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Customer Service Life

The Amazon Alexa outage that hardly any-one noticed

Or rather “only I seemed to notice”.

I use my various Alexa’s for various purposes but they’re primarily used for playing the radio. Whether it’s Absolute 70s in the kitchen (yes, I am that old) or LBC in my office, they’re great. But on Wednesday that stopped working and, with nobody else reporting the same thing, was it an unusual issues only related to me?

Sorry, I’m having trouble, please try in a little while.

This is what she said to me every time I asked her to play a radio station. It didn’t matter which one, unless it was something that needed its own dedicated app (e.g. BBC radio).

Every device in the house was the same but they’d happily respond to everything else, including streaming music.

As I often do in this situation, I turned to Twitter and searched for others experiencing the same.

Nothing.

Admittedly, it’s hard to know as you have to somehow omit the huge number of Tweets from never-heard-of radio stations who feel the need to Tweet out every song they play. Trying searching for combination of Alexa and radio and this is pretty much all you see…

I sent a message to @AmazonHelp and they tried to get me through a set of pretty standard diagnostics, assuming it was all streaming that didn’t work, despite the fact that I’d told them otherwise.

Quickly realising I’d tried what they’d suggested anyway, they asked me to get in contact with them in a more old-fashioned way – i.e. the phone. I spoke to a very pleasant person who, hearing my issue, wanted to check if it was a known issue. I was put on hold for some time before they came back and said it was and their engineers were looking into it.

Great.

Wednesday came to an end and still the radio didn’t work.

Thursday came and went too with no success.

At this point I was becoming paranoid (and maybe I have a right to) that maybe this was just my issue and Amazon had just told me it was known to get rid of me. Friday morning, though, all was working again. 70s music reigned once more during my lunch.

So, what happened here? There’s never been anything official but this reply to me from their Twitter channel indicates the issue was with TuneIn…

Maybe it was a very specific issue only affecting a certain cross-section of people, many of whom maybe don’t use the radio function, so never spotted it. Or maybe… (whispers) maybe… nobody liked to admit to using it for playing the radio.

Talk to me!

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