Spare a thought for the moneyed.
Or for those who just have to spend a lot on the latest gadgets, just to feel, well, something.
They have the right to spend their money whichever way they choose, and online shopping is there to assist them.
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I wanted to assist them too. So I tried to put myself into the minds of these more exalted types, in order to discover what happens when you ask Amazon to show you not the stuff that’s good value, but the stuff that’s pricey.
So I entered “expensive gadgets” into Amazon’s little search box and pretended money was no object. When it comes to objects of technological desire, that is.
What could Amazon conjure? The short answer to that is a trough of confusion.
But you’re not here for short answers, are you? You’re here to bathe in life’s vast options.
Please let me tell you, then, that Amazon’s idea of an expensive gadget is the “Tineco Pure One S15 Pet Smart Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, Stick Vacuum with Anti-Tangle Brush, Deep Clean for Hard Floor and Carpet, Pet Hair Cleaning with Led Headlights, Wi-Fi Connection.”
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I was instantly uplifted, of course. Who doesn’t dream of a vacuum cleaner with headlights and a Wi-Fi connection? Don’t you always do your vacuuming in the dark? I do. And all this for $499.99, the very definition of an expensive gadget.
Then I focused. This wasn’t Amazon’s actual suggestion. This was a sponsored ad “based on the product’s relevance to your search query.”
To which I query Amazon’s ability to create an advertising algorithm that has anything to do with, say, the real world.
Pricey, but on sale
I won’t dwell, however. There was so much more joy here.
Amazon’s own first suggestion was the “Unistellar eVscope eQuinox — Smart Digital Reflector Telescope — Computerized, Go to Portable Astronomy for Beginners & Advanced Users, Adults or Kids – Comes with Tripod, Alt-Az Mount and Control App.”
What a bargain this was. It was 33% off, which meant it was $1,999. Yes, definitely expensive.
Amazon was very keen that I should be tempted by a couple of $1,000 DJI drones, but I’m made of sterner stuff. I was more taken by the “Osaki Ador 3D Allure 3 Steps Zero Gravity Ergonomic SL-Track Intelligent Voice Control Calf Kneading Massage (Taupe).”
Can you imagine that someone would pay $2,999 for a voice-controlled calf massager? I think I can, even if it is taupe colored.
Amazon also tried to peddle me the “Meta Quest 2 — Advanced All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset — 128 GB Get Meta Quest 2 with GOLF+ and Space Pirate Trainer DX included.”
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The mere idea of a space pirate trainer being included by the low price of $399 was frightfully tempting. Then I realized I know no one who has one of these things and no one who’s ever expressed an interest either. I concluded this was one step from obsolete.
Asking Amazon for expensive gadgets may have twisted the algorithm’s head somewhat.
It offered the “Hiboy KS4/KS4 Pro Electric Scooter, Upgraded 500W Motor(Ver. KS4 350W), 19 MPH 25 Miles Range(Ver. KS4 17 Miles), 8″&10″ Tires Escooter, Foldable Commuting Electric Scooter for Adults(Optional Seat).” 25% off at a piffling $449.99.
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Next to it was the “Hikmicro B1L 160 x 120 IR Resolution Thermal Imaging Camera with WiFi, 25Hz Refresh Rate, 3.2″ LCD Screen, Handheld 19200 Pixels Infrared Thermal Imager with High Temperature Alarm.” Yet this was $429.
It seemed clear that Amazon’s algorithm didn’t have a fine grasp of what sort of expensive gadget might tempt me. It also didn’t have a fine grasp of the concept of expensive.
Dear, dear, dear
As my evidence may I present the fact that Amazon desperately wanted to sell me its own brands. Yes, in the middle of this search for the pricey. And none of Amazon’s wares was remotely pricey.
Sample: the “Multitool Plier — 12 in 1 Camping Plier Multitool, Professional Camping Accessories Survival Gear Outdoor Compact Multi-Tool Gadgets.” Yours for $11.99, but it’s not exactly the Gucci of gadgets, is it?
Also: This replaced my multitool gadget for a fraction of a cost
As I scrolled down, losing hope that the wealthy would find anything here that truly moved them — oh, but how do I know? The wealthy can be very strange — I was suddenly entranced by a gun-like object.
This was the “Stoeger XM1 Bullshark – .177 Caliber – Black Synthetic with Multi-Grip System and Buttstock Spacers.” Yes, I can imagine that more than one person may instantly misread those last two words in an unfortunate manner, but $479 for an airgun? Even if it does have “Olympic grade accuracy.”
I conclude, then, that Amazon still doesn’t know me. Nor does it have a sure grasp of how to entice those in the mood to spend a large wad on a fancy gadget.
I did feel the company’s algorithm got a touch desperate when, at the bottom of the search page, it suggested: “Air Fryer Cookbook for Beginners: 1500 Affordable, Quick & Easy Recipes for Delicious Homemade Meals | Tips & Tricks to Fry, Grill, Roast, and Bake.”
Affordable? The whole point of this search, Amazon, was the opposite of that.