Speaking of dark patterns: ‘If yes not keeping in touch then don’t do check the box’ from Virgin Media

While the actual text isn’t quite as bad as this title, this experience with Virgin Media still made me shudder when I encountered it recently:

If you saw this at the end of a boring form, first glance, what would you do? No way check the box, right? No one want’s to be ‘keeping in touch’ with a service provider and ‘other’ companies. Just send me my bills and tell me when you’re planning to charge me more. That confirmation check box next to “Keeping in touch” then? No way. Don’t check that. 

Now read the full 379 characters and think again. At first you’re bored, thinking  “no, no, no this doesn’t sound good” and “who on earth still writes electronic mail?” then you scoff at “services YOU think that I’ll LOVE!” and start to think “is this message saying anything more than sign up to our mailing list?” then you slow down to process what you actually need to do in order not to join their mailing list…. 

Virgin Media and other Virgin companies would like to keep in touch with you by post, phone and electronic mail about products and services which we think you’ll love. By clicking ‘Continue’ below you are giving us the OK to do this, but if you prefer that we don’t contact you and don’t share information about you with other Virgin companies for marketing, please tick the box. 

How convoluted and distant can they make the action that you want from the action you need to take! Further more, and where it get’s darkest I think, if you check the box but the page submission fails, then all your other details remain, but this single check box un-checks itself.

I knew I’d regret trying Virgin Media again. I never expected it would start before I’d even got the box working though.