The dark pattern tax

I keep coming back to the Scott Galloway quote advertising has become a tax that the poor and the technologically illiterate pay.” I’d add dark patterns and complex billing to the mix.

I’ve spent the day trying to wrangle all my various recurring expenses and put them into a spreadsheet to at least get some visibility about what’s going on. To make this even more difficult, I manage the Apple family plan for my less than tech-savvy parents.

Apple hides double subscriptions such as personal and family iCloud storage and TV+. The various subscriptions are nestled away in separate places. After some frustration and a few calls, I got everything sorted, simplified, cut some redundancies, and am somehow paying less for more services.

And Apple is one of the better companies. I’ve heard of far worse. Which makes me wonder just how much economic output is frittered away in overlooked billing settings and dark patterns.

Developing and maintaining these dark patterns requires a non-trivial investment of resources. People then lose money and time they could have been using for something else. And for what? The same people churning out these dark patterns are probably screaming that art and literature are useless.