When it comes to overzealous virtual assistants, the problem with wasted holiday surprises seems to stem from one particular feature: package notifications. When this feature is active, Alexa will automatically offer package delivery updates, sometimes including the specific titles of items you have ordered (via Express).
This can be problematic if you’re buying holiday gifts on Amazon and a notification comes in while the gift is in the room. For example, you probably don’t want excited kids knowing that the toy they want from Santa actually arrives via FedEx two weeks before Christmas. Not only can this spoil the surprise on Christmas morning, but they can start asking uncomfortable questions about merry old St. Nick.
As an Amazon spokesperson told UK radio station Heart, “Alexa won’t reveal the names of potentially freebie items when customers ask ‘Where’s my stuff’ or to read delivery notifications, so to avoid spoiling surprises over the Christmas period. …If an item is marked as a gift during checkout, Alexa will never reveal the order details.” However, not all items may seem like a giveaway to the AI assistant algorithm, so errors may still occur. That’s why your safest option is to adjust your devices’ package notification settings during the holiday season.