Increasingly erratic Echo behavior anyone else?

Amazon Echo
In the last three to four months we have been seeing more and more erratic behavior from the Echo devices in our house and I wanted to ask if something is going on as we are becoming increasingly frustrated and are considering dumping all of our devices in favor of another platform. Some examples of things that we are encountering:

From time to time one of the echo devices in the house will suddenly start talking as if someone had asked it a question, but there is no one in the room and there are no background noises that it could have mistaken for the wake word and many times when it does this if we enter the room and tell it to stop it will ignore the command and just continue to babble until it’s finished whatever it is trying to say.

We ask Alexa to play 80 rock music for example it will start out playing standard American rock and then after a song or two it starts playing all Spanish music. This occurs frequently. We do not speak Spanish in our house and our Echo’s default language is English. We have tried saying Alexa play English 60’s rock music and other variations of the same command and it still plays Spanish music.

Another example when playing music when asking Alexa to play for example 60’s rock music it starts playing and when you say next it will say last song and starts over, it selects a “playlist” with only one song in it.

We ask Alexa to play a specific type of music, Mozart for example and it will randomly start playing something entirely different like Rap music and it acknowledge that you requested Mozart. Or it will say here is a station you might like, it I wanted to try something different then I would ask for it. If I want Mozart then that is what I want it to play I don’t need it to try and discern what I might like.

If you tell Alexa to play a specific music, like Mozart for example, (we play classical for our blind dog as she finds it soothing), after a while it will suddenly stop playing and you have to tell Alexa to resume, sometimes it does and other times it will tell you there is nothing to resume.

When Alexa is playing music, (volume 3 or 4) and it starts playing the wrong kind of music if we tell it to stop, quit, pause etc sometimes it just ignores the command and keeps on playing. In this example the Echo in question is in the kitchen and we are standing no more than 2-3 feet from it, there are no other sounds in the background, no TV, radio, cooking noises etc and it just refuses to acknowledge the command. Even if you put your face right down next to the device and yell at it. It’s not like it doesn’t hear you as the music will stop and the ring light comes on but it will just keep right on playing after a few seconds. Most times I have to unplug it to get it to stop.

I recently asked the Alexa to play a specific song and it wouldn’t play and I again repeated the command with no result then all the sudden the echo starts a long speech but it’s whispering so low I can’t make out what its saying and then with no further input from me it returned to a normal volume level and was asking me if I wanted to sign up for Amazon unlimited.

We have our echo in the kitchen set to remind us to give one of our dogs her medicine, when it starts with the reminder we say Alexa stop, but it refuses to acknowledge the command and just keeps going until it has stated the reminder twice, even if you get right up next to the echo a lot of times it will still continue to ignore the stop command and just keeps going.

I use my Echo device extensively with my home automation system powered by a Vera Plus hub and the Echo’s are constantly and I mean constantly like 4 out of 5 home automation commands the Echo will say device xxx is not responding and then several seconds later it will carry out the command, or it fails to carry out the command and I can immediately say it again and it will carry out the command. I know this is an issue on the Amazon side because I can have my Vera app open on my smart phone and as soon as the Echo gives me the error, I can turn the device on or off via my smart phone and it responds instantly.

I have an Alexa on the nightstand in my bedroom 8 inches from my head. If I give a command such as Alexa turn off the Master Light, the ring will light up indicating that it has heard the command, but the light never turns off. There is no error, it doesn’t say that the device is not responding etc. Again I know it isn’t a problem with my home automation hub because if I immediately pick up my smart phone I can use it to turn the light off.

We have a flood light, (always hot with no switch) in the backyard and when we have to take the dogs out before bed we say Computer floodlight on to the echo in the kitchen, no background noise and it won’t do anything, or it says something like Master bedroom doesn’t support that, or it will ask did you mean main kitchen light or there are multiple devices with flood light in the name which did you mean, but there is only one device called floodlight.

Other times the echo will make the acknowledgement sound that the home automation command was received, but never executes or indicates an error.

I have two echo devices in my large home office, one answers to the wake word computer and the other answers to the wake word Alexa. I can say computer turn on the desk lamp and I will get the red ring light and it will say I’m having trouble understanding, but I can issue the exact same command to the Alexa in the other end of the room and it responds, both devices are within 2 feet and 15 feet from a Cisco WiFi Access point with no walls in between.

We also have our thermostat integrated with our home automation and I can say Alexa what is the thermostat set to and the ring ling will come on and I wait and I wait and I wait and finally after about 10 seconds it tells me. I could walk over to the thermostat, look at it and walk back faster. Also, many time we get the Honeywell thermostat is not responding and I’ll just give up as it takes longer and is more frustrating to keep dealing with the Echo than to just walk down the hall and adjust it manually.

If I check the Alexa app during an episode or erratic behavior to see what command it thought I was saying when it failed to respond, either there is no indication that it ever received a command or it shows that it received the correct command but just completely ignored it.

I’ve also noticed that the echo devices seem to be increasingly sluggish to respond to and carry out a command. Home automation commands, commands to set a timer, commands to play music, even slow to acknowledge the wake word. Sometimes I have to say Alexa 2-3 times before it finally wakes up like duh were you talking to me? Many times, it is so slow that I think it didn’t hear and I am part way through repeating the command when it finally executes. Home automation commands seem to be especially bad. For example I can tell it to turn on a light and it responds with the acknowledgment sound, but by the time it actually executes the command I could have walked across the room, turned on the light and returned to where I was sitting before it completes the command or picked up my phone opened the Vera app and issued the device command quicker. I know it is the Echo because if I use my Smart phone and send the command via my home automation app the response is immediate.

The erratic behavior seems be getting worse over the last 3-4 months and seems to affect the majority of the devices in our house, (5 total). I also know that my issues and examples are not isolated I have spent countless hours searching the web and I am finding others with complaints so similar to mine it sounds like were living in the same house.

I’m wondering if their backend infrastructure is being overwhelmed by the number of devices being used or perhaps their system has been hacked.

We bought into Amazon’s Echo infrastructure as a convenience to us and initially that was the case it was great to for playing music, setting timers, home automation, asking quick questions and other functions, but rather than being a convenience it has become a source of increasing frustration and annoyance. Now it seems like more times than not when we ask it for something it misunderstands, throws some kind of error or asks some foolish question that we say Alexa shut up and accomplish the task through some other means.

Are any of the folks at Android Central who use the Echo seeing similar issues and more importantly is there anything that can be done to improve what appears to be an ongoing issue?

Thanks

Gordon

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