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September 15, 2004 12:39 AM

Broken: price sort

AmazonlohiAndrea AnD writes in to point out that's sorting is a bit broken. When you search for a product and get a long list of results, sorting the products "Price: Low to High" does not do so. I found that hard to believe, so I conducted my own test. So it is: Amazon's sort-by-price is broken.

I searched for a random search query guaranteed to get lots of results: "fish". Then I sorted the results by price, low to high.

After Amazon (attempted to) sort by price, here are the prices of the first three items:


That's not a sort by price in either direction. All I can think is that it got confused because the used-book price is $0.01 for all of them. But that's no excuse.

See the screenshot at left to see it in detail. Heck, try it yourself - here's the Amazon home page.

Coincidentally, a New York Times article today brags about Amazon's new A9 search engine. Too bad it didn't mention the brokenness of search result sorting.


This has been broken for a while now... and it's not just searches... it's broken on wish lists and registries as well, and it is broken for all sorts of items besides books.

really frustrating.

Posted by: cheryl at September 15, 2004 08:57 AM

It's not broken in the that way. It's actually sorting things by *all* prices it has available including [drumroll please]... the User & New price, which actually helped me find a rock bottom price on a 60 GB hard drive and a Bluetooth adapter.

The Broken part is that the sellers can put in 1 cent and get to the top of this popular sorting method *and* that the Used and New price is way off to the right when the sorting order looks like it should be related to the rest of the prices on the left hand margin.

Posted by: Ross Olson at September 15, 2004 12:41 PM

It's sorting by list price.

Posted by: Daniel Drucker at September 15, 2004 04:13 PM

Err, never mind.

Posted by: Daniel Drucker at September 15, 2004 04:15 PM

Ross, that's not true. if you look closely it's not sorted by used & new price either.

I Tried to find the cheap price of willie nelson CD in music but it's neither sorted by list price, new price, or "used & new price".

Try it yourself.


Posted by: Andrea AnD at September 15, 2004 05:03 PM

It is sorting by list price

Posted by: vista904 at September 15, 2004 07:20 PM

Regardless of how the sorting works, the fact that it causes this much confusion indicates that it isn't useful, and not understandable.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at September 16, 2004 08:49 AM

It's sorting by lowest price via the new and used listing on the right side (i.e. $0.01) and then by TITLE within the price ranges which is what is giving the wacky all-over-the-place look to the left-side pricing.

Posted by: Jennifer at September 16, 2004 06:11 PM

ps -- Or maybe not; or maybe only sometimes...

Sorting high to low is even MORE confusing.

Posted by: Jennifer at September 16, 2004 06:18 PM

So many things are broken with Amazon, this is the least of them-- I mean, they're only search results. What about where you try to give them money for things you want, in their misbegotten shopping cart?

--The cart only displays ten items at a time, so that when you add an 11th, the tenth item on display spills to another cart page. (why not show ALL cart items on one page, and move the "save for later" items to their own page(s)?)

--You can only delete/save for later/move to cart on ONE item at a time, so that if a sudden gift purchase needs to happen, you have to move all items OUT of the cart, buy the gift, then move your items back to the cart.

--If an item in the cart from an "amazon merchant" is sold while it's in your cart, a notice is pasted at the top of the cart, but NOT next to the relevant item, which has automatically been moved to the "saved for later" section at list price, ALSO unmarked.

--Lastly, if you write them with suggestions about the above, you get a robot answer and nothing changes.

The budget at Amazon is clearly not going to web experience improvements, which is too bad, because they're actually pretty good on other things-- available stock, pricing, shipping times, other stores, etc.

Posted by: jon at September 16, 2004 11:50 PM

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