We’ve all got relatives that seem to be missing the gift giving gene — remember those horrible holiday sweaters and itchy scarves of your childhood? Well, Amazon.com has a plan to curb unwanted presents and they’ve filed a patent to make sure nobody steals their idea. Amazon’s new tool would allow giftees to opt in to see the gifts they’ll be getting from people and — before they’re even sent from the warehouse — decide if they don’t want them. Though we love the idea of saving the emissions of shipping gifts and then returning them, this idea has the morality police in a huff.
Amazon’s tool doesn’t have a launch date or a name yet, but the 12 page patent spells out how they believe people will be pre-returning gifts in the future. It’s estimated that about 30% of all things bought from online retailers are returned — now that’s a lot of wasted carbon — and presumably for each thing returned, a new thing is then shipped out. Online retailers are looking for ways to cut costs incurred from returns and in their eyes, this is a great idea. Amazon’s tool would allow you to preselect people — like your old Aunt Ida — who you know give bad gifts and tell the site to alert you when something has been chosen. Amazon will then let you know what the gift is and you can decide to have it sent, or pick something new. The hitch is, this would all go on behind the gift giver’s back and it would allow you to send a thank you note for the originally selected gift. Just make sure to have an excuse when they come for dinner and ask to see it!
There are other possibly less offensive features, like specifying that you will accept no clothing with wool in it, or no food with nuts. Nonetheless, the keepers of human morality are up in arms about the idea – especially Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of the late great queen of etiquette, Emily Post. “This idea totally misses the spirit of gift giving,” she said, “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.” We’re thinking if we all kept our Amazon wish lists robust and up to date, we wouldn’t have to venture into this world of un-giving, but we’re torn on the carbon issues!