back to article Germany has a problem with the entire point of Amazon's daft Dash buttons – and bans them

Germany has banned Amazon's tap-to-order-a-thing Dash buttons, with a court deciding they break ecommerce laws. The small rectangular button allows Amazon customers to instantly order a specific product by simply pressing it – something that sounds incredibly stupid (and is) but which some people like and Amazon loves because …

  1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    That does seem kind of shady...

    I wouldn't want to order something based on a certain price, and then find out that the price has gone up when I am actually charged for it. I would guess that the button might also vary delivery dates too, if it is determining that a price has expired and that a new price is in place. A lot of stuff I buy online is stuff I want by specific dates, because they are gifts or I plan on using the item on a trip I have coming up. The value of the item drops siginificantly for me if it has not arrived when I expect it.

    Then again, I order stuff from Amazon once or twice a year, so I am not really in their target market.

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: That does seem kind of shady...

      The buttons are usually for staple items that you buy all the time, not for special one off purchases - the boring household stuff. Not that I would ever use the buttons. I think its a silly idea. The only time I can think of where it would be useful is when I'm snowed in again and cannot get to the shops. But if I can't get out then they likely can't get in. I'll Pass.

      1. vir

        Re: That does seem kind of shady...

        Isn't the solution to this just to have the dash button only order a product if the price is the same or lower than the price it was when you first used the button?

        1. Screwed

          Re: That does seem kind of shady...

          No, it's really not much of an answer.

          It puts Amazon in the position where they have no incentive ever to reduce the price of anything orderable by button. If bog rolls generally drop by 50% across the market, Amazon would be far better off selling the original product at the original price for button orders, and listing the same product under another listing at a more competitive price for human orders.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: If bog rolls generally drop by 50%

            ADVANCED WARNING of the use of the "B" word. Scroll to the next comment now to avoid offense.

            ---

            In the event of a no-deal Brexit Persona might be able to auction his roll of Izal off at a considerable premium.

            https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-46865944/could-no-deal-brexit-lead-to-loo-roll-logjam

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That does seem kind of shady...

        "The buttons are usually for staple items that you buy all the time"

        That's why I'm continually impressed by Amazon's AI suggesting via my Amazon home page that the Dash buttons that I need are for Coffee beans, Printer ink and Talisker Whisky!

        1. Aremmes

          Re: That does seem kind of shady...

          "... the Dash buttons that I need are for Coffee beans, Printer ink and Talisker Whisky!"

          Sounds like a cocktail for bitter journalists.

          1. Mongrel

            Re: That does seem kind of shady...

            Sounds like a cocktail for bitter journalists.

            Actually, "Bitter Journalist" sounds like the cocktail.

            Start with a large slug of Talisker in your battered El Reg mug then fill with the cheapest filter coffee because that's all work will spring for. Stir with a leaky pen and serve, splashing some on desk is traditional as libation to the circulation gods

            1. Joe W
              Pint

              Re: That does seem kind of sha/n/dy

              F'ing brilliant.

      3. pogul

        Re: RE: Topperfalkon

        > The only time I can think of where it would be useful is when I'm snowed in again and cannot get to the shops.

        More useful than the smartphone or PC that you've almost certainly been snowed in with?

      4. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: That does seem kind of shady...

        You can still use your computer or phone. The dash buttons don’t work without an internet connection, so if the electricity is off, they won’t work.

        Besides, if you can’t get out due to the weather, how is the delivery driver going to reach you?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That does seem kind of dodgy...

          "if you can’t get out due to the weather, how is the delivery driver going to reach you?"

          Who needs a delivery driver when Amazon already has dozens of cargo aircraft on lease and Amazon Logistics will soon have access to fleets of outsourced drones?

          1. Tromos

            Who needs a delivery driver?

            Amazon do. To get the cargo from the aircraft to the fleet of drones that aren't allowed anywhere near an airport.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Who needs a delivery driver?

              "the fleet of drones that aren't allowed anywhere near an airport."

              These won't be just any drones. They'll be Amazon Prime drones. Innovative, disruptive, authorized. Market-leading, corporately profitable and yet also untaxable. Webscale too.

              https://www.commercialdroneprofessional.com/amazon-opens-manchester-office-as-part-of-prime-air-expansion/

              (yes it's Manchester in NW England, not one of the many Manchesters in the USA).

              https://www.operationzenith.com/manchester-airport/

              https://www.operationzenith.com/delivery-partners/

              Brought to you in cooperation with DJI (you know who they are, right?), NATS (aka National Air Traffic Services), NPAS (National Police Air Service), Vodafone, the "Transport Systems Catapult"(!), and various others including the University of Manchester.

              Wtf ?

              Wtff?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Who needs a delivery driver?

                so, them drone sightings near Gatwick and Heathrow were not just a mirage, they were real, disruptive amazon drones!

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Who needs a delivery driver?

              "To get the cargo from the aircraft to the fleet of drones that aren't allowed anywhere near an airport."

              Cut out the drones. Parachute drop.

      5. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re:The buttons are usually for staple items

        That's maybe where the idea came from: The Staples "That Was Easy" button.

        For "emergency" ordering they would need a "Dot" button as well. If it's life and death you would press the Dot button three times, the Dash button three times, then the Dot button again another three times.

        1. tomban

          Re: Re:The buttons are usually for staple items

          You could use different combinations of dots and dashes to resemble different letters; A code of sorts.

  2. doublelayer Silver badge

    A simple idea

    Instead of trying to sell people on physical buttons, which are* crazy, give far too little information, and prone to all sorts of hardware problems like running out of power, becoming disconnected from their connection, or being pressed thirty times by the young child your child brought over to play, why doesn't Amazon implement software reorder buttons. If you want to reorder something in the Amazon app, you have to go to the menu, go through your previous orders, find the relevant order, and reorder the item therein that you want. The web is even slower. They could probably create a convenient page that lets users set up one-click reorder buttons, which would be free for them and really convenient to customers. It should take Amazon devs all of a week or two to implement that**.

    *Wait. People are buying these? As in paying money for them? Not being given them for free if they ask? Even despite all the problems I mentioned, and the 98% of other problems I didn't mention? Either I'm going insane, or they already got there.

    **Given that they already have the order system in place for the physical buttons, they could probably tie some UI elements to that and implement these software buttons in one day if they thought of it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A simple idea

      Wait. People are buying these? As in paying money for them?

      I couldn't say. But bear in mind that in a lot of fields (energy, insurance, estate agents and many others come to mind), people HAVE to purchase, but really, REALLY don't want to have anything to do with the vendor. Amazon Dash buttons offer a straightforward way of avoiding this contact for regular purchases (so maybe not estate agents).

      Not for me, not for you, but don't be too keen to dismiss the concept.

    2. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: A simple idea

      RE: "Wait. People are buying these?"

      You buy the button, and the cost is refunded on your first purchase. It's right there in the article.

      You stick the button on your fridge, or stash box, and find the milk is out, or your hash cookies*** are all eaten, then you click the handy button and just sit back in your comfy chair and wait a couple of days for delivery. No need to click to Amazon.com. Awesome!

      *** Hash cookies - the all in one solution for the gigglies/munchies!

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: A simple idea

        "Bear in mind that in a lot of fields [...], people HAVE to purchase, but really, REALLY don't want to have anything to do with the vendor. Amazon Dash buttons offer a straightforward way of avoiding this contact for regular purchases."

        That could be done equally easily through normal Amazon use, no physical buttons required. I use Amazon and other online shopping systems, but I don't need a button that has the issues I mentioned previously to interact with those systems.

        "You buy the button, and the cost is refunded on your first purchase. It's right there in the article."

        I know; I read the article. I was expressing incredulity about that concept. I previously thought that Amazon would give these away with the knowledge that people would buy things more often if they had them. I was surprised to hear that customers were willing to pay money for the button itself, perhaps because I wouldn't want one at all. If they're willing to do that, it's entirely logical for Amazon to sell them. I just find the facts described in the article to be surprising.

        1. brotherelf

          Re: A simple idea

          They do this f*cking sh*t already. For several months, my Amazon page has been cluttered with automatically-filled "virtual dash buttons" based on my orders (like the jar of mincemeat I ordered two years ago, or the pill cutter knife I bought for my parents), and only a very well-hidden way of changing these assignments.

          It's still there, under "your dash buttons", but for a while, it was either on "your amazon" or even the homepage.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A simple idea

          "I was expressing incredulity about that concept. I previously thought that Amazon would give these away with the knowledge that people would buy things more often if they had them."

          Probably because they are (or at least were - don't know if it's the case now) reprogrammable, and didn't want people grabbing a big box of free ones, and using them for something else (e.g. we were looking into attaching one to each printer, and have them submit an "I'm out of paper/toner" support ticket when pressed, because people are too lazy to pick up the phone/keyboard, but might smack a button if it's right there).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A simple idea

            them submit an "I'm out of paper/toner" support ticket when pressed,

            What about the Time to Penis Factor, or: How long will it be before reprogrammed to "An inflatable Ken Doll and 10 pounds of Vaseline"?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: A simple idea

        "find the milk is out,... wait a couple of days for delivery."

        Out of milk? Wait a couple of days? I'd go be sent to the shop to get it today.

    3. Someone Else Silver badge

      @doublelayer -- Re: A simple idea

      **Given that they already have the order system in place for the physical buttons, they could probably tie some UI elements to that and implement these software buttons in one day if they thought of it.

      Dude, these are web programmers. Separation of concerns? Loose coupling? Interface segregation? Dependency inversion? Yeah, they've heard of it...well, maybe some of them have...or not.

      1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

        Re: @doublelayer -- A simple idea

        And isn't Amazon's web front end pure C++ that dates back to the mid 90s or something like that?

        I mean, I remember writing C++ for the web in the mid 90s and it was not a lot of fun...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dude, these are web programmers.

        Funny fact. Where I work there are no actual Web Developers, just a bunch of C# devs who are great at back end stuff and fat clients but fail spectacularly and repeatedly when asked to do any web work.

        They produce the stuff that has no separation of concerns, IOC or any SOLID principles, but only in the browser. Their Javascript and Typescript is appalling and would never pass the reviews they give their own C# code.

        So I think you're very wrong to think that the people producing shit web tech are "web programmers". In my experience they're not web developers at all. That's the problem.

      3. Pirate Dave
        Pirate

        Re: @doublelayer -- A simple idea

        "web programmers"

        Like the 20 year-olds who think those of us in our fifties can still remember who our favorite 3rd Grade teacher was, or what our Grandfather's favorite color of necktie was, or who our "best friend" was in 8th Grade, or what we had for lunch on the third Thursday of September in the 10th Grade? Those little annoying bastards who seem to be writing all of the "Secret Questions" that websites use nowadays to prove you are you. For them it was only 5 years ago or so, but for the rest of us, it's measured in decades. Hey, Skippy, I don't remember whether my middle-school Principal parted his hair to the left or the right, nor do I remember what my favorite song was in 1981. And why do the questions mostly seem to be about "opinions" - Best or Favorite? Why not stick to facts - mother's maiden name, mother or father's birthday, anniversary, number of siblings, etc. Those things don't change and DIDN'T REQUIRE ME TO REGISTER AN OPINION OF THEM AT THE TIME.

        Sorry, old man getting cranky here...

        1. DJSpuddyLizard

          Re: @doublelayer -- A simple idea

          Those little annoying bastards who seem to be writing all of the "Secret Questions" that websites use nowadays to prove you are you

          And some of them are case-sensitive, just to make it harder. Was it McKenzie or Mckenzie or did I type mckenzie ?

        2. fajensen Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: @doublelayer -- A simple idea

          Why not stick to facts -

          Because - Why?

          Those "Secret Answers" are just strings, hopefully hashed strings but .... hehehe. The Computer at the other end doesn't know that something more memorable like, say, a limerick about "Boris Johnson and Sheep Abuse" is not the actual answer to who my "Best friend in 3'rd grade" was.

          On the Internet, that place where everything is tracked, recorded, to be kept forever, then splurged all over BitBucket (and The SUN if it's good stuff), Deniability is crucial. One must simply lie about every bit of personal information given whenever one signs up for something!

          1. Pirate Dave
            Pirate

            Re: @doublelayer -- A simple idea

            "a limerick about "Boris Johnson and Sheep Abuse" is not the actual answer to who my "Best friend in 3'rd grade" was."

            I don't disagree, but the problem comes 3-5 years later when I've forgotten the password to the site, and have to remember which pile of steaming dung I used for my BS answers so's I can get the password reset, or "authorize" my login on another computer, etc. That's when the "made up" answers come back to bite me in the behind. And if I had sat and thought out a "real" answer, well, in three years, would I still choose the same real answer for something that I only vaguely remember from 35 years ago?

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: @doublelayer -- A simple idea

              "he problem comes 3-5 years later when I've forgotten the password to the site"

              For that there's KeePassX.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: @doublelayer -- A simple idea

          "Why not stick to facts - mother's maiden name, mother or father's birthday, anniversary, number of siblings, etc. Those things don't change..."

          ... and can be researched.

          1. Pirate Dave
            Pirate

            Re: @doublelayer -- A simple idea

            "... and can be researched."

            True, Google has made that relatively easy. But at the same time, Facebook et al, have made "my favorite things" not that much harder to data-mine. And really, if someone were to cold call and ask my favorite color or my favorite cake flavor, I'd be less suspicious than if someone called and asked my Mother's maiden name. So why are these companies putting their trust into info that we don't consider "confidential"?

    4. VikiAi Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: A simple idea

      I was thinking just that. A custom page/app. Drag-and-drop button widgets for what you regularly order onto it. The buttons display real-time price, availability, ETA (even let you track the most recent order's location in the delivery system!).

      You can even put the page as default for your Amazon 'smart' fridge. (Or your phone/PC if you are one of the somewhat rare modern humans that is smarter than the average fridge.) On on your old/spare smart phone hanging inside the pantry door if you absolutely must have a button to push physically installed somewhere!

      Easier, cheaper, fairer, generates less e-waste land-fill. (I think the third in that list may be the kicker).

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    amazon are abusive, do not use.

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Damn! I can't use Microsoft, Amazon, Walmart, Comcast, Google, Apple, etc, etc...Is there a list somewhere of evil companies? Is there a FOSS grocery in my area? Can I eat grass in my own garden? Wait, no...someone called me evil last week...

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        I don’t know your area, but I have a community food cooperative nearish by which is run by a not for profit company. I’ve never visited, but they mostly seem to sell rabbit food.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "but they mostly seem to sell rabbit food."

          Too many little bones.

          Oh, I see what you mean.

          1. Timmy B Silver badge

            "Too many little bones."

            I prefer to just section out the rear legs and loins - jrt gets the rest. No bones then. Easy to prepare too.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              "I prefer to just section out the rear legs and loins"

              Back in my University days my hall of residence kitchen had a firm rule that once a year they would serve rabbit stew which consisted mostly of ribs and vertebrae. It was over 50 years ago but the memory cannot be erased. Their termly offering of alleged macaroni cheese was another thing I'd prefer to forget but can't

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        The list would be shorter if it were "non-evil" companies.

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Sure, give the establishment a list of companies it hasn't successfully corrupted yet. That could never go wrong.

      3. Mage Silver badge
        Devil

        Look at List of mergers and acquisitions by <insert name> or some similar phrase.

        mergers and acquisitions by Amazon

        Jeff Bezos has only 16% even before divorce. So expect the board/Shareholders to ditch him if the Governments and Regulators decide Amazon is a problem. They are.

        See also Google and Facebook.

        MS would be no issue if developers of business software didn't give MS Windows a monopoly. Perhaps the time has come to say that if your sales of business critical SW are over X millions you have to support this list of OSes? Certainly not just Windows.

        It's absolutely possible to write a real & complex application that runs on Linux, OS X and Windows. Adding Chrome OS harder. Also iOS and Android for Tablets really needs a different version unless the application is a trivial widget easily navigated by touch.

      4. Pirate Dave
        Pirate

        "Is there a list somewhere of evil companies?"

        Yes, Fortune magazine puts out a list of the top 500 every so often.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

    While much of the hype around this "product" has been around the instant payment part, It seems that just putting a switch in the users account preferences to drop the stuff in your cart would work on both fronts.

    I'd never let a button that some kid could press every 10 mins until my account was drained get attached to my account, but I could at least see some convenience for a cart linked button. For example office supply orders, you could put out buttons for the correct toner, or envelope size, or shipping label.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

      I think they limit the amount of orders that can be placed within a certain time limit (one every half hour?) so the kid pressing the button constantly can't result in lots of product arriving and an empty bank account.

      I'm actually surprised the Germans haven't gone after the buy using Alexa option as I think that's the same as using a dash button with no indication of the price. I've not used that feature and wouldn't so don't know if I'm correct on that.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

        I'm actually surprised the Germans haven't gone after the buy using Alexa option as I think that's the same as using a dash button with no indication of the price.

        It would have to be a separate court case and I think the Dash buttons were introduced earlier. But it is also slightly different. No doubt we will see stuff related to Alexa, but I suspect these are more likely to relate to the microphone being on all the time.

      2. MrDamage

        Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

        The Alexa option has an easy fix, as it could just be programmed to say "Ordering XXX product for $YYY per unit. Please confirm."

        The button however, is different thing. Without feedback on the cost of the item ordered, as well as Amazon insisting they are allowed to ship a completely different product to that which is ordered, is where they are going wrong.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

      I would suggest you put a different control that people can use to indicate what they're missing, and then the person who buys that can ensure they get the right thing and the best amount of that. Therefore, if five people notice that the toner is out on the printer you only end up buying one replacement purchase, rather than five times as much. You could have your own programmed buttons for that or you could just put a link on the intranet for each different thing you could run out of. For example, it could work where each printer has a URL on it that indicates it has run out of toner, and sends that notification to the proper place. When the supplies purchaser checks this, they can verify which things need toner, whether there is any in closets that should be used, and then what really needs to be purchased.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: if five people notice that the toner is out on the printer...

        The printer suppliers figured that one out a long time ago. I've often seen "phone home" packets going out the router with IP addresses that translate to printer usage stats. Block that traffic and you get a stroppy email asking you to read their T's&C's. And this is the reason I, as their supposed IT consultant, like to be at least "in the loop" if a company is making that kind of purchase. (Turns out one such printer vendor setup the customer's printer drivers to use colour for every sheet, the cost of which was dramatically reduced when I adjusted the default to be black toner only).

        The Dash concept is a brilliant one from Amazon's point of view. Refine it by having an LCD display (mentioned here earlier) with maybe a scroller to select the pack size/price and/or quantity. Uh oh, thinking about configuring people's monitors, maybe that's a bad idea. The ordering mechanism though should really "lock out" as soon as a Dash button is pressed until acknowledgement is received by Amazon that the Dash order has been successfully received.

        1. Steve K Silver badge

          Re: if five people notice that the toner is out on the printer...

          So turn the Dash button (almost) into mini tablet?

          Seems better to use your existing tablet/smartphone and/or that Amazon App

      2. Tom Chiverton 1

        Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

        Our printer already emails finance with toner low emails.

        and the home HP (yes, I know) orders it's own replacement ink.

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

      No, that locks you into what a greedy monopolist supplies and takes advantage of human laziness.

      It's important to see who sells, delivery, price and maybe vendor / product rating. Anything hiding this in the name of convenience is wrong.

      Germany, in this case, is right.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

      "I'd never let a button that some kid could press every 10 mins until my account was drained get attached to my account,"

      You can't re-order until the order's been dispatched (if that makes sense).

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

        You can't re-order until the order's been dispatched

        With a system like Amazon's, that could mean ordering several times in a day, and before there's any warning by something arriving at the front door (if you aren't the sort that checks their email every few seconds)

    5. fajensen Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

      Down in the trenches, there is a book with barcodes at the end of the storage unit, and the shelves are also labelled with barcodes, so, when something is about empty one person goes through the storage shelves and goes "Zap, Zap, and Zap" with the barcode scanner on it. It takes maybe 20 minutes for a minion to build an order and get it from our suppliers rather than Bezo's. .

      Pressing a button for each item is ludicrous.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Efer Brick
    Trollface

    Nice to see...

    the Germans taking back control

  7. fredj

    I don't know how but I placed an order with some, "device". Just go straight to your account and delete it. You will be OK - at least I was. Obviously don't sign off your session without checking your order list!

    Disgusting practice.

  8. EveryTime Silver badge

    This initially seemed ridiculous, but after a minute considering their position I see the point.

    I know that I've been miffed at Amazon's 'Subscribe and Save' program, where you don't know what you'll be paying. All too frequently I subscribe to a product because of the great price, only to find that the price jumps dramatically, sometimes 4x the original price, for a subsequent order. That's just the sort of shenanigans that consumer watchdogs should be protecting against.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      I came here to say the same thing. Subscribe and save is a joke. Subscribe and drip feed us money and we'll decide how much. I'd be using it if I could trust them to keep the price. Same with the dash button it also limits your exposure to other products that may have come to market that are possibly better. If the manufacturers are in cahoots with Amazon on this and people are blinkered into always ordering the same stuff then surely that's somewhat anticompetitive?

    2. mark l 2 Silver badge

      The same problem with their 'Buy it again' buttons. It is a random lottery of which seller they will take you to not necessarily the one you bought from last time.

      And although in reality you should get the same product, that isn't always the case, especially on unbranded items. And even if the items is identical the service offered by the seller and delivery options etc maybe substandard from what you received on your initial purchase with another seller.

    3. wjake

      As a long time user of Subscribe and Save, I can assure you this is not the case. If there are changes to my S&S items; price availability, etc. I receive an email well in advance of my next delivery date indicating these changes. I also receive an e-mail containing the items and cost of my next delivery, with several days in which to cancel, change delivery date or make other changes.

      OTOH DASH buttons are a ridiculous idea!

  9. Someone Else Silver badge
    WTF?

    Say WHAT?!?

    From the article:

    At the same time, Amazon can legitimately argue that its customers are actively deciding to buy the buttons (typically you buy the button and are then reimbursed the cost of it with your first order). And such, they are hardly misleading people.

    Since I actively avoid buying from Amazon whenever feasibly possible, I may not understand the jargon "to buy the button". But were I to actually have to use Amazon, I would expect that I am buying a product, not a screen icon (or, as i have come to understand, a physical manifestation thereof). So, yes, I would consider myself being misled.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Say WHAT?!?

      Not only are you ms-lead in that way, you Amazon reserve the right to mis-lead you, and say so, as per the article a little further back up where it states

      "the consumer body – Verbraucherzentrale NRW – pointed out in its filings that Amazon reserves the right to charge a different price and even deliver a different product to the one that the shopper configured for the button."

      You press the button and get a lucky-dip at some random price. I suppose, technically, Amazon may not be mis-leading the customer if they come out up-front an actually say the price and product may differ every time you order.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: Say WHAT?!?

        The airline pricing racket scheme method, then.

  10. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    I don't see that point. Every time I order something from Amazon, I receive an order confirmation complete with the amount charged to my debit or credit card. They also drop a note when my items are shipped. Is this different from Germany?

    1. dfsmith

      I really liked my Dash button, placed strategically inside the toilet paper cupboard.* But that appreciation evaporated when they sent me a different product to the one I wanted (which didn't fit properly in the holder). I'd much rather the button *only* send me an email if they cannot ship the right thing.

      * It's amazing how little I think about TP during the day, and realize, at home, too late, that I should have been.

      1. Persona
        Alert

        I solved this problem 20 years ago, by buying a single roll of Izal hard toilet paper. It's truly horrible stuff that I remember using as a boy on my Grandparent outside loo.. When supplies get low I see this roll sitting at the back of the cupboard and the thought of having to use it is so bad it sticks in the mind for days ensuring that I remember to buy some nice modern comfortable paper. Consequently I have never needed to use any of the 336 sheets from the 75mm diameter roll....... yes it's that thin.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I remember first coming across that stuff at my great aunt's house circa the early 80s. It seemed bizarre *then* and- with hindsight- anachronistic even for 35 years ago.

          Billy Connolly once pointed out that Izal doesn't *absorb* anything, it just moves it around, so that if you wipe for long enough you'll eventually end up with a jobbie on your head.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "I remember using as a boy on my Grandparent outside loo."

          You were lucky if that was your only exposure. Those of us older still remember it being the only choice other than squares of newspaper.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "I don't see that point. Every time I order something from Amazon, I receive an order confirmation complete with the amount charged to my debit or credit card. They also drop a note when my items are shipped. Is this different from Germany?"

      When you place the order, do you know for certain what the actual product is and how much it will cost you BEFORE the order is actually placed? That's the bit that doesn't happen with a dash-button and is illegal under German law.

    3. lowwall

      Since sometime in the second week of December 2014, the order confirmation has been particularly unhelpful if you have ordered more than 1 item on a personal account. That's when they quit giving a breakdown of the individual items and prices. Now it's just a total, "Thank you for shopping with us. You ordered ____ ..." and __ other items.", and a link that requires a sign-in.

      I notice they still give you a complete list on the confirmation e-mail when using an Amazon for Business account.

    4. big_D Silver badge

      An order confirmation with price comes post-purchase.

      German law says you have to know the price at the time of checkout and that you consent to that price through completing the transaction.

      As the Dash-button cannot show you the current price (or even if you will receive the product you ordered and not an alternative - E.g. you press your Ariel button and get Persil delivered), it is technically illegal and no purchase contract can be consumated by pressing the button.

      That you can still cancel the order after having received the confirmation email is neither here-nor-there. The law says that you have to have the information presented to you at the point of checkout. Punkt. Ende. Aus.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        webscale disruptiveness and innovative kleptocracy

        "The law [in Germany] says that you have to have the information presented to you at the point of checkout. Punkt. Ende. Aus."

        And in some other parts of the world (e.g. US, UK), there's the golden rule: those with the gold make the rules (or are, equivalently, free to ignore the existing rules).

      2. DJSpuddyLizard

        The Dash buttons obvious already contain WiFi circuitry and some processing power.

        Add an LED display. When you press then button, it shows the price, press again to buy within 30 seconds.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          That would probably work, but would probably make the buttons too expensive for Amazon to bother with.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Every time I order something from Amazon, I receive an order confirmation complete with the amount charged to my debit or credit card."

      European law requires certain information to be provided prior to the formation of a contract/order. Price is one of them ...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A 'proper' use for the buttons

    Actually, these buttons are good value for money - the buttons, not the products. Just convert them to a wireless switch that you can use to trigger things on your Raspberry Pi:

    see https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/hack-amazon-dash-button-raspberry-pi/

    As said, you buy a button, then get that refunded when you buy something. If that is something you would buy anyway, you do get a free button.

    Mmmm... must find time to get this project working

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

      From that link: "Now we’ve got a smart button that we can stick to any wall, table, desk or bookcase to turn on our smart lights."

      Oddly enough I've already got a switch stuck to the wall to turn on my dumb lights.

      Also, having read the explanation there it turns out that you have to be a Prime subscriber.

      One of my dislikes about Amazon is their persistent efforts to push Prime in my face. I don't want it. I will never want it. And yet each time I order something before I get through to complete the order I'm presented with a page full of Prime guff with a conspicuous button to click to sign up with Prime and an inconspicuous link to continue without. Along with their crap search engine and habit of failing to deliver to lockers - followed up by a complete lack of idea what to do next when that happens - it's one of the things which makes me less likely to use them if there are alternatives.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

        The "we built a light switch" use case for those is indeed really unnecessary. However, it does sound like you could implement many things with these if you were so inclined. It would depend on things like how long the button lasts on its batteries, how good its WiFi access range is, and what happens to it if I put it outside where things get cold and damp, but there are indeed some use cases I can think of for a network-connected button. That said, there are not that many of those use cases, because most of the time that I'm inside, I could do those things more easily with the computers and/or phones that are usually close to me most of the time. The main utility of the button that I can see is allowing someone to activate it from outside my house (for example when I'm not at home). Even then, it's not a real problem. It's not quite hammering nothing because I say there's a nail, but I should maybe find a screwdriver rather than using the hammer to get it in.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

          Or you can buy a cheap ultra low power 433MHz Wireless doorbell. Really easy to modify the base.

          Most have two codes in the button, one to select base and one to select melody. So we bought two. Put them on same address, one base in house, the other in shed. Front and back door play different, a tune vs bing bong.

          Easy to interface base to Raspberry PI, Nintendo, Minestorms or PC.

          There is no sensible use case for the Amazon buttons. You can also buy very cheap 433MHz (or USA equivalent) pairs of modules, WiFi modules, BT modules and GSM/3G modules very cheap from China.

          1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

            433MHz doorbell? I've yet to see ome that works more than 10 feet from the front door. Bricks in our area have a high iron content, so they are pretty radio-absorbent

        2. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

          I suppose a switch next to my bed to turn off the lights would be good, rather than, go to the bed, turn on the bedside lamp, go back to the bedroom door, turn off the main light, go to bed, turn off the bedside lamp; or walk to my bed in the dark.

          I could rewire the lighting curcuit to have two dumb switches for the lights, but a wireless switch would be cheaper/easier to install.

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

        And they're not the only culprits. Tried booking a seat at a Cineworld recently? On *every* stage of the booking process, a nice friendly button that looks as if it should take you to the next stage, but instead tries to have you sign up as a paid/paying member. The thing you actually want to press is an unadorned line of text...

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

          "Do you want [insert overpriced product] with that?"

          "I am sure I want it" or "I am sure I don't don't want to not have none of this product" is the other option. ;)

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

          "Tried booking a seat at a Cineworld recently?"

          Not likely to happen here but I wonder if there's a business opportunity here.

          Re-skin annoying sites with a no muss, no fuss, no up-sell interface adding a small commission for the convenience. We annoyed old gits might be prepared to pay a little extra. It might fail in the long run if the main sites realised their antics could be costing them sales. OTOH they'd be getting the sales anyway and as the marketing twerps that run them would still be convinced their annoying tactics make them money they might well carry on as before.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

            As a commercial entity offering such a service, you would probably be immediately IP-blocked and sued out of existence based on some sort of T&C violation. As a private person, you could probably already achieve the same using the delicious "let me pick out an element on a page that I want permanently blocked / hidden" feature offered by ad blockers such as uBlock Origin, leaving you with only the actual "buy" link on the page.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

        One of my dislikes about Amazon is their persistent efforts to push Prime in my face. I don't want it. I will never want it. And yet each time I order something before I get through to complete the order I'm presented with a page full of Prime guff with a conspicuous button to click to sign up with Prime and an inconspicuous link to continue without. Along with their crap search engine and habit of failing to deliver to lockers - followed up by a complete lack of idea what to do next when that happens - it's one of the things which makes me less likely to use them if there are alternatives.

        Me too. Eventually I mis-clicked and found myself subscribed. I cancelled immediately (which they did with good grace, to be fair) and I switched to eBay. I was pleasantly surprised at how much is a straight duplicate of what's on Amazon and the 'click and collect' at Argos is a boon for me. I've never felt the slightest need to go back and it's been over two years now.

      4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

        Dr Sin Tax, "...push Prime in my face. I don't want it."

        But but but... How do you watch the 'Grand Tour' ?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

          "How do you watch the 'Grand Tour' ?"

          I don't. It was a straight choice.

    2. Scoured Frisbee

      Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

      I am surprised it took this august community so long to get to the real utility of these (and presumably why Amazon charges cost). I have a number of the buttons, they hop on the WiFi when pressed and then drop off after timing out - five minutes if I recall. This makes it trivial to script stuff, even with openwrt or the like - just be sure to block the uplink so you don't really order anything!

      They're good for counters, logging when something happens, reminders - anywhere you want a binary input and can wait five minutes between events.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A 'proper' use for the buttons

        @Scoured Frisbee (and probably others):

        Are readers aware of https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-zero-w/

        With Raspberry Pi Zero W at £10/$10 or so retail, quantity one for the last year or two, plus a few bits of low cost glue, some people might be rather more interested in those than something closed and impenetrable and relatively inflexible from Amazon.

        Or combine the two, as per this article from MagPi magazine a couple of years ago:

        https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/hack-amazon-dash-button-raspberry-pi/

        Have a lot of fun.

  12. Time Waster

    Drawer full of buttons

    My biggest gripe with these buttons has always been the sheer number of products which would “require” them. If you’re going to bother getting a button for, let’s say, washing powder, logically you should probably grab one for washing up liquid, bog roll, fabric softener, furniture polish, scouring pads, multi surface cleaner, kitchen towels, glass cleaner, dishwasher tablets, rinse aid... and that’s just the under sink cupboard. The question is, where are you supposed to store all these buttons? Maybe what we really need is an Amazon keyboard. Or, better yet, perhaps some kind of touch screen device we could carry around in our pockets...

    As others have mentioned, at least they’re better than subscribe and save, where you seem to end up entering an agreement to make future purchases at a price that will be determined (by Amazon) at some later date. If the buttons are deemed illegal, where at least you can cancel / return the order if you seriously disagree with the price, how is this subscribe and save feature OK?

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Go

      It's industry-standard carbon capture.

      Make oil into plastic.

      Make lots of crappy plastic things.

      Sell lots of crappy plastic things. (Profit.)

      Bury crappy plastic things in ground where oil came from in the first place. (Or back of cupboard, where, - hopefully - oil doesn't come from, but the captured carbon will still be locked up for centuries!)

    2. elaar

      Re: Drawer full of buttons

      I think you'd have to start thinking about increasing the number of possible DHCP leases on your wifi network as well, that default /24 is going to fill up quickly with all of those bloody buttons stuck everywhere :)

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Drawer full of buttons

        "I think you'd have to start thinking about increasing the number of possible DHCP leases on your wifi network"

        Just use IPV6.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Drawer full of buttons

      "how is this subscribe and save feature OK?"

      It doesn't seem to be but it would need to be a different case. Maybe TPTB in Germany think it best to tackle each one separately to avoid Amazon miring the whole case with complicating one aspect of it. Or maybe they'll be able to use one as a precedent for the rest.

  13. elaar

    If these dash buttons are primarily aimed at home staples (washing powder, toothpaste, milk etc) then surely it's the sort of thing you would pick up in your normal shopping routine? What's the point of using these to order your dishwasher tablets and washing powder, when you still have to go to your local shop (with a large range of options) to buy everything else?

    It's also a terrible use of delivery traffic, with vans out dropping off individual everyday items.

  14. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    Good.

    Add an LCD to these that shows the price. Or a mobile app that speaks it etc. Then it meets the law, and consumers have less chance for an unwanted accident (some products on Amazon could skyrocket in price etc). Can still be one button purchase, and just log in normally to cancel if you don't like the price.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prime?

    I don't mind the dash button - use it a lot for ordering Kindle books on 99p offer - not for other stuff - it's the way they try to con you into clicking on prime that should be outlawed.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Prime?

      The dash buttons page say products are sent using Prime. I wonder what happens if you use them, even the "virtual" ones that appear on your page, while you're not subscribed - are you subscribed automatically? While it could make little sense to be subscribed without Prime if your order basic items like toilet paper (but what if the delivery arrives when you're in the bathroom?), it could make sense if you order items that are repeatable (i.e. printer inks/toner or paper), but that you could order months apart.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: are you subscribed automatically?

        Having inadvertently clicked a "subscribe to Prime" button once too many times in the past, you can bet the answer is yes. This is what the German authorities should be stamping out. When you click that link, there is not even a hint of "Subscribe to Prime? Are you Sure?"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: are you subscribed automatically?

          > Having inadvertently clicked a "subscribe to Prime" button

          Yes, I've done this myself with the free Prime trial button- something I had no interest in and have avoided in the past. Admittedly, this was my fault for not paying attention as much as I should have been. (It was late at night and I was about to go to bed).

          But the fact I should have *had* to pay attention (or rather, shouldn't) shows how borderline dubious Amazon are becoming. It's not just that they would obviously have known this would happen, it's that it was quite blatantly designed that way to mislead and coerce users into signing up for their grab-bag-o'-bullshit Prime service.

          There's no other excuse for a page with a single, prominent "button" and much less prominent, lighter non-button-like text for the "continue without signing up to Prime" link. (And FWIW the design of these pages seems to have grown increasingly prominent and "dark pattern"-ish recently).

          I cancelled it immediately, but Amazon kindly (*cough*) indicated it would run until the free trial period was over anyway. Aside- ironically- from cheaper postage that I'd rather have paid standard rates for (but had no option to do so because I was signed up for Prime), I didn't use any Prime facilities before the trial expired.

          Someone recently put their finger on it when they said "Amazon is not the same company they were 10 years ago. You can feel the skeeviness is creeping in."

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Generally...

    ElReg comments are always interesting as I often learn new and interesting ways that others are using software and hardware.

    In this case, I've never really been able to figure out a sensible use for Amazon dash buttons - maybe for rarely used things like water filters or something where it's a pain to get details and find the right product, but my Amazon order history already has it covered and the 30-60 seconds it takes to order it a few times of year so I never thought it worthwhile.

    Reading though other comments, I still have no real idea why someone would use these in a home environment. The corner cases seem dubious at best given the alternatives (i.e RaspPi). The convenience of getting something next day (or later) doesn't seem to outweigh the inconvenience of being assigned to a single product and potentially substituting an alternative or charging you more when a mobile device or laptop gives you a more usable feature.

    As for consumer rights, I think this is just a case of consumer rights being outfoxed by an "improved" idiot... The idiots may lose the battle, but they will win the war. If you consider losing privacy, spending more than you need to and being lazy a win...

  17. Dave 15 Silver badge

    er... so

    So Amazon sells a consumer the ability to 'buy a button' that might get you the product you think it is at the price you think it is? And people fall for it? Mad, totally mad. It should be banned everywhere. It would be interesting to set it up with visa and then complain to visa you didnt get what you expected.

    1. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: er... so

      "It would be interesting to set it up with visa and then complain to visa you didnt get what you expected."

      You can already easily return an order to Amazon at no cost if not happy.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: er... so

        "You can already easily return an order to Amazon at no cost if not happy."

        So you waste time waiting for the substitute you didn't want to arrive and still have to go out and get the right thing and organise the return. The trouble some people will go to for the sake of convenience...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dash button teardown

    Anyone interested in knowing what's inside a Dash button might benefit from this teardown article in Electronics Design News (other teardown articles are available):

    https://www.edn.com/design/consumer/4460866/Teardown--Designing-the-second-generation-Amazon-Dash-Button-

  19. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Is there a Dash button for ordering a replacement Dash button for...

    ...when the battery inside your Dash button dies?

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Is there a Dash button for ordering a replacement Dash button for...

      Maybe they're going to order a replacement for themselves with their last gasp....

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Is there a Dash button for ordering a replacement Dash button for...

      You would surely have to press it hundreds if not thousands of times to kill the battery.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon

    I've heard of it.

  21. Grenou

    "Sour Krauts"?

    Can't Kieren McCarthy think of a better line?

    Who is the dumb one here..

  22. TheVogon Silver badge

    You can just return the order if not happy. This a fixing a problem that doesn't exist.

  23. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    ZAT IS NOT EFFICIENT!!

  24. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Amazon could add a wee screen...

    Having seen the teardown videos for these gadgets, adding a little 0.96-inch OLED screen to the next version is certainly within the range of possibilities.

  25. Russell Chapman Esq.

    I'm not Germany's greatest fan but....

    The country has some good things going for it, apart from my German ex-wife. They seem to want to genuinely protect consumers and take the work/life balance seriously. But everything is so ordered it is stifling, I guess we Brits all have a modicum of desire to bend rules and play the system to our personal advantage. Best wishes to them in taking on Amazon. Love the autobahn, the Weisswurstäquator and words like autoarschkrampe which describe perfectly a situation that very nearly went badly wrong. Don't live there but travel through it often enough. If you have a sweet tooth and you're near Heidelberg, do stop, the place has the most amazing cakes. I can not recommend marrying a German.

  26. Milton Silver badge

    Total rot

    Amazon's response is total rot, and as daft as the button. If people really want to indulge in quick ordering, they can use any device with a screen to do so, and that procoess can (a) display availability (so you can be sure you'll get what you asked for), (b) display the correct price (so you'll know what you're gonna pay), and (c) display a Confirm Order or similar button, to get positive assent to the purchase once (a) and (b) have been made clear.

    Given that Amazon is just one of several organisations encouraging customers to install surveillance devices in their homes, some of which are already sporting small cheap touchscreens, there can be no argument in favour of the "button". Most users—if they are really so pathetically lazy and gullible as to want this facility—will be using multiple "buttons" and would find it more convenient, to use a single device anyway.

    Indeed, it's perfectly possible to make purchases with positive confirmation using just a mic-&-speaker device.

    The "button" is there to exploit fools, and the German courts are dead right.

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