Amazon Prime Video Ads Spark Class Action Lawsuit: Who is Eligible to Join?

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Updated April 11, 2024
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In a move that has left many Amazon Prime subscribers feeling deceived, the tech giant recently announced plans to introduce advertisements on its Prime Video service for users who do not opt to pay an additional fee. This shift has prompted a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and violations of consumer protection laws, as well as criticism for the removal of key features from accounts not upgraded to the ad-free tier.

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Background on Amazon's ad introduction

metamorworks/Adobe Person looking at Amazon Prime Video on computer

Amazon's decision to introduce ads on Prime Video came as a surprise to many subscribers. Previously, the platform had been advertised as "commercial-free," leading users to believe they were paying for an ad-free viewing experience. However, last month, Amazon began rolling out ads to Prime Video subscribers unless they paid an additional $2.99 per month.

The allegations in the lawsuit

Diego Cervo/Adobe man choosing movie for streaming on tablet computer

The proposed class action lawsuit, filed in California federal court, accuses Amazon of misleading Prime subscribers by changing the terms of their subscriptions. The lawsuit alleges breach of contract and violations of state consumer protection laws, arguing that the change also impacted users who had signed up for annual subscriptions.

According to the complaint, subscribers must now pay extra to access something they had already paid for, allegedly constituting deceptive conduct on Amazon's part. Additionally, the lawsuit claims that Amazon benefited unfairly by promoting Prime Video as "commercial-free" for years before introducing its ad-supported tier.

Who is eligible to join the class action?

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe male lawyer discussing papers with client

The controversy seems to be gaining legs as the proposed class action seeks $5 million in damages and a court order stopping Amazon from committing further deceptive conduct. Users in all states who subscribed to Prime prior to December 28, 2023 will likely be eligible to join the class action.

The lawsuit brings claims for breach of contract, false advertising, and unfair competition, among other alleged violations of consumer protection laws in California and Washington.

Amazon's removal of features

eplisterra/Adobe woman using smartphone relaxing in her room while surrounded by Amazon Prime delivery boxes

In addition to facing criticism for introducing ads, Amazon has come under fire for removing key features from accounts that do not pay to remove ads. Recent reports indicate that users on the ad-supported tier have lost access to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, limiting them to HDR10+ and Dolby Digital 5.1.

The removal of these features has sparked further controversy, with users expressing frustration over the lack of transparency surrounding the changes. Amazon's failure to communicate the removal of Dolby features to subscribers has raised questions about the company's commitment to customer satisfaction.

Bottom line

Celt Studio/Adobe man streaming tv programs using remote

As Amazon faces legal challenges and public scrutiny over its decision to introduce ads on Prime Video, subscribers are left grappling with the implications of these changes, like wondering whether to upgrade or save money. The lawsuit highlights concerns about transparency and consumer rights, while the removal of key features adds another layer of frustration for users. Ultimately, Amazon must address these issues to rebuild trust and maintain its reputation as a customer-centric company in the competitive streaming market.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.

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