How to stop Amazon Echo from asking you to buy stuff

David Limp, senior vice president of devices and services at Inc., presents the Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker during an unveiling event at the company’s Spheres headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.

Andrew Burton | Bloomberg | Getty Images

In a thread on Reddit over the weekend, some Amazon Echo owners complained about unwanted commercial messages from Alexa. Sometimes, if you ask the Alexa the weather, for example, it might give you the weather and then ask if you want ideas for stuff to buy.

It happened on my Echo, too. When I tested it by asking Alexa the time, Alexa told me the time and then added : “By the way, I can help you celebrate birthdays. Would you like to hear some ideas for birthday themes?” It didn’t happen all the time, just sporadically.

It happens enough that people are vocal about it, though.

It’s these sort of unwanted ads that seems to be annoying some people. I’ll show you how to turn them off, but first a reminder why they probably exist in the first place: Amazon can price its Echo speakers lower than some competitors by using it as a way to get you to buy more stuff from Amazon.

It’s similar to how Amazon can sell such affordable Kindle readers and Fire tablets. By selling at cost or below cost, Amazon brings you into its ecosystem of services and products, with the hope that you’ll buy more through Amazon with that gadget.

Tired of those extra ads? Here’s how you can turn them off.

How to stop Alexa from asking you to buy stuff

You can stop Alexa from asking if you want ideas for stuff to buy by changing some of the notification settings in the Alexa app on your phone. Here’s what you do:

  • Open the Alexa app on your iPhone or Android phone.
  • Choose Settings.
  • Tap Notifications.
  • Select Amazon Shopping.
  • Turn off the option to “receive personalized recommendations and deals based on your shopping activity.”
  • Also turn off “requests to rate products you’ve purchased” if you don’t want those messages, either.
  • Turn off the option to receive notifications for “Order Updates (Inc. Subscribe & Save.)” If you don’t want messages about saving money by subscribing for monthly deliveries.

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