Amazon customers cast holiday vote

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E-commerce giant Amazon.com is gearing up for the holidays with a discount promotion that lets consumers vote for low prices on various holiday items.

"Amazon Customers Vote" allows consumers to choose one extreme discount from among four gifts for each week through Dec. 12.

"We've heard from customers that they love great deals and that they expect door busters during the holiday season," said Craig Berman, spokesman at Amazon.com, Seattle. "We've never done anything like this in the past, focusing more on everyday low price. But we listen to our customers."

Consumers vote on four holiday gift items each Thursday through Tuesday. The deal with the most votes is announced every Wednesday, and that deal can be purchased beginning at 11 a.m. PT the next day.

When the item of the week is selected, everyone who voted on the promotion is sent an e-mail the Wednesday before the limited quantity of the item goes on sale.

The first week's four deals up for voting on www.amazon.com were: 1,000 Xbox 360 core systems for $100 each, down from $299.99; 2,500 Mongoose dual-suspension mountain bikes for $30 each, down $139.99; 2,000 Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses interactive Genevieve dolls for $10 each, down from $49.84; and 2,000 Amazon Prime memberships for $40, down from $79, along with a free $100 Amazon.com Toys Store promotional certificate.

Ballot candidates during the next four weeks include a portable DVD player, an elliptical trainer, a one-year subscription of diapers, 1-carat diamond earrings, a 14-volt cordless drill, a two-room eight-person family tent, a 26-inch LCD HDTV and a Swiss Army pocketknife.

Customers are allowed one vote per week but are encouraged to campaign for deals by e-mailing family and friends from the Amazon Customers Vote page.

Beyond viral marketing, Amazon has pushed the promotion by listing it on its heavily trafficked home page as well as including it in blogs. Mr. Berman would not disclose the number of voters, but he said that Amazon was pleased with the results.

"This promotion drives folks to the site for the holiday," he said. "Along with our everyday free shipping offers, we hope to increase sales. This year we are encouraging customers to get all of their orders in by December 15 to get it by December 22, since not all mailers will be open on the 23rd."

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