As Black Friday 2021 approaches, there's no doubt millions of consumers looking to huge retailers like Amazon to score massive savings on big-name brands. As it turns out, Amazon has a new feature ready for Amazon Prime members that could make it easier than ever to buy gifts for others – for better or worse.
As reported by The Verge, this new Amazon Prime feature will allow service subscribers to send products to others using only their phone number or email address – no mailing address is required.
The gift recipient will then receive a notification about the product, and can choose to accept, decline, or receive an equivalently priced Amazon gift card instead. The gift giver is only charged once the recipient has accepted.
- Black Friday: when is it and the deals we expect to see?
- What the Amazon event tells us about Black Friday
- Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video: which streaming service is winning?
Currently, the feature is rolling out to Amazon Prime subscribers in the US. There's no word on it coming to other territories yet, but if the feature becomes popular we could see Amazon try to replicate it elsewhere.
When asked by The Verge if users could opt out of the feature, an Amazon spokesperson said they couldn't – adding that gift recipients could simply ignore the message, which will automatically cancel after a few days.
Analysis: we're seeing red flags
It's undeniable that this new gifting option for Prime members will make it easier for them to send presents over the holiday period, it's important to note the drawbacks.
If, for example, you wanted to buy a gift for a friend or colleague, they might feel more comfortable sharing an email address than their home address, especially if you don't know them incredibly well. Examples like these are where this new Amazon Prime gifting option could work very well.
On the other hand, it's easy to see how this system can be abused by people with less than pure intentions. If all you need is an email address or phone number, it's possible that a recipient could be inundated with a swathe of unwanted gift messages. And while, yes, these messages can be ignored, the recipient will be notified regardless.
It's baffling to see that Amazon isn't offering the choice to opt out of this service given the potential privacy concerns it could cause – and we wouldn't be surprised if Amazon decides to make changes to this gifting option ahead of Black Friday to prevent potential harassers from abusing the system.
- Best Amazon Prime shows: 20 fantastic TV series worth watching