Dark pattern or dim user?

I’ve just encountered a stinky example of the Sneak into Basket dark pattern, courtesy of buymobilephones.net.

I visited their website, picked the phone and contract I wanted, and clicked ‘Add to basket’.

buymobilephones.net product page

The next view showed me my basket.

But look: a little line saying ‘Mobile phone insurance with 1st month free’ has been automagically added to my order.

buymobilephones.net basket

I didn’t spot that the insurance had been added. Why not?

First, my eye was drawn to the same picture of the HTC One S that I’d seen on the original page. Next to it appeared a summary of the contract details as a big blue link.

The insurance details appeared in the same plain black text as the supplementary information about my contract – I didn’t bother to read that far.

I scanned the amounts in the right-hand column; they included £0.00 for my contract plus delivery costs. Nothing about insurance.

The big green ‘£0.00′ final total, too, suggested that I hadn’t accidentally added anything else to my basket.

My eye skipped over the light grey paragraph below the green total; it looked like standard, dull terms and conditions info.

The final thing that caught my eye was the big, fat ‘Continue’ button, which I happily clicked.

The next screen was for payment and delivery details.

buymobilephones.net payment details

There was no further mention of insurance until I’d confirmed the order, by which time there was no option to cancel.

buymobilephones.net order confirmation

So: a combination of leading my eye to the pieces of information that I expected to see, and exploiting my preconception that light grey text is unimportant, led me to inadvertently buy insurance I didn’t want.

I should have read everything more carefully before confirming my order. But even so – sneaky!

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