Hidden subscription

The user is unknowingly enrolled in a recurring subscription or payment plan without clear disclosure or their explicit consent.


The hidden subscription deceptive pattern typically works by employing some form of sneaking or misdirection. Users think they are buying one thing, when in fact there's a hidden legal stipulation that they are in fact signing up to a recurring subscription. Once they have signed up, the service is usually covert and the user is sent no emails or notifications reminding them that they are paying on a recurring basis, so that payments continue for as long as possible. It is also typically paired up with the hard to cancel deceptive pattern.


Adobe-owned UI design tool Figma sells itself on its collaborative capabilities, enabling teams of people to work together on designs. When a user creates a design in Figma, they can share it with anyone using the "Share" button (pictured top right in first image). Clicking the “Share” button causes a dialog box to appear (see second image), where they can choose a recipient and decide whether they “can edit” or “can view”. If the user picks the option “can edit”, this quietly creates a new monthly subscription for the recipient, which is automatically paid on the inviting user's credit card. This extra cost is not mentioned anywhere in the user interface. Since Figma already has the inviting user's credit card details on file, they can be charged without the user being notified in advance. Users frequently complain about this issue on social media (see third image).


Forced continuity (Brignull, 2010), negative option marketing (FTC, 2009).

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