If you don’t like a gift, just swap it online

Thursday, November 11, 2010

LONDON - Online retailer Amazon could soon allow people to swap gifts they don’t want with the items they really want.

The company has been granted a patent application that will make it easy for them to request a different item in place of the gift ordered by a friend or relative.

The news will cheer those who receive pairs of novelty socks or jars of bath salts for Christmas.

The patent, entitled System and method for converting gifts, was granted by the United States Patent Office, and lists Amazons founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, as one of the inventors, reports the Telegraph.

If rolled out across the Amazon site, it will allow users to set up ‘rules’, so that whenever an order is placed by a well-meaning but clueless relative, the item is automatically substituted for a gift certificate of the same value, or a similar-priced item from the recipients Amazon ‘wish list’.

As in other gift-giving situation, it sometimes occurs that gifts purchased online do not meet the needs of tastes of the gift recipient, reads the patent.

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.

The system could also allow Amazon users to block friends and relatives from buying certain gifts, could keep a record of the correct clothing sizes, and even send automated thank-you notes to the gift-giver.

Amazon has not yet indicated whether it has started to build the system outlined in the patent, or whether it plans to make the gift conversion tool available on its site.

Filed under: Economy

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