Amazon Patents Terrible Gift Auto-Return System

In a move destined to crush the festive spirit, retailer Amazon has applied for a patent on a system that vets deliveries from people you don't trust—giving you the option to reject them and have the cash instead.

The patent, jointly applied for in the names of Colin Bryar and the mighty Jeff Bezos himself, allows for a future Amazon gift pre-crime division to automatically reject all items ordered by people on your shit list, which will be accompanied by a rules wizard that lets buyers specify guidelines. So you can automatically refund all clothing from Aunty Jean, or request not to receive any suspicious magazines from Weird Uncle Mike.

Here's a snippet from the patent application:

As in other gift-giving situations, it sometimes occurs that gifts purchased on-line do not meet the needs or tastes of the gift recipient. For example, the recipient may already have the item and may not need another one of that same item. Alternatively, the item may not be the right size, the right type, the right style, and so on. In such situations, the recipient may wish to convert the gift to something else, for example, by exchanging the gift for another item or by obtaining a redemption coupon, gift card, or other gift certificate to be redeemed later.

Best of all, the rejected buyer will have no idea you've thrown away their present before it was even dispatched. Perfectly reasonable behaviour, Mr Scrooge. [USPTO via Washington Post]

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