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Amazon’s Way Of Not Charging Until The Gift Is Fully Accepted

Written by Evan Schuman
June 13th, 2012

Amazon was just issued a Patent for a way to let gift recipients decide if they want—and will redeem—their gift before charging the gift-giver.

What Amazon describes in U.S. Patent 8,190,519 is solely intended to deal with digital gifts (music, films, E-books, games, ringtones, etc.), but there’s no technological reason why this “no pay until the gift is accepted” approach needs to exclude physical products.

Although Amazon proposed this back on Sept. 30, 2008 (the patent was issued May 29, 2012), the problem it was trying to address still exists today. That would be giftcards that are never used, robbing the gifter of cash, the giftee of the gift and the retailer (depending on whether it was that retailer’s giftcard) of the revenue and upsell potential.

This approach would not only make sure that no money is wasted on an unused item, but it will pleasantly tell the gifter that the gift was accepted. (As my daughter would say, “Yes! No more having to write notes to Grandpa.”)

Then again, this gets into social awkwardness. If someone doesn’t want the gift, will they reject it, knowing that the gifter will be told in a matter of seconds?

For the record, Amazon’s intent is to not use this for giftcards but rather for specific personalized gifts. But today, using it to eliminate wasted giftcards might be the better approach.

By the way, for those who relish the poetry, the sheer musicality of Patent phrasing, enjoy the lawyer’s version: This process includes “an acceptance component configured to receive an input from the recipient to accept the gift, wherein the acceptance component is further configured to receive an instruction from the giver to cancel the gift before the recipient accepts the gift; and a payment processing component configured to charge the payment mechanism of the giver after the recipient accepts the gift; wherein no payment is processed by the payment processing component if the acceptance component receives an instruction from the giver to cancel the gift.”


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