Amazon Ruins Christmas Even When You Ask It Not To

Reader Shane has an Amazon Wish List that he tells people to look at because he’s apparently impossible to shop for. Amazon lets you choose whether or not you’d like to be informed if something has been purchased from your list, then apparently tells you even if you asked it not to.

Shane says:

I have an Amazon Wishlist because people say I am notoriously difficult to shop for. I tell everyone that asks just to go to my Wishlist. Amazon has a setting that lets you select whether you want to spoil the surprise or not by informing you if something has been purchased – I have it set to NOT spoil the surprise, because that would be no fun.

However, twice now, while updating my Wishlist – when I go in to add a comment or priority to a particular item on my Wishlist, I get this message:

“Alert! We’re not revealing your Quantity Received because some items may have been purchased for you as a gift.”

Really Amazon? I apparently now know what 2 of my Christmas presents are, and not only does that make me mad, it makes me feel guilty for those persons who purchased a gift for me, thinking it would be a surprise, only to have Amazon tell me it was purchased.

Has Amazon ruined your Christmas this year?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Skipweasel says:

    I’m sure it’s annoying but it’s a long way from ruining anything much at all.

  2. killest says:

    @ least you have somebody buying you presents…
    please stop your whining, OP…

    • pop top says:

      It seems like the “flag for review” button isn’t working again… :(

    • katstermonster says:

      You’re completely missing the point of this website. I suggest you find another one to peruse. I hear Perez Hilton is a popular choice.

      • supercereal says:

        Realistically, complaining and overreacting about completely minute situations, most of which could have easily avoided with effort and foresight is exactly what this site is all about…

    • Naame says:

      What we have here is a company offering a service containing features which are not working as intended. Why is complaining about such a thing not merited?

    • Chinchillazilla says:

      I’m sorry that your friends don’t love you.

  3. hoi-polloi says:

    The only solution is to send these now-spoiled gifts to eBay beggars. At least make their holidays happy!

  4. Etoiles says:

    I got the same alert, heh. Wondered if anyone at Amazon was even thinking when they programmed that one.

    Still, I won’t complain. Now I know I’m getting the Blu-Ray of “Up” and anyway, I’m terrible at waiting for surprises, I always end up peeking anyway. ;)

  5. MDSasquatch says:

    If your Christmas is nothing more than gifts, then it was never “not ruined”

  6. Tiaris says:

    Are you sure it isn’t just a generic message about ALL quantities, not just those for the specific item you are modifying? I normally get that message in general, not for something specific.

    • Tiaris says:

      Also, may I recommend that the title of this article be “Amazon spoils surprise of Chrismas Even when…” instead of the “ruins Christmas” one? More accurate and appropriate.

      • katstermonster says:

        What’s wrong with a little joking and hyperbole on a Monday morning? Seriously.

      • Tiaris says:

        The pressure-burst water pipe that flooded the downstairs of my apartment at 4am took all the joke and hyperbole straight out of me today =P

        • katstermonster says:

          Ooooh ouch. I just took a nap in hammock in a closet (I’m a grad student, we do this sort of thing), so I’m feeling rather chipper.

    • bubbledumpster says:

      Yeah, I noticed this too, so I clicked through a couple of things to see if the alert showed up on all of them.

      Nope, the message is only there on items that have been purchased, the quantity box is still there on all the rest.

  7. Shoelace says:

    Well, if Amazon is going to provide the option to customers to not be informed then they should not inform the customer if the option has been selected. Seems pretty straightforward to me…

  8. ElizabethD says:

    So, stop going back into your list to tweak it until after Christmas. Problem solved.

    • katstermonster says:

      Right, because every time a company screws up, we should just find a work-around, rather than asking them to actually fix it. Awesome.

      • pop top says:

        Look, if your baby keeps get choked by its crib, then maybe you need to bolt it down better or something.

      • Dyscord says:

        While it would be nice if they would code this feature better, to say that it “ruined Christmas” is just stupid.

        I always have a fairly good idea of what I get for christmas. This year I know just about everything that I’m getting. I would say that knowing what your getting for christmas in no way ruins it for you. Unless all you care about are presents.

  9. temporaryscars says:

    I ruined my own by spying on the ebay pages of loved ones. The suspense is too much for me.

  10. t0ph says:
  11. Rayon Fog says:

    Grinch. I don’t see how that’s ruined anything.

    Here’s an idea – don’t check your wish list until after the holidays. You can add items to your wish list without seeing the actual list.

    Oh, but OP needs to set priorities in the wishlist? That’s seems petty to me.

    • bubbledumpster says:

      sometimes it’s necessary to change quantity or add a little note about sizing/color/etc.

      for example, i put a new camera on my list. i’m a photography student, so when the camera i have broke, i needed to go in and change the priority to high and leave a note explaining why.

      and now i know, the camera hasn’t been purchased.

  12. lehrdude says:

    This might just be my first “DEAL WITH IT” post…Sorry, but the moral of the story is: Don’t check your wish list during the holiday season. …I guess this advice should apply to birthdays as well so someone doesn’t say that Amazon ruined their birthday in a few months…

    • katstermonster says:

      This may just be my first “GO AWAY” post.

      Amazon supplies a feature that allegedly will keep your surprise from being ruined. It doesn’t work. That’s a legitimate complaint. They should either fix it or take the option out. If we never required retailers to stand behind the promises they made….wow, that’s a slippery slope.

      • coren says:

        It does work, the system isn’t a “don’t modify stuff” system, it’s a “we’ll hide what was bought for you” thing. Modifying messes with the system as it’s intended to be used, I think

  13. t0ph says:

    Stop trying to micro-manage Christmas, man!

  14. SunnyLea says:

    Well, it’s only something of a surprise anyway, since you asked for the item and all.

    Luckily, I haven’t had this particular bug come up. Of course, I usually stop tweaking my wishlist at the end of November anyway. I’m never sure if the “hide” feature will work in time for Hanukkah.

  15. HannahK says:

    I have purchased things for my brother off of his Amazon wishlist before, but I always just take my ideas from his list, and then buy it independently, either through Amazon or from another store. Amazon is a cluttered mess, and I was never sure how the notifications to the receiver of the gift worked, so I just avoided it. I’m not really interested in tracking which gifts have been bought for me, so I only use my own Amazon wishlist to avoid making impulse buys. But if if someone ever came across it and used it for gift ideas, I would hope they would do the same thing, so the surprise isn’t spoiled!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Unless you brother only gives you the list, there would be some problems. I hate it when people buy things off the registry but it’s not marked as being purchased – that just means that I could potentially get two or three of something.

    • johnperkins21 says:

      This is a terrible idea, especially if you don’t pay attention to the specific version of a gift. My mom did this last year for my wife. She saw that the movie Home Alone was on her wishlist, so she went out and bought the Home Alone 4-pack, thinking 4 movies is better than one. Dismissing the fact that the last two are terrible, she completely missed that my wife was interested in the specific version she asked for, as it came with quite a few extras that she wanted to see. Luckily someone else purchased it off of her Amazon wishlist and got her the right version, but sometimes there are specific versions of products put on the wishlist after careful consideration of all the options.

  16. Brian D says:

    Just to be sure, does it only “alert” you about quantities for some items (i.e. ones that were purchased already), or for all? I don’t have anything purchased from mine (and frankly could give a crap about having it “revealed” 10 days early), otherwise I’d check it out myself.

  17. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    I’m so sick of these comments saying if your Christmas is nothing but gifts, then you don’t know the true meaning of Christmas, your christmas has been ruined from the start if you feel it’s ruined… Just because people don’t celebrate the way YOU do doesn’t mean their way is wrong. Shut up.

    I don’t see anywhere in the OP’s statement that he claimed it ruined his Christmas. He only said that the program had a glitch, and unfortunately he was alerted that items were bought and he didn’t want to know. Wow, he informed other people who use of a glitch that others might like to know about.

    So, to the useless commenters who are commenting on the holiday and not the article, once again, shut up.

    • Tiaris says:

      Ok, yer vitrol just surpassed my own. Deep breath, hon. Deep breath.

    • pop top says:

      I am totally friending you just for this rant. :)

    • jesusofcool says:

      Your angry writing obscures your point. I’ve done it before too when I’ve felt passionate about something, but do try to keep it in line
      Your anger clearly stems from those who did not, in your opinion, adequately sympathize with your post about your cousin’s target fiasco. I actually kind of found it irritating that you found the need to respond to each of those commenters and shame them for their opposing viewpoint. Whether you agree or not, when you send something in I think you invite all discussion from commenters, even uncessarily critical ones.
      I have to say, I see the point of both sides. The reality is that presents are an important part of Christmas at this point and they’re one way to show people you care. On the other hand, I do object to the sensationalist language in these posts, especially by Consumerist writers. “Amazon Ruins Christmas” makes for a great screaming headline, but when it’s used to describe a problem which is in this case pretty mundane (it’s not like he knows who’s getting him what and he asked for it in the first place so it wasn’t going to be a total surprise), it seems like off-putting sensationalism

      • Taliskan says:

        Agreed. The sensationalism of the headlines or some of the comments in the posts by the writers the past couple of months have been unusually high. It has put me off to reading the Consumerist as often as I once did. Though, I suppose this is what happens when you grow explosively popular so quickly. Hopefully our kind writers will realize this and begin to tone down.

      • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

        I agree with you, I did get out of hand responding to people about my cousin. But, on another level- most people were making derogatory comments about her way of celebrating the holidays or choice of toy for her children. Going completely off base of the topic. It aggravates me, and I need to tone it down, completely agree. (-1 to Verucalise, +1 to Jesusofcool)

        It’s been there for a while, watching fellow commenters shame others and I just exploded when it happened to my cousin. It’s just getting out of hand in my mind. No one should feel bad because of the way they celebrate a holiday, or a decision they make regarding a purchase. It’s all over the place, and it’s one thing to have an opinion and express it but we aren’t here to put people down. We are here to inform, to help, to give advice, or generally share personal experiences. Once I start reading comments outright blaming the OP, or just basically calling them stupid, bad people, ETC… I get angry.

        This site has gone a bad route. But thank you for your CONSTRUCTIVE criticism… your comment was appreciated, I just felt the need to offload.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      If I weren’t already “following” you here, I’d totally start.

    • Chinchillazilla says:

      Thank you! Christmas is about family for me, and yes, that’s my favorite part. I love Christmas. Presents are secondary.

      But that doesn’t mean I want to know what I’m getting beforehand! I like surprises (and even if it’s on a wishlist, it might be a surprise for me – I have stuff on my wishlist I’ve totally forgotten about).

  18. bgrigson says:

    There is a bug, I assume, between the Amazon iPhone app and the Amazon website. If you look at your wish list on iPhone app you will see only the items that have not been purchased. So say you put 20 items in your wish list and 10 were purchased. The iPhone app will only show you the 10 that haven’t been purchased.

    I don’t think the quantities bug is as big of a deal unless you asked several of just one or two items. No matter what you can still deduce what was purchased. There system is not foolproof.

  19. NotYou007 says:

    My winter soltice is ruined because I cannot read the damn comments 90% of the time.

  20. friday3 says:

    The whole purpose of a wishlist is to show people what you want AND to not have 20 people buy you the same thing. If you are registered fro a wedding the same thing happens. Deal with it

  21. Admiral Byrd says:

    It looks to me like they are doing what they’re supposed to: they aren’t removing items from the list when purchased because you don’t want to know.
    What a complete and total overreaction. “I apparently now know what 2 of my Christmas presents are..” You APPARENTLY know. OMG. Amazon didn’t say “You can’t update this because someone already purchsed it for you.” So, no you don’t know. All you know is that now that the holiday shopping season is in full swing, Amazon will not be updating/removing items from your list when purchased because…you asked them not to!

    Hopefully your friends and relatives can successfully fulfill the criteria on your overly detailed and extensive wishlist so that Christmas can be saved.

  22. Andrew360 says:

    You need to designate a wish-list proxy who will update everything for you.

  23. FatLynn says:

    You could solve this problem by just having people buy you gift cards.

  24. deucer says:

    Amazon did ruin my Christmas as well. I ordered a present for my girlfriend (who lives with me) and had it shipped to our apartment. Normally Amazon ships things in anonymous brown boxes. Not this time. She found out what it was when UPS delivered it to the door. Thanks Amazon.

  25. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Ok, I fail to see why, if you have a Wish List, and you have DIRECTED people to buy your presents from it, that it would spoil Christmas. Don’t you already know what’s on your list? Can’t you assume that all your presents are going to be things you have already picked out, and thus know what they are?

    And don’t they send you an email to inform you? Why not just delete it without reading it?

  26. TheDude06 says:

    please buy me this exact thing, but i want it to be a surprise!

    i dont get it… i dont get the surprise, the wish-list. awful lot of self-imposed restrictions

    • chocolate1234 says:

      I’m a big fan of them personally. My family has done them for years. Sometimes I hate putting one together because I can’t think of anything (and it’s hard for me to ask for things), but overall, they have their purpose. I make an effort to come up with ideas on my own (as do most of my family members), but it’s nice to have the list to look at if I’m at a complete loss. If I really don’t have any idea what someone would want, I’d rather my money went toward something they will actually use.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        We do wishlists, though I don’t use Amazon exclusively. I compile a wishlist of things that I need and I send that to family members who ask for a wishlist. It’s precisely because even though I would like a digital food scale, they are not created equally, and I have done research to figure out what model I would like. And no one can remember all of the books I want, so I have a list for that as well.

  27. chocolate1234 says:

    I’m confused by the OP’s statement. Is he getting this message simply when he logs into his wish list, or is this popping up when he clicks on specific items? If it’s just popping up when he logs into his list, I don’t think it’s a big deal at all.

    Has he tried contacting Amazon? They have great customer service, and might be open to fixing this issue in the future if it’s brought up to them. In the meantime, just email everybody a list to avoid the hassle.

  28. JohnQPublic says:

    How old is the OP? Five years old? My suggestion: grow TFU.

    • Chinchillazilla says:


    • treimel says:

      So … expecting Amazon’s features to actually work so that they fulfill their purpose is the mark of a five-year-old.? Good to know; I always enjoyed finger-painting and it’s heartening to know it’s age-appropriate again.

  29. emis says:

    Go f*ck yourself Shane… if this “ruins” your Christmas then you’re whining bastard. People are dying around the world from war, starvation and disease… and you’re mad that you have prior knowledge of a gift that someone is giving you?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Based on your logic this entire site shouldn’t exist.

      • treimel says:

        I’ve noticed in posts that contain an expletive directed at the OP within the first three words, logic is generally in short supply. Sure enough, I’m not disappointed.

  30. knitterwockey says:

    Amazon sort of ruined my Christmas surprise as well. My boyfriend ordered me a kitchen aid stand mixer as my present and when it was delivered by the UPS man (or Fexex, whichever Amazon uses) it was just in it’s box. No brown shipping box at all for this. There were several problems with this. 1.) If we hadn’t been home on our lunch break in the middle of the day when it was delivered then a clearly labeled kitchen aid stand mixer would’ve been left on the front porch for anybody to see (and take). 2.) There was no way for me not to know what I was getting as I always get home before my boyfriend so I would’ve been the one to find the box. I don’t really care that I know since I’m always shaking packages and trying to figure out my gifts anyway (and dude! I’m getting a kitchenaid! I’m still stoked!) , but my boyfriend is big on surprises and was really bummed out that this one got ruined. So WTF amazon? Where’s the shipping box?

  31. calquist says:

    I’m having issues with Amazon showing my recent searches. After I did my shopping I made sure to click on tons of wood burning stoves and top hats so that the real gifts would not show as previously viewed items.

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      Brilliant. The “previously viewed” list is how my hubby found out what he was getting for his b-day once – – I didn’t think about it at the time. I wish I had used your strategy. Although he may have been disappointed that he didn’t really get a top hat.

    • seangrimm says:

      I don’t know if it is a relatively new feature but there is a Your Browsing History page where you can just hit a button to delete your recently browsed items, or turn it off completely so it won’t remember what you look at in the future.

  32. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I have an Amazon Wishlist because people say I am notoriously difficult to shop for.

    If the OP is such a horrible person for having a wishlist then aren’t his friends horrible people for needing him to create one?

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      i think you may have missed the point of everyone’s comments regarding that

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        As far as I can tell the point was that the OP is evil for for complaining that a service offered by a company doesn’t work correctly, despite the fact that many of the articles on the site are complaints about a service not working correctly, because it has to do with presents.

  33. johnperkins21 says:

    The surprise wasn’t even ruined, it just came earlier than expected.

    I never understood people who say “you ruined the surprise.” It’s impossible to ruin a surprise, you can really only change the date and time in which it happens.

  34. Kuchen says:

    I guess I don’t know how this feature could be made better. Yeah, it could let you add comments, etc. to items that have already been purchased, but those items aren’t going to show up when other people view your wish list, so no one is ever going to see the comments. Or it could not let you modify anything that’s already on your wish list after a certain point, but that would be annoying if you really did need to modify something. Sometimes, there is no perfect solution.

    • bubbledumpster says:

      All they would need to do is show the “We’re not revealing your Quantity Received” alert on ALL items, instead of only showing it on the items that have been purchased.

      Simple solution.

  35. Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

    I hope they fix this feature, because then I’d use it next year or for my birthday. My husbands family is really big on wish lists. We actually had a deadline for this year’s Christmas list. I went over to his grandma’s house for a visit two months ago, and my mother-in-law immediately banished me to the basement until I came up with a list. I printed it as fast as I could, and I have no idea what I wrote down, so I’m sure that my presents will be very interesting this year.

  36. NotYou007 says:


  37. cupcake_ninja says:

    Same exact thing happened to my husband. He sent me a link to a couple of things on his wish list, I bought them, and behold, Amazon told him that someone got those items for him. They were supposed to be his Christmas presents. Needless to say, neither of us were too thrilled with that “feature.” At least now we know. When you look at someone’s Wishlist and you see something you want to get, do a search for it separately before you buy it so it’s not linked to the list and ruin the surprise.

    • cupcake_ninja says:

      Basically, you just have to treat the Amazon Wishlist like a registry because that’s what it is. I think they should do a better job at explaining that rather than let people think it actually works like a wish list.

  38. dianebrat says:

    I noticed this too, in the past Amazon had a great feature that would be sure to not tell you or show you any changes in your wish list, this year that option is gone.

  39. NotYou007 says:

    Will the comments show up this time?

  40. krunk4ever says:

    I’m curious if Shane would be willing to have multiples of the same presents.

    I’m not sure if Amazon already does this, but what would be cool is if only show items that haven’t been purchased yet from the wishlist to other users, but for Shane, show everything if he’s logged in as Shane.

    That way, you can modify the heck out of all your wishlist and not know when an item has been purchased, but would also prevent receiving duplicate gifts.

  41. nakkypoo says:

    OP is arrogant and self-centered. He should tell people to stop buying him gifts, since obviously by buying him gifts they are RUINING HIS CHRISTMAS!

  42. seangrimm says:

    Ha, damn it is true. I just went to check myself but clicked on something minor. I didn’t quite understand what the OP was describing, but when you click on “Add comments, quantity & priority” it will alert you it won’t be showing quantity received. You can complain to Amazon so maybe in the future they change the alerting process, but obviously the workaround is just to fine tune your list BEFORE giving it out to everyone. When it comes down to it though, its not ruining much of surprise seeing as how you made the list yourself, and know the things on it…

  43. NarcolepticGirl says:

    my sister bought me two items from my wishlist and i didn’t get that message nor did the items disappear.
    i also op is overreacting a little bit… i mean, seriously… i know this is a consumerist website and there was an issue with a site… but ruining christmas? a lot of people are in a hell of a worse shape then MAYBE finding out about two gifts they are receiving.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      oh. i also didn’t “need” to go in to specific items and edit them, though. maybe thats why i didn’t see that message.

  44. pharmacyfires says:

    This happened to me too.

  45. teke367 says:

    Does this happen every time? Perhaps if you were to update an item that wasn’t purchased you’d still get the message, or perhaps its entirely random.

    Also, the OP never said ruined, that’s just the headline, give them a little bit of a break. Regardless of how important gifts may or may not be to you, it would be frustrating for a webpage to do something you explicity asked it not to.

    • bubbledumpster says:

      No, it doesn’t. If it did it wouldn’t be broken, which just makes it more mind-numbingly stupid that it’s broken in this manner.

  46. tackett says:

    Ruined Christmas? Please. RUINED?

    Consumerist, some days I just hate your headlines.

    You sound lame, whiny and bitchy.