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For a digital butler that's just supposed to help us out, Alexa is causing a lot of turmoil in one household this week. One family's Amazon Echo device wound up taking a six-year-old's conversations a bit too seriously and ordering hundreds of dollars of cookies and toys. Sounds like a dream come true for the young girl, but not necessarily for the parents...
Dallas, Texas mother Megan Neitzel was shocked to find an order confirmation for a pretty pricey dollhouse and a huge tin of cookies a few days after setting up the Amazon Echo that she received as a gift over the holidays, Fox News reports. After some initial confusion, Neitzel asked her six-year-old daughter Brooke what she had been talking to Amazon Echo's voice assistant Alexa about since she hooked the device up. Apparently, in the middle of some knock-knock jokes and little games that she was playing the Alexa, the young girl had asked about dollhouses and cookies, and Alexa had mistaken the inquiry for a purchase command. Cut to a few days later, when a $170 dollhouse and a four-pound tin of cookies arrived at the Neitzels' front door.
Thankfully, the family figured out how to configure their new machine to prevent unexpected purchases from happening again by activating a parental control feature that requires a four-digit passcode before completing any purchases. The accident is also less likely to happen to the average Amazon Echo purchaser with children, since the user would have to set up the device with account and card information before it could complete random purchases via voice command.
Despite begin out about a couple hundred bucks, the Neitzel family is making the most of the little accident. They've enjoyed the tin of cookies, and are looking for a local charity to donate the large dollhouse to. And as a further precaution, the whole family is choosing their words much more carefully around their Amazon Echo.
I [feel] like whispering in the kitchen. I tell my kids Alexa is a very good listener.
This ordering snafu comes only a few days after another pretty hilarious issue involving a child accidentally misusing Amazon Echo. A viral video featuring a young boy trying out his family's newly set up Amazon Echo Dot over the holidays has the internet in an uproar. As the child requests a song from Alexa, the digital assistant misunderstands and instead begins to search for some explicit porn. You can check out the video of that NSFW exchange below.
After seeing that craziness, I think the Neitzel's getting some surprise cookies was definitely the better of the two stories. Still, sounds like moms and dads might want to monitor what their kids are saying to the Echo, especially if they have it set up to place orders.