Have you been hit by a £79 fee for unwittingly using Amazon Prime? We've seen scores of complaints from confused shoppers whose accounts have been debited by Amazon without them knowing why. Here we show how to get your £79 back.
OK, so first things first... what exactly is Amazon Prime? Amazon's Prime* service gives users who sign up for it unlimited free one-day deliveries and access to its music and video streaming services. They can also borrow certain Kindle books for free and get unlimited photo storage on Amazon Drive, its cloud-based storage system.
Prime's free if you sign up for a 30-day trial, but if you don't cancel during the trial period, it automatically enrolls you for a year and takes a £79 fee from your account.
Why do some people not realise they’re signed up? Some users tell us they signed up for a 30-day trial and didn’t realise they needed to cancel during the trial to avoid the fee.
Others say they clicked a certain button to buy online and simply didn’t realise they had signed up to Prime by doing so.
In March 2015 the Advertising Standards Authority also banned Amazon from continuing to use a direct mailing offer for a 'free trial' of Prime after it found the online retail giant misled consumers about the cost (see the Amazon Prime 'free trial' ad banned MSE news story).
Have people managed to get their cash back? Yes. Since we first started warning people about this, we've received a host of successes from people who've checked their accounts, realised they've unwittingly been charged, and got a refund from Amazon. Here are a few:
“Thanks so much @MartinSLewis for your tip on Amazon Prime. Got a £79 refund for Amazon Prime 'free trial'. You've saved the day again!”- Ted Loveday
“@MartinSLewis OMG didn't even know I had Amazon Prime - just cancelled it now and got £79 refunded! Thank you.”- Samantha
“@MartinSLewis 15 month backdated refund for Amazon Prime. Never requested. Thanks”- Misstea
So how do I know if I have Prime? Log on to your Amazon account and go to Manage Prime Membership*. If you’re a member, it will say "Membership: Prime". If not, it will say "you are currently not a member of Amazon Prime".
To see if you've been charged for Prime, check your bank and credit card statements for an unexpected £79 paid to Amazon.
Amazon says everyone who signs up to Prime gets sent an email informing them of the duration of the free trial, how to avoid continuing to pay Prime membership and how to cancel the paid membership if someone took it out without a trial.
How do I cancel and get my money back? Here's what you need to know:
I'm within the free trial period. In this case there's obviously no money to get back - but you can make sure you're not charged. Go to Manage Prime Membership* and click 'Do not continue', the second option on the left-hand side of the page. Once done you'll continue to receive Prime services until your free trial period ends. Then your membership will end, and your card won't be charged.
My free trial has ended. Go to Manage Prime Membership* and click 'End membership', the second option on the left-hand side of the page. If neither you nor anyone authorised to use your Prime account have used any Prime services since the trial ended, you'll automatically get the £79 fee refunded.
If you have unknowingly used Prime services, while it's harder to get a refund, it's worth a punt - contact Amazon*, explain what's happened and urge it to refund you.
- I subscribed to Prime without a free trial. You can easily cancel within 14 days of signing up by going to Manage Prime Membership* and clicking 'End membership', which is the second option on the left-hand side of the page.
As long as you haven't used any Prime services, you'll automatically get the £79 refunded. If you or anyone authorised to use your Prime account have used Prime services within the first 14 days, you'll be issued a pro-rata refund for the remaining 11 whole months of your year's membership.
If the 14 days are up, again it's harder, but still worth a punt - contact Amazon*, explain what's happened and urge it to refund you.
- This can work even after the first year. Even if you've been paying for Prime for a while, it's well worth trying to get a backdated refund - as the third success story above shows, at least one MoneySaver has managed to reclaim 15 months later.
What if Amazon refuses to give a refund? We haven't heard of Amazon refusing to refund Prime memberships which users unwittingly signed up to, but if you're unhappy with Amazon's response, you'll need to complain to them in the first instance.
You can do this using the free online complaints tool Resolver*, which helps draft a letter and monitor your complaint. Alternatively, you can raise a formal complaint direct with Amazon*. As a last resort you could contact the Consumer Ombudsman - Amazon hasn't signed up to work with it, so it doesn't officially have to help, but hopefully it may try.
If you do have problems reclaiming your Prime membership charge and feel Amazon has handled your case unfairly, you can also let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the Reclaim Amazon Prime forum discussion. This is a story we'll be following closely.
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