PRISM is watching you poop.
June 24, 2013 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Amazon item showed up at work and at home. Please explain to me how this happened.

I am the purchasing person at work, so regularly log into our work-only Amazon account from my work computer and buy things for the office.

This weekend, while at home, logged into my personal Amazon account, I added a book to my shopping cart (didn't buy it yet, waiting to accrue $25).

While I occasionally go onto my personal Amazon account here at work, the last time was last week on the 18th, and I logged out and back into the work account. I have NEVER logged into the work account from home (or on my phone or tablet).

So here's the thing: I go to buy something for work on Amazon today, and boom, there's the book in the cart. I figure oh, I must be logged into my own account, but I double check and no, it's the work account. HOW DID THAT BOOK GET INTO MY WORK ACCOUNT'S SHOPPING CART?

I definitely didn't even search for that book at work (Dave Barry's "Babies and Other Hazards of Sex"), and now I'm all paranoid that anything I buy at home is going to show up at work (on an account that other people log into).

And allow me to reiterate so that it's very clear: I am 100% sure I did not add this book to the work account. I am 100% sure I was logged into the proper account when I saw it in the cart. I am 100% sure I have not logged into my personal account on my work computer since adding the book to my cart this weekend.

How did this happen?
posted by phunniemee to Technology (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can't speak for Amazon, but have you logged into your personal account (perhaps on your phone) to confirm that the book was, indeed, put into that account's shopping cart?
posted by gauche at 9:33 AM on June 24, 2013


I've had this happen before. If you add something to your cart when logged in to your personal account, then log in to your work account without closing the browser/clearing the cache, sometimes stuff in your cart will carry over.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 9:34 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you are not logged into any account while shopping, your shopping cart is a temporary one not associated with any account. Then when you log into an account, your temporary cart will be merged with whatever cart is associated with the account you logged into. If you accidentally added the book at work while not logged in then later logged in to the work account, it could explain this.

Or if someone else has access to the work account, they might have done the same. The fact that it's the same book might be a coincidence. Dave Barry books are not unpopular and if there has been a baby born recently (or a pregnancy announced) another person could have been shopping for them.
posted by kindall at 9:36 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it has to do with cache and not logging out correctly.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:40 AM on June 24, 2013


Response by poster: I should be clear--this was on two different computers.

At home I logged into personal account on my home computer.

At work I logged into work account on my work computer.

I don't see how it could be a cache issue if it was on two different computers.


Highly, highly unlikely that a coworker put that book in the work account cart.
posted by phunniemee at 9:58 AM on June 24, 2013


And you've logged into your personal account, just now, and can confirm that the book is still in the cart?
posted by gauche at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2013


Response by poster: Just logged in to my person account, nothing is in the cart.

When I opened Amazon this morning, I was in the work account. I added my things, proceeded to the cart for purchase (work cc info was up at the top), and saw the book.
posted by phunniemee at 10:22 AM on June 24, 2013


Do you EVER, ever, EVER log in to your work account from your home computer?
posted by mskyle at 10:31 AM on June 24, 2013


Response by poster: Never. I honestly don't even have the password memorized. I just cut and paste it from a text file on my work desktop. heh.
posted by phunniemee at 10:37 AM on June 24, 2013


The answer is one you don't seem to want to hear. You were logged into the work account when you ordered the book.
posted by empath at 10:50 AM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Do you have any browser syncing going on?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:06 AM on June 24, 2013


Response by poster: The answer is one you don't seem to want to hear. You were logged into the work account when you ordered the book.

What the fuck? No I wasn't. empath, did YOU go into my house and secretly log it into my work account? No? Oh, were you there in my house when I put it into my cart? No? Then what do you possibly have to base this on.

The reason I am asking this question is because I know exactly what I did and it is seriously fucking weird that the book showed up in the work account's cart.

I have never logged into the work account from home. My home computer does not know anything about the work account. I put the book in the cart while at home. I am certain of this because I did it while talking about the book with my boyfriend who was on the couch next to me and confirms that we looked it up and I put it in the cart right there in front of him.

It's cool if you don't know the answer to my question. Just please take me at my word (a courtesy we extend to other AskMe questions) and assume I'm presenting you with the facts as they happened. I went over this several times in my head before posting the question, and I'm 100% sure I did not add the book to the work account.



I do not have any browser synching going on, no.
posted by phunniemee at 11:17 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I have had carts merged on Amazon before between two different computers and two different accounts.

Best I could determine was that it was a cookie issue. On your work computer, you've logged into two different accounts. On your home computer, you've logged into one of those accounts and added something to the cart. You return to your work computer, pull up Amazon and the site retrieves the cookies it has stored on your machine, this includes details about both accounts. It resolves information in those cookies to accounts in their system and sees that there are two active shopping carts against those two accounts and merges them. Tada: Book in your cart.
posted by Jacob G at 11:27 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Then what do you possibly have to base this on.

You had to have logged into the work account when you ordered the book. I don't know how you did it, but the only way a book is going to end up in that account is if you ordered it with that account. So instead of figuring out with what magic amazon used to move the book from one account to the other, you should be trying to figure out how you were logged into the work account when you ordered the book.
posted by empath at 11:35 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a side-note, you can always go to Amazon's Your Browsing History (from either account) and view/edit the history associated with that account. You obviously can't delete orders, but you can remove items from your history so they won't show up as suggested purchases around the site. That way, if you view a bunch of personal stuff, you can make sure those items don't appear in the work account's history. You can also turn off history (note that, as the page says, this setting is on a per-browser basis with a cookie, not per-account).
posted by zachlipton at 11:38 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: I went and checked the browsing history on both accounts.

The book was in the browsing history for my personal account.

The book was not in the browsing history for the work account.


I have now turned off browsing history for both accounts.


It sounds like something like what Jacob G describes is what happened here. Seems like kind of a big privacy hole. I guess now I'm just going to have to obsessively check in on the work account every morning and make sure I don't have any surprises.
posted by phunniemee at 11:51 AM on June 24, 2013


Best answer: Have you considered contacting Amazon about it? This would probably be a thing they'd consider a bug, and a not-good one at that.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 11:58 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: Good call. I sent them an email. If I get an answer back, I'll post it here.
posted by phunniemee at 12:07 PM on June 24, 2013


I figure oh, I must be logged into my own account, but I double check and no, it's the work account.

Were you logged-in, or soft-logged-in? It varies in terminology, but Amazon and some other sites use a fuzzy logic version of what is truly logged-in and what isn't. If you do not have one-click purchases available, can't see open orders, and attempting to check out forces a log-in, but you're still seeing your name at the top and some vague info (like browsing history), then you're soft-logged-in. This is the normal state the majority of the time, because Amazon wants you to be able to do all kinds of commerce-friendly actions without bothering you.

Amazon's site really has three types of users (four, if you want to include people who have disabled all cookies): browser session, soft-logged-in, and logged-in. What really seems to have happened here is the work computer confused the soft-login data between accounts and showed you the most recent shopping cart used by any account on your browser.
posted by mikeh at 2:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Amazon's live chat customer service is usually better than their email service (in my experience) and would probably be a quicker way to trace back the bug than emailing back and forth.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:41 PM on June 24, 2013


This article has your answer. Basically, advertising companies can match your work computer to your home computer based on your browsing behavior alone.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 7:13 AM on October 6, 2013


Actually, I don't know if that answers your question, but the article reminded me of it.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 7:14 AM on October 6, 2013


« Older Should we be afraid of our friends' new house?   |   Ego pain and art: advice? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.