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Dark Patterns in Web Hosting
edited September 2012 in General
A Dark pattern is a cleverly designed user interface designed to trick people.
I see a lot of web hosts & domain registrars using dark patterns to deceive customers into buying things they don't really need.
Here's an example from FatCow (an EIG company) they automatically tick these boxes on their checkout page.
There's lots of potential things like making it hard to unsubscribe from something, or automatically ticking boxes to make you buy things you don't need (you can read more about some popular companies doing it here: http://wiki.darkpatterns.org/Home)
What others have you seen?
Or you can call it auto optin suggestive marketing?
Who doesnt read what they agree with deserves it, IMO. We should not use the nanny state to protect us from our stupidity with laws. It will also protect us from democracy, human rights, free speech and other bad things for ppl used to have someone look after them.
Up until very recently we didn't have check-able options at checkout, customers had to submit tickets for addons like raid6 backup or additional IP addresses. Even so, we offer the bare minimum that absolutely makes sense and is useful, and everything is set on "No, thank you." And by the way, they are drop-downs. Why I bring this up? Because I have always found this practice disgusting. Allot of the big hosting companies / domain registrars are doing it and it is the first tale-tale sign that there is trouble ahead / poor quality service is waiting for you. Also considering that most of those services are provided by 3rd parties, it can end up costing the customer an arm and a leg if he gives out his credit card.
As far as customers reading the TOS/AUP.... they don't even bother reading the FAQ which explains the basics.
Yes, i also find that is a practice for the desperate which means two things:
1. Only ppl with bad enough services to have disgruntled customers and bad reviews are doing it since it cant do much more harm;
2. The ppl opinion matter and they do recognize this and are staying away from such companies which is a good sign.
I think the hosting industry generally has some of the most informed and clever customers which makes me wonder at times how can the others survive in this shark driven world...
This will soon be forbidden by EU Law. Currently they are in the process of making regulations against this.
I am sure that the government regulating more and more things in various countries will improve our collective lives - NOT
I would agree but in this case something that the user did NOT add to the cart is added.
Its like going to the shop at the corner for some milk and you leave with the milk but also a bag of candy, because the shop owner put it in your cart.
That still looks better than GoDaddy where you get spammed though multiple checkout pages, throughout the user interface, and they even spam your email inbox.
Not really quite sure what this has to do with laws - the legal aspect wasn't mentioned in the posts before you. Regardless, hosts shouldn't be doing this kind of stuff, period.
Ha, I like how backup is $12.95/year, but then it's billed for two years! Sneaky sneaky...
more times than not though its really difficult to see where a line should be drawn if you're looking at it completely neutral, as each provider amps up their means of getting profits from wherever they can get it, through each of what their sense of fair would be.
from a provider's point of view i suppose it's much easier to say that they want to make things more convenient for customers, legit or excuse who knows.
from a user/customer pov, they could just as easily justify these actions as being sneaky and trying get away with extra stuff, to squeeze in more bang for buck or real concern who knows.
trouble is, as the line drawn from each side gets too close to each other when the two sides clash. especially when a provider really needs to create something profitable by all legal necessary means vs a user/customer who really wants to get the best possible service by the same extent
on both ends of the spectrum, as the lines are blurred, the arguments become more bullshit or legit reasoning hybrids in the same breath. So we have increasing situations where a particular action can be just as easily viewed as providing convenience and just as quickly seem like something that exploits as well
tl;dr generally hard to prove or disprove particular claims when it comes to these things because logical reasoning exists to explain both sides
Not exactly. Take for example the FatCow screenshot posted above. Two things are preselected.
Backups: of course these are important - but if they are so important, then why not add an extra unskippable screen that explains why they are important, and advising to purchase the add-on, but still leaving the choice? Instead, it's added to the basket by default, which does not provide an advantage to the customer over an extra screen.
SiteLock: if this is really that important - and that's disputable to start with - then why not use the same suggestion as above? Instead of adding it to the cart by default.
Judging from the way FatCow does things now, the company either has bad intentions (slipping by some extra items in the cart) or didn't think things through properly. In either case, it's bad.
So it shouldnt be mentioned by me either...
Actually, it has many things to do with laws as there are more and more situations when the state intervenes defining unfair and illegal clauses, where the ppl are no longer free to enter into a contract out of their free will.
Sure, there was abuse and there is a lot still, things didnt change and they will not change, just the lawyers will find ways to circumvent restrictions and if they dont, they will just threaten with a long litigation.
Example: My aunt is watching TV and i purchased her the "all-included" channels. All. It was a cool deal at that time so I took it.
Now they closed for her Discovery-like channels leaving just a token few and banded them together in an add-on. Which, of course, costs extra.
I asked why, since I had all the programs included, even HBO and the premium others (I dont know them, I dont watch tv) and they said no, they still deliver the same number as before, just replaced discover/viasat or whatever with some hungarian channels or something.
I said it is illegal, they say the anexed list to the contract is not compulsory, just orientative and they have the right to replace any channel, what if, for example, one stops transmitting...
I said this is not the case, they said it is their right and if I terminate the contract early they will sue me.
They are losing case after case, but the simple thing that someone receives a citation in the mail is enough to scare them into paying not only the early termination fees, but also "lawyer fees" or something...
What does the contract say itself?
Now they closed for her Discovery-like channels leaving just a token few and banded them together in an add-on. Which, of course, costs extra."
That reminds me of the PS3, how Sony sold it as allowing a Linux OS to be installed. Some software updates later, removed.
While I don't agree with it, business is business. Shady? Yes. Does it make them more money? Yes.