republican presidents like Donald Trump and George W. Bush. Yet, this president took it to another level with an over-the-top embrace of the fiscal irresponsibility of the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan, which turned modest post-pandemic inflation into a 40-year inflation record.
There is one area, however, where Bidenomics has been extremely successful: favoritism. The administration’s industrial policy has aggressively subsidized preferred industries such as semiconductors and electric cars, sheltered special interests from the accountability of consumers through mandates and bans, and boosted the fortunes of its union friends. Most of this took place under the cover of reviving the manufacturing sector and making long-term investments in sectors vital to our national well-being — and, of course, competing with China. As The Wall Street Journal’s Andy Kessler noted, “All that’s missing from his ‘new Washington consensus’ is Soviet-style Five Year Plans.”
It is true that some of these officials, such as technocrats and planners on the left (and, for that matter, the right) do see industrial policy as tools to achieve “higher ends” (normally they take it on upon themselves to decide what “higher” is) and “broader national aims” (once again, something they define). The more opportunist among them, however, see the pursuit of such aims and ends as a source of careers, power, and rich pickings, even as, in some cases, they convince themselves it’s in a good cause. Technocracy is a rent-seeker’s paradise.
I wonder if the @nytimes or @washingtonpost could ever be as intellectually honest about their disastrously incorrect covid coverage as @derfreitag, which just apologized for theirs.