Earlier this month, Amazon locked a man out of his account, disrupting his extensive smart home system. The suspension was driven by a delivery driver who claimed the man used a racial slur through his automated doorbell system. The only problem is that the man captured the entire interaction on his security system — the communication to the worker was an automated greeting of, “Excuse me, can I help you?”
In a post to Medium, Brandon Jackson outlined how his smart home system was disrupted by a week-long lockout from his Amazon account.
Jackson unexpectedly found himself locked out of his Amazon account for nearly a week, rendering his Amazon Echo devices unresponsive, in an incident that highlights the potential flaws in smart home systems. A “miscommunication” between a delivery driver and an automated doorbell message led to the lockout.
“On Wednesday, May 31, 2023, I finally regained access to my Amazon account after an unexpected and unwarranted lockout that lasted nearly a week,” Jackson shared. “This incident left me with a house full of unresponsive devices, a silent Alexa, and a lot of questions.”
Jackson’s smart home system primarily uses Alexa to communicate with Amazon Echo gadgets. This system was hampered by the lockout, making the devices unusable. Jackson was still able to use Siri and locally hosted services to control his smart home system in spite of the lockout.
The lockout was caused by a report made by an Amazon delivery driver. The driver allegedly mistook an automated message from Jackson’s doorbell for a racist remark. Jackson provided video proof to contradict the claim, but Amazon did not respond right away, and the account remained locked for almost a week.
“I reviewed the footage and confirmed that no such comments had been made. Instead, the doorbell had issued an automated response: ‘Excuse me, can I help you?’ The driver, who was walking away and wearing headphones, must have misinterpreted the message,” Jackson explained. The confused homeowner apparently does not believe that the Amazon employee would engage in a hate hoax.
Jackson is now questioning his reliance on Amazon’s services and fighting for the company to provide better customer service and a more sophisticated approach to incident management. He also emphasizes the necessity of businesses offering more protections in these circumstances and of consumers truly owning their devices.
“I fully support Amazon taking measures to ensure the safety of their drivers. However, I question why my entire smart home system had to be rendered unusable during their internal investigation,” he said. “It’s time for Amazon to take a more customer-focused approach to problem-solving and conflict resolution.”
Read more at Medium here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan