Normally an email from Amazon telling you someone paid for a gift off your baby registry is good news — another need met, another dollar saved.
But that feeling of good cheer is predicated on two things being true: You actually are having a baby; and you actually have a baby registry on Amazon.
If, however, neither of those things are true, then the situation is somewhat less delightful and rather more menacing. Does Amazon know something you don’t? Just how predictive is that predictive AI?
Those were the questions Amazon’s customers had to ask themselves earlier this week, when many people received the customary “A gift is on its way” marketing email telling them the good news. They were sent a present from their baby registry — despite the fact that they didn’t have a baby registry.
The marketing email had a large link inviting the recipient to view their thank you list. Many were redirected to a page on which they could set up a new registry; others just saw an old-fashioned broken link. The law of averages says that at least some of these peole actually had baby registries and were presumably disappointed to note that no one had sent them anything at all.
At first, the operating theory was that this was a generic phishing email, but a little investigation into the matter quickly cleared that up. Despite the stock photo and impersonal address of “Dear Amazon Customer,” the email was actually from Amazon.
An Amazon spokesperson has since explained that the emails were the result of a technical glitch that “inadvertently send a gift alert email earlier today,” and that Amazon was alerting affected customers.
So, good news! Amazon does not know more about your reproductive status than you do. The bad news: No one sent you a present this week.