Ad Alert


Listen up to these important terms regarding the audiobook company's membership program.


UPDATE 6/23/23: The FTC this week filed a lawsuit against Amazon accusing it of using manipulative design features called “dark patterns” to trick millions of consumers into enrolling in Prime and then making it difficult for consumers to cancel their auto-renewing memberships. Our original article follows.

If “listening is the new reading” as Amazon’s Audible claims, the audiobook company’s conditions of use is a must-listen. Unfortunately we’re limited to the written word so it’ll have to be your own voice.

But let’s start with what the terms have to say about canceling membership to Audible’s subscription service since the company advertises that you can “cancel anytime.” (Depending on the plan, members either pay a monthly or yearly fee to receive credits at those intervals to purchase audiobooks. One credit equals one audiobook.) The terms state:

All Credits are valid for a limited time as described in the membership terms and conditions and expire immediately upon the termination of your membership.

That’s a lot to unpack. But unpack we did and here’s what Audible is saying: First, that there is a limit to the number of unused credits (Audible calls it a “rollover limit”) that a member can hold onto before “new” credits begin to replace “old” ones with every billing cycle and second, that any unused credits at the time of cancellation are lost.

Next up: How Audible gets paid, one way or the other. Once again, the terms state (emphasis added):

Unless you notify us before a charge that you want to cancel or do not want to auto renew, you understand your Service membership will automatically continue and you authorize us (without notice to you, unless required by applicable law) to collect the then-applicable membership fees and any taxes, using any credit card we have on record for you.

That means any credit card associated with your Amazon account. Ever let a friend or family member use your Amazon Prime account to get free two-day shipping? You may end up owing them an explanation.

And, finally, this bit about binding arbitration, which waives your right to sue in court or join a class action:

Any dispute or claim arising from or relating to these Terms or your use of the Service is subject to the binding arbitration, governing law, disclaimer of warranties, limitation of liability and all other terms in the Conditions of Use.

As the Consumerist first reported, this last condition may prove problematic for a California man who has filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon and Audible alleging that the companies trap consumers in “a shell game” for all of the aforementioned reasons. reached out to Amazon for comment. Check back for updates.

Find more of our coverage on Amazon here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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