We all use built-in apps and web services to give you the best experience possible, at least as long as we are connected to them. Nowadays for every online store, social network or even game, we are required to register and open a user account. This connection is designed to create a strong bond between the user and the service provider, but sometimes it is a hug that is very difficult to break free from – even if we really want to. This guide will point out some of the tricks used to keep you from leaving and what you need to do to be successful anyway.
First, we emphasize that you have the legal right to delete any account used by an online service. Once you own your information, no one can force you to make it available to them. A user account contains a great deal of information, from the nature of the use you make of the service to identifying information. Many free services use this information to make money by selling advertisements or items of information and data to third parties. So this is not a trivial matter. To illustrate to you how complicated this can be, let’s take Amazon as an example.
The most popular sales site for Israelis requires a user account to log in to. Opening it is a matter of a few minutes and requires the transfer of identifying details, means of payment and a shipping address. If you try to delete the account because you have decided that Amazon is not your cup of tea, you will have a problem. Even on the website or app there is no way to delete the account directly. You will need to send an email to the Amazon service and hope for the best. Sometimes it can also take a few days, during which you may forget about it and may regret the move.
Another example is Facebook – its apps are also structured in such a way that leaving or deleting the account requires digging into the depths of the settings, something we are not always available for. These methods are what are referred to by UX (user experience) experts as “dark patterns”. These patterns include, for example, using confusing design to hide a link to unsubscribe from an email newsletter or placing settings that are less convenient to provide in a place that is hard to find. A kind of digital application of the “small print” of the written contracts. Even usage agreements where you are only required to mark X and move on so you do not notice problematic restrictions, are part of the story.
“All companies will try to make it harder for you to leave their service,” UX expert Harry Briginal explained to Ward. Experts such as Briginal use such tricks to make you not leave. Many applications allow easy registration through Google or Facebook services for example, but canceling the subscription is not always easy, because you also need to delete the service authorization through these companies, and the service provider will not always send a message to Google or Facebook that you have stopped subscribing or members of his service.
Another trick used by companies is a series of screens that instill in you the feeling that if you leave or delete the app you are going to suffer. This is a common psychological trick, such as the phrase “Are you sure you want to give up the great things we can give you?”. Of course the example here is extreme, but you will find this method in all sorts of sites and apps. If you want to delete, ignore this rhetoric calmly and continue deleting. In some cases, they will send you another email with a link to confirm the deletion, in order to “prevent a situation where someone else does it to harm you”, here too the psychology is clear and it is important not to be tempted by it. The idea is to make it easier to enter or register and make it harder to leave. Remember, even if you do not use the service or the website, your information continues to leak and it provides a nice income for the company.
The Brignal website has published a list of such tricks and the main ones among them:
trick question – When filling out an online form, pay attention to the question, sometimes these are worded in such a way that they sometimes look like you are being asked to answer one thing but are actually answering something completely different.
An unexpected addition to the shopping cart – A disgusting custom in which you choose to purchase a particular product. However, when you add it to the shopping cart or click on an immediate purchase, the site adds another product or service such as shipping insurance or something similar that you have to choose to cancel in order not to pay. This is a very popular custom especially in Chinese shopping sites.
Easy to get in, hard to get out- An old trick, easy registration for a service or purchase of a product, but canceling the subscription or purchase turns out to be an ongoing torture mask designed to exhaust you.
Sharing information – There are sites That make you share a lot more information or data than you originally intended. Pay attention to what you share online, everything that is registered online – stays online.
Preventing price comparison – Many merchants disguise the exact product name you will purchase to prevent you from comparing prices on competing sites. For example, instead of the name of the manufacturer’s generic model, it will be entered in a misspelling or indicating a catalog number that does not match the known records.
“Look there while I do something here” – Another design trick designed to draw your eye to a specific area of the screen so you do not notice for example that the product is available at a cheaper price in last year’s model.
Hidden costs – When a website or app directs you directly to the payment page without indicating that there are additional costs such as shipping or taxes.
Covert ads – Sometimes content presented as an article or article is actually meant to make you purchase a product that is described in it and full of marketing content.
There are other such tricks, and if you come across them do a service to the readers and mention them in the comments. What is important is to pay attention to everything on the Internet, your interest and that of the service provider or app do not always overlap. And just as the product arrangement in the supermarket is designed to make you tempted to purchase more than you intended, so it is online. Only here it’s much harder to spot.