Tired of getting strange, useless gifts from bizarro relatives each year? Now Amazon.com is working on an online solution to the annual holiday headache, patenting a tool to ban lousy gifts and gift-givers, and give you a head start on cashing in on bad presents before they are ever sent, reports the Washington Post. The patent would allow users to exchange gifts based on a range of criteria, such as sender or material, and offer an option of whether to inform the gift-giver of the exchange or not. You could, for example, block all gifts from slightly twisted Aunt Bessie.
Bad presents represent a real economic problem. Online retailers took in $28 billion in gift purchases this holidays, but with up to 30% of gifts returned, poor choices cost them billions. "If you can get the right gift to a person the first time, this could be a huge cost-saving invention," said a consumer technology analyst. But others disagree. "This idea totally misses the spirit of gift giving," said a spokeswoman for an etiquette institute.