Questionable privacy, dark patterns, can't delete account

edit: TL;DR: I’m not looking for community support, links or other information about “how to do” what I want to do. Not the point of this message. The reason for this message is to point out the dark patterns, not asking for help with account deletion. Also note that account deletion is just one of the more problematic patterns I observe and even though the discussion currently revolves entirely about this problem, I honestly think that the first mentioned pattern is even worse and if any should be discussed, it’s this one.

edit2: to Huel staff - this is a technical edit to unhide the message as a result of unwarranted “community flags”, apparently by toxic community members who deeply misunderstood the message

There’s a lot of dark patterns at Huel.

There are many dark patterns there but two are most apparent:

One: forcing people to accept 3rd-party T&Cs and privacy policies even though they are extremely one-sided and completely unrelated to the product, service or anything else. It’s just a cheap technological decision, which makes people the products (in terms of (ab)using their personal data by the 3rd parties) and free workforce (in terms of using forced user input to train their AI models. For free). I’m talking specifically about Google Captcha, which cannot be circumvented in any way and users are forced to go through it if they want to manage their account even though the captcha (and Google) are not in any way relevant to Huel product or services. But there are others as well though most of them can be blocked proactively - which is also a dark pattern - users should not have to be proactive in blocking 3rd-party trackers just to order a bag of food without being spied on by all existing social networks and other ad sellers.

Two: the complete lack of “Delete account and purge all my personal data” option or mentioning such procedure in any docs or FAQ. That is pure evil and borderline illegal.

Huel product on its own is a good one but these very dark patterns should be warning to anyone who orders anything from the company - you are being sold, you are the product and they have the audacity to have you pay for it.

You should not need to sell yourself to ad sellers or provide free labor to Google just to be able to buy a rather expensive bag of dried food.

To Huel: all trackers should be disabled by default and you should not use Google Captcha. There are a lot of much better and more privacy-friendly alternatives. Until then, I will seek a way to have my account deleted and my data removed.

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Send them an email. Not too complicated. Sending an email is probably the correct way to handle account deletion if personal data erasure is the concern when dealing with small- to midsized companies, having proof that the deletion request got through and acknowledged by the company that the request was sent to is good to have. Right to erasure is a thing in many regions so companies have a mandate to delete that personal data when requested depending on those regulations, GDPR is the most significant one since that covers all of the EU citizens data.

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Not the point. The point is that this (complete and absolute absence of any information about account and data deletion) is a dark pattern that must necessarily mean one of two things: either someone was so arrogant to think that no one will ever want to leave or someone actively decided to not “support” account deletion openly. Both are pretty bad.

I think that’s bit overly harsh towards Huel. You’re setting an unrealistic standard.

Email or write to:
Data Protection Officer
Huel Limited,
Unit 6, Icknield Way,
Tring, Hertfordshire.
HP23 4RN

And ask them to delete it. Bear in mind for legal purposes they do have to retain some information for up to 7 years (if you have made a purchase for example) for tax purposes etc.

I disagree. Having two sentences in FAQ about account deletion is far from unrealistic, not to mention that this a well-known and proven dark pattern which any solid on-line merchant should strive to avoid.

Here you go: Privacy Policy – Huel

and @CuriousEater:

thanks for the links/info but again, not the point

I don’t think you have a solid argument, it’s flawed. Huel has a privacy policy. It’s quite good now that I read through it. Don’t see a problem. I fail to see a real dark pattern. The privacy policy is easily understandable and clear. It is the FAQ when it comes to things that concern privacy.

I respectfully disagree with your conclusions about my arguments being flawed as you did not present any evidence about the flaws except for a link to privacy policy which doesn’t really address the substance of either of the dark patterns I described (not to mention that the link doesn’t even work properly for me - see picture: this is hardly a “privacy policy” and the button does nothing for me)

The fact that you “fail to see a real dark pattern” is a matter of your personal opinion, not arguable fact.


The fact that you “see a real dark pattern” is a matter of your personal opinion, not arguable fact.


‘Pure evil’ is likewise unjustifiable.

Not really. The (proven) absence of any information regarding account deletion at any place where it could be reasonably expected is a well-described and understood dark pattern, see any definition of “dark pattern”, also known as “deceptive design pattern”. Specifically, this is a variant of the “Roach Motel” pattern. Wikipedia is the obvious source you could use but feel free to search using your favorite search engine, I’m sure you’ll find similar definitions.

In this respect, it is not my personal opinion but (possibly slightly subjective) description of an objective fact.

“Pure evil” is obviously a hyperbole.

Also, again, this is just one of the problems I described and I really don’t want this discussion to be focused entirely on it. You’re entitled to your opinion. I consider the matter closed and will not discuss it further as I already laid out all of my arguments, none of which was disproved (yet).

I am, however, more than happy to discuss the other problems I pointed out.

Ok, the fact that you “see a real dark pattern” is indeed a matter of your personal opinion, and not inarguable fact, in that you feel deceived. It’s something you perceive, this alleged attempt to deceive you. The burden of proof here lies with you to substantiate an attempt to deceive, not for anyone to disprove the allegation.

Can you prove there’s an overt attempt to deceive (your own definition of a ‘dark pattern’), or is it just the lack of an easy one-click option to delete which bothers you?

PS: but on reflection, proving an attempt to deceive isn’t really the issue here. It’s the subjective sense of vulnerability, and that can only be remedied by the folks at Huel, if at all.

Your arguments are quite challenging and reasonable, thanks for that, honestly.

On your reflection, there are indeed two planes in which a problem exists. The problem, I think, is that you try to treat them as one-dimensional issue, mixing the planes together.

There is the objective, “measurable” plane which is defined by the fact that there is no apparent way to delete an account and no information about how to approach account deletion at any place in which a reasonable user would look for it. I hope we can agree on that.

Then there is the subjective plane of “sense of vulnerability” caused by the fact described above, which I do feel but do not express explicitly (except maybe the “pure evil” hyperbole).

What I am (and was from the beginning) trying to point out is the objective plane. In my opinion, it is enough to consider the issue a “dark pattern” because it fits the definition. The definition of a “dark pattern” does not necessarily imply intention. Nor it requires the necessity of any subjective feeling on the “consumer” part and therefore there is no need to prove any kind of intention of deception on Huel’s part.

The objective fact that the pattern exists is enough, regardless of the reasons why it exists. On the reasons we can only speculate and it is quite improbable that if intention exists, it will be admitted by Huel so it is only the actions taken by Huel in reaction to this that may point to (but probably not prove) the actual reason why the pattern exists.

I cannot agree with that. This is just learned helplessness. You need to actually use the resources and documentation given to you. You know, the privacy policy that Huel paid someone to write. No one is going to come and shove it into your brain. And you shouldn’t expect them to.

In general you have oversimplified view of this whole privacy thing, with little actual critical thinking behind your thought process. Yeah, bit less cookies is always good for your health, and from a privacy perspective. But you’ve said a lot of stuff harshly with nothing solid to back it up, just personal opinions. This just isn’t the way to sell this whole reducing reliance on third party cookies idea. You’ve failed to show a clear data security or privacy problem, none of these concerns are even half-credible without something solid to back your arguments up. And your tone was tad bit overly confrontational.

Also if I understand this correctly, isn’t this option almost just as good as turning the cookies completely off since they don’t store any personally identifiable information… IDK.

And the whole dark pattern thing, just no. Huel is an easily approachable company with functional customer support. If you have an issue, just contact them. That’s how stuff like this was made to work with smaller companies, that aren’t billion dollar tech companies. But, mostly you’re just misunderstanding what a real harmful dark pattern is.

Your heart is in the right place with what you’re trying to pursue, probably. But you’re not going to achieve a more privacy and data security focused world with the approach that you took here. You just aren’t making a compelling case. Even though your goals may be decent.

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Oh god… you are a 13 year-old internet troll drunk on egg nog and I claim my five pounds.

Do go away :slight_smile:

I agree, sounds like someone has had too much Christmas “spirit” and also, has too much time on their hands!

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Sorry, I have no reason to discuss with you anymore if you can’t produce relevant arguments and turn instead to fallacies like ad hominem. I’m happy to discuss all the issues but I will not participate in a flame war.

There are a few “relevant” things I would address in your reaction but I will not do so as long as the reaction contains the fallacies as well.

AH! Wait! You’re actually ChatGPT and your responses are the product of Sam Altman’s Large Language Model gone bonkers on Christmas egg nog :joy: