Falling into the Add-On Trap: The Manipulative Tactics of Online Shopping
Online shopping has changed the way we shop because it is easy and gives us access to a wide range of products. But online shopping has a dark side: there are a lot of tricks called “dark patterns” that are used to trick people. These tactics trick people into buying more products or services, often without their full knowledge or permission. In this article, we’ll learn about dark patterns, how companies use them, and what that means for consumers who don’t know what’s going on.
The Add-On Trap
A common way for dark patterns to show up is through the “Add-On Trap”. Pop-ups that look interesting let us know about other services or products when we use apps or websites. With their bright colours and big fonts, these ads get our attention, and we often buy them right away, even if we don’t need them. But there’s a catch: the option to get rid of these add-ons is often hidden in small print or in a colour that’s hard to see. This tricks customers into buying things they don’t want.
To show this, think about a situation in which you choose products on a medicine app. You finish buying things and expect to pay Rs 1000. But when it comes time to pay, the final amount jumps up to Rs 1150 or even Rs 1200. This extra charge is for a three- or six-month membership that was added to your order automatically. If you were careful enough to uncheck this option in your cart, you could avoid paying more. Unfortunately, a lot of shoppers who don’t know what’s going on fall for this trick and feel forced to keep shopping from the same app.
Getting permission from users is another common dark pattern. Apps and websites often ask for permission in a sneaky way to collect data, usually by saying they need it to show targeted ads. But this request for permission is a hidden agreement that lets companies add different products or services to our shopping carts without our knowledge. An app’s annual or premium service, which promises things like free delivery, is an example of this. If a customer doesn’t uncheck the box during checkout, they may end up with a subscription they don’t want.
Escaping the Dark Patterns
Dark patterns are a dangerous landscape that requires consumers to be aware and watchful. Here are some ways to avoid getting caught in their trap:
1. Read and review: Before you accept or buy something, take the time to carefully read through any pop-ups, offers, and terms and conditions. Look for any checkboxes or hidden clauses that might force you to buy more products or services.
2. Check the fine print: Pay attention to the details, especially when removing add-on services or cancelling subscriptions. Make sure the option to decline or cancel is clear and easy to find.
3. Customize privacy settings: Learn about the privacy settings for apps and websites. Change them to fit your needs so you have more control over how your data is collected and used.
4. Stay informed: Stay up to date on the latest ways that companies try to trick customers. By staying informed, you can make better choices and be less likely to fall into bad habits.
Online shopping has made our lives better, but it’s important to be aware of the bad things that can happen in the digital marketplace. As consumers, we have more power when we know about these tricks and take steps to avoid being affected. By knowing how the “Add-On Trap” works and being careful, we can shop online with more confidence, making sure that we buy things based on our real needs and preferences instead of falling for deceptive tactics.