We start with a story from this week’s column:
First World Problem
When UPS pulled up at her Buffalo, N.Y., home to make an Amazon delivery, Jillian Cannan thought nothing of it: she gets UPS deliveries all the time. But there were several boxes, and when she opened them she realized they weren’t something she had ordered. The next day there were more — a lot more. So many that eventually UPS dispatched a freight truck with pallet loads of boxes. The contents: a thousand or more silicone brackets for face masks — per box, and she received at least 100 boxes. It took several tries to get Amazon to stop the deliveries: the retailer stopped “an additional 1,000+ boxes” that were getting ready to ship, Cannan said on Facebook. Amazon says whoever ordered them doesn’t have an Amazon account, so they don’t know who it is. But, Cannan said, “We’ve been through worse, honestly.” (RC/WIVB Buffalo) …And she didn’t tell that story?!
In the Author’s Notes I commented last week I ordered a HEPA room air purifier: we’re early in the wildfire season, but the resulting smoke from nearby blazes is still triggering breathing problems. At the same time, I ordered a box of two replacement filters. The filters supposedly arrive today. The air purifier is set to arrive Wednesday. I wonder if a “silicon face mask bracket” would let Kit and I strap filters to our faces in the meantime?
(Since I know many will ask: I bought this air purifier[*] because it is well liked by other buyers, and the replacement filters are reasonably priced. Plus, this particular model allows for remote activation; if you don’t have or want an Alexa or Google Home “smart speaker” for that, it can also be operated via a smartphone app.)
Then, I figured readers would have their own nightmare (or amusing) Tales of Amazon Antics, so Comments are open below, but of course this story begs for more details.
First, what the heck are “silicone brackets for face masks”? I found this Amazon example silicone (take a deep breath) “3D Mask Insert Turtle Mask Spacer for Easier Breathing Room, labato Mask Cage Silicone Mask Bracket Plastic Mask Inserts Face Mask Shield, Mask Frame Mouth Nose Guard Cool Mask Brace Breathe Cup” from Amazon.
A two-pack “was $8.99” the pricing says, but it’s now $6.99 — with a click-for coupon for $2 off.
But why would anyone buy them? They can’t even give ’em away!
Why would you need that? To help with “reducing oder” (of course!) for your nosel comfort.
Makes me wonder if the silicone thing adds its own oder …um, I mean odor.
Ms Cannan posted this clip of TV news coverage of her predicament:
The obvious question remains, why would anyone order 100,000+ (or, if we are to believe the numbers, and I see no reason not to, 1.1 million!) mask “cages”? Why would Amazon have that many in stock, for that matter, just for this particular model, and there are many variants!
Some sites have theorized it’s an example of “brushing,” a “victimless” scam where the manufacturer — or a shill for the manufacturer — orders a product, has it shipped to a random person, and then that shill can post a glowing review as a “verified purchaser.” That inflates the product rating, which presumably leads to more sales.
That’s against Amazon policy, of course, and if caught they can lose their Amazon Seller account.
That apparently happened recently to several well-established Amazon-sold brands, including the Aukey line of power adapters, battery banks, and such, and TaoTronics, which makes lighting (and other) products, says the site Android Police, which I skim through every week or so.
They note that Aukey and TaoTronics, among other brands being spanked by Amazon, are owned by Sunvalley Group, a Chinese manufacturer.
The Better Business Bureau says that it doesn’t cost the companies doing “brushing” anything because, “After all, they aren’t really purchasing the items, since the payment goes right back to them.”
Well, minus Amazon’s substantial cut! So it makes sense to send a million copies of the same thing to the same person …how? It doesn’t: the accusation doesn’t make sense to me. They only needed to send one for that …but then they need an account to post the review, and Amazon says whoever ordered these doesn’t have one.
So, again, why?
Only the purchaser knows. Even if the buyer is only paying 10 cents each, that’s still $100,000 plus.
What Is She Doing With Them?
Amazon told Cannan that they were delivered to her, and she now owns them — even if she didn’t order or pay for them. Well gee, that’s certainly helpful!
“We were just like ‘How can we get something positive out of this whole hilarious story?’” Cannan said. “So, my business partner and I reached out to the children’s hospitals and we decided we want to do a decorate-your-own-face mask and include the bracket in the little kit with a blank face mask and some crayons and stickers that kids can work on while they’re in the hospital.”
Cannan said on her Facebook page that Amazon and other companies have agreed to donate some of the components of such a kit to make it happen.
“I’m trying to put a positive spin on it,” she told NBC News. “I have four little kids, and I’m trying to show them how to make lemonade out of lemons, and just kind of run with it.”
My Amazon Story
I have my own frustrating “Amazon story.” I ordered a 2-pack of a heavy product, and was not surprised (because the items were heavy) that they came in separate boxes. But they also not only came from separate shippers, one of the boxes didn’t say “Amazon” on it, but rather “Walmart”! The latter’s package had obviously been previously opened.
I put in a review on Amazon to comment on this, but the review was not only rejected, but Amazon threatened that if I mentioned the shipping aspect in a review again, my account “could be” terminated.
Living in a rural area where there aren’t all that many stores, that’s a big threat. We rely on Amazon to, for instance, quickly ship technology items when there’s an equipment failure here at True’s International Headquarters.
But I heard them loud and clear — and will never review any product at Amazon ever again. Why take the risk?
– – –
Bad link? Broken image? Other problem on this page? Use the Help button lower right, and thanks.
This page is an example of my style of “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. This is True is an email newsletter that uses “weird news” as a vehicle to explore the human condition in an entertaining way. If that sounds good, click here to open a subscribe form.
To really support This is True, you’re invited to sign up for a subscription to the much-expanded “Premium” edition:
Q: Why would I want to pay more than the minimum rate?
A: To support the publication to help it thrive and stay online: this kind of support means less future need for price increases (and smaller increases when they do happen), which enables more people to upgrade. This option was requested by existing Premium subscribers.