Rupert Goodwin's Diary

Monday 9/7/2001It's Monday morning. Mr and Mrs Cliche are sitting down to breakfast, she pootling about with the teapot while he checks his email on the kitchen table webpad.

Monday
9/7/2001 It's Monday morning. Mr and Mrs Cliche are sitting down to breakfast, she pootling about with the teapot while he checks his email on the kitchen table webpad. Here's some promotional mail from Amazon, nicely personalised: he likes and trusts the brand, so he opens the email. "Dear Mr Cliche," it starts. "As a customer who has previously expressed an interest in items aimed at teenage girls.". "Darling?" says Mrs Cliche. "What on earth is all that about?" "Darling," says Mr Cliche. "You're pouring tea into my lap." This scene has been repeated around the country, my correspondents report, as Amazon's email targeting software goes kerblooie. It's just as well it happened over here instead of the US, where the skies would even now be dark with leather-winged lawyers preparing to drop sulphurous writs on Amazonian HQ. In fact, once my correspondents have got over the initial shock and embarrassment, they seem to be realising that "It's the computer's fault" is as powerful an excuse now as in the days of billion-quid gas bills. Incidentally, the Amazon email goes on to offer a £25 gift-wrapped makeover kit containing a digital camera and software to try on virtual girly hairstyles, makeup and so on. A number of my pals are buying it "for the camera". Yes, lads, sure.

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