Amazon has mysteriously withdrawn Alexa’s burglar-detecting Guard feature in the U.K. and paid compensation to customers who had enabled the feature.
Alexa Guard is a clever use of Amazon’s smart speakers, which listens for alarms or the sound of breaking glass, tipping off customers that there may be an emergency when they are away from home.
Alexa Guard was introduced in the U.S. in 2019 and had started to appear in the device options for Echo speaker owners in the U.K. recently. However, Amazon has quickly pulled the feature, according to users on Reddit, claiming it should never have been offered to U.K. customers.
“We are getting in touch regarding your sign-up for Alexa Guard on 27 July 2020,” an email to one customer reads.
“Unfortunately, Alexa Guard is not available in the U.K. and it should not have been possible for our customers in the U.K. to sign up. This was a technical issue which has been fixed.
“As Alexa Guard is not available in the U.K., it has been removed from your account.”
Amazon is giving affected customers a £10 Amazon gift card as a “token of appreciation” for the removal.
Despite the compensation, the move has disappointed some customers. “Would rather have had Guard than the £10!” commented one affected user on Reddit.
Quite why Amazon is unable to launch the feature in the U.K. is a mystery. It may be that the technology breaches intellectual property in the territory or that there are concerns about the E.U.’s stricter data privacy regime. Either way, it seems U.K. customers aren’t going to be afforded the protection of Alexa Guard for the time being.
Amazon U.K. has been approached for comment.