Amazon’s latest idea, a cashback rewards system, gives you the chance to get some cash back on select purchases at your favorite stores. But a darker motive lurks behind the concept’s slightly lucrative veneer: data collection.
The feature, called Shopping List Savings, is now available on the Alexa app. To use it, you need to open the app before shopping, browse current offers from manufacturers and add them to your shopping list. Then you’ll shop at your favorite store (anywhere that gives you an itemized receipt), purchase those items, and then scan the receipt and product barcodes to complete the redemption of offers.
And within 24-48 hours (but possibly up to a week), your cashback will appear directly on your Amazon Gift Card, which you can then use to purchase any eligible items on Amazon. Sounds simple, right? Well, not exactly.
While you can pick up a few dollars (or cents) here and there on random purchases, this isn’t quite the deal you might want to sign up for. Why? Through this application, Amazon will freely and regularly receive extensive information not only about the purchase data of the participants, but also about the prices in these other stores.
Amazon states in the feature’s terms and conditions that “By choosing to participate in the Alexa Shopping List Savings Program, we will obtain all information you provide, including images of receipts and information we may extract from those receipts, as well as the offers you activate. You understand and acknowledge that your personal information may be shared with Amazon’s service providers. The information you provide to us will be used and shared as described in the Amazon.com Privacy Notice.
So to be clear: you’ll need to take a photo of your entire receipt each time you want to redeem one of these offers, and you’ll share it with Amazon. The company not only learns the prices of the products you’ve marked up in the app, but also any other items you’ve purchased that day. That’s more data on what other places charge for items and it’s more data about your personal shopping habits.
The company does not share any additional details on how it will handle this data, or whether it intends to anonymize the data. While there are other apps and services that provide similar benefits (and, likewise, take similar data sets), this Amazon effort is of particular concern, as Amazon makes no promises to anonymize your data or to share what he plans to do with it. . Among other things, it could help Amazon lower prices at other stores and help it build a profile about the types of things you (or people like you) tend to buy at a particular store.
It’s… a little creepy. All we can say is make sure you are ok with this trade-off before using the Shopping List Savings program.
Source: Amazon via Engadget