Amazon have a really evil new feature. If you’re logged in and visit their site, you eventually notice a little gold treasure chest sitting in the top right corner. You click on it, and discover your “Gold Box”…
The deal is, each day they offer you exactly five special offers better than their normal offers. You have to decide to buy the offered item there and then, or click the other button to pass up the offer forever. There’s no way to go back and change your mind. You have 60 minutes to decide on all five.
What seems to happen is that the system picks out items it predicts you’ll like, biased towards random stuff they want to get rid of. Because Amazon’s site captures clicktrail information, they also know what you’ve been looking at.
So you click out of curiousity, marvel at what anyone would do with a ten meter sprung plastic hose, and then wham: up pops that item you’ve wanted for a year or two but haven’t bought because you didn’t really need it, as such. They offer you a price which is better than any other price you can find in the time available. Can you click that “No, I’m going to pass” button?
You stare at the screen like a bunny in the headlights. It’s like being on a game show. Will you play or pass? What’s behind the curtain? Will you ever see a deal like this again? Can you really be sure enough to click “No”?
Then you see the dreaded words: free shipping.
So I just got the best price I’d ever seen on something I had no intention of buying in the forseeable future… and they managed to extricate some cash from my wallet that probably would have stayed there otherwise. Even though both parties gained, somehow I feel a little bit dirty and used. Like I just bought a timeshare on the Costa Del Sol.