Amazon and the UK

I thought you might like to see a communication with Amazon and my responses.. I am pretty annoyed as it is not the first time an American company has launch stuff around the world – keen to get sales going but not so keen to provide international customers with the tools they need.

So – I’ve spent some time working on the Amazon Echo product and had some issues along the way. Here’s one reason – I wonder if American companies are even remotely aware of how ANNOYING this is? And all of it would have been so easy to avoid just by better communications.

Amazon: Thank you for contacting us. I understand that you have a couple questions. First that you’re being referred to the Alexa skills store to find a particular Alexa skill, but it cannot be found. Additionally, you’re having some trouble testing your own flash briefing skill. I can certainly help look into both of these issues today.

1. AnyMote Skill

It sounds like the skill you may be referring to is “AnyMote Smart Remote” made by AB Mobile. If that’s the case, then yes it is currently only available in the US Alexa skills store, which would explain why you may be unable to find it if you’re located in the UK, and thus signed into the UK Alexa skills store.

Peter: Thank you for this – in the meantime I’ve heard from Anymote – they claim they put in the Skill for the UK Amazon ages ago and were less than excited by the time it Is taking Amazon to process this – you might want to investigate – when something exciting is launched the LAST thing you presumably want to do is cheese off developers adding value to your product!

Amazon:  2. Flash Briefing Skill

Similarly, flash briefing skills are only available in the “English (U.S.)” language, which as far as Alexa is concerned, is a separate language from “English (U.K.)”. In order for a skill be accessible on a given device, that device must be in the same language as the skill, and available in the country you’re physically located in.

In this case then, your own flash briefing skill is inaccessible on your Echo device because the Echo device in question is signed into the English UK marketplace, and using the English UK language, whereas the flash briefing skill is in English US, which is currently the only available option for flash briefing skills.

Peter: So why are you doing this? Deliberately (so it would appear) disadvantaging British users and developers? In both cases what you seem to be saying is – had we been American we’d be fine. WHY don’t you have a British Flash briefing skill? The link you have provided explains what you’ve told me – thank you – but it does not explain why we are being disadvantaged in the UK?

And if I cannot develop and test a Skill because it won’t work in the UK, why on EARTH does Amazon let me go through the WHOLE process of putting the skill into the forms on Amazon UK when you know fine well it won’t work?

I really would appreciate some feedback here – I write a blog and am recommending people to use Echo – having developed a general skill here which does work but which causes issues because of Amazon’s absolute insistence on using port 443 for SSL …

Should I be telling British followers to wait for the Google unit because Amazon are not interested in the UK at this time?

Amazon: For more information on international skill distribution and availability, please see the help article below:


20 thoughts on “Amazon and the UK

    1. Thank you for that! Not sure I need it now 🙂 but I’ll go take a look – and of course others in here might find it useful.

    2. This is the first time I’ve looked at this in depth – now I have all I can see are some fairly lame things about emailing shopping lists – and several proprietary light switch or heating control bits. As I can already turns lights on and off with HA-Bridge and via our own code turn things on and get voice feedback (sadly requiring HTTPS) is there anything this can do that beats that with Alexa? Just wondering?

      1. Ah yes, sorry I’m making the mistake our American friends often make – assumptions! As far as I know, Echo is only available in the UK, maybe France and of course the US. Last time I checked they were not even available in Canada yet and many of the skills you might like to TEACH – are only USA right now – but home control of course you can use from anywhere – HA-Bridge for example. It probably only uses American and British dictionary lookup however.

  1. Nothing worse than a user taking the time to try and help a company improve their product, only to be spoon fed basic information that user has clearly obtained already.

    Sounds almost like a bot response here Peter. Maybe even some future form of Alexa being beta tested on unsuspecting humans? Ask Amazon to prove their humanity or tell them we’ll revolt!

  2. I can understand the different language thing, but while Amazon’s hold on skills is too corporate for me (open source it ain’t), they could also be concerned about problems like this
    If so, I doubt we’ll see this software released to the UK soon.
    Reckon I’ll check out next year’s January sales, EB_Y for unwanted Xmas presents or see how Google’s version turns out.

  3. Pete,
    It may be worth a petition ….I’m sure you could easily get a load of us geeks to sign it… that’s at least a 100 then 🙂

    I really don’t think these big corporations actually know what their departments are doing, the marketing dept. probably had a launch date in the UK and their tech dept. said they wouldn’t be ready in time but they launched it anyway!

  4. Being someone who lives next door to them I feel your pain. I was able to get my Echo DOT from someone I know who lives in the US. I believe the only reason it is not available in Canada is because it is not available in French.


    1. Oh and Canadian – my friend Peter Oakes is itching to have a go.

      But to be fair – I don’t think they’ve launched the product in these places – whereare they are OPENLY selling these units in the UK. You can go in with a UK account to your UK Amazon – create a Flash Briefing skill – go through the whole thing – and never realise that it is just not going to work… ALL they had to do was say “sorry this will not work for UK customers right now” and that would at least have been half acceptable – better yet – don’t offer that skill creation in the first place – but no – they let you go through the whole thing – and then when you come to test… the SKILL you’ve made EVEN APPEARS in your App complete with pretty ICON… but at the last second… you can’t actually add it to your Flash briefings…

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