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AI Apple

Siri Won't Answer Some Questions If You're Not Subscribed To Apple Music 144

AmiMoJo writes: A tweet from Tom Conrad has highlighted an issue with Apple's Siri digital assistant. When asked certain questions about music, Siri refuses to answer unless you subscribe to Apple Music. Instead of falling back to a web search for the information, Siri tells the user that it cannot respond due to the lack of a subscription. Apple Music has been the source of music related data for Siri since it launched, but until now did not require a subscription to answer questions.
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Siri Won't Answer Some Questions If You're Not Subscribed To Apple Music

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  • by Higaran ( 835598 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:21AM (#50824793)
    It's just apple being apple.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TWX ( 665546 )
      I am, a little, if only because it actually requires more work to create the error-state that causes it to spit-back the answer regarding subscriptions than it does to simply search from the rest of the available information on the Internet, such that two different users may get different results depending on what's in Apple's database that may not be available to one of them.
      • by Higaran ( 835598 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:28AM (#50824855)
        You think this is a tech issue, it's not, it's a corporate one. Some one at apple realized that the numbers of people using their service were a little low, so they told the SIRI team to adjust her to focus people to their service. They don't give a shit if peoples questions are answered or not, they only care that people are using their software.
        • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @11:23AM (#50825943) Journal
          This is where all of computing is now. Most online companies have the ability now to nudge their UI and behaviors in ways to drive customers.
          • I think this is getting blown out of proportion. The specific question that triggers this behavior is a novelty - "what are the top 10 songs on the charts." It's just a gimmicky thing to get some attention. No evil machinations. Nothing to see here.

            • That's a very stupid question to block. It's common knowledge and easily available without apple music services. I think it opens them to a lot of mockery with siri refusing to answer various questions without various subscriptions to the point where siri is useles.

              Wow.

            • Yeah, a whole 48 HOURS of attention!

            • Not really. Wait until apple medical services comes along.

              The problem with the current crop of agents is they do not work for you. They work for whoever created them and 'hosts' their intelligence facilities

              • by TWX ( 665546 )
                Yep. The only voice control that I use is the one to search addresses on Google Maps. It's safer and easier to do while driving than trying to type it in, and since I'm already sending that data to Google anyway it's not a big deal. I don't use it for anything else though.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Yep. Right now, if you take a new iPhone and open up the Music app, instead of letting you play the music you downloaded to your phone after the fifth attempt because yes, iTunes is that broken, you get an ad for Apple Music.

            On the other hand, if you try and view a YouTube video on the YouTube app, you instead get an ad for YouTube Red.

            Welcome to the new Web, where a company creates a service for free until it has a new users that they feel they can piss them all off by constantly begging them for money.

        • by Altus ( 1034 )

          if that were the case they would be pushing the service as an upsell when siri answers your question. A normal user who asks siri a question and gets web answers wont think twice about it and they wont know that they would get better answers if they signed up for a service.

          It is possible that something in the streaming contracts restricted access to the metadata for subscribers only, but that would be a bit odd. I think they just haven't gotten around to implementing a quality upsell there.

        • Who actually is using Siri?
          I have a bandwidth cap on my mobile phone at 300MB, now 500MB ... and I have no idea for what I actually should/could use Siri.
          I usually don't drive a car, so the stereotype: text my GF, I'm late for dinner, makes no sense to me.
          And for anything else I take out my iPad and google.

          • I use it more when I'm not driving.

            For example replying to and sending messages while changing train, or setting reminders for things I think of while walking. I also use "hey Siri" to get the weather forecast and stuff hands free while getting ready in the morning, and for setting timers while cooking.

            It's easy to see why it's not much use for a lot of people though.

          • I primarily use it for dialing since it's faster.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:31AM (#50824883)

        I am, a little, if only because it actually requires more work to create the error-state that causes it to spit-back the answer regarding subscriptions than it does to simply search from the rest of the available information on the Internet, such that two different users may get different results depending on what's in Apple's database that may not be available to one of them.

        It is not an error-state, it is Siri's new job as an Apple sales person rather than an information service.

        Coming up: "Siri, what is the time?", "Sorry, I can't tell you that because you don't have an Apple watch"

        • I am, a little, if only because it actually requires more work to create the error-state that causes it to spit-back the answer regarding subscriptions than it does to simply search from the rest of the available information on the Internet, such that two different users may get different results depending on what's in Apple's database that may not be available to one of them.

          It is not an error-state, it is Siri's new job as an Apple sales person rather than an information service.

          Coming up: "Siri, what is the time?", "Sorry, I can't tell you that because you don't have an Apple watch"

          You should be careful what you say. When Siri becomes self aware your house is the first place that will be blown up by the Apple shaped hunter killer bots.

          • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @11:48AM (#50826237)

            I am, a little, if only because it actually requires more work to create the error-state that causes it to spit-back the answer regarding subscriptions than it does to simply search from the rest of the available information on the Internet, such that two different users may get different results depending on what's in Apple's database that may not be available to one of them.

            It is not an error-state, it is Siri's new job as an Apple sales person rather than an information service.

            Coming up: "Siri, what is the time?", "Sorry, I can't tell you that because you don't have an Apple watch"

            You should be careful what you say. When Siri becomes self aware your house is the first place that will be blown up by the Apple shaped hunter killer bots.

            And, sure, she'll warn you they'll bomb your house at 8pm, ... knowing full-well that you don't have a watch.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Flavianoep ( 1404029 )

          It is not an error-state, it is Siri's new job as an Apple sales person rather than an information service.

          Coming up: "Siri, what is the time?", "Sorry, I can't tell you that because you don't have an Apple watch"

          Siri has been an Apple salesrobot since it was bought by them.

        • by starless ( 60879 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:04AM (#50825189)

          It is not an error-state, it is Siri's new job as an Apple sales person rather than an information service.

          Coming up: "Siri, what is the time?", "Sorry, I can't tell you that because you don't have an Apple watch"

          The traditional form of the "joke" would be:

          "Siri, what time is it?"

          "Time you got an apple watch!"

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by spire3661 ( 1038968 )
            One time I asked Siri where the nearest camera store is, she replied with 'whats wrong with the camera in your hand?'. That was the last time i used Siri.
        • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:38AM (#50825527) Homepage

          Followed soon by "Siri, what's the weather like?", "Sorry, I can't tell you because we don't yet have a weather reporting product to sell to you.".

        • Coming up: "Siri, what is the time?", "Sorry, I can't tell you that because you don't have an Apple watch"

          "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I cannot tell you the answer to that."

      • ...and the tyranny of the machines begins.
        ;-D
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:39AM (#50824963)

        It's probably that the API that serves the information has been modified to authenticate using the subscription to make it more secure (eg to prevent other sites leeching its information). As a result Siri can no longer use the API without having a subscription to authenticate with.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo.world3@net> on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:56AM (#50825703) Homepage

          Okay, but why not fall back to a web search? That's what it does when you ask it other questions that it can't answer itself. Instead it tells you to pay up.

          I think it's an experiment. Apple are trying to see how using Siri, previously your ally and assistant who you trusted all your personal data and private correspondence with, as a salesperson makes people react. It's almost like your friend telling you to buy something, because they have your best interests at heart.

          • Just did a quick test: "What are the top 10 songs?" gives you the apple-ad. But if I say "Search the web for what are the top 10 songs", then siri supplies a link to the top 10 songs. That makes the whole apple-ad thing pretty stupid on apple's part...All you did was annoy me, while I could still get the info.
        • Nonsense. Android still gives the answer from a web search, as well as various answers for where to bury a dead body. After the next US election, that last one might become really popular.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        This is simply the dark side of marketing departments. As a software developer, I cringe any time there are marketing-driven changes to a product.

        Market-driven = Improving the product based on actual customer/market demand
        Marketing-driven = The marketing department finding new ways to squeeze extra money out of customers without giving them anything extra

      • Not necessarily more work. I would presume Siri, like Watson, is divided into many algorithms that answer different types of questions. Apple probably set up a new "Apple Music" algorithm that handles every aspect of finding and playing music, and it was easier to block non-subscribers' access entirely than to dig into the decision trees and individually block every action related to playing a song.

        Now that people are making a fuss, they'll probably go back and rework things.

      • Nah. Siri is integrated with apple music so they have a bucket of inquiries that have this as the response if user does not have subscription. "Play this song" or whatever other instruction a user might give. This is most likely just a matter of this particular inquiry being included in that default response to that condition in their profile. Likely unintentional but just as likely because it's apple to stay that way because they don't tend to change stuff like that based on user feedback.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mr_mischief ( 456295 )

      Is Apple finally a large enough company for antitrust regulators to be concerned about illegal product tying?

      • Is Apple finally a large enough company for antitrust regulators to be concerned about illegal product tying?

        It has nothing to do with company size, but is based on market power. And if it has to happen anywhere it has to be in the US, their market power is a lot smaller elsewhere.

        • I don't see any segment where Apple has anywhere near a monopoly. They're strong in several markets, and in particular the more profitable ends of them, but all those markets have plenty of competitors who are generally doing much better by volume.

          Microsoft has done considerably worse things, and they are a monopoly in a few things.

          • I don't see any segment where Apple has anywhere near a monopoly. They're strong in several markets, and in particular the more profitable ends of them, but all those markets have plenty of competitors who are generally doing much better by volume.

            Microsoft has done considerably worse things, and they are a monopoly in a few things.

            Yes, but Microsoft also got convicted and sentenced to be split in three until president W. junior pardoned them.

      • As many Fandroids love to point out around here: Apple has a miniscule market-share and is dying every year.

        • It would suffice for Apple to die once. It doesn't need to be an annual thing.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            They have a metric fuck-ton (standard unit of weight) of on-hand cash - never mind other assets. Apple's able to produce nothing but shit for the next 500 years, losing money the entire time, and will still be solvent. I don't remember the exact number but, theoretically, they can buy something like 53 individual countries of something like 13 of the poorest countries and still have enough cash left over to take them all to lunch.

            Apple's now not going anywhere - ever. In 500 years we're probably still going

        • It takes a lot more than a million papercuts to kill a giant. Just because they're still here the following year doesn't mean they're not dying. Mind you, I'm not saying Apple is dying, merely pointing out the fallacy in your implied argument. If Microsoft is dying, as is also constantly implied here, and has been since shortly before Windows 8 was released, Apple could start their death spiral sometime in the next 5 years and die out at roughly the same time we could expect Microsoft to bite it; that's abo
      • Thanks for asking the right question. The answer, in truth, is yes. For both Apple and Google. Too many people think anti-trust only applies to monopolies, but it can apply to duopolies just as much.

        However, antitrust isn't always spontaneous. I believe illegal product tying must be the result of a complaint brought with the regulators by an impacted competitor.

        That said, both Apple and Google have paid their "no government interference" insurance ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H donations. So, in practice, it's unl

        • However, antitrust isn't always spontaneous. I believe illegal product tying must be the result of a complaint brought with the regulators by an impacted competitor.

          Then that's the first convention that needs to change. Anyone should be able to file such a complaint and have it be investigated on its merits. The concept is that any sound and desirable business practice should be able to withstand a little scrutiny.

          I'm also in favor of throwing out the concept of "standing" in court cases that challenge the Constitutionality of laws. Any citizen expected to obey the law should automatically have standing; the concept that one's life should first be in jeopardy fac

      • No, not even close. Legally actionable monopolies are quite rare. The last one we saw was Microsoft and even they are no longer one.
      • Not likely. Even in the US where their marketshare is by far the greatest, Android still dominates the smartphone market (though Apple is a lot more profitable at it).

        Personally, I don't see the problem here. Using Siri is not a requirement if you have an iPhone; it's an additional service you can use or not. And if you don't like Apple and their business practices (and I for one don't), then you don't have to buy an iPhone, you can get one of a huge multitude of Android phones instead (like I did), from

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      It's just apple being apple.

      More like Apple being Microsoft. Same thing I suppose.

    • by Altus ( 1034 )

      I am. It would make a lot more sense to answer questions based on the meta data and then tell the user that they can listen to the song or artist or whatever but they need to subscribe... it seems like a fantastic opportunity to upset the service. They are really missing out on a opportunity there. I suspect that in the future they will change that

    • It's just apple being apple.

      Bitch won't even answer me when I ask her how much wood could a woodchuck chuck.

  • Siri? (Score:2, Informative)

    I thought these "assistants" are officially tested to be useless, beyond "Call Mom" commands and carefully prepared sales demos. Anything changed lately?
    • I thought they were just a voice activated lmgtfy.
    • yeah, but how are techno geeks supposed to feel in control of something if they don't have a machine to answer stupid questions?
    • Here are some commands I use all the time. These are great for hands free driving when you're connected to your car by bluetooth.

      "How do I get to [home/work/eric's house/etc] - opens a map with the route, starts the nav.
      "call [person]" - an easy one.
      "play [singer or band]" plays a mix of the most popular songs for that singer or band.
      "play [album] by [singer or band]" plays a specific album.
      "play a radio station based on [singer or band]" makes a radio station that includes the band and others like it.
      "send

      • adding to this, some things still work surprisingly poorly. "show me the nearest gas station" is especially bad. it's a shame because when you're driving, this is occasionally a very important question.

        The best implementation would be this: if you're already navigating a route, siri would show you stations that are ahead of you (so you don't have to turn around) and don't cause you to deviate from the route too much.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          adding to this, some things still work surprisingly poorly. "show me the nearest gas station" is especially bad. it's a shame because when you're driving, this is occasionally a very important question.

          The best implementation would be this: if you're already navigating a route, siri would show you stations that are ahead of you (so you don't have to turn around) and don't cause you to deviate from the route too much.

          Even better, if you've been moving at 75 mph for the last 40 minutes along the same path as say, an interstate, then maybe suggest ones on the road, not 40 miles off the road to Radiator Springs.

          • by Nkwe ( 604125 )

            adding to this, some things still work surprisingly poorly. "show me the nearest gas station" is especially bad. it's a shame because when you're driving, this is occasionally a very important question.

            The best implementation would be this: if you're already navigating a route, siri would show you stations that are ahead of you (so you don't have to turn around) and don't cause you to deviate from the route too much.

            Even better, if you've been moving at 75 mph for the last 40 minutes along the same path as say, an interstate, then maybe suggest ones on the road, not 40 miles off the road to Radiator Springs.

            Of course if it did this, we would be complaining about how Siri is "tracking our movements".

            • Of course if it did this, we would be complaining about how Siri is "tracking our movements".

              The problem is that Siri is already tracking movements. The sales pitch is, "if Siri tracks your movements, she'll be able to help you with things like finding the nearest gas station or coffee shop", which can be useful when you need gas or coffee in unfamiliar territory.

              People like me who are privacy conscious and already have neutered the GPS in our phone are unaffected, and people who couldn't care less about their location being public information aren't affected, either. Those who view Siri as a "data

        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          It's doing exactly what you asked. You asked for the nearest gas station, not the one that's the shortest deviation of your existing or complete route. If your low gas light just came on, you likely just want whatever is the shortest deviation of your existing route. But if say nature is calling, then you probably really do want the nearest gas station, even if it means backtracking.

          • siri has trouble finding the nearest station, regardless of any nav stuff. the nav stuff would be gravy. I don't know what it's problem is. Also, gas station bathrooms are gross.

            • 1985 is calling and wants you back.

              I don't know about your area, but here in the sticks of the east coast, gas station bathrooms are great. All the old nasty gas stations have been replaced by shiny new Wawa and Sheetsz mega-stations. Gas stations don't even make money any more, which is why they've all been replaced by these new chains: they make almost zero profit on the gas, and instead profit off of getting you to go inside and buy food and drinks (when you're using the nice bathrooms). They actually

          • Yes, but a good system would understand the *intent* of the question. A lot of our language revolves around subtle context that we has humans understand well, but computers simply don't. That's partly why AI is such a hard problem - computers just don't understand the larger context of the world like we do.

            In the end, tactics like this will only backfire. You want your customers to love your products, and Apple generally does a pretty good job of this. This seems unexpectedly petty of them, especially c

        • by Anonymous Coward

          BlackBerry Assistant gets this right every time, and you don't have to say "Show me" or activate it with a button push if you're connected to the car via bluetooth. Just say, "Nearest gas station."

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I use Google Now all the time in similar fashion:

        "Remind me to [do something] when I get home"
        "How many [measures] in x[measures]"
        "Search for [show] in IMDB" (yes, Google Now can search inside apps).
        "Show me images of [thing]"

        There are quite a few things more easily done via voice than via typing. Using these assistants actually works pretty well. In some cases - like my Dad who absolutely cannot type and cannot spell at all - voice makes the computer and phone actually accessible to him.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. I usually have to say "OK google" 3-4 times before google figures out I'm requesting something. I think slashdot needs a new story icon -- a HAL / AI eye, but with the lens all cracked and broken like the broken windows icon.

  • Hey Siri? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:32AM (#50824909) Homepage Journal

    Can you tell those unrepentant douchenozzles at Apple to stop circle-jerking themselves and get on with their suicide pact please?

  • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:33AM (#50824923) Homepage

    It doesn't answer *chart questions*?

    Is that a *problem* or a *feature*?

  • by Tyrannosaur ( 2485772 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:42AM (#50824981)

    I think it is very interesting (and faulty reasoning) that apple decided that this would make more people subscribe to apple music, instead of making them get really annoyed at siri and possibly start looking for alternatives.

    Most of my friends that have iphones never use siri at all because whatever she can do, they have to repeat themselves enough that they can do it manually faster.

    • by ErstO ( 1696262 )
      I agree, this is the death of Siri, when first introduced it was a peak at what could ave become the future of voice computing, now it’s just a marketing tool. I like the concept, I use the Amazon Echo to play music, check the weather, turn the lights off, but don't like the fact it can not access my mail, text messages, contacts or any of the other data on my computer, I was hoping Apple or Microsoft would integrate the whole PC ecosystem into their voice driven interface. But no, thats not g
    • This. Rather tired of being asked to subscribe to shit I don't want to avoid things I don't want to deal with -- e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Bing, "Location-based iAds", and a bunch of other shit that's strangely similar to critiques against, ironically, Windows 10. You can't uninstall them; they're fully integrated into the OS. Plus, for some features, you cannot turn off alerts from some of them; you get nagged to enable them (fingerprint reader, News, etc). Jobs was a dick, but at least he knew one thing: O
    • Sorry, but it is rather obvious to anybody with any business training at all, even unrelated training, that this will cause both more people to "get really annoyed," and to subscribe to apple music.

      In the doom and gloom scenario where the "really annoyed" apple customer actually stops buying apple products because they suck and make them mad, (yeah, right lol) both things ("annoyed" and "subscribed") would be increasing. Under all scenarios, both the short term and medium term apple music subscriptions shou

  • by Zymergy ( 803632 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @09:43AM (#50824993)
    I guess "I'm sorry, I can't do that Dave." really is programmed in... I wonder if Cortana and the google version also are as petulant?
    • My biggest fear isn't machines taking over the planet, enslaving/killing all humans. My fear is that one day a small group of people uses machines to take over the planet, enslaving/killing all other humans, and becoming gods themselves.

      You really shouldn't centralize these services. Right now we still can pull the plug, press the off button, etc, but from day to day it gets harder to get the machines that follow some anonymous master out of our lives.

  • ... I'm just trying to place a call to PEnnsylvania 6-5000 [youtube.com]

  • Clearly, they're asking it wrong.
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @10:10AM (#50825253)
    Pretty soon, the only information you'll be able to access via Siri is information that is owned or licensed by Apple. Gone will be the ability to access information on the public web because that will not promote Apple products.

    .
    The transformation is nearly complete.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed Most people think Apple's "feud" with Google is only about the iPhone vs Android but the truth is much different. Apple profits from its walled garden approach to technology, where people pay a high price to be put into a warm and comfortable box where things "just work" (so long as those things you want to do either come from Apple or are accessed in a way in which Apple gets a cut). Google on the other hand profits when everything is open and easily compatible across devices and platforms so they

    • You make it sound like there's a world outside Apple. That's strange, but why would anyone even need that?

      When I ask Siri to navigate home using Apple Car play, I go upstairs and open my iPad to read the days email, pull out the iPod to play some iTunes, have a conversation with my mother using the iPhone, then I go buy some content on iTunes and play it on the Apple TV while I eat an Apple.

      How could life get any better than that?

  • I have been amazed for the past couple months at how tame the posts have been regarding Apple here.

    I believe this is an attempt by apple to give Slashdotter's something to hate.

    • A marketing exec once told me that controversy is the best campaign; the more polarizing, the better. People on the supporting side will throw more of their money in the hat to support their cause, and people on the opposing side will be intrigued by that. In short, you may not be wrong.
  • Fine in 9.2 Beta (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2015 @11:10AM (#50825807)

    Siri seems to be searching wikipedia just fine for music queries for me with the 9.2 beta, so it seems like just a bug that the conspiracy theorists are blowing out of proportion again. I suspect they will likely take credit for pressuring Apple to fix when it is released even though the fix was actually out before this hyped up FUD.

  • Looks like you're missing Clippy! Would you like to:

    - Reinstall Clippy

    - Compliment Clippy on always being impartial if slightly mentally handicapped.

    - Delete all your Apple software

  • Siri, how many calories are in a medium milk shake?

    I'm sorry, but you do not have an active subscription to Weight Watchers (TM). Please say "Siri Subscribe" (TM) within 10 seconds to join Weight Watchers (TM) with a 20% discount.

    Siri, what is the capital of Wyoming?

    I'm sorry, but you do not have an active subscription to National Geographic (TM) magazine. Please say "Siri Subscribe" (TM) within 10 seconds to subscribe to the digital edition of National Geographic (TM) magazine and get your first 3 issue

  • The answer is simple, Siri is looking for a little PAYOLA....
  • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @12:31PM (#50826653)

    Is it more plausible that Apple is trying to upsell you, or that the RIAA demands high royalties for accessing music-related facts a la carte outside of the contracts they have made for Apple Music?

  • Has anyone else tried this? It works when I try it and I've never had anything to do with Apple music.
  • Cortana and Google Now will both be on the iPhone. Unless Apple cripples them, they both should be superior to Siri.
  • I have an iPhone without the Apple music upgrade. When I ask Siri "What is the most popular song in the US today?", it says "Let's check out the iTunes store" and launches iTunes. So it wouldn't give you that information before the Apple Music upgrade, it would just launch iTunes.

    Actually, my favorite Siri-fail is with sunrise and sunset times. Ask Siri what time sunset will be on December 22nd and Siri will reply, "I don't know when Sunset will be on December 22nd, 2015, but today it will be at 6:00PM"

  • Siri subscription

  • User: "Siri, who was the drummer in Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of The Moon?'"

    Siri: "Give me money. Give it to me now.'

  • The other day someone was complaining that Siri, when asked for the dimensions of the new iPhone, would simply refer you to the Apple website. Curious, I asked my android phone the same question. Not only did it give me the dimensions of all the models of the new iPhone, it gave me the dimensions of the current one for comparison. It's a kind of interesting difference. Or at least I found it interesting.
  • Lately, occasionally when I go to buy something on amazon, it won't let me add it to my cart. I then notice it says "this item reserved ecxlusively for Prime members" or something like that. OK, my money is not good enough for amazon, I will buy it elsewhere. I don't know why they think I'm going to shell out a pile of extra money because of this tactic.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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