everyone out there has at least one relative that always gets them
precisely what they don't want. For Amazon.com, America's
largest online retailer, unwanted gifts also add up to extra
headaches and costs. After all, while you have to take time to
complete the return and wait weeks, Amazon loses money on shipping,
loses time, and it also needs staff to process the returns.A
new patent from Amazon gives potential gift recipients the ability to
set gifts from certain people to auto-screen or auto-return.
That way, when Grandma sends you the latest sweater -- it never ships
-- saving you and Amazon much grief.The patent [PDF]
instituted rules might include...] Convert any gift from Aunt Mildred
to a gift certificate, but only after checking with me....For
example, the user may specify such a rule because the user believes
that this potential sender has different tastes than the user.
clever idea isn't sitting well with etiquette experts, however.
interview with The
Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of the late etiquette author
Emily Post and spokeswoman for the Emily
Post Institute, suggests that a boycott of Amazon may be in order
if it implements the new feature.She states, "This idea
totally misses the spirit of gift giving. The point of gift
giving is to allow someone else to go through that action of buying
something for us. Otherwise, giving a gift just becomes another one
of the world's transactions. Gift giving is not just about the
loot. It's about the fact that someone thought to get you something,
and took the time to do it. That's no small thing in this
world."Investment analysts love the idea, though, even
if miss prim-and-proper doesn't. States Carl Howe, a Yankee
Group consumer technology analyst says that 30 percent of gifts are
returned each year. He states, "It's in the millions of
dollars, and it might even be billions. If you can get the
right gift to a person the first time, this could be a huge
cost-saving invention. From a retailer's perspective, this is like
gold."He does acknowledge, "This would require a
huge shift in consumer behavior, which is always hard to achieve.
And there's really some risk of backlash here."If anyone
can do it, though, it's Amazon. The company has always been on
the bleeding edge of cost-savings and flipping
the traditional shopping model on its head.