With all new technology comes teething problems and it appears that even Amazon aren’t immune with their new Alexa powered range of Echo devices. There have been a number of stories in the press over products being ordered when a the sound from TV adverts for Alexa are picked by and responded to by consumer’s Echo devices.
A recent advert from October was referred to the ASA when an Amazon customers’ Echo Dot ordered cat food after and Alexa ad aired with the phrase ““Alexa, re-order Purina cat food”. The complainant asked if it was socially irresponsible of Amazon to air such an advert when his Echo responded “I’ve found Purina cat food. Would you like to buy it?”.
Amazon told the ASA that they have technology in place to prevent adverts interacting with Echo devices but even if this failed that customers have to confirm an order or it will be automatically cancelled. In the case in point the customer cancelled the order but if they hadn’t it would have been automatically cancelled and refunded in accordance with the additional processes Amazon have in place.
“We understood from Amazon that purchases were required to be actively confirmed by the customer before a transaction was undertaken. In this instance, the complainant had cancelled the order themselves, but we understood that had they not done so, the order would nonetheless have been cancelled automatically. Therefore we understood that it would not be possible for a purchase to be made without the account owner’s knowledge, even in instances where technology, intended to stop ads interacting with devices, had not been effective. We concluded that the ad was not socially irresponsible and did not breach the Code.”
The complaint was no upheld and no further action will be taken by the ASA. Regardless, Amazon have a no quibble policy and if your Echo does ever order something by mistake, it’s worth noting that Amazon make it very easy to return products at their cost with no questions asked.