Friday, January 11, 2008

The amazon wars

I have become accustomed to getting some pretty weird recommendations from over the years.

You know the way they give you suggestions like ‘if you bought The Office, why not buy ‘Extras’? Now, I’m not saying this annoys me or anything – I like it. Actually I’ve bought a couple of things purely on the recommendation of this sort of malarky and it all worked out rather well. Even the brief bout of soft to not-so-soft gay porn they tried to schlock me for a solid few months after I ill-advisedly purchased a novel called The Back Passage (shut up – it sounded good. It is not.) seems to have died off. And that was kinda fun while it lasted anyway.

But now I am slightly pissed off. Because the staff at amazon have gone a step further. Instead of merely recommending books to me they’ve pretty much just started shopping on my behalf. Lo, witness my confusion when an amazon box arrived this week. The first book out of the box was the much awaited Charlie Brooker’s Dawn of the Dead (which is brilliant, by the way). The second? Dealing with Depression: a workbook. A Workbook. It’s not even a flipping self help book – it’s a workbook, with empty bits for you to fill in. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, and if it works for people then kudos. But why, given that I did not purchase this book, do I have it? I have no idea. I’ve gone back to look at my emailed receipts… the book does not appear. I would swear, in fact, that I’ve never seen it before in my life. I can see why it would end up on my recommended reading list, having recently purchased Spike Milligan’s excellent (co-written) Depression and How to Survive It, which is a biography rather than a self help book, but to actually send it to me…. Well, damnit, that’s taking liberties.

I can imagine, all too clearly, some poor, concerned amazon employee looking at what he or she thinks is my downwards trajectory. “Gosh,” he/she says to his/her coworker “this poor girl started out so full of promise and novel-buying optimism. Now she’s into gay porn and apparently depressed about the fact.” I can see him/her slipping the workbook into the box and even the warm glow on his/her face as he/she imagines he/she has improved my life for the better.

So on the one hand – bless them for trying to bring a little sunshine into my day, right? I'm not made of stone and I can appreciate the gesture. But charging me $13 for the privilege? Oh I think not.


mum said...

When the box from Amazon arrived it was open (unsure if that was someone snooping or damage in transit but there it was , sitting on our gas meter open ). Putting it back together and noting the Depression workbook it was hard not to jump to conclusions - Ohmigosh, have we hassled her too much,driving her to self medicate with alcohol, taken too long over the reticulation even ? A relief Kate to read your blog and discover the background. ( It isn't an elaborate plan to throw us off the scent I trust - I'll hide the pills anyway, just to be sure.

my name is kate said...

Haha that's quite funny. I'm tossing up whether to keep the book just in case and sacrifice my $13 or go for the refund... we shall see...