Ever been shipped something based on search alone?

We’ve discussed the extent to which home technology is listing to us, but I wanted to share and get opinions about a recent incident.

Sunday I was at a friend’s house. The previous Friday he had been shopping online for ice cube trays (for fancy cocktails over Thanksgiving). He looked at some on Amazon, but then decided to buy some similar ones from Walmart, which would be delivered on Monday.

On Saturday, the Amazon truck pulls up and drops off a package containing the trays he had looked at BUT DIDN’T ORDER from Amazon. Inside, there was no bill, but instead, was a piece of paper saying something like, “Enjoy this gift from xyz realty.” (I saw both the trays and the note.)

Have you ever heard about such a thing? Other than suggesting that he shoulda been searching diamonds or Ferraris, does this give you any emotional reaction to either Amazon or the realtor?

I think it is pretty creepy. I knew Amazon/Google/etc was monetizing my online activity, but had never encountered such a clear manifestation. Would something like this make you more or less likely to use the realtor?

I think a public notice on Facebook declaring that “XYZ Realty steals personal information from strangers” with details about what happened is in order, at the very least.

Why FB?

BTW - we live a couple of miles from each other, and none of us had never heard of this realtor.

Wide audience for maximum bad publicity, and probably the best way to see if they do this to others.

So use a scumbag corporation that has perfected collection of personal information to out a realtor? Something there sounds weird to me.

I’m open to better suggestions, of course.

And I had assumed that this was something Amazon SOLD under the terms and conditions which we’ve never read, rather than the realtor STEALING the info.

I would guess the same thing.

Never mind, then. I try to push back when stuff like that happens, but you are not me.

I think it would be a good idea to call up XYZ Realty and ask them how they thought of sending that item, without volunteering that it was something that the recipient specifically searched for. They may be cagey about it, just saying that they thought it would be appreciated. Or they may be more clear.

Make ice cubes.

No, make sunshine on a stick!

Do you know that hanky-panky was involved, or is Confirmation Bias involved here?

I purchased these big silicone icecube makers last May after seeing them being used at a friend’s bar.

What if the realty company was as enthralled by these as I was and decided to buy a bunch and have them delivered in their area to random home owners?

I just don’t see how this would be a good strategy. If I looked at your cheap product and decided not to get it, I most likely decided I didn’t actually want it or went with an alternative. So the item won’t be useful. I’m also not likely to look for them again, since I only found their page on Amazon, meaning I was just doing a search. And the thing they’re making isn’t in any way unique.

The only way it makes sense to me is that they have a bunch of extras they want to get rid of, or that they can somehow list the gift as a sale.

Did your friend perhaps use a wishlist feature to keep track of the item he wanted?

Considering the number of things that I’ve looked at on Amazon that I really didn’t want, it seems kinda preposterous to me that there’s someone out there paying for personal data that they aren’t actually entitled to, and then buying items based simply on a user having seen them. The fact that he received precisely the thing that he wanted seems to scream that there’s another step in there. In some way he indicated that he specifically wanted that thing. Otherwise XYZ Realty would just be spending money sending people a bunch of shit in sizes that don’t fit, that have the wrong kind of adapter, that people have already bought, and so on.

Did he actually get the Walmart package? Maybe XYZ Realty is him and he has a gas leak in his house.

Perhaps he Googled the search term in addition to searching on Amazon? He may not even remember doing so.

That’s my thinking. I could have been reading the Worst Things for Sale blog and clicking links and now some real estate agent is going to cold-ship me beef flavored panties.

I keep thinking it’s some sort of brushing scam, but – if everything is correct as presented in the OP – it still doesn’t add up:

Which doesn’t inarguably mean that it isn’t some form of relatively sophisticated brushing scam …

ETA: Another thought …

I’ve bought laundry detergent from Amazon that was fulfilled – either directly or indirectly – by Walmart, arriving in a Walmart box.

I wonder if the cross-fulfillment also works in reverse – whether Amazon might fulfill certain orders – either directly or through third-party sellers – for Walmart:



Thx, guys. Not sure when I’ll see these guys next, but if I remember, I’ll ask more specifics. Pretty sure I accurately described what he related.

BTW - he said he hasn’t received the Walmart ones yet. Who knows - he might be confused. But I doubt it.

Of course, there is the possibility that the RE company sent those out to a number of people, and this is merely a coincidence.