Amazon renders man's smart home system unusable after delivery driver alleges he heard racist remarks via the doorbell

Jackson said the incident left him with "a house full of unresponsive devices, a silent Alexa, and a lot of questions." Image: Brandon Jackson, Facebook

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
A Maryland man was sent into "digital exile" for a week, with Amazon rendering his smart home system unusable following complaints made by a delivery driver who claimed he'd heard racist remarks directed at him via the video doorbell.

Brandon Jackson, an engineer at Microsoft, explained that in response to the allegations leveled against him by the delivery driver, Amazon had locked his account and logged him out of all the Echo devices in his Baltimore home. 

According to Jackson, on Thursday May 25 he tried communicating with his Echo devices, but his requests were met with silence. He originally attributed the malfunction to unauthorized access by a hacker, but soon realized that was improbable and proceeded to call Amazon customer service.

He explained that the Amazon employee informed him in a "somewhat accusatory" tone that the man who delivered the package to his house at 6 pm the previous day "reported receiving racist remarks" from his Eufy doorbell. The only problem was, according to Jackson, nobody was home at that time.

Befuddled, Jackson checked his cameras and found that rather than spewing racist remarks, the doorbell had simply said, "Excuse me, can I help you?" The delivery man, who Jackson said was seen wearing headphones, "must have misinterpreted the message."

He submitted the evidence to Amazon, but said it "had little impact on their decision to disable [his] account." It wasn't until the following Wednesday that his account was finally unlocked, without any explanation from Amazon.

"This incident has led me to question my relationship with Amazon," Jackson stated, lamenting the fact that "a misunderstanding can lead to such drastic measures."

He went on to note that, due to the experience, he was "seriously considering" doing away with his Amazon Echo devices," in favor of a "personalized home assistant system, perhaps utilizing Raspberry Pi devices scattered around the house."

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