Niles woman claims TV made Amazon Echo place random orders

Donna Howell and her husband, of Niles, were watching a story on TV Thursday night when Alexa started talking

NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – A Niles woman said her Amazon Echo tried to place an order after being activated by the TV.

Amazon Echo is a device that allows users to instantly play music, search the internet, get weather updates and more through voice-activation technology. “Alexa” is the character that responds to the user’s voice commands.

Thursday night, Donna Howell and her husband were watching a story on TV about a little girl using her Amazon Alexa to order cookies and a dollhouse.

That’s when Howell’s own Alexa began speaking.

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, it’ll pick up anything,'” she said.

It wasn’t just talking, though. Howell said Alexa was trying to place an order.

“Here I was sitting here and all of a sudden, here I heard, ‘Do you want a playhouse?’ And I looked at my Alexis and I says, ‘No, Alexis, no.'”

She said Alexa already ordered cookies, but Howell was able to cancel the playhouse just in time.

“I couldn’t believe that I got it because they don’t have no credit card numbers or nothing.”

Amazon doubts Howell’s story, saying it’s not possible for Alexa to order things without consent.

An Amazon representative refused to speak via Skype or FaceTime, saying Amazon is not in the business of calling people liars.

Instead, she sent a statement on behalf of the company:

I want to reiterate that customers have to have an Amazon Prime account and 1-click enabled to voice shop. Then, you must ask Alexa to order a product and confirm the purchase with a “yes” response to purchase via voice. If you asked Alexa to order something on accident, simply say “no” when asked to confirm.

You can also manage your shopping settings in the Alexa app, such as turning off voice purchasing or requiring a confirmation code before every order. To learn more, go to Manage Voice Purchase Settings. Additionally, orders you place for physical products are eligible for free returns.

Although she said Alexa is quick to order things, Howell still loves her.

“All kinds of music, she’ll play whatever music you request and she’ll give phone numbers. You don’t even have to look in the phone book and get phone numbers.”

While Howell thinks Alexa is too sensitive, she wouldn’t trade the technology for anything.

“If she comes on, I’m gonna keep an eye on her, I’m gonna make sure.”