March 9, 2010

Amazon thinks I’m insane.

Posted in Nerdiness, Project: Fail, The OCD, The Small and Petty, The WTF at 8:55 am by Dagny Taggart

Specifically, that I suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder.

The problem with Amazon Prime membership, you see, is that the money it saves you (and it really has saved me money and time and aggravation) is that you start ordering a LOT of things through Amazon, because “free” 2-day shipping just makes it so much easier than slogging to an actual store or combing through fifteen different websites and then waiting over a week for your order to come in.

And the stuff you order?  Is probably not always for you.  In my case, roughly 80% of what I order is intended for other people.  Which might explain why Amazon thinks I am a computer-programming, food-cooking, project-managing, published-writer-aspiring, science-fiction-reading, power-tool-using, mountain-climbing mother of two with a staggering interest in building blocks, alpaca farming, and self-help books on organization.

Amazon thinks it knows me.  But Amazon is WRONG*.  And you know how I can prove it?

Not once, in that entire list of recommendations, did anything even remotely resembling a reference to Nutella come up.

*Seriously, though.  Amazon’s recommendations might be a whole lot more effective as a marketing tool if they considered the likely ratio of gift purchases, especially those for which gift packaging is requested.  For a smart company, this is pretty dumb.

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9 Comments »

  1. firecracker said,

    in undergrad i took a lot of terrorism-related courses and purchased books from amazon. to this day [nearly 3 years later], they suggest the al qaeda training manual frequently.

    maybe when i DON’T purchase my recommendations, they should adjust them? just a thought.

  2. firecracker: I think we can tweak the recommendations to get rid of particular suggestions by clicking “not interested” or some such, but I don’t really feel like spending the time to tell them how to get me to buy more stuff, you know? And yes, one might think that after X amount of time, they could rotate those suggestions out of the recommendation list.

  3. vvk said,

    You can log in and go to the “Improve Your Recommendations” page. From there you can mark things as gifts and/or tell it not to use them for recommendations. It’s tedious, but it can greatly improve your recommendations.

    Speaking of Nutella, have you see the new crepe place in Chinatown? It’s in one of those little green buildings outside the entrance to the theater and next to Chipotle. Every time I walk by them I see the wall of Nutella they have in one of their windows and think “mmmm….”

  4. vvk said,

    Also, going through your past orders to improve your recommendations is a crazy trip down memory lane… I went from there to my order history… my first order from Amazon was placed twelve years ago yesterday. Twelve years?!?!? wow does that make me feel old.

  5. Lemon Gloria said,

    Just read VVK’s comment – I think it’s bizarre that they keep data that far back! That would bug me more than the age.

    And I get a lot of classical and show tune recommendations from iTunes because I’ve bought a lot of music for my dad. They think I love the show tunes.

  6. vvk: I’ve done that to my recommendations a few times, but it’s really quite cumbersome.

    Also, I had no idea there was a new crêpe place in Chinatown. I may have to find a reason to go, soon!

    Lemon Gloria: Hm. Might be worth going through the cumbersome recommendation-altering process… and yes, I do feel as though Big Brother is watching, just a little.

  7. I am constantly amazed at how smart the algorithms have become and yet how little they can still know.

  8. 8junebugs said,

    Amazon once thought it appropriate to recommend a whole skinned rabbit and a case of some energy drink called Booty Sweat.

    For real. I grabbed a screen shot because, seriously, when’s that going to happen again?

    I understand the recommendations based on crap I buy for other people, but bunnies and Booty Sweat seem a bit farfetched…

  9. restaurant refugee: One of the few reasons I don’t think the kind robots will take over my job in the immediate future…

    8junebugs: Wow. Perhaps you had recently ordered a copy of Fatal Attraction? No? Perhaps a Ted Nugent biography?

    Booty Sweat. That’s quite the marketing gambit, I suppose…


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