Dear Amazon

Dear Amazon,

Congratulations on your new implementation of Usenet. That is, “FAIL”.

The Product: Sylvania 20682 CF13DD/E/827 Double Tube 4 Pin Base Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

The “active discussions in related forums”:

  • (health) My daughter has ulcerative!
  • (health) how do you get your wife to lose weight?
  • (health) Is Spanking a lovable or harmful form of disipline?
  • (health) Are Gays and Lesbians a future endangered species?
  • (health) How come it burns when I pee?
  • (home improvement) Are energy saver halogen bulbs green enough?
  • (home improvement) What your local contractor doesn't want you to know.

Dear Amazon,

You’re still having this problem?

I search for Revo sunglasses, to replace the pair that just snapped in half while I was wearing them. I find the closest model available with free shipping, and what do I find as the “active discussions in related forums”?

Amazon: if you like sunglasses, surely you'll like...

You folks make a living doing keyword matching, and this is what you throw up on my screen? Are you suggesting that sunglasses lead to cross-dressing, like some sort of optically polished gateway drug? Should my mother be concerned?

Have you thought about moderating, or better yet eliminating these forums? The signal-to-noise ratio makes Youtube commenters look like modern sages.

Dear Amazon,

Please don’t pollute the well. Search results for the writer Masako Bandou return a link to an Amazon US product page for the title “13 of Pornographic Chica Japanese Language Book”. No details, no availability, no hint that the book has ever actually existed. Because it doesn’t.

The actual book sold by Amazon Japan is called “13のエロチカ”, which should properly be translated as “13 Erotic Stories”. The loanword used is “erochika”, which is not the nonexistent hybrid English-Spanish loanword “ero-chica”, but the perfectly ordinary “erotica”. The book even includes French on the title, “13 Histoires Erotiques”, just in case the casual viewer is confused.

The two possibilities are a lazy “self-publisher” using machine translation (of at least the titles) or a used book store that was trying to unload a bunch of used Japanese books, and was ambitious enough to hire someone who had taken a year of Japanese and could mangle the titles into Engrish, but didn’t bother including the ISBNs.

The only good thing I got out of this little adventure was the discovery that a Google image search for the acronym “asin” returns something far more interesting than publishing data.

Dear Amazon,

I think all search results would be improved by the ability to exclude departments. Instead of forcing me to guess whether an item has been filed under “Home & Garden” or “Grocery”, let me instead exclude “Baby”, “VHS”, “MP3 Downloads”, and “Clothing & Accessories”. You already allow negative keywords in the search field, so this would be a natural extension.

This would be particularly useful for your “recommendations for you” list, which in my case is currently dominated by cookbooks, salami, and SF novels. If you want to sell me anything else, you have to give me a way to sort it to the top, and the current positive filtering system is trial-and-error, since most of the listed categories don’t actually have anything in them to recommend.

Dear Amazon,

In general, I am such a happy Amazon customer that it pains me to say this: “fuck you and that obnoxious pop-up-every-N-seconds Sprint ad”. Yours is one of the few sites where I have permitted Flash to function, because you generally use it in manners compatible with my wishes. Popping up a large ad every time I try to read the details of a product, and forcing me to dismiss it by moving the mouse, is Bad Form.

I note that it is exceptionally difficult to offer direct feedback to you regarding such things (asking me to clickthrough on an embedded Flash ad is not an acceptable means of soliciting feedback on it), so consider this a public notice that I am now blocking an assortment of URLs on in order to restore functionality to your site.

Oh, and Sprint? Die in a fire. “will not buy”

Dear Amazon,

Wow, these new pencils are versatile! But I think maybe I don’t want to hang out with the sort of people who buy them…

Stuff pencil-lovers like
More stuff pencil-lovers like

Actually, I’m not terribly excited by the new Sharpie Liquid Mechanical Pencils. Unless you apply a lot more pressure than you would with a standard pencil or gel-ink pen, they don’t work well when held at more than a very slight angle.

Dear Amazon,

Recommendation FAIL: because I own an Ove’ Glove

Amazon recommends...colon!

Dear Amazon,

Just a quick FYI, but you might want to have a chat with the folks who supply your Kindle wireless coverage map.

Kindle revises Japan

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”