Feb 8, 2005

Dr. Amazon.com
or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Impulse Shopping
This story starts a little ways back in history, or perhaps a long ways back, depending on your perception of time. It was the year 2000, the Internet was a different place than it is now. DVDs were still somewhat novel, as was online shopping. There were scores of online DVD retailers, all selling at losses in order to ramp up volume. Amazon.com had jumped into the DVD space, selling deeply discounted movies. Once in a while, they'd make a mistake, people would find out about them, and post about it on forums where collectors and bargain hunters would congregate. One day, the The Insider was released on Amazon for the bargain basement price of $0. Being a fan of all films Michael Mann, I picked it up, for US$7.95 shipping, which worked out to just about CDN$10.

Fast forward 5 years to 2005. It's probably been 6 or 8 months since I've bought something online. I get ads in my email from sites like e*trade, buy.com and amazon.com on a semi-regular basis like lingering STDs from a one-night-stand you've long forgotten about. I normally delete them without looking, as you should. But this one said something about a new 2-disc edition of HEAT, which happens to be one of my all-time favourite movies. How did Amazon know? Because, as their email said, they've noticed that customers who bought "The Insider" also bought "HEAT", and now, I can get it at 25% off if I pre-order. YAY! I already have the DVD (I did mention it's one of my all-time favourites), but I certainly don't have the 2-disc edition). I click on the link in the email. And what do you know, the $20 (post discount) set can be had with Free Super Saver Shipping on orders of $25 or more.

You know that thing about alchoholism, where you can be clean and sober, but that one drink throws you back in the mess. Or maybe it's more like crack. You can't get away from that Free Super Saver Shipping. So you buy more. You search for that last $5 of useless stuff so you can save the $2.98 shipping. But like crack, Amazon doesn't let you off easy, they hook you with ads on the bottom of the page. So down there, striking its sexy little pose, is the 2-disc edition of "Collateral". My, isn't it easier to click on that than to hunt for some $5 item you don't want? C'mon, you know you want more Michael Mann, like you need a kick in the crotch from a talking bear.

So now, after about 5 minutes of seeing email, I've clicked into Amazon, past the shipping and credit card pages (they've remembered my address and my credit card #s, so I wouldn't have to stop to think before entering them again... they even have the now expired credit card I used when I lived in Waterloo and bought "The Insider"), and dropped $40 on 4 DVDs that I liked but had no intention of buying 6 minutes prior. I should just go back to e*trade and buy in to Amazon.com.

Oh, for the record, I haven't given the crack or one-night-stand things a shot yet, so I'm not actually speaking from experience. You'll have to forgive me for the artistic license, but given how boring my blogs have been lately, I figured I needed some sex, drugs and rock 'n roll to keep people coming back for more. Or maybe I should just put up links for you to places you can impulse shop.

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