I’m a member of Amazon’s Vine program. But for those of us lucky enough to be in this program, we don’t feel like “members”; we’re more like “the chosen ones.” Amazon posts two newsletters (catalogs, really) each month, and from those, we get to pick out items that Amazon will send us for free in exchange for us writing reviews of what we get. The items might be as no-thanksable as a self-published manifesto or as coveted as a $3,000 treadmill. The catch is that you have to order the good stuff quickly (within seconds) because each item has a limited and unknown supply.
Needless to say, I make a point of being on my computer at the designated hour on Vine days, impatiently refreshing my screen in the last seconds until the new catalog appears. If anyone calls me at that time, I won’t even answer the phone if I’m at the height of the F5 frenzy. If they call a few minutes before, I answer by saying, “Can’t talk. Vine Day.” Say no more.
Last month I scored $600 Rosetta Stone software (among other things). I had never really thought about learning Italian, but now I will. I would have rather had French because I’ve been meaning to brush up on what I’ve forgotten since high school, but Italian was all they were offering. So I guess I’ll learn Italian now. And if I learn Italian, I shouldn’t waste it; I should go to Italy, right? Being a Chosen One is a life-course-altering experience.
I get something truly spectacular from Vine only every few months, but in the meantime, they’ve loaded me up with free deodorant, tooth-whitening kits, paper towels, granola bars, office supplies, cookbooks, children’s books, software, electric shavers, and toilet seats. Yeah.
By now, you’re probably thinking, “I wanna be a Chosen One! How can I get in on this???” But, alas, no one knows. You just get chosen. Or randomly selected. It’s a mystery. Some members received e-mail invitations from Amazon, but I didn’t. I just happened to visit their website one day and saw a little message on it saying something like, “You’ve been selected to join Vine Voice! Click here to learn more.” How long that message had been there (or how long it would have continued to be there), I have no idea. But clicking there was like opening a portal to a secret society.
Some people in my family have jealously complained that I am undeserving of being a Chosen One. But I beg to differ. My qualifications:
- I was ordering from Amazon way back in the mid-90s, when “Amazon” was just a river to most people.
- I’ve bought Amazon Prime membership (entitles you to free two-day shipping on all your orders) every year since they first offered it.
- I buy enough from Amazon to make my Prime membership worthwhile. Shampoo, watch batteries, oat bran, and yes, even books. If I need it and Amazon has it at a good price (and they usually do), that’s how I get it. Even if I plan to buy something at a regular store, I check the reviews on Amazon first, sometimes on my Amazon mobile app while at the store.
- I wrote dozens and dozens of reviews even before becoming a Viner.
- I hang out on Amazon. It’s a very good reference resource. At any given time, I usually have a window open somewhere on their website.
- I once offered to name my firstborn child “Amazon.com” after an encounter with a profoundly accommodating Amazon customer service rep. But this point probably doesn’t count because I already had a firstborn, and she loudly and adamantly voiced her dissent to changing her name. But maybe they didn’t hear that.
Which, if any, of these points landed me in Vine, I’ll probably never know. But if you’re hoping to be chosen, too, it would be a good idea to buy and review a few things. And renaming your firstborn wouldn’t hurt, either. But do it before he/she is old enough to object.