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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Thum, Ph.D., CCXP

Is Your CX Strategy Ethically Sound? 3 Major Cases to Consider

Updated: Jun 18


Customer experience (CX) has always been about building trust and loyalty. Lately, however, that equation has gained two powerful variables: ethics and law.


Let's face it: bombarding customers with hidden fees, making cancellations a nightmare, and burying crucial information in legalese isn’t a recipe for happy customers or positive word-of-mouth.


The Price of Unethical CX


Federal and state regulators are taking notice and cracking down on unethical practices. Companies like SiriusXM, Toyota Motor Credit, and Adobe are facing the consequences of prioritizing short-term gains and solutions over customer well-being. Here’s a closer look.


  • Adobe’s subscription snag. In June 2024, a lawsuit accused Adobe, Inc., the software giant known for Photoshop and Acrobat, of misleading customers about subscription pricing and cancellation fees. The complaint alleges Adobe enrolled customers into lucrative subscription plans without clearly disclosing hefty early termination fees.

  • Toyota’s loan labyrinth. Toyota Motor Credit was penalized $60 million for adding unwanted fee-based products to customers’ auto loans. The company is accused of making it too difficult for customers to cancel the add-ons through a contact center designed to be a dead end.

  • SiriusXM’s cancellation maze. A lawsuit filed in December 2023 alleges SiriusXM trapped customers into deliberately burdensome subscription cancellation processes. The ongoing case highlights the growing scrutiny on companies that make it difficult for customers to leave.

CX professionals can play a key role in building a future where exceptional customer experiences go hand-in-hand with ethical business practices.

CX Pros: Champions of Ethical Customer Experiences


While ethics and law might seem separate from day-to-day CX practices, recent events paint a clear picture. It’s time for CX professionals to be on the frontlines, advocating for ethical customer-focused business practices. Here’s how CX pros can champion ethical CX:


  • Transparency triumphs. Advocate for clear, concise communication, ensuring all terms and conditions are readily available and easily understood. No more legalese labyrinths!

  • Frictionless farewells. Ending a service shouldn’t feel like an obstacle course. Push for seamless cancellation processes that respect customer time and effort.

  • Fairness first. Promote fair practices, ensuring products and services are accurately represented, and pricing is transparent.


The Call to Action: CEOs and Ethical CX


Sure, CX pros need to understand the basics of business ethics and applicable laws. However, CEOs must empower CX professionals by bringing them to the senior leadership table. This sends a strong signal about the importance of customers while creating a powerful avenue for a credentialed executive to speak up when unethical practices threaten to undermine the customer experience. Strong leadership also means holding CX professionals accountable for advocating for ethical CX strategies.


The era of dark patterns and manipulative tactics has been around for a very long time and, unfortunately, does not seem to be fading. But today’s customers are savvy and expect brands to be ethical. CX professionals can play a key role in building trust and loyalty and a future where exceptional customer experiences go hand-in-hand with ethical business practices.


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