Dear Amazon, what's with all the spam?

20 August 2009

Don't get me wrong Amazon, I love what you've done with the place. I know you're adored the world over, you're celebrated for your ingenuity in online retail strategy, and you've led the way for recommendation-based sales - but you're getting as bad as Facebook when it comes to spamming your users (although Facebook are happy to spam non-users too, so that's something, eh?).

A fortnight ago I glanced at Amazon to compare the prices of razor blades. That's all I did - I searched but I never bought anything. Today, I receive an email from you:

Of course I have an interest in male shaving and groom because, well, I'm a man. So off I went to check my account settings and find this:

This can't be a product recommendation based on a previous purchase, because I didn't make one, so it must be a special offer. Now while I'd agree that these products are bargains, since you ask for permission to send recommendations based on purchases, why don't you ask permission to send recommendations based on searches? Can I now expect an email once a fortnight from you, every time I search for an item on Amazon? And it doesn't really seem fair that I can't receive news or competitions or other special offers unless I accept this blatant spam.

Recommendation is great kids, but when you force it down our throats it stops feeling so warm and friendly. Of course it's my fault for inidicating I'd like news of special offers, but then I didn't opt-in to these e-mails alerts either, did I?


  • Jeremy S.
    I've never had that problem in particular, instead the biggest issue I have with Amazon is when you actually make a purchase. Last time I bought something (a few DVDs if I recall) from them I got over 10 emails asking for product reviews. A little ridiculous I'd say.
  • Jase
    Yep, I too find that my inbox is filled with random junk from Amazon. I've got the feeling that the recommendations spam also works on items you've placed in a Wish List too. I have a good 10 or so games in mine, from when I reserved myself from buying back whilst finishing uni. I haven't bought a game from Amazon since November of last year...yet I frequently get e-mails on new games releases. Although admittedly, I did SEARCH for games (to add to my Wish List) it could've, like this article suggests, come from there.
  • Biff
    Just got the exact same thing from them. I was looking up guitar hero a few weeks ago and yesterday I got en email from them showing me the price of every guitar hero game on the 360.
  • Jase
    but like the article clearly points out, there's no e-mail opt-out service for things that "you've shown an interest in" I have bought things based on Amazon's recommendations, the system does work...but I agree with BW on this, recommendations on purchases feels like a gentle 'nudge and point' towards something similar, and it is helpful, but recommendations based on searches feels more intrusive.
  • chrisg.
    This is annoying me as well. One or two emails PER DAY from them hawking stuff I dont want. I am a heavy Amazon user (prime account + 1 click + alcohol = trouble)
  • Jo
    Hmm interesting. I never get emails from Amazon so went into my account, had a look at the same page you brought up and there is another option on the right hand side and mine is on 'receive no email - (excluding transactional email)'. Looks the same as your picture but with an extra column and the words are all greyed out. Now, I'm an Amazon Prime member so maybe has something to do with that. I thought Prime was just for the fast delivery not for extra email opt-out options.
  • Mark
    What bugs me is that, if say you buy a digital camera, they will recommend more digital cameras that are very similar.....I only need one!
  • Bill O.
    Oh thanks for pointing this out. Turns out i hadn't noticed they were sending me emails pretty much every day, though i'm sure it will annoy me now. What a bunch of 'see you next tuesdays' they are. And they cancelled my gran turismo pre order. How do they sleep at night?
  • Brian
    Hi, Brian here. Have any of you sTUPID twats heard of sPAM FILTERS????
  • Brian
    Sorry for that outburst, i've not had my tablets yet.
  • Alan
    Come on Bitterwallet. We've waited ages for you to sort out this Amazon mess with GT Preorders!
  • chrisg.
    Brian - this stupid twat would like to point out that spam folders arent much use when you genuine emails from said company..
  • Mewling P.
    @Bill Oddie "How do they sleep at night?" Answer... on a bed of your cash, under a quilt of your cash.
  • Wanted B.
    [...] for years - Amazon have built their business on them (even if they haven’t figured out that spamming customers isn’t a good thing) and plenty of web 2.0 companies are creating networks based on our opinions of the servies we use. [...]
  • GAME B.
    [...] while ago we called out Amazon for bothering customers with product recommendations via email for the heinous crime of browsing the site and not buying anything. Now are doing [...]

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