Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Ugly sweater interceptor.
December 30, 2010 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Amazon has patented a system that would allow gift recipients to return a gift before they even get it.

Amazon plans to give users a little more free rein in blocking the gifts they don't want to get. With the "Gift Conversion Rules Wizard," consumers can set parameters for items—"no clothes with wool"—or even relatives: "convert any gift from Aunt Mildred to a gift certificate, but only after checking with me." (One option even sends out a thank-you card after 'converting' the present.)

Consumer technology analysts said it's really about saving money. Product returns are a huge cost to Internet retailers....It could save Amazon millions, maybe billions. via
posted by special-k (75 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
So did real life just get the Gambit system from Final Fantasy XII?
posted by griphus at 2:17 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yay, automated tackiness!

I wonder when the first question will show up in AskMe:

"I've been sending my nephew woolly sweaters for years, but it turns out he's been converting them into gift certificates! Should I tell him I know?"
posted by madajb at 2:18 PM on December 30, 2010 [21 favorites]


What's that? That much less fuel wasted on shipping stuff back and forth? Hell yeah.
posted by yeloson at 2:22 PM on December 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


This will only be cool once Apple invents it.

I wish Amazon would patent some way of not using UPS for shipping. This would save them money and their clients grief.
posted by juiceCake at 2:24 PM on December 30, 2010 [16 favorites]


Splendid - can it be backdated? I had a fucking awful bicycle for Christmas in 1978.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:25 PM on December 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wasn't there a Star Trek episode where the two warring factions decided they would give up gift-giving altogether, and turned to just simulating gift-giving with the understanding that whoever picked the worst present for the Secret Santa would die?

Or maybe I'm remembering it wrong.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:25 PM on December 30, 2010 [32 favorites]


I wish Amazon would patent some way of not using UPS for shipping. This would save them money and their clients grief.

Given that I have lost one package each through the USPS and FedEx in the last month and have never had a problem with UPS, I can't say I agree with you.

But you know, anecdotal evidence and all that. I'm just killing time while waiting for FedEx to hopefully deliver my new laptop.
posted by HostBryan at 2:27 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


It takes maturity to accept that people might be wrong a lot of the time about what you'll like, but that doesn't mean they love you any less.

At my wedding, a close friend gave my wife a very valuable piece of antique jewelry, and she included an appraisal certificate. I've always thought that that was a really caring gesture. Not that she was hoping we'd run off to sell it, but she knew that one day we might run into hard times, and she didn't want us to get ripped off.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:28 PM on December 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


That's possible; it's also possible she included the appraisal so you could get the jewelry insured since a professional appraisal is required.
posted by Justinian at 2:31 PM on December 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


Next year, you will have the ability to give someone their gift by downloading the "Gift Givr" app for your smartphone, which will cover the screen of your phone in some festive virtual wrapping paper and a virtual bow. You "unwrap" your gift by taking your phone and giving it a good shake, which will bring you to a special "gift" page on Amazon, which will show the product and strip out all the pricing information and reviews (because, come on, who wants to unwrap a gift that only got 1.5 stars?).

There will be two big buttons at the bottom of the screen - "Keep" and "Return". Returning the gift will give you Amazon credit that you can then use to purchase apps for your smartphone and other digitally distributed stuff.

And as soon as that happens, the Singularity will occur.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:35 PM on December 30, 2010 [22 favorites]


The next step will be to merge the auto-return process with the terrible Amazon recommendation system, so instead of getting gifts I clearly don't want, I'll be getting gifts that I already have.
posted by meowzilla at 2:35 PM on December 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm thinking of patenting a business process that would cover anything Amazon would ever patent. Then I could sell it to Amazon, and bring into existence a true perpetual motion litigation machine, thus ensuring infinite power and Amazon Prime for everyone.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:38 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


At last, proof that it really isn't the thought that counts.
posted by bearwife at 2:40 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks, Justinian. Once again I fail at being a grownup. We should look into doing that.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:43 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just wish more of my family gift-givers would get online. If I could just ask for people to buy stuff off of an online wish list, I'd be golden, if they'd really do it. Every year, I ask for a few specific things and get stuff that sort of matches but misses some important detail. Fullscreen DVDs when I'd made sure to specify wide. Clothing in sizes I haven't worn since middle school. I asked for a specific pair of slippers this year and got a gift card in the same amount that the ones I wanted would have cost shipped... for a place that does not sell slippers in women's size 11.

But in the end, some of us just have families that aren't really paying that much attention to things, in which case they probably won't be buying through Amazon anyhow.

If they were going to be online, I would love it if they could actually see these sorts of qualifications when they were shopping. Some kind of big marker that says, "No, don't buy this for Grace, while she does like fuzzy socks, these ones will not fit her gigantic feet." "Grace already owns an MP3 player, however, she does have on her wish list a number of related products such as..." "Grace loves you very much but PLEASE STOP PUTTING CLEANING PRODUCTS IN HER STOCKING IT IS NOT MAKING HER A BETTER HOUSEKEEPER AND NOBODY WANTS TO OPEN A TIDE STAIN PEN ON CHRISTMAS MORNING."

Ahem. So, yeah. That kind of thing.
posted by gracedissolved at 2:46 PM on December 30, 2010 [21 favorites]


NOBODY WANTS TO OPEN A TIDE STAIN PEN ON CHRISTMAS MORNING.

Speak for yourself! That's the sort of thing I always need and yet always forget to buy.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:50 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Amazon extends its tradition of unselling you books by additionally making sure things never arrive in the first place. Amazon, retailer and anti-retailer; the Amazon giveth and the Amazon taketh away.
posted by adipocere at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


This actually seems to make sense to me. Maybe they could push gift certs more as well. I'm not sure if you can buy physical Amazon certs/cards, but those wold be cool too. If folks swap crappy consumer electrics (for example) for downloads, and save on shipping and packaging, that seems to be a win-win.
posted by carter at 3:04 PM on December 30, 2010


Sounds like a great idea. What's the downside? Who wants to give someone a gift they don't actually want? Who wants to get one?
posted by kyrademon at 3:06 PM on December 30, 2010


Turn it into a social-networked automatic re-gifting...Mildred gives a crappy gift, choose to regift it to Fred, once verifying that Mildred and Fred do not know each other. :)
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 3:10 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


As an aunt, I demand the right to give presents my nieces don't want. I am supposed teach them values, pass on hard-earned wisdom, and give them the benefit of my grizzled years. So if I want to give them something they don't appreciate NOW, there's no reason they won't, 20 years from now, read Proust or listen to Haydn's "The Creation".
posted by acrasis at 3:37 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess the inverse would be some kind of Secret Santa algorithm that would send the Proust and Haydn to me. That would be even cooler.
posted by carter at 3:43 PM on December 30, 2010


Isn't it enough that Amazon put all the independent bookstores out of business?

Must they kill off the UPS too?
posted by jenlovesponies at 3:43 PM on December 30, 2010


NOBODY WANTS TO OPEN A TIDE STAIN PEN ON CHRISTMAS MORNING...
posted by gracedissolved


Maybe it's rude to ask but, er...is that how it happened?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:46 PM on December 30, 2010 [16 favorites]


An aside: Every year, my boyfriend's mother gives him dental floss. While other people might resent as much, it just so happens that we always run out of dental floss the third week of December. Every. Year. You hear that, Christians? I'll see your virgin birth, and raise you our dental floss miracle.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:47 PM on December 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


Maybe the treasury could just issue "Holiday Fun-Bux" every winter, and we would all collectively agree that "Holiday Fun-Bux" are not cash (in the same way that gift certificates are not cash), and therefore socially acceptable to give as presents.
posted by Pyry at 3:48 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: Just send money. How about tens and twenties?
posted by Gator at 3:59 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe the treasury could just issue "Holiday Fun-Bux" every winter, and we would all collectively agree that "Holiday Fun-Bux" are not cash (in the same way that gift certificates are not cash), and therefore socially acceptable to give as presents.

And then when the wealthiest 2% of Americans somehow manage to end up with 80% of the "Holiday Fun-Bux", Obama's "No Fun-Bux for you, but heres a lump of coal tax credit" stimulus program will be widely decried as "Socialist redistribution of wealth."
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:12 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I will never understand anti-wool people.
posted by enn at 4:23 PM on December 30, 2010


If I could just ask for people to buy stuff off of an online wish list, I'd be golden...

And if there were a workable, not-vendor-specific online wish llist site.
posted by DU at 4:43 PM on December 30, 2010


"I demand the right to give presents my nieces don't want."

Well, that answers my question, I guess.
posted by kyrademon at 4:49 PM on December 30, 2010


Repeal the lump of coal tax credit!
posted by blucevalo at 4:52 PM on December 30, 2010


How about the Ultimate Amazon Secret Santa?

Everyone buys a gift on Amazon.com. Whatever strikes them. Then Amazon's algorithms go to work, and an item that Amazon thinks you'd like gets sent to you by your "Secret Santa".

If you choose something really crappy - i.e. it doesn't match any user in the system - then the gift gets sent to you.
posted by Xoebe at 4:58 PM on December 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


I wish Amazon would patent some way of not using UPS for shipping. This would save them money and their clients grief.

I'm pretty sure that UPS employs some kind of superfast atomic supermen that are capable of ringing the doorbell and already be halfway down the street in their trucks over the course of the 12 seconds it takes me to appear downstairs. Sometimes they are so fast that the doorbell doesn't sound at all, and the tracking screen just changes mysteriously to "delivery failed" (this usually happens after I've spent the entire afternoon at home waiting for the package).

Recently, however, Amazon has been using something called Lasership in my area, which is operated by even more phenomenal individuals, because here the tracking information updates to "delivered" at least a day before the first delivery attempt takes place. I'm guessing some sort of tachyon-based patent is in the works here.
posted by Behemoth at 5:14 PM on December 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh, good. I was worrying recently that if there was one thing the holidays didn't have enough of yet, it was passive-aggressiveness.
posted by Spatch at 5:15 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I will never understand anti-wool people.

You don't understand allergies?*

*I was just thinking how awesome it would be for Amazon to automatically block any wool-infested gifts my family might send my way. I hate being itchy/rashy!
posted by librarylis at 5:30 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I forgot where I heard this, but just wait until everyone's list of rejected Amazon items turns up on Wikileaks.
posted by lukemeister at 5:46 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Despite the outcry from the "thought that matters" traditionalists, I really don't see the problem.

Look at this from the giver's POV, if it makes you feel less tacky. Every year, I give perhaps a dozen people things that I really have no idea whether or not they'll like. I'd just as soon save my time and give* them something they'd like with gift cards all around, but for some reason we consider that "tacky" for anyone but teenagers.

So this seems like the ideal compromise - I can try to pick out something they'd like, but not waste hour after hour trying in vain to find something perfect; because I'll know that if they don't like it, they can swap it for something else with zero hassle.

And going back to the recipient side of the equation... We all have an Aunt Mildred.


* Or more honestly, I'd rather do away with the annual materialism-fest altogether, but suggest that to some people and they look at you like you just ran over their dog.
posted by pla at 5:50 PM on December 30, 2010


I'm thinking of patenting a business process that would cover anything Amazon would ever patent. Then I could sell it to Amazon, and bring into existence a true perpetual motion litigation machine, thus ensuring infinite power and Amazon Prime for everyone.

I already tried to patent 'hooking the corpse of Jefferson up to a dynamo when the USPTO approves business model patents.' Unfortunately, perpetual motion machines are the one thing that they'll refuse to patent.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:01 PM on December 30, 2010


Young&StillGood suggested that we should instead patient the business model of businesses patenting business models, and a side patient covering the business model of suing companies over business model patients, which would be a tighter feedback loop and resulting in a faster lawyer-to-spin ratio. Sell one to Microsoft, one to Amazon, win.
(and this is why she, not I, will become the Supreme Evil Overlord)
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:13 PM on December 30, 2010


The biggest problem here is that bad gifts which are purchased on Amazon are inevitably delivered to the purchaser's house, re-wrapped, and presented to you in person. So that you have to fake how much you've always wanted a pair of sandals in that style that you have always loathed.
posted by ErikaB at 6:14 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that UPS employs some kind of superfast atomic supermen that are capable of ringing the doorbell and already be halfway down the street in their trucks over the course of the 12 seconds it takes me to appear downstairs.
The trick to the UPS guy/girl is to give them cookies. This weighs them down and makes them take longer to ring doorbell, write note, and abscond.
posted by teleri025 at 7:08 PM on December 30, 2010


I'm not sure that this feature will really stand the test of creative user-error...

I actually had the Amazon wish list plan backfire on me for xmas this year. After my wife informed the family that her husband the engineer had put his wish list online, two people simultaneously ordered me two different space heaters off the list.

And why did I have two space heaters on my wish list? Turns out that a wish list isn't the place to bookmark "products to comparison shop"

After this mess up - my wife (with some hints of schadenfreude) informed me of the "shopping list / quicklist " features on Amazon...
posted by akash at 7:17 PM on December 30, 2010


Yes I use the wish list to bookmark stuff. Maybe I will wind up with 17 G-Shock watches. I'll have to look for these other lists now.
posted by carter at 8:10 PM on December 30, 2010


In the future! We will travel at the speed of light and they will have to lose our luggage beforehand!
posted by Woney at 8:37 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This really assumes we're all living in a dystopian future where all purchases are through Amazon and no other method of retail commerce survives.

Because my serial "bad gift" givers are all people who don't shop online. Any relative who is clued in enough to religiously shop on Amazon (and use all the various features of the site like gift notification) is probably also savvy enough to check out a wish list, or shit, choose a non-horrible gift for me on their own without any help.
posted by Sara C. at 8:43 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anecdotal: I breathe a sigh of relief when I see a package is coming through Lasership. That is because I know it'll actually get delivered. This may be because Lasership doesn't give a damn whether I'm home; UPS seems overly concerned with whether I've signed for a package that (a) will not be stolen (nothing left for me has ever been stolen) and (b) is usually worth no more than $35. When I finally get the calendars I bought a week ago, we'll be several days into 2011, because someone was here at ten in the morning and walked back to his truck with them when I failed to come to the door, because, you know, I was at work like a normal person would be at ten in the morning. I realize full well that I'm benefiting from Lasership's benign neglect and suffering from UPS's mad zeal. Nevertheless, the "whatever, here's your shit, I'm goin' home" guys seem a great deal more efficient.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:34 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is not the kind of thing the architects of the patent system had in mind.
posted by Xezlec at 10:38 PM on December 30, 2010


...or shit, choose a non-horrible gift for me on their own without any help.

That is the most difficult task in the universe.

I can only speak for myself really, but I don't think we left-brainers generally have an easy time at this. Debugging a multi-platform signal-processing system composed of multiple separate, poorly-documented shell-scripts invoking dozens of C applications written by different authors and invoking various different versions of various buggy 3rd-party libraries is a game of checkers against a guy in the neighborhood. Thinking of a gift for someone I've known all my life is fucking 6-dimensional blindfolded chess against a superintelligent alien robot containing 200 Kasparov clone brains.
posted by Xezlec at 10:49 PM on December 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I sort of get that. But then, I like all kinds of things! It's actually pretty hard to come up with a gift I'd dislike.

And then Aunt Mildred sends a soap container (not soap, the empty container for the soap). Yep. Because that's obviously what I would want.

I do really love the idea upthread of a survey people could take where they write in the contents of your average Facebook or online dating profile, as well as answering a few gift-related questions like "Are you allergic to anything?" or "Describe your design aesthetic in three words or less". Then, as Aunt Mildred shops Amazon, the system will offer helpful commentary. Commentary like, "OK, look, if you're going to send her a soap container, you should at least send some lovely soap to go along with it. Sara enjoys sandalwood and lavender, but hates rose."

Shit, if OKCupid can email me with profiles of women who like women and are also agnostic, based on their own weird metric that tells them agnosticism matters to me more than, say, a deep love of enchiladas, Amazon can get something like that going.
posted by Sara C. at 11:23 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This will only be cool once Apple invents it.

People don't return iPods.
posted by ryanrs at 2:22 AM on December 31, 2010


kittens for breakfast : Lasership doesn't give a damn whether I'm home; UPS seems overly concerned with whether I've signed for a package

Y'know, I just don't get this dislike for UPS/USPS... Perhaps they suck as a sort of regional thing, but I've never had a package lost, and only once had one arrive with damage to the contents of the box (granted, I've gotten some boxes that made me wonder if I'd find nothing but product fragments inside) - From any shipping company.

As for signing, the sticky-note they leave you has a place you can sign and leave it for them the next day; and, unless I have mixed up my companies, a checkbox that says "always leave packages that don't explicitly require a signature" (or if not, they must leave the risk of theft to the driver's discretion, because I haven't signed for a non-certified package in years).


Xezlec : Thinking of a gift for someone I've known all my life is fucking 6-dimensional blindfolded chess against a superintelligent alien robot containing 200 Kasparov clone brains.

Yes! THIS!

Not that I don't want to get my friends and family things they'll like, but unless I can recall them recently saying "Gee, that looks useful/cool/fun, I should get one" (and then not do so), I may as well get them a rose-scented soap dish. :)
posted by pla at 3:31 AM on December 31, 2010


All the problems they are trying to solve have had a solution that has been available for a long time: Hand someone a wad of cash instead of a gift.

Of course, thats tacky. And so is this.

Actually, the whole gift-giving, buying useless stuff to give to people who don't want it should be the focus here - not whether fuel is wasted on shipping. But I guess it is too late to discuss that. We all accept this useless consumerism. Now we just discuss how to make it more efficient.
posted by vacapinta at 4:28 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


What if I could just convince people to stop giving me gifts? I'll still get stuff for you, I promise, if that's what you want.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:20 AM on December 31, 2010


As for signing, the sticky-note they leave you has a place you can sign and leave it for them the next day; and, unless I have mixed up my companies, a checkbox that says "always leave packages that don't explicitly require a signature" (or if not, they must leave the risk of theft to the driver's discretion, because I haven't signed for a non-certified package in years).

I used to be in the same position, and it was great -- but a couple years ago, maybe it was regional management that changed, I dunno, but suddenly I was dealing with all manner of dickatry when it came to getting them to just drop stuff off. They usually won't accept a signed sticky note (though they leave the sticky note anyway), claiming that the shipper has requested a signature, which in at least two cases I had confirmed was not true. What generally happens now is that they don't drop the stuff off and leave days of useless sticky notes until the time comes when they'd be obligated to send it back to Amazon (or whoever), whereupon they just drop it at my door anyway. Essentially adding several days of fuck-off time to my delivery time for no reason whatsoever. I'm almost certain this is not the drivers, and in fact is some bullshit management thing where the fear of God has been placed into the drivers wrt packages lost/stolen. But the end result has me wishing Amazon just used the regular mail service instead.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:05 AM on December 31, 2010


"What if I could just convince people to stop giving me gifts?"

I've had good luck with simply asking people not to get me anything.
posted by kyrademon at 7:11 AM on December 31, 2010


I've had good luck with simply asking people not to get me anything.

ITSH A TRAP.

Second only to the "$X limit," which guarantees that everyone will buy gifts which are just a little bit over that amount, so that you feel like a cad for having stuck to the limit.
posted by ErikaB at 9:51 AM on December 31, 2010


Y'know, I just don't get this dislike for UPS/USPS

Apartment + Canadian + Dependence on Transit + a Normal Job + Not having a 1950s style stay at home wife + Replacement Kindle equals a 8 kilometer walk down a highway that circles an international airport. It was interesting, but I much prefer Canada Post for the hole not having semi trucks blast by me at 100 km/h 2 feet from me thing and the not sneaking around airport tarmacs like a terrorist thing.
posted by sleslie at 10:39 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps they suck as a sort of regional thing...

Living in an apartment building in a working-class neighborhood means that no one except old folks are around during standard delivery hours. I don't know if I am more pissed about them trying to deliver something at noon or them leaving a package unattended on my doorstep where the myriad of people who manage to get into the building to drop off flyers can just snatch it up.
posted by griphus at 10:56 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Y'know, I just don't get this dislike for UPS

Apartment + Brooklyn + Having things to do + Not knowing when they'll show + The guy not bothering to buzz or knock + The guy ignoring the signed tag = Making a 3-hour roundtrip jaunt out to East New York, in the snow, after dark.

USPS is actually way more convenient. Unfortunately, a lot of retailers only use UPS, for whatever reason.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:33 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


People don't return iPods.

I guess I associate with sub-humans or humans that are less than people, second class people perhaps? Anything that requires any bit of iTunes is an instant return for us.

The UPS/FedEx and others anecdotes are great. I'm shocked to hear UPS demands signatures/verification. My last shipment from them (through Amazon) was signed off as delivered by a message like "the package was left outside your door in Rexdale." So they came to a door and left the package there. Problem is this door in Rexdale is about 40KM from my door in downtown Toronto and is on a street and at a postal code that are entirely different from my own address. After informing them of this error they responded that I was to tell Amazon about it. I did. Amazon sent me the order again, refunding me for an item that I had ordered but was no longer in stock, but in Rexdale.

After being home for hours in the evening of that day I opened my door to find that the package in Rexdale had been moved to my door in Toronto and left there, without asking for sign off/verification. I get another message from UPS that that very package, now inside my home, has been lost. They are sorry.

I inform Amazon to cancel the reorder and to de-refund me for the out of stock item but the reorder appears 2 days later anyway, and neither Amazon or UPS seem to care as they haven't responded. The second order showed up at my door, having been home all day. This time they put the package against the door, knocked and immediately ran away (I saw him do so out the window.) A 5 second wait and I'd have answered. None of this makes sense to me.

FedEx has improved of late. I used to get we can't find where you live, come pick it up notices. Now they can find where I live. Google technology to the rescue perhaps?

Canada Post rules in comparison, anecdotally (which is probably not a word).

I suspect it's like ISP providers, one person has no end of problem with Provider Y in X part of the city, while the other has perfect service from Provider Y in the Z part of the city.
posted by juiceCake at 3:11 PM on December 31, 2010


This time they put the package against the door, knocked and immediately ran away (I saw him do so out the window.)

That makes sense to me. They're leaving it at your door (ie, not requiring a signature or anything), so they don't need to wait for you; they're knocking so that if you are home you'll find the package. Sometimes I'll open the door before they drive off and they'll exchange a friendly wave.
posted by hattifattener at 4:26 PM on December 31, 2010


I guess I associate with sub-humans

Yeah, going on seven years.
posted by ryanrs at 4:36 PM on December 31, 2010


iPods require iTunes?

Sorry, I'm trying to cut down on incredulous sarcasm. iPods do not require iTunes.
posted by griphus at 4:41 PM on December 31, 2010


I imagine UPS uses their fancy tracking infrastructure to gather very detailed performance metrics on each driver. Throw in the fact that you're not the customer and it's no surprise they don't hang around to say hello.
posted by ryanrs at 4:45 PM on December 31, 2010


OK, we all know UPS is evil. But I'm sure that 99% of the time whatever problems people are having are not the driver's fault. Most of them don't have time to wait around for more than like a minute for people to answer the door. These people are working 10-12 hour shifts on days like Christmas Eve, with not only many more packages than normal to deliver, but also orders to pick up packages coming in throughout the day. If their managers forbid them from leaving certain packages without a signature, what are they supposed to do?

So my point is that people should probably be complaining about the company's policies, not the drivers.
posted by Put the kettle on at 6:32 PM on December 31, 2010


How is Amazon's idea not a fraud upon the sender? The "sender" spent money to have a specific item delivered to an address, Amazon took the money and made the commitment to the sender to do what the sender paid them to do, and then Amazon fails to perform the service they've accepted money to do, but tells the sender they did. That sounds fraudulent to me.
posted by NortonDC at 8:15 PM on December 31, 2010


I bet if you read Amazon's Terms of Use, they reserve the right to do whatever they damn well please. Just a guess.
posted by ryanrs at 9:01 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


"convert any gift from Aunt Mildred to a gift certificate, but only after checking with me." (One option even sends out a thank-you card after 'converting' the present.)

**lightbulb**
This isn't for Aunt Mildred, this is for cam girls!

This tool lets cam girls fill their wish list with proxy gifts like lingerie and sex toys, then convert those items into things they actually want. It lets the wish list become a pure marketing tool rather than a concrete list of specific items. Sexy proxy gifts play to the gifter's fantasy and encourage them to purchase pricier gifts.

I expect this kind of gift substitution scheme is already occurring on a large scale via Amazon's normal product return process. That's got to cost Amazon a bundle on physical shipping and return processing. It's basically straight-up abuse of Amazon's order fulfillment infrastructure. I imagine it's a pain in the ass for the cam girls, too.

Rather than shut off cam girl wish list accounts due to excessive returns, Amazon has figured out how to efficiently facilitate the underlying transaction. Though they're promoting it as a solution to unwanted gifts, but it's really a payment processing backend for cam whores. Hilarious!

If you're wondering what's in it for Amazon, note that the 'gifts' are converted into Amazon Gift Certificates, not cash. Since the certificates can only be redeemed on Amazon's site, there is a lock-in effect similar to a company that pays its workers in scrip. The entire cam girl gift economy—every dollar—is funneled straight into Amazon's revenue numbers.

BTW, I don't mean to pick on cam girls specifically. I'm sure there are plenty of cam boys as well (though they might be facing stiff competition from chat roulette).
posted by ryanrs at 11:08 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the ultimate end-game here is a system that allows me to make a wishlist online, ranking the items in terms of how badly I want them. Then, my friends log in and enter a dollar figure that they want to gift to me. Amazon then pools the money from all my friends, spends that fund buying me the items I most desire on my list, giftwraps them, and ships them to me with cards that list all the friends that contributed to the gift purchases (left over change or otherwise surplus money is included as a gift card).

Then, when my order status changes to "delivered," I have an automated thank-you message e-mailed/texted to all those friends, optionally getting $5 off shipping on my next order over $100 if I allow Amazon to include a great offer for male enhancement/car insurance/weight loss.

Then we fax each other hugs.
posted by Menthol at 3:41 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Amazon patents a process by which excess gas is bled off the large intestine, creating increased comfort for everyone on the planet.
posted by Goofyy at 6:29 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


ryanrs: I bet if you read Amazon's Terms of Use, they reserve the right to do whatever they damn well please.[citation needed]
posted by NortonDC at 8:47 PM on January 1, 2011


NortonDC : [citation needed]

Citation provided

Mostly it deals with copyrights and accuracy of listings and reviews, but I found one section somewhat interesting...

"To the full extent permissible by applicable law, Amazon disclaim all warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose." (case corrected from obnoxious all-caps, and bolding mine for emphasis).

IANAL, but to the best of my knowledge, you can't just wave away a warrant of merchantability on goods represented as "new".
posted by pla at 5:16 AM on January 2, 2011


[citation needed]

I am a lawyer. I am your lawyer. This is legal advice:
The fact that your nephew refused delivery of your shitty Christmas gift is insufficient grounds to sue Amazon. You are unlikely to prevail should you chose to bring this case.
That will be 2 minutes rounded up to my minimum billing increment of 1 hour x $350/hr. To remit payment, please see my wish list.
posted by ryanrs at 8:20 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


To remit payment, please see my wish list.

This is nothing but carrot juice and peyote!
posted by griphus at 8:32 AM on January 2, 2011


« Older A Gallery of Art Deco bookbindings....  |  "We tried to pick images that ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments