Aussies lash ‘shonky’ Prime Video move forcing ads on pre-paid accounts

Prime Video subscribers will have to sit through ads if they don't want to pay more for their membership.

Prime Video subscribers will have to sit through ads if they don't want to pay more for their membership. Photo: Getty

Amazon Prime Video subscribers who paid for a year’s worth of ad-free streaming are fuming after the company announced ads would start to interrupt their shows and movies.

Subscribers have been left with two months to get a refund if they don’t want to submit to the change, which experts labelled unfair but legal.

The change was applied to Prime Video internationally in January and will affect Australian accounts from July 2.

Prime Video notified Australian subscribers this week that the introduction of “limited advertisements” would allow the company to increase investment in content.

Since its inception, Prime Video only had one subscription tier at the cost of $9.99 per month or $79 for the year.

Unlike other streaming platforms that have introduced ads, ads will be forced on the existing subscription tier, with no change to the price.

Instead, a new ad-free tier will now be available for an additional $2.99 per month.

An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission spokesperson told The New Daily they were unable to comment on individual businesses or circumstances.

But they said businesses “should not mislead consumers about the nature of services offered under a licensing arrangement”.

Subscriber backlash

Australian subscribers who had already paid for a year’s subscription of ad-free Prime Video content took to social media to express their displeasure.

“I got the ad email literally after the day mine renewed for a year,” one person wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“To be honest, they’ve got me. I’d find it more annoying to be paying and seeing ads than I will to pay above the contract for no ads, so I’ll pay.

“I find it a bit shonky though.”

Another X user wrote, “Yeah I’m gonna be cancelling my prime account after getting this same email.

“I have a bunch of subscribe and save orders and other things I do with them, but there’s no way I’m paying for ads – just chasing endless profits.”

Spotlight on consumer protection laws

Some people questioned the legality of Prime Video’s decision to change the service subscribers had already paid for.

But Consumers Federation of Australia chair Gerard Brody told The New Daily Prime Video’s actions highlighted a gap in consumer protection laws.

“It really is unfair if someone’s bought a 12-month subscription and then partway through that term, [Prime Video] change the service,” he said.

“At the moment businesses can’t engage in misleading and deceptive conduct, but if they just change the nature of service or don’t tell you they’re going to change something upfront, then that’s not necessarily a breach of our consumer laws.”

Brody said cases like this are why consumer groups have been advocating for a ban on unfair trade practices to be added to Australian consumer law.

Although there has been an attempt to launch a class-action lawsuit against Amazon when the change was made in the US, Brody said it would be difficult to do the same in Australia due to the lack of equivalent prohibitions on unfair and abusive practices.

Deadline to cancel membership

An Amazon spokesperson told The New Daily that Prime membership continues to offer “compelling value”.

“Our aim is to continue to innovate on behalf of Prime members, and to keep on growing the value of the Prime membership program,” they said.

But the spokesperson confirmed monthly or annual pre-paid Prime or Prime Video customers who wanted to cancel their subscription due to the launch of ads had until August 1 to receive a pro-rata refund.

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