Amazon Alexa is great at shopping. You can ask the popular voice assistant to add items to your shopping list or even order stuff for you.
But what happens when others are doing the shopping on your dime – without your knowledge?
There are quite a few hilarious stories about owners being surprised when an unexpected delivery arrives on their doorstep, courtesy of Amazon. We’ve rounded up some of the funniest cases of accidental Alexa orders. If nothing else, these stories show that using voice assistants isn’t a perfect process, especially when kids, pets, or the TV is involved.
Mommy, my cookies arrived!
Alexa reportedly “misunderstood” the conversation and proceeded to order seven pounds of cookies.
If Mom doesn’t let you have cookies before dinner, maybe Alexa can help. At least, that might have been what went through a six-year-old Dallas girl’s head when she started talking to her family’s new Echo Dot about cookies and a dollhouse. According to GeekWire, Alexa reportedly “misunderstood” the conversation and proceeded to order seven pounds of cookies and a $170 dollhouse. Megan Neitzel, the girl’s mother, was more than a little surprised when she received a confirmation email from Amazon informing her that her order would be shipped soon. After the incident, Neitzel activated a parental control feature that requires a four-digit code before making a purchase. As for the cookies, the family enjoyed them, while the dollhouse was reportedly donated to a local charity.
Everyone gets a dollhouse
Speaking of kids going rogue, it turns out that the story above sparked the ordering of several other dollhouses just a couple days later. Shortly after the girl’s dollhouse order made its way around the Internet, California television channel CW-6 broadcasted a news segment on the topic. According to Quartz Media, during the broadcast, TV anchor Jim Patton said, “I love the little girl saying, ‘Alexa, order me a dollhouse.’” Many Amazon Echo devices in the homes of those who were watching the segment mistook the statement as a request to order a dollhouse. Several Echo owners then rushed to cancel orders placed on their devices.
Amazon responded to the incident by saying that even if the news segment may have caused many Echo devices to wake up, it is almost impossible to accidentally make a purchase on Alexa, as users must ask Alexa to order a product and then follow up with a “yes” confirmation. Regardless, it’s a reminder that Alexa is always listening, even to the TV.
Alexa, I’m low on cat food
The day the machines take over is the day the apocalypse begins…right? Well, the apocalypse might be coming sooner than expected. Yahoo! UK reported that a television advertisement caused an Echo Dot speaker to place an order for cat food. The commercial, which aired on October 5, 2017, showed various people using the device, including one man saying, “Alexa, re-order Purina cat food.” According to Amazon, these ads are “marked” to prevent exactly this scenario from happening, but in the case of at least one Echo Dot, the cat food was ordered anyway. The owner cancelled the order, but sent a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). After an investigation, the ASA deemed that Amazon had made sufficient effort to ensure users don’t experience accidental shopping from their television ads.
Polly want a…gift box?
There’s a reason why the word “parrot” is a verb as well as a noun!
While you are doing some voice shopping with your Amazon Echo device, your pet parrot might be learning how to do the exact same thing. According to The Sun, London resident Corienne Pretorius, who owns an African grey parrot named Buddy, was shocked when she discovered that the five-year-old bird ordered a set of gift boxes. Pretorius says she laughed out loud when she realized that Buddy was the one who had mimicked her voice, woke the Echo device with the wake word “Alexa,” and ordered the item. “I couldn’t believe it when I realized that Buddy had made an Amazon order,” Pretorius told The Sun. The moral of the story is to be careful what you say in front of those parrots. There’s a reason why the word “parrot” is a verb as well as a noun!
Excuse me, where’s the girlfriends aisle?
As most Amazon Echo owners know, users can tell Alexa to add items to their shopping lists, and Alexa can read the list back to them right before their trip to the grocery store. It’s just one of the many brilliant functions of Amazon’s line of Echo devices. But what happens when your sneaky children get the hang of these features, too, and decide to play a joke on you? According to Quartz Media, in the case of Heath Johnson (@heathbarj on Twitter), his children got pretty creative with his grocery list, secretly adding items like “big fart,” “poo,” and “girlfriend.” Johnson posted a video of Alexa reading these items back that got quite a few views on Twitter. Hopefully, Johnson didn’t have his shopping list read to him out loud while he was at the store.
Cartman strikes again: South Park shenanigans
Imagine getting trolled by your favorite TV show. Well, that’s what happened to South Park viewers during the Season 21 premiere last fall. South Park writers Matt Stone and Trey Parker integrated Alexa into the episode, resulting in some strange items getting added to viewers’ shopping lists. In the episode, South Park character Eric Cartman gets an Amazon Echo speaker and tells Alexa to set an alarm for 7 a.m.
But the requests soon take a turn for the inappropriate, with Cartman telling Alexa to add “scrotum bags” and “hairy balls” to his shopping list. Viewers of the episode were in for a surprise when Cartman’s voice caused their own Alexa-enabled Echo devices at home to also add those same items to their own lists. Luckily, South Park fans have a sense of humor, and viewers seemed amused. Twitter user @scottbarto took to the social media platform to comment on the shenanigans. “@SouthPark nailed it tonight. In other news I have an erroneous alarm set for 7am and a set of hairy balls on my shopping list. #alexa,” wrote @scottbarto. No word on whether any of the viewers actually received anything that resembled hairy balls in the mail.