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Amazon sued for deceiving subscribers with ads on Prime Video

An Amazon Prime member says the company making the ad-supported tier of its video service the default is "deceptive" and "unlawful."
Amazon sued for deceiving subscribers with ads on Prime Video
Posted at 8:30 PM, Feb 15, 2024

Amazon introducing ads to Prime Video isn't just annoying; it's illegal, according to a customer seeking to bring a class action lawsuit against the tech giant.

The suit, filed Friday in California federal court, argues Amazon violated consumer protection laws and breached its contract with millions of annual Prime members whose subscription terms were changed when it added commercials to its Prime Video service. 

Amazon made the ad-supported tier of its streaming service the default option for all subscribers last month. Now customers have to pay an extra monthly fee of $2.99 to watch its content commercial-free.

But the plaintiff's complaint alleges the change is "deceptive," "unfair" and "unlawful" to annual subscribers who signed up and paid for the ad-free service that Amazon offered, adding that the company could be charged with breach of contract and warranties, false advertising, unfair competition and violations of Washington and California consumer protection laws.

"Reasonable consumers expect that, if you purchase a subscription with ad-free streaming of movies and TV shows, that the ad-free streaming for movies and TV shows is available for the duration of the purchased subscription…. However, plaintiff and class members' reasonable expectations were not met," the lawsuit states, claiming the annual customers received a subscription "worth less" than what was promised.

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The plaintiff, California resident Wilbert Napoleon, is bringing the proposed class action suit "for himself" and for all other annual Prime customers who subscribed before Dec. 28, 2023. The suit seeks at least $5 million and an injunction barring Amazon from continuing the practice. 

When asked for comment on the suit, Amazon told Variety, "We are unable to comment on pending litigation."

Analysts predict Amazon's Prime Video ads will generate billions more dollars in annual earnings, which CEO Andy Jassy promised will allow it to "continue investing meaningfully in content over time."

This isn't the first time one of Amazon's 160 million American subscribers has tried taking action against its changes.

In 2020, another customer proposed a class action lawsuit alleging Amazon engaged in unfair competition and false advertising practices. The claim concerned the platform's "right" to end customer access to Prime Video content they purchased. A federal judge dismissed the suit, saying the purchase may be revoked or modified due to licensing changes.

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