NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Sick of having to return unwanted gifts? A new system patented by Amazon.com could allow you to return or exchange them before they even arrive.
The as-yet-unnamed “system and method for converting gifts” was patented by the online search giant and its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos. It works by allowing the user to set up a series of rules for ‘filtering’ unwanted gifts and automatically exchanging them for another item or gift certificate.
“For example, the recipient may already have the item and may not need another one of that same item,” reads the patent application. “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.”
In addition to setting up item-specific filters, a user could even automatically filter all gifts from a sender with a poor track record – a hypothetical “Aunt Mildred,” to use Amazon’s example. And the system could also be configured to check in with the intended recipient regarding certain details of a gift that’s just been ordered, like the size of a sweater.
The new feature would come as good news for anyone who’s ever had to deal with repacking and labeling an unwanted gift, then taking it to the post office to ship it back to the retailer. While it’s obviously too late for any ugly sweaters you received this year, the awarding of the patent last month suggests that it could be implemented in time for next Christmas.