Privacy seems to be increasingly difficult to keep these days, doesn’t it? This week, one of our local news programs told the story of a man who was furious that his Google searches for sleep apnea quickly resulted in a bombardment of ads for sleep remedies. I’ve been told (although frankly I haven’t paid attention) that Google is notorious for keeping track of every site we visit and then transferring that information to those who want to sell you stuff. Don’t even get me started on the ads that pop up on my Facebook page.
As many of you know, Amazon is also pretty good at collecting information which is used to anticipate your next purchase. Every time I post a book review on Amazon, I get a profusion of suggested titles by the same or similar authors on my next couple of visits. It’s funny because Amazon hasn’t quite figured me out yet. Although I review primarily mysteries, I review something from nearly every genre, and only one book by an author. Although I’ve posted about 235 reviews with them, I’m getting an increasing flurry of review requests from authors who, according to Amazon, have ranked me among the top reviewers? Huh? No matter.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal suggests that Amazon is taking its knowledge of your buying habits to a whole new level by way of “anticipatory shipping”. Amazon’s so serious about this that they’ve patented the ability to start delivering packages to a customer before that individual has even clicked the “buy” button!
Amazon’s argument is that the time between ordering a book and its arrival could dissuade buyers from ordering. In other words, Amazon’s spending big bucks in hopes to keep you from heading to the nearest physical store. They’re adding warehouses and packing up boxes of books, for example, that they think you’ll want, based on their algorithms. They’ll then ship the box to your area in anticipation that you’ll click that button.
Do you see problems with this? What if you move? What if your financial circumstances for you to stop buying and you don’t bother to notify Big Brother—I mean, Amazon? Apparently, Amazon anticipates errors and, in some instances, may wind up sending a box of complimentary books to an address for promotion purposes. It’s not yet been established if this method will actually reduce shipping time, nor will Amazon representatives say if this strategy is already in place. So, if you wind up with an Amazon delivery to your home that you didn’t order, at least you’ll know why.