Consumer affairs ministry asks e-commerce giants Flipkart, Amazon to stop dark patterns for online shopping
The ministry has also asked leading E-commerce platforms to stop such practices through self regulation. The government will also come up with a framework to stop dark patterns.
Online Shopping Dark Patterns: Has it ever happened to you that you went to a website to search for something, but it asked you to fill out credit card details before moving further? Or, do you ever face a situation where the price of a product or the cost of a service was lower at the time you ordered, but the final bill showed prices multiplied or also included the prices of products or services that you didn't purchase?
Such patterns to increase sales are known as dark patterns.
These patterns are the online tools that are designed to deliberately mislead the visitors of a website, forcing them to make unavoidable choices.
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These dark patterns are disguised as options or buttons on a website that are often difficult to exit.
The Consumer Affairs Ministry along with the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) has identified such dark patterns on many E-commerce platforms which are misleading consumers.
The ministry has also asked leading E-commerce platforms to stop such malpractices through self regulation.
The government will also come up with a framework to stop dark patterns.
The Consumer Affairs Ministry and the ASCI have also identified some dark patterns on several e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon and Flipkart.
What are the various ways to employ dark patterns on online platforms?
Urgency: Creating a wrong sense of urgency in the consumer's mind by saying that only a few products are left at this price, or if a ticket is not booked now, the discount will not be available later.
Basket Sneaking: Selling a product or service to a consumer without their consent, such as a website ticking a travel insurance box without asking and adding it to the final bill
Confirm Shaming: Many times, it is difficult to exit the website as a message frequently pops up on the screen asking, "Are you sure you want to exit as many people are eyeing this product?"
Forced Action: Forcing the consumer to click on service or product web links and not providing them access to the main website or account until they take a particular subscription or purchase a product.
Nagging: This means repeatedly asking the user the same thing and not making the window disappear until they get tired and buy the service or product.
Here, it is often seen on nagging websites regarding subscriptions.
Subscription traps: It has been seen many times that although the consumer is not given the option to exit a subscription, the subscription auto-renews itself.
Interface interference: This tactic is also adopted to forcefully sell products or services to the consumer when the website does not show a button to cancel a service or delete the account.
Bait and switch: Many times it happens that you order something but are delivered a low-quality product.
The company gives the excuse that the one that you ordered was out of stock, so a different item has been delivered.
Here, the price is the same, but the quality of the product is poor.
Hidden costs: The product or service is advertised at a lower price, but the final price is several times.
This is often seen at the time of booking car/bike services at Ola, Uber, or purchasing air tickets on travel websites.
Disguised Ads: Misleading advertisements that are presented as news, user-generated content, or the truth to influence the consumer.