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Amazon Brazenly Locks Man Out of His Smart Home After False Allegation in Latest Big Brother Tech Move

  Brandon Jackson is a smart guy with a smart home. The Microsoft engineer’s home in Baltimore is set up to allow him to remotely monitor an...

 Brandon Jackson is a smart guy with a smart home.

The Microsoft engineer’s home in Baltimore is set up to allow him to remotely monitor and control systems throughout the house — such as security cameras, lights and thermostats — even when nobody’s home.

“My primary means of interfacing with all the devices and automations is through Amazon Echo devices via Alexa,” he said in a post on Medium.

But on May 25, Jackson’s smart surroundings abruptly went dark.

“I found that my Echo Show had signed out, and I was unable to interact with my smart home devices,” he said.


At first, he suspected a data breach, but he checked and ruled that out.

“This incident left me with a house full of unresponsive devices, a silent Alexa, and a lot of questions,” Jackson said.

“Puzzled, I followed the advice of the Amazon app and dialed the customer service number it provided. That’s when things began to take a surreal turn.”

A customer rep told him to check his inbox for an email.

Jackson found one from an Amazon executive, advising him to call.

He hesitated, wondering whether it was a scam, but dialed the phone number given in the e-mail.

“When I connected with the executive, they asked if I knew why my account had been locked,” Jackson continued. “When I answered I was unsure, their tone turned somewhat accusatory.

“I was told that the driver who had delivered my package reported receiving racist remarks from my ‘Ring doorbell.’”

Apparently, the driver’s complaint had prompted someone at the company to abruptly lock his account.

“Here’s where things got even more baffling,” Jackson related.

“First, I have multiple cameras recording everything that happens on my property. If the driver’s claims were accurate, I could easily verify them with video footage.

“Second, most delivery drivers in my area share the same race as me and my family,” said Jackson, who is black. “It seemed 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).”

Jackson reviewed the footage from the Amazon delivery and confirmed that “no such comments had been made.”

Rather, he said, his doorbell — a Eufy, not a Ring device — had issued an automated response: “Excuse me, can I help you?”

“The driver, who was walking away and wearing headphones, must have misinterpreted the message,” Jackson said. “Nevertheless, by the following day, my Amazon account was locked, and all my Echo devices were logged out.”

Despite immediately sending the company the video evidence of what had actually taken place that Thursday, it took nearly a week to get his devices back online.

There was no phone call, no apology — not even an email to let him know the account had been unlocked.

It wasn’t a completely desperate situation, because Jackson had electronic workarounds.

“I was not truly in the dark for a week,” he clarified later. “My smart home runs mostly locally and Alexa really is just a polymorphic interface. I was just able to use Siri. Though out of habit I’d sometimes say ‘alexa,’ only for her to remind me how stupid I was.”

“It’s time for Amazon to take a more customer-focused approach to problem-solving and conflict resolution,” he added.

Jackson’s story has gone somewhat viral, with news outlets as far away as the U.K.’s Daily Mail writing about it. Repair guru Louis Rossmann featured the story on his YouTube channel, which has 1.8 million subscribers, and it garnered more than 827,000 views within two days.

“This incident stands as a stark reminder of the need for better customer service and a more nuanced approach to incident management,” he said, adding that he’s even considered ditching his 10-year relationship with Amazon.

Some viewers responded that it would have been OK for Amazon to take such drastic action if there really had been a racist remark. Jackson disagreed.

“If someone bought and paid for a device they should be able to use it, at least on their own property,” he said, “if it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

“I’m only pushing this story so that this WONT happen to any one else.

“Regardless of their race, religion, beliefs, if you paid for it you should OWN it.”

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