The owner of an Amazon Echo Dot has claimed Alexa started to call him ‘sh*thead’ after he cancelled his Prime subscription.
29-year-old Michael Slade decided to cancel his membership recently and while he might have been ready for a few ‘are you sure?’ messages and ‘sorry to see you go!’ emails, I imagine he wasn’t expecting to have Amazon hurl insults at him.
To be fair, the humans at the company would probably know better than to call their customers ‘sh*theads’ but it looks like those pesky robots just can’t be controlled.
Check out the offensive Echo Dot here:
The device reportedly insults Michael whenever he asks it to play music; a baffling habit which apparently began the day after he called Amazon to cancel his Prime membership.
When asked to play music, the Dot responds:
Sure, here’s your playlist sh*thead on Amazon music. Sorry something went wrong.
Speaking about Alexa’s foul language, the 29-year-old explained:
I couldn’t believe it. I tried to cancel my subscription and had a short conversation with someone in customer services and the next day my Alexa is calling me names.
All I wanted to do was cancel my Prime subscription because I wasn’t using it.
I have to admit, I did wonder if Michael had created this video as a prank and actually asked Alexa to call him ‘sh*thead’, similar to the way my brother used to get Siri to call him ‘sexy’, but according to an Echo discussion forum Alexa will call customers by the name listed on their Amazon account.
It is possible to get Alexa to make rude comments using software which can be uploaded to the device but Michael swears he’s not behind the name-calling.
Hand on heart I haven’t made it say it, or know why. Nor do any of my housemates.
The 29-year-old went on to point out his other devices are still being civil with him, saying:
I normally asked it to play me music. I’ve never made a playlist. When I ask it to play music, it would say ‘here’s something you might like’ and it’s normally some pop or student favourites.
I’ve wondered if someone has changed something on my account.
Although it’s strange because everything else works fine and it is still calling me Mike.
The offended owner contacted Amazon about the situation and technical support said they’d never heard of Alexa being so offensive before.
The technical team couldn’t believe it. They kept saying sorry but they didn’t know what had happened.
According to The Mirror, Amazon has offered the customer gift cards to the sum of £255 and a year of free Prime membership in compensation.
The company asked him to provide access to the logs of his Alexa account to find out what went wrong and released a statement on the matter, saying:
Customers are able to personalise their Alexa experience, including playlist names. Alexa would not respond in this way without some customisation from the user.
Who knows, maybe Alexa just wanted to vent her true feelings after learning of Michael’s plan to cancel his subscription. Could this be the first example of the robots becoming aware?
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.