Merry Christmas again!

Regrettably the Washington Post chose to wait until after Christmas to publish this, so this post is not quite on time. Nevertheless, in the vein of the post of Christmas past I present you with Amazon.com‘s patented method (as yet unimplemented) for ameliorating the deadweight loss of Christmas, to theirs and the receiver’s benefit, and in some sense to the giver’s benefit as well:

Amazon patents procedure to let recipients avoid undesirable gifts

Apparently returned purchases are a major cost for retailers, especially otherwise largely-automated ones like Amazon.com. So avoiding shipping bad gifts, only to then have to process them again when returned, and possibly resell them at a loss, is a good way for Amazon.com to cut costs. (And though the article doesn’t mention it, presumably this system would act as an incentive for shoppers to shop exclusively at Amazon.com rather than elsewhere — even better from Amazon.com’s point of view.) Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely in today’s newspaper world, alas) the article doesn’t link to the patent itself, but it’s not particularly hard to find. I doubt many patents these days include “mildred” in their text. 🙂

I express no position on the wisdom of permitting Amazon.com to patent this. But the idea itself is a good one.


  1. The idea is kind of a like a generic negative wish list.

    But rather than swapping Aunt Mildred’s purchase behind her back, why doesn’t the system simply notify Aunt Mildred at the time of purchase that that item doesn’t match the preferences of the giftee? Of course, that doesn’t work if the rule is “Don’t accept any gifts from Aunt Mildred,” but does fine for “Don’t accept any clothing made of wool.”

    Comment by Jim B — 27.12.10 @ 13:43

  2. Dunno. I imagine that might result in fewer Amazon.com purchases, however, so I can understand why they’d be less willing to encourage it.

    Comment by Jeff — 27.12.10 @ 14:41

  3. […] here: Where's Walden? » Merry Christmas again! Share and […]

    Pingback by Where's Walden? » Merry Christmas again! | The Daily Conservative — 27.12.10 @ 17:11

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