Amazon has recently launched a new gifting feature that will enable its Prime service subscribers to send a gift to other individuals by only using a phone number or email address. The member doesn’t need to give the address of the person to whom they want to send the gift.
A gift-giver has to be a member of Amazon Prime, the program can only be used on mobile devices at the moment, and it is limited to the US. Although Amazon has tried to build in various safeguards, such as the gift-giver not getting access to the mailing address of the recipient, this may be an idea that can be abused by individuals who indulge in harassing others online, stalkers, and scammers.
There is also no way that members can opt out of the new feature at the moment.
The new feature works as follows:
– A giver wants to surprise the recipient with a present but doesn’t have the mailing address of the recipient.
– The giver does however have either the phone number or the email address of the recipient.
– The giver selects the gift on Amazon’s mobile app, and during check-out selects the “add gift receipt for easy returns” option. The option to “let the recipient provide their address” then becomes available.
– The gift-giver then provides the recipient’s mobile number or email address.
Although the giver’s card isn’t charged at this stage, a hold for the purchase amount is placed on their card.
A notice is then sent to the recipient that there is a gift waiting for them. This is done via email or a text message, depending on the detail the giver provided. If the recipient does not have an Amazon account yet, they are able to create one at this stage. Although the recipient must have an Amazon account if they want to accept the gift, they don’t have to become a Prime member.
The recipient can see what the gift is by clicking on the Amazon notice. They can then decide if they want to accept the gift but convert it to an Amazon gift card, accept the gift as is, or decline the gift. If the recipient selects to convert the gift to an Amazon voucher, the giver is not notified of this. Once the gift has been accepted, the giver’s card will be charged.
When recipients ignore the gift notification, it will expire within a few days, and the hold for the purchase amount will be removed from the giver’s card.
When Amazon was asked if there was a way in which Prime members can opt out of the new feature, Amazon replied that there was not. Amazon feels that this is not a problem as a recipient can simply decline the gift, or ignore the notification if they don’t want the gift.
There is nothing in this scenario that will prevent a stalker / harasser / troll from sending a recipient multiple gifts to spam them with notifications, especially when the giver knows that the recipient will not accept any of the gifts. Technically, the recipient could however report this to Amazon’s customer service, and they will then decide what action, if any, should be taken. This type of behavior would however seem to violate Amazon’s community guidelines, so one would expect that Amazon would take action if it is reported.
The new gifting feature is not applicable to all products available on Amazon, but according to the company “millions” of products are. The products that are eligible include products sold by third-party sellers on the platform, as well as those sold by Amazon directly.
This is a very clever feature by Amazon and it would theoretically result in more members signing up as only individuals that have an Amazon account can accept gifts through this process. As the holiday shopping season is very close now, the introduction of the feature is also well-timed, especially as there are already warnings about supply shortages and shipping delays.
The concept of receiving gifts from a person that doesn’t have your address does however present its own problems. There may for example be very good reasons why the recipient does not want the gift-giver to know their address. If a person’s inbox or phone is spammed with numerous alerts about gift, even if they decline or don’t accept the gifts, or simply ignore the notifications, it is up to the recipient to inform Amazon that there is a problem so that they can correct it.
As Prime members have registered their personal detail, a payment method and address with Amazon, and did so to enjoy the benefits the company offers with this program, it is not very likely in theory that they will risk having their account closed when they send multiple fake gifts. This is however not really a secure method to prevent people from being harassed.
According to Amazon, the feature will be rolled out during the next few weeks.