Amazon reportedly shut down a customer’s smart home after the delivery driver claimed he heard a racial slur coming through the doorbell, even though no one was home.
Brandon Jackson, of Baltimore, Maryland, came home on May 25 to find that he had been locked out of his Amazon Echo, which many devices, including his lights, are connected to.
He would later learn that Amazon locked him out of his account after a delivery driver dropped off a package the day before. Jackson, an engineer at Microsoft, said ‘everything seemed fine’ after the package arrived at his home and had initially thought he was locked out because someone had tried to ‘access my account repeatedly, triggering a lockout.’
But none of that was true. A representative directed him to an email he received from an executive that provided a phone number to call. When he called the number, he was told in a ‘somewhat accusatory’ tone that the driver had reported ‘receiving racist remarks’ from his doorbell.
‘This incident left me with a house full of unresponsive devices, a silent Alexa, and a lot of questions,’ he wrote on Medium.
Jackson, who is black, said most of the neighborhood and its delivery drivers are also African American and it would be ‘highly unlikely that we would make such remarks.’
‘Finally, when I asked what time the alleged incident occurred, I realized it was practically impossible for anyone in my house to have made those comments, as nobody was home around that time (approximately 6:05 PM),’ he wrote.
After reviewing the doorbell footage, he learned the device had given an automatic reply, saying: ‘Excuse me, can I help you?’
He also said the video showed the driver had been wearing headphones during the interaction and ‘must have misinterpreted the message.’
The next day, he was completely locked out of his account and it was ‘rendered unusable during their internal investigation.’
The Baltimore native claimed to have sent over video evidence to Amazon and didn’t hear back for days. When he did, he was told it would take two business days to resolve.