WHEN I was a very young boy, and Bruce Forsyth was just claiming his first bus pass, I had an idea that in the future, the walls of your house would be covered in buttons. Each button corresponded to a different thing and by pressing it, the item would fall down a chute in the wall.
It was two parts e-commerce and three parts Argos. But it was all parts Amazon Dash Button. Or so I thought.
Now to be clear, this isn't the Amazon Dash - the voice and barcode reader that works very well. It's the little buttons.
Having been all excited by the idea of this embodiment of my idea, when the option to buy them came around for 99p each on Black Friday, I dived on it. I bought 20.
I'm a thrifty sod and the fact that each came with £4.99 credit seemed like a no-brainer. But now they're sitting on a shelf and I’m not sure what to do with them.
First of all, make no mistake, they don’t stick. Full stop. Now, if I feeling charitable, I might say that it was the wrong surface, or a bad batch. But no. 20 Dash Buttons. Wood, Ceramic, Plaster, Metal…. they all fall off the wall.
The next disaster was pairing. No matter what I did, my phone and router couldn’t see the flipping things. In the end, I had to turn off 5GHz on my router, program them (each one, mysteriously, only paired on exactly the third attempt) then turn the 5GHz back on and re-pair the devices that had been using it.
But here’s my real bug-bear with the Dash Button idea. Amazon controls what you can buy with it, and although there is a way to see what you can and can't buy, it involves scrolling down the page. I don't know about you but I would automatically assume that you could buy anything from that brand. The moral is buyer beware. Or at least, buyer scroll.
Example. Bog roll. Let’s be clear. There is no normal amount of loo roll. But let’s say, for example, you get through 9 rolls a fortnight, as that's a fairly normal quantity for them to come in these days.
So, in a small flat in South London, having to order 45 in a single hit, which is the minimum, is… well… impractical. Storing 9 rolls is a stretch.
I missed the restriction box and so instantly, the button is useless, unless of course I form a Credit Union of Andrex Users or to put another way, a Syndishit.
The situation repeats over and over again - kitchen roll, dishwasher tablets, bin bags, PLAY DOH(?!!) all in such obscene quantities that you would actually drown in stuff if you ordered them.
But say you do order them. Say you order 45 toilet rolls. We’ve already established that’s 10 weeks of Candy Crush time. That means you’re pressing the button…. 5 times a year. So why have a button? There's an option for 90 - that’s potentially twice a year allowing for holidays and constipation.
Essentially, all it provides is a billboard on your loo. And your kitchen, and your bathroom and your dressing table and hell, yes even by your bed - the last thing you see at night is an advert for Durex! Forget rubbing one out - that’s just rubbing it in.
But the final irony of these sodding things is the fact there are no second chances. They’re not about putting something on your shopping list, or in your basket - that’s it - click - one-day delivery - bosh - order placed.
Now you may recall that the buttons fall off the wall.
So in the process of setting up the Dash buttons, I've actually already ordered 45 loo rolls, 144 dishwasher tablets and enough baby lotion to arouse suspicion. All of it can be cancelled, of course, but it's just one more way that my utopian childhood dream has turned sour. At least I didn’t spend the £100 at full price for them.
Since this article was originally published, Amazon has asked us to point out that you're not actually charged for the product until its dispatched, and you can send it back as an accidental order. Amazon has also agreed to recall my Dash buttons to find out why they don't stick - thanks Amazon.
To be clear - you can see what your Amazon Dash Buttons would buy in advance - but beware - I was a numpty and got caught out.
Meanwhile, I am selling loo rolls at knockdown rates at a car boot sale near you soon. µ
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