Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Amazon Patents Procedure to Convert All Gifts From Aunt Mildred

Amazon has filed a patent for a system where people will be able to return or “convert” gifts or consumer to exchange a gift sent to them by loved-ones or relatives before they make it to your doorstep.

The patent specifies that people will be able to ”convert all gifts from Aunt Mildred,” detailing how the process works: “For example, the user may specify such a rule because the user believes that this potential sender has different tastes than the user.” In other words, the consumer could keep an online list of lousy gift-givers whose choices would be vetted before anything ships. Or, consumers could designate certain types of gifts he does not want to receive, such as clothing made of wool.

The company noted that bad gifts cause major headaches for both the gifter and the giftee. Senders often picks conservative gifts out of fear that the recipient won't appreciate a better thought-out gift, and urge the giftee "to feel free to exchange it if you don't like it," the company noted in its patent application.

The patent tries to guess the psychology behind bad present buying, speculating that "the person sending the gift may be less likely to take a chance on a gift that is unexpected but that the recipient might truly enjoy", and opt instead for a gift that is more predictable – and unwanted.

Amazon filed for the patent in 2006 and was awarded it in November 2010, but there's no set timeline for Amazon's system to be implemented. In fact, it might never see the light of day. Users would have to get accustomed to a new way of sending and receiving gifts -- an option sure to face backlash.

Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to calls for comment on the patent.

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