Amazon Knew of Prime Customer Complaints, Docs Show

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How Amazon tricked people into Prime memberships

Human hand with robot arm over it pointing to Amazon Prime text on a laptop still 4x3

Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/Insider

Who here hasn’t ordered something from Amazon in the past 12 months?

The e-commerce giant has built on its ubiquity to turn Amazon Prime into one of the most popular subscription programs in the world, with more than 200 million members as of last year. Often, it’s been the promise of free shipping that’s flipped shopper to subscriber.

But as Eugene Kim reported, those Prime sign-up screens have been the source of much debate inside Amazon. Internal documents show it has been aware for years of customer complaints that its user-interface design misleads people into signing up for Prime. But when Amazon tested clearer language on these pages, there were fewer signups. 

Eugene’s reporting takes us inside the issue, describing documents and emails discussing the trade-offs between Amazon’s prized “customer centricity” and business goals. It also reveals a previously undisclosed inquiry from the Federal Trade Commission. 

Here, Eugene gives us the behind-the-scenes scoop.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned while reporting this piece?

Eugene: The big takeaway, from speaking with sources, is that Amazon preaches customer satisfaction — but only when it makes sense financially. The company knew for years that customers complained about Prime’s sign-up process, but decided not to change much because it would have led to fewer sign-ups and smaller membership revenue. Maybe there are other examples of this within Amazon?

What do you think is next for Amazon’s subscription practices?

Eugene: Many of my sources talked to me in hopes of seeing change in the Prime sign-up flow. So I would expect some kind of improvement in clarity. But it’s also entirely possible Amazon won’t do anything, given their statement to us that said the current design is “clear and simple.”

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Want to fix burnout? Look at the employer, not the employee

giant hand of someone in a suit holding a lighter next to a burnt out match curled over a computer desk

Marianne Ayala/Insider

We’re two years into a pandemic, and everyone is still talking about burnout. Employee burnout is now recognized by the World Health Organization as a “syndrome” caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” 

The problem with recent think pieces and self-help stories about burnout is that they rely on two fundamental lies, according to Ed Zitron. 

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What happened to Glossier

An illustrated statue of Emily Weiss with makeup breaking around her.

Leonardo Santamaria for Insider

Glossier, the beauty brand known for its baby-pink aesthetic and emphasis on natural looks, was on the fast track to success after its launch in 2014. Beloved by 20- and 30-somethings craving change in the industry, the company was an overnight phenomenon. Today, it boasts a $1.8 billion valuation.

But conversations with 17 former employees show another side to the booming company. Employees said behind the company’s financial success was a sometimes chaotic and unstable work environment, spearheaded by a founder whose obsession with transforming the brand into a tech company sparked internal tensions. 

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Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has lit a fire under China

Xi Jinping closing red door with Chinese flag backdrop

Yevhen Borysov/Getty Images; Naohiko Hatta/Getty Images; Nicolas Asfouri/Getty Images; Hector Roqueta Rivero/Getty Images; Savanna Durr/Insider

Over the past few years, Beijing’s most ambitious goal has been to dramatically reshape its economy, reducing its dependence on the West as it turned China into the world’s dominant superpower.  

China has been slowly closing its door to the West, columnist Linette Lopez writes. But Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine last month kicked the country’s plan for independence into warp speed.

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