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Misdirection... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

One of my good friends in Switzerland is Michael Bloch, from whom I received this note:

Randi: I regularly receive recommendations from Amazon.com advertising esoteric books. They send these since I have bought books written by you!

Michael attached this recommendation that he'd received:

Dear Amazon.com Customer,

As someone who has purchased or rated "An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural" by James Randi, you might like to know that "Immortality And Our Employments Hereafter With What A Hundred Spirits, Good And Evil, Say Of Their Dwelling Place" is now available. You can order yours for just $29.95 by following the link below.

Michael complained to Amazon.com on May 10th with the following e-mail :

As a reader of books by James Randi I have received for some weeks such nonsensical "recommendations." I suspect some kind of piracy by someone who doesn't like Randi's books. Please take a look into the matter.

On the same day he got this reply:

Thank you for writing to us at Amazon.com. I'm sorry to hear you're unhappy with our recommendations service. I do understand your concern in this regard.

You can exclude certain purchases from affecting your recommendations; please visit this page for further instructions: [page given]  Your recommendations are based on the items you've purchased, items you've told us you own items you viewed while browsing our site, and items you've rated. Our software then compares your activity on our site with that of other customers to choose items that may interest you. Your recommendations will change regularly as you continue to browse, purchase, and rate items.

You can remove specific items from appearing in your recommendations by checking the "Not interested" box and then the "Refresh your recommendations" link at the bottom of the Your Recommendations page. If instead you want to stop your name from appearing on the site, and browse our store without our recommendations features present, you can accomplish this by logging out of our website.

On the Amazon.com home page, click the link that says "If you're not ___, click here." Then, leave the e-mail and password spaces blank and click the "Amazon.com" tab at the top of the page. This will remove your name and recommendations from all Amazon pages. The next time you sign in on our website, your personalized features will return. You can simply repeat the steps above to clear your name.

Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.  Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here: [given]

If not, click here: [given]

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards, Krithika N.

Amazon.com

We're Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company

Since Michael was not satisfied with this reply, he wrote another email to Amazon:

I am not at all satisfied with the reply of Krithika N. of May 10th, for (s)he didn't address the matter that someone recommends books that are obviously contrary to the interest sphere of the readers of James Randi's books. You may call it a practical joke, but as a friend of James Randi's I strongly protest his being associated with books like "Linda: Our Eyes and Her Soul: Laugh, Linda, Laugh and Bring the Face of God To You," "Immortality And Our Employments Hereafter With What A Hundred Spirits, Good And Evil, Say Of Their Dwelling Place," "The Life in Your Womb: Life in the Womb," "Sad Eyes That Glorified God" and similar literature of esoteric and spiritualistic character. I kindly ask you again to look into the matter instead of sending me a model letter that misses the point.

Then he sat back to wait, writing to me:

Now I wonder if I will get an answer. I thought that this matter might be of interest to you.

Best from Switzerland - also from Katica.

Michael

PS. Next week will be the annual GWUP meeting in Hamburg.

Thank you, Michael. This makes us even more aware of the frightening fact that book publishing is approaching ever closer to a Woo-Woo-Centric industry...!  It's now the 20th of May, and no comments from Amazon.com...

For our readers' information, "GWUP" is "Die Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Unterzsuchung von Parawissenschaften" - The Society for the Scientific Examination of Parascience - as best I can translate it. In other words, the Good Guys...!