Amazon Patents Bad Gift Conversion System – Think Gift Insurance

Every year you dread getting a gift from that one person, most likely a stuffy old aunt or uncle, that gives the worst gifts ever. If it’s not a plaid sweater with a large unicorn embroidered on the front, it’s a “make your own soap from chicken fat and other household by-products” kit. Why these gifts are even being manufactured want these gifts in the first place is anyone’s guess, but you get them without fail each and every year.

Well, Amazon just patented a new system that would allow you to actually preempt gifts like this. The system is basically a way to filter gifts you don’t want or already have and don’t need multiples before they even get shipped to you.

How the system works is you set up a filter system, or what they are calling a gift conversion rule set and when anyone orders a gift that qualifies for a particular rule, such as if you have a hat on your Amazon wish-list but someone ordered the hat with the wrong size, that order is converted to one that matches your needs; the hat size is changed from what the buyer selected and what size your hat should actually be.

This part of the system is great; imagine never having to exchange something you actually want for the same item in a different size. This is especially great for online retailers because you would save money that would have been required to ship the gift back and have it exchanged for the proper size. This can be used for sizes, styles, colors and anything else about a particular item that may be customizable.

The other way this system can be used is that if a gift is ordered for you that you don’t actually need or want, you can set the gift conversion rule to simply exchange the gift for something else on the spot and ship the new gift to you instead. Alternatively the system can send a redemption coupon, gift card of gift certificate to you in the amount of the gift.

While many still think it’s the thought that counts, an antiquated notion evident by the rise in gift card sales over the past few years, this system would allow you to just bypass all that awkwardness when you receive a gift you really don’t want and save you the trouble of lying to your friends and family. The system can even send a thank-you note for the original gift to whoever sent it to you.

Although only the patent has been approved and so far this system has not been put in place at Amazon or anywhere else, it looks to be extremely customizable and I think will be very useful for those of us that have tacky relatives that have finally gotten on board with ordering things online. If you are always getting VHS movies for Christmas from distant relatives, set a rule in place to always convert VHS gifts to DVD’s. If you loathe a particular popular brand and expect to get some iFad of a gift from someone, put a conversion rule in place to change that to a gift certificate before the gift even hits your doorstep.

The only downside I see right now is that for this to work, whoever is shopping for you has to buy things from Amazon…good luck with the customized unicorn outfit.

What do you think, is this wrong? Should we take things as they come and be grateful no matter how horrible the gift is?

Image by MarcinMoga / Lolek

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12 People have left comments on this post

» Khaleef @ KNS FinancialNo Gravatar said: { Nov 11, 2010 - 01:11:37 }

I don’t see anything wrong with this idea! I wouldn’t feel bad in the least if someone didn’t like my gift and they wanted to exchange it for something else. I understand the idea of the thought counting, I just wish people would think better!

This is a great way to take a lot of the guess work out of gifts.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

πŸ˜‰ yep, you got it, people need to think better! Who really wants crap anyway? Just because you, a scientist at Nasa, likes space and\or science junk, doesn’t mean your nephews like it too…think generic and give cool gifts or be subject to the Amazon conversion machine!

» Car Negotiation CoachNo Gravatar said: { Nov 12, 2010 - 02:11:14 }

I love this idea. Now we just need to force everyone to shop on amazon (and use our affiliate links)….which will be tough since i can’t even get my own wife to use my affiliate links.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

haha! I think that’s against their terms Coach πŸ˜‰

» MoneyConeNo Gravatar said: { Nov 15, 2010 - 03:11:10 }

I think this is a smart idea – like a reverse registry! At least they put some thought into this unlike that outrageous 1-click patent.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

πŸ˜‰ I agree, I can’t wait to see this system launch!

» Debt Free DanielNo Gravatar said: { Nov 15, 2010 - 03:11:10 }

This is such a good idea from Amazon, but about if the one that gave you that gift ask you where is it? However, it’s still a great idea for most Amazon members.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Ya it’s a toss up whether or not you will be confronted about the gift, but I never have been and I’d certainly be using the system if my relatives ever bought things on Amazon. I think it’s worth the risk πŸ˜‰

» TimNo Gravatar said: { Nov 16, 2010 - 09:11:17 }

So what happens when Aunt Margey asks about the soap kit she bought you?
Do you explain to her that the internet “changed” her purchase to something else? Or do you lie and tell her it was a great gift and you love smelling like barn feed?

It sounds like an opportunity to tighten the death-grip that is family reunions.


Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

haha barn feed soap, nice touch Tim πŸ˜‰ Honestly, I have never been asked about a gift that I got from a distant relative. In my opinion they give them to give them, not for the gift itself and they don’t care of I like them or not πŸ˜‰

» lizzieNo Gravatar said: { Nov 17, 2010 - 12:11:09 }

I think this is a great idea. I get the kind of gifts you mention often a people around me can’t get that what I really want is books like that offer me knowledge and study. My family and friends think I’m a little too serious and try to get me their idea of “fun”. (Usually something I have no interest in and no inclination to ever use!)

On the flip side, I would not be offended if someone used this method to change a gift I gave them. While the thought counts, so does the individual person.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Ya it’s hard to interpret “fun” from other peoples perspective. I don’t think anyone really gets my sense of humor and I wouldn’t subject anyone to things that I think are funny. On top of that, I think we all have enough junk cluttering our desks and homes.

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