Amazon turned off a man’s smart home after a delivery driver falsely accused him of making a a racist comment through his smart doorbell.
Baltimore, Maryland resident Brandon Jackson returned home on May 25 to find that his smart home lost some serious IQ points while he was away.
The Microsoft engineer said that his Amazon Echo controlled home, which was responsible for regulating the lights, security cameras, and doorbell amongst other devices, had been shutdown by the tech giant.
“This incident left me with a house full of unresponsive devices, a silent Alexa, and a lot of questions,” he wrote in a post on Medium.
He initially believed that an unauthorized user had repeatedly attempted to access his Amazon account and triggered a lockout.
After checking to see if any of his other accounts were compromised and finding no other issues, he phoned the customer service line and received a huge shock.
An Amazon executive personally connected with Jackson and snarkily asked if he knew why they had locked him out.
When he said that he was unsure, the executive told him that one of the company’s delivery drivers was on the receiving end of racist remarks through his Ring doorbell, when a package was left on his doorstep the day prior.
Jackson was shocked, so he reviewed his cameras and found that no one was home a the time of the delivery and no racist comments were made through the device.
He said the doorbell gave the driver and automated response of “Excuse me, can I help you,” after he was walking away, and the Amazon employee, who was wearing headphones, ” must have misinterpreted the message.”
Despite submitting video evidence of the non-incident from multiple different angles, and following up with several calls and emails, Amazon kept his account offline for a week while they investigated.
“Let me be clear: I fully support Amazon taking measures to ensure the safety of their drivers,” Jackson remarked.
“However, I question why my entire smart home system had to be rendered unusable during their internal investigation.”
Though his account was eventually restored, Jackson is “seriously considering” getting rid of all the Amazon devices in his home.
“After nearly a decade of loyalty, I’ve been given a harsh reminder that a misunderstanding can lead to such drastic measures,” he wrote.
“If someone bought and paid for a device they should be able to use it at least on their own property/ if it doesn’t hurt anyone else,” Jackson added.
According to the Daily Caller, Amazon corroborated Jackson’s “Tale of Unwanted Disruption,” and are trying to keep another one like it from occurring in the future.
“We work hard to provide customers with a great experience while also ensuring drivers who deliver Amazon packages feel safe,” Amazon spokesperson Simone Griffin told the outlet in a statement.
“In this case, we learned through our investigation that the customer did not act inappropriately,” she confirmed.
“We’re working directly with the customer to resolve their concerns while also looking at ways to prevent a similar situation from happening again.”
Social media users blasted the company for how they handled the situation.
“Hmm. I’m not sure that secretly accusing a customer of an alleged racist comment, not informing him if the accusation, then assuming that he’s guilty and locking him out of his house is the best business strategy,” someone tweeted.
“Amazon shut down someone’s smart home system,” a Twitter user posted. “It doesn’t get any dystopian than that.”
“The customer was left without heating, A/C, and their lights for over a week,” another added. “In a just society, heads would roll at Amazon.”
“Wait until Amazon doesn’t like your politics. Who you voted for. What you say online. It’s coming,” one person cautioned.