Amazon locked a Microsoft engineer out of his smart home devices for nearly a week after a delivery driver accused him of uttering a racial slur.
According to a June 4 blog post on Medium, Brandon Jackson found himself locked out of his Amazon Echo Show on May 25. When he contacted customer service, he was given the number of an Amazon executive - which he thought was a scam.
"When I connected with the executive, they asked if I knew why my account had been locked," he wrote. "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.'"
Jackson, who is black, said that the accusation was improbable, as many of the delivery drivers in his area are the same race - thus, the racial slur was "highly unlikely."
Jackson tracked down the time that the driver would have dropped off his package (May 24 at 6:05 p.m.), and compared it to footage from his home at the time of the incident - revealing that nobody was home at the time of the delivery. Instead, Jackson thinks that his Eufy automated doorbell said to the driver "Excuse me, can I help you?"
"The driver, who was walking away and wearing headphones, must have misinterpreted the message," wrote Jackson, adding that even after he shared the evidence with Amazon, his account remained locked.
"Despite numerous calls and emails, it wasn’t until Friday afternoon [on May 26] that I received confirmation that the investigation had started," he wrote, adding that it wasn't until May 31 that access was finally restored.
In a statement to NTD News, Amazon said: "we learned through our investigation that the customer did not act inappropriately, and we’re working directly with the customer to resolve their concerns while also looking at ways to prevent a similar situation from happening again."
More via the Epoch Times;
Impact of the Lockout
While he was locked out of the Amazon account he typically used for his smart home devices, Jackson said he had already thought ahead about alternate ways to control his devices.
“I already had everything set up so if something did fail I have fallbacks so I wasn’t truly in the dark,” Jackson explained in a subsequent video post about the experience. “But I wrote [my blog post] from the perspective of someone who—what if they didn’t do all that.”
Jackson, who is an engineer at Microsoft and is relatively tech savvy, shared his concerns for owners of smart home devices who don’t have the same knowledge base and find themselves locked out in a similar incident.
He said the incident led him to lose trust in Amazon due to how it kept him locked out through the duration of the ordeal.
“I fully support Amazon taking measures to ensure the safety of their drivers. However, I question why my entire smart home system had to be rendered unusable during their internal investigation,” he wrote.
Jackson also argued that Amazon or other companies shouldn’t be able to block people from using the products they purchased because they expressed the wrong opinions.
“If you bought a toaster right, it doesn’t matter what you did, how bad of a person you were how good of a person you are, you still own the toaster at the end of the day right?” Jackson said. “And if you really did do something that was so horrible and bad that shouldn’t be Amazon or Google or Apple’s call to do anything about that. You know, we already have a system set up for that and that’s what you should be going through.”