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Amazon has been exceptionally good when it comes to Alexa and the Echo brand in general. The company managed to dominate the smart speakers and left Apple and Google to play catch up. Unfortunately, being the dominating player doesn’t mean that the product is perfect.
A great example is the one that recently came from Cwmbran where a 29-year old Echo owner received an unexpected response from its Echo device (via Daily Mail). According to Michael Slade, he asked Echo to play his playlist and got the following response, “Sure, here’s your playlist sh**head on Amazon music. Sorry, something went wrong.” This is definitely not the first time Alexa gave an unexpected reply. Michael was shocked to hear the reply and he contacted Amazon customer support who in turn was shocked as well.
Michael said that he hasn’t customized or changed settings that might have resulted in Alexa calling him a sh**head. Amazon has taken up the issue and has asked Michael to provide all the Alexa logs for further investigation. The company also went ahead and gave him £255 worth gift card along with an annual Prime membership. Michael did note that this happened after he cancelled his Prime membership and that this has never happened before. Amazon has launched an investigation into the matter but remains sceptical.
Customers are able to personalise their Alexa experience, including playlist names. Alexa would not respond in this way without some customisation from the user.
As a person who uses Echo regularly, I went ahead and tested Amazon Echo out and even cancelled my Prime membership to record the response before writing the article. In my case, I didn’t get anything out of ordinary. However, I did notice something which can be a possibility. Every time I asked Alexa to play my playlist, it responded with an affirmation word, followed by the response. For instance, following was Alexa’s response after I cancelled my membership, “You got it, here’s your playlist personal on Amazon music.” One thing to note here is that “personal” is the name of my default playlist. There’s a possibility that Michael had named his playlist sh**head which would explain Alexa’s response.
I am of course not implying anything here. It might just be an issue with Alexa. I am just stating my observation and would leave the investigation part with Amazon. The company has already requested for Alexa logs which should help clarify why Alexa gave such a bizarre response and how it can be prevented from happening in the future.