Amazon refunded my money – when I didn’t ask for it

Amazon refunded my money today.

I had rented a throw back movie with which I was trying to impress my teenagers. Although that tactic has succeeded before, this time … not so much. What didn’t help was the pixeled movie quality, making it quite blurry at times. We also had to take a break about 10 minutes into the start to let it buffer sufficiently and it still had some issues. So, it’s not surprising I would want my money back, right?

But I didn’t ASK for my money back.

We watched the movie on a Saturday night, and Tuesday I received an email saying:

We noticed that you recently experienced poor video playback on Amazon Instant Video. We’re sorry for the inconvenience, and have issued you a refund…

While Amazon Instant Video transactions are typically not refundable, we are happy to make an exception in this case.

Wow! They refunded my money without my asking.  Amazon pioneered e-commerce in many ways, but usually it’s associated with how they anticipate what you want to buy next. This was anticipating my consumer behavior, maybe even before I did.

I didn’t think I could get a refund for a streaming video, so we slugged through watching it. It did impress upon me that I might not rent from Amazon the next time. Although I never even said that aloud, the experience had affected my future consumer behavior.

It’s all about the (customer) base

This tells me two things about Big Data and Amazon’s commanding posture in a market segment of one world.

  • Anticipating the customer’s experience isn’t just about the sale. They anticipated poor performance would linger in my decision making.
  • They predicted my action before I got to it: I wouldn’t choose Amazon the next time because of the last occurrence.

I was just thinking I needed …

If that’s not impressive enough, Amazon is going further to predict what you want – even before you order it. Amazon’s “Anticipatory Shipping” is a patent pending system of shipping goods to you before you decide to buy them.

Amazon Patent Pending for Anticipatory Shipping
Amazon Patent Pending for Anticipatory Shipping

That makes sense if you just read the first book in a series and Amazon can predict when you’re ready for the next one. Textbooks are easy targets as well. But what about all those things you run out of: toilet paper, paper towels, coffee, printer ink, cat food, OTC medicine.

What else could Amazon decide for you?

In a growing world of the Internet of Things (IoT), Amazon’s predictive analysis builds strength bit by bit, but what about services? Wouldn’t it be nice if the air conditioner repairman was waiting for you because the A/C went out while you’re at work? Or what if the cable guy had already been by because your download speed your paying to get  wasn’t there.  Heck, it would be crazy nice to have milk or eggs show up on the doorstep as well. (Wait, didn’t that used to happen?)