Nicky Tests Software: A Recent Encounter with Dark Patterns

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Recent Encounter with Dark Patterns

I first came across the term of "dark patterns" when I saw Emma Keaveny's talk about it on The Dojo. While watching it, then later looking more into it, I realised how many companies are out there purposely trying to get the user to do something, the user doesn't actually want to do.

Time passed.

Then I signed up to The Economist.

I signed up online and found it pretty easy to do so. But then I soon struggled to keep up with new issues - so I decided to cancel. Unfortunately, it wasn't simply a case of finding some "Manage Your Account" link and then clicking the "Cancel Subscription" button. Instead I had to "Contact my local print service centre"

Clicking that link sent me here:

First off, I was a bit annoyed that I had to do an extra step to find the information I needed to cancel (wasn't already on the FAQ page). I saw the email address and thought to myself, let's just cancel this now. I sent an email address saying I would like to cancel my subscription and I provided my booking reference number (which I got when I first signed up) and my customer reference number.

A day later, I received an email saying, if I want to cancel, then I need to call them.

I think being  forced to call, to cancel my subscription, was an attempt to discourage people from cancelling their auto-renewals. But all of this just taught me that I should be a whole lot more careful from now on before I subscribe to things. I should make sure I know exactly what cancelling those subscriptions entails.