I was in Santa Monica for business last year, and the strap on my shoulder bag broke. Very annoying! I could order a replacement, but I would have to have it shipped to my home, and that meant I would be without a strap, hand-carrying my heavy bag containing my fragile computer all over town for the rest of the week. Still it could not be helped.
That evening I went online and asked Google where to order a replacement bag strap, and it duly produced a list of suggestions. But one of them was surprising, and much better than I had hoped for. It showed me a price and a picture of a strap that was available at the REI two blocks up the street, and informed me that the REI would be open for another ninety minutes. Wow! Great! Amazingly useful!
I went up the street and bought the strap, happy ending.
After I got home I was enthusing to Katara about how great this was. Much better than suggesting that I mail order it and then wait for delivery. “But I don't understand what they get out of it,” I said. “When you click through to order on line, Google gets a referral fee. But they can't get any referral fee from REI because they don't know that I went in there half an hour later.”
“Yes, they do,” replied Katara.
Oh, shit. They do.
I'm really not sure how I feel about that.