What do you agree to in the Amazon Key terms and conditions?

Andrew Munro 30 October 2017 NEWS

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The fine print tells you exactly what to expect.

Amazon Key is one of the tech giant's recent offerings. It's a combined smart lock and security camera system, by which you can allow friends, family, trusted delivery-persons and other services access to your home while you're not around.

When access is authorised, the door can be remotely unlocked without you being around. For peace of mind, you can watch it live on high-definition camera or later on.

It's mostly for the Amazon's deliveries, and might be useful to let in friends or family while you're not around, but in the coming months it will also include a range of services from partnered providers including cleaning, pet-sitting and dog-walking. Currently, Key is available for Prime customers and will cost US$250. It's set to become available in 37 US cities on 8 November.

Amazon's already asked for a lot of trust with systems like Amazon Echo, but asking for the key to your house is a step further.

It's safe to say that enough people will see the point to sign up. It's not uncommon for people to trust housekeepers and pet-sitters with their actual house keys, and thanks to the included camera system, Key might actually be a more secure way of doing things.

But it's also safe to say that things will still go wrong.

A matter of when, not if

A 99.9% success rate would probably still means thousands of dissatisfied customers every year. It's almost inevitable that there will be dodgy providers, and that thefts will occur with Amazon Key.

The "Amazon Key Happiness Guarantee" is intended to help put your mind at ease where the camera doesn't, but it's not exactly bulletproof. Meanwhile, the Amazon Key terms and conditions might also give some people pause.

Terms and conditions

...we will process and retain your Recordings in the cloud to provide and improve our services. You give us all permissions we need to do so."

As a "compatible product capable of creating recordings," Amazon will be storing and using recordings of your home from your Key camera. You can assume that nothing the camera sees is private and that everything it sees will be stored and will remain accessible.

There's also a decent chance that a leak will eventually bring Amazon Key footage around the internet for the whole world to see.

Amazon will also be collecting information on related devices that are used to operate Amazon Key, and how frequently you use it.

Amazon has no responsibility or liability for... any guests or service providers to whom you provide authorization to operate your lock."

Essentially, Amazon completely washes its hands of all responsibility associated with you letting people into your home.

Services completed without the customer present [may limit your coverage]"

By the T&Cs, your cover under the Happiness Guarantee might be limited if you're not present at the time of a service being provided. Naturally, this might crimp your claims in most Amazon Key situations.

What the Happiness Guarantee offers

There's the Amazon Key in-home delivery happiness guarantee and the Amazon Home Services happiness guarantee. The one that's relevant to you will depend on what you're using Amazon Key for on that occasion

For in-home deliveries with Amazon Key:

"If any Amazon Key in-home delivery was not completed to your satisfaction, or your product or property was damaged as a direct result of the delivery, we'll work with you to correct the problem." You can only claim for unsatisfactory deliveries or damage as a direct result of the delivery.

For Amazon services you allowed access with Key, the correction will be one of the following:

  • Correcting the service
  • Giving you a refund, and covering related property damage up to a maximum of $2,500
  • Helping you file a claim against the provider's insurance

And you can file a claim when all of the following apply:

  • You're unsatisfied with the service performed.
  • The service was purchased entirely through Amazon.com.
  • The scope of work was limited to the description of the service listed on Amazon.com.
  • The service was within the last 90 days, or 30 days for in-home deliveries.

What does it mean?

Essentially it's buyer beware. Amazon is a marketplace for service providers, and it offers systems like Amazon Key to help facilitate that. But the agreement you have is between you and the specific provider, and you invite anyone into your home at your own risk.

Theft is noticeably absent from the guarantee as well.

It's a high tech system, you can get more control over the exact times they can enter the house and the Amazon Key camera will probably encourage a bit more honesty and reputability among those you let into your home, but don't let that fool you. Using Amazon Key is almost exactly as secure as just giving someone your physical house keys and installing your own security cameras system.


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