* Based on a true story.
Once upon a time, somewhere in Middle America, lived a woman named Mary. Mary was a wife and mother, with a loving husband and three intelligent and polite children. She loved to do special things for her family, especially on holidays. Every year, she would try to get those one-of-a-kind special presents that she knew her family would love. As the variety of things available on the internet began to grow, she would occasionally look on different web sites to compare prices or see what choices were out there, but for the most part she would do her shopping locally. She liked to be able to see the thing she was purchasing, feel it, and make a decision based upon all the lovely intangibles that come with shopping in person. Every once in a while she would buy something online, but usually it was only when she had already seen the thing in a store and could be assured of what she was buying. The deciding factor always seemed to be cost – if it was significantly cheaper online, then she would get it there.
Last year at Christmas time, she made what she thought was a simple purchase. She went to a well-known, popular online retailer called “Nile”. Everyone shopped at Nile.com because they carried just about everything, from books to toys to movies to clothing – anything a person could want could be had at Nile. She figured it was safe making a purchase at Nile, since they were so well-respected and were known for their exceptional customer service. She didn’t even mind submitting the personal information Nile.com requested, like her email address. She knew they would need a certain amount of information in order to ship her purchases.
Mary was looking for a very specific item – a book – based upon a TV series her husband liked to watch. The show was on one of the cable channels and was all about a former spy who had been fired from his job. Each week the spy would help a hapless victim get deserved justice, using only his amazing spy skills and the help of two friends – his on-again-off-again pyromaniac girlfriend and a retired spy friend who used to work for a competitor spy agency. Mary’s husband, John, really liked this show and watched every episode. John had even bought the first two seasons of the show on DVD so that he could watch it again with cast commentaries and behind-the-scenes features. Well, when Mary discovered that someone had written a short novel based upon show detailing yet another case of unofficial justice, she knew that John would enjoy reading the book (and she was right).
Several months passed, and Mary did not give any thought to having purchased the book from Nile until the day she opened her email and found a new message from Nile.com. The message read as follows (this text taken verbatim from Mary’s email):
As someone who has purchased or rated Burn Notice: The Fix by Tod Goldberg, you might like to know that Curious George A Winter’s Nap (CGTV Reader) (Curious George Early Readers) will be released on August 9, 2010. You can pre-order yours by following the link below.
Now Mary was a smart woman, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not figure out what these two books could possibly have in common, other than the fact that they were books. It’s not like her toddler son had read the novel or her husband would enjoy reading Curious George as much as he had the novel. In the end, she came to the conclusion that Nile.com’s targeted marketing program had just gone haywire. She shared her observations with John. Once John quit laughing, he suggested she write about it.
So she did.
The moral to the story is “If you shop online, remember – personal service really isn’t personal.”