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Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice

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Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« on: January 01, 2018, 09:37:53 am »
Thanks to the Admins of this website for putting up a separate category for Canadians. Here is my initial post from the general forum.

Hopefully this Category will attract good discussions about the status of the Echo and Alexa roll out in Canada.

Amazon Echo and Alexa was launched and made available in Canada on Dec 5 2017.  There is a separate Alexa App in Canada and a separate list of enabled skills.  This is at the heart of the opportunity and the problem. Like many others I have struggled with getting the product running and am disappointed at the lack of many features already available in the USA.

This thread is meant to attract comments and suggestions about this product rollout.  I hope the forum moderators of this independent forum will consider helping to turn this topics into a separate forum category. 

There is a large user base in Canada that has exploded in the last 3 weeks and they will turn to online forums to understand what is going on. I have not found a good independent forum so far dedicated to this topic. I encourage others to post here and build the conversation.  We want this new technology to work well and grow be as useful as possible.

I will post my own experiences and solutions to problems and I encourage others to do the same.
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2018, 09:46:22 am »
A repost to get conversations started.

Here is my first post as some background for my future posts. I am a regular consumer. I like technology and enjoy putting to use at home.  I believe that Echo and Alexa ( and other products like Google Home) have the potential to transform our lives.  However, the current state of the product support is not good. 

FYI, I have used and experienced a large number of home automation products since the original X10 stuff in the early 80s. I have I used an implemented almost every form of Audio Visual home technology and computer systems. I have over 35 years of technical experience in the computer industry. 

I currently have running Echo Gen 2, Harmony Hub and have used Harmony products for years, I have automated lighting, Chromecast, Plex, Sonos, Spotify, Rachio etc and will likely add much more as I go. We have an active technical family with more devices, phones and computers than I can count. 

I control home devices with Wifi, Bluetooth, Infared, Radio Frequency and now voice.  I love this stuff, but Alexa, at this point, is far from as useful as it is in the US. I do not want t create a fake US Amazon account to get the the US app but I might have to. 

There are many major functions missing right now. Here is a short list.

No household profiles, so I can't link other accounts to Alexa

No Sonos skills available , but Sonos says it is coming in early 2018

Harmony Hub Skills seem to work well , but the ability to sync with Alexa is pretty bad at present. 
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2018, 09:57:05 am »
A bit of an update since my original post, the current Alexa setup has been only a partial success, my adult daughters have been having some fun with it over the holidays, but sometimes the noise level is so high Alexa just gets confused. 

However, the original plan of this being a gift for my wife, has not gone well. Due to the integration issues and lack of ability to add household profiles, the gift has now turned into a gift for me. I have replaced her gift with a new Kindle that she can link to her account and manage on her own.

As a result, over the next little while I will likely reinstall the Echo and the Alexa app using the Amazon.com US Version, assuming I can find a way to maintain it without compromising the accounts that are linked.  In the mean time I will continue to play with this Canadian set up to see what I can get it to do.

So far I am happy with the integration with Harmony Hub and I can even use that to turn Sonos on and off while we wait for the Sonos skill to get released.

If any Canadians have worked out how to set this up with an Amazon.com account but still access Canadian skills and local information, like news and weather, I would appreciate hearing from you. 
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2018, 10:23:37 am »
I've been running an Amazon dot here for about a year.
So I had to always use the closest US city for weather which was never correct (Other side of Lake Ontario).
If I was at the cottage 218 km further north.
I believe the trick to getting the Alexa skills to work is:
1: setting up with a .com account then in Amazon.com go to settings and setup a US address and save that as default. (I used my sisters as she is in Louisiana)
2: log out
3:next open Alexa to see if you have access to things you previously didn't if so close Alexa.( it may take a bit for every thing to update)
4:Go back to Amazon.com, login and go back to your settings/addresses.
5: Create a new Canadian address if you don't have one already created. If you already have one switch it back to the default. ;)

I've not tried to load any Canadian Skills but I never lost any skills I had access to prior.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2018, 11:01:02 am »
Ok I tried to get a Canadian skill from Amazon.ca and it told me I was setup with a .com address and that I had to go there.  :(
I wanted to load Global news Toronto but couldn't find it on Amazon.com (probably didn't look hard enough)
I opened Alexa and went to skills then typed in Global news and up popped a skill for virtually all Global news Canadian cities.
The Canadian skills are limited right now so I'm not sure what else I'd want that I don't already have. ;)

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2018, 06:28:51 am »
Do you happen to know if the Alexa App is the same in Canada as in the US. I understand that it is important to have the device registered in the US Amazon.com system in order to get the US features, but do you also need a separate version of the phone app.
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2018, 11:35:47 am »
Original I had to download an APK from an alternate source in order to get some US only things working.
I don't remember now what they were exactly. that was prior to the Canadian release.
I now use google play to update so it is possible that downloading the alternate APK and installing it over my version unlocked something.
You may wish to try downloading and installing from and alternate site like APKPure  https://m.apkpure.com/amazon-alexa/com.amazon.dee.app ;)

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advic
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2018, 03:48:29 pm »
OK major update today on how I got the Echo setup as a US device to access the full list of features and skills. I want to write it down here while I remember it.

First I reset the Echo to factory default and prepped for Setup. You do this on a Gen 2 by holding down the Mute and the Volume Down button until it turns into a spinning orange circle and the device says it is ready to setup.

Things that did not work:

1. Tried various ways to trick Amazon to think I was in the US including using a VPN to change the IP of my network to the US. No matter what I tried when I went to either use the Web site or Download the IPad app it always switched back to Amazon.ca. so there was no way to fake it for an initial setup.


2. I tried calling Amazon.ca for support. When I told them I wanted to switch my Echo to my Amazon.com account, they sent me to the US support line. They were helpful but useless. Note, when they looked at their internal system, they could see my Kindles registered in both Canada and the US and they could see that I purchased the Echo, but it would not let them reigister the device in the US. Finally, they told me to continue to register it on Amazon .ca and then to call them back. In the end I did not have to call them back.

3. Also note, at this point my device was not registered anywhere. It showed as purchased in my Amazon.ca account but not registered as a device.

What Did Finally Work:

1. From the steps above, I had already confirmed that I was able to separately log in to my US Amazon.com account and my Amazon.ca account.

2. I proceeded with the Alexa App set up. Note: I have both a Mac and a Windows PC as well as an iPad and an iPhone. All the Apple devices forced me to go the Apple App Store as already registered. From this I was later able to determine that there is no difference between the Alexa App in Canada and the US. Good to know. It is all tied to your Amazon account settings.

3. I finished the initial set up on the Alexa App, connected to Wifi and then I selected US English as the language.  Note as this point I got a few errors saying that the language I had selected did not match the account settings I was using. When I went to try to load Skills it said that no skills were available since the Language I had selected did not match my account. It was this insistence that made me go to the next step.

4. I had already added a US address as a second address in my Amazon.com account. I used the address of a US to Canada shipping company in Niagara Falls NY, in case I want to use them in the future. The address was accepted without issue. I did not register with the shipping company, just copied their address into my account.

5. I logged into my Amazon.ca account and went to change my country in my account settings. It gave me to option to select Amazon US because I guess it was already aware of my Amazon.com account through my Kindles. It gives a few warnings that I will not be able to purchase from Amazon.ca any longer but only Amazon.com. I clicked ok and it immediately transferred my entire account to Amazon.com, including listing my Echo device as registered , as well as my list of previous purchases etc.. It made me select the US address as my primary address even though it still lists my Canadian address as one of my addresses.

6. When I restarted my Alexa App, it immediately changed to the US Version including all of the Settings like Household Setup. Previously missing Skills like Sonos were suddenly available.

7. I then continued to check localization settings in the App. For traffic it still had my Canadian address as the starting address, so I was able to enter a Toronto address for my commute and it accurately gave the commute time. Although it kept suggesting US addresses as I typed it. I was able to add the CBC news update as my flash briefing. For sports it gave a list of various Toronto teams I could updates on. I asked Alexa where we were. For some bizarre reason it said we were in another City in Canada (neither my listed US or Canada address ) I suspect it thought we were at my previous address where I had originally setup my Amazon.com account. I will explore that later.

8. Finally, I set up both the Sonos Skill and the Logitech Harmony Hub skill, it had no issue linking to my accounts there.

I will continue to test it and play with it to see what I find, but hopefully this is helpful for other Canadians that buy a new Echo from Amazon.ca

I am not sure of the result of having no access to Amazon.ca now. I may have to set up a separate account for purchases here in Canada, at least until Amazon figures out how to link everything like they seem to for Kindles.

Update One Day Later: Today I checked my Amazon.ca account, and it is still set up and active, I have outstanding orders still being shipped, in fact it is the Kindle I bought for my wife to replace the Echo. It shows both my Canadian and Fake US address. However, when I went to the Kindle section it says that Amazon.ca is for Canadian customers only, that I need to order Kindle content from Amazon.com. So it looks like Amazon only switched the registration of my devices, IE Kindles and Echos to Amazon.com. I can live with that.

I was also able to into the Alexa App and set my home address , time zone etc. to get correct weather. It took a few tries to save it , there is no save button. It also took a few minutes for Alexa to update the device after I saved the location, but now it is working properly.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2018, 07:50:33 am by Alexa in Canada »
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2018, 04:07:53 pm »
I'm glad you got it figured out. ;)
I remember switching to the UK voice and had all kinds of issues users there were reporting, switching to the US voice fixed those.
I had switched to the Canadian voice just for a short time but quickly switched back to the US voice otherwise I may have notice more issues with skills and such. :-[

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 06:41:17 pm »
It sounds as though it may be useful to create a completely separate Amazon account to use with the Alexa, just to test things out. I'm hesitant to switch my main Amazon.ca account over to US, as I have a bunch of gift cards on the account and wouldn't want to risk losing them. I have zero interest in using the Echo to order from Amazon, so creating a "test" account may be the best way to see whether I can get US skills to work without risking mucking up my main account.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2018, 08:54:48 am »
It sounds as though it may be useful to create a completely separate Amazon account to use with the Alexa, just to test things out. I'm hesitant to switch my main Amazon.ca account over to US, as I have a bunch of gift cards on the account and wouldn't want to risk losing them. I have zero interest in using the Echo to order from Amazon, so creating a "test" account may be the best way to see whether I can get US skills to work without risking mucking up my main account.

You might be right, if you do it that way let us know how it goes.  At first I had the same concerns, but it appears my Amazon.ca account is still fine but my devices are switched to amazon.com. So I end up with both account active using the same email address as I used before. 
An independent consumer hoping to drive discussion and offer advice on using Echo and Alexa in Canada and home automation in general.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 06:28:13 pm »
I have two accounts one was originally a .ca which I switched to .com the other was a .com to begin with.
I don't order anything from .com but have from .ca however not with Alexa and I don't ever plan on doing that.
I haven't placed an order since Alexa was made available to us Cunucks so I'm not sure if I messed up my Ca account.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2018, 11:21:51 pm »
It sounds as though it may be useful to create a completely separate Amazon account to use with the Alexa, just to test things out. I'm hesitant to switch my main Amazon.ca account over to US, as I have a bunch of gift cards on the account and wouldn't want to risk losing them. I have zero interest in using the Echo to order from Amazon, so creating a "test" account may be the best way to see whether I can get US skills to work without risking mucking up my main account.

You might be right, if you do it that way let us know how it goes.  At first I had the same concerns, but it appears my Amazon.ca account is still fine but my devices are switched to amazon.com. So I end up with both account active using the same email address as I used before.

It sounds as though it may be useful to create a completely separate Amazon account to use with the Alexa, just to test things out. I'm hesitant to switch my main Amazon.ca account over to US, as I have a bunch of gift cards on the account and wouldn't want to risk losing them. I have zero interest in using the Echo to order from Amazon, so creating a "test" account may be the best way to see whether I can get US skills to work without risking mucking up my main account.

You might be right, if you do it that way let us know how it goes.  At first I had the same concerns, but it appears my Amazon.ca account is still fine but my devices are switched to amazon.com. So I end up with both account active using the same email address as I used before.

My main concern is that I have gift cards on my .CA account that I wouldn't want to lose if I transferred them to the US. I have no idea what would happen.

So, I created a new Amazon.com account, added my friend's address, and my home address in Canada (none of which seems to have been needed). I logged into the account with the iOS app, reset the Echo Dot and then hooked the two together. I added my Edmonton address to the iOS app, and that worked fine for weather and time. I tried to add a skill and I got the warning that my language didn't match up. I went into my new Amazon.com account, went to devices and set the country to US (it was "Unknown"). I rebooted everything and it seems to be working fine. I added Plex, which isn't available in Canada, and that worked fine as well.

I don't have Prime Music, since I don't have Prime on this newly-created account. That's really the only drawback I've discovered in the 20 mins or so that I've been playing with this. Oh, and I can't set up my phone number, as it's tied to my .ca account.

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 10:01:06 am »
Oh, and I can't set up my phone number, as it's tied to my .ca account.
I too had my Phone number in my Ca. account I was able to remove it from that and then add it to my .com account.
 ;)

Re: Alexa and Echo in Canada, Issues, Assitance and Advice
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 12:24:57 pm »
Oh, and I can't set up my phone number, as it's tied to my .ca account.
I too had my Phone number in my Ca. account I was able to remove it from that and then add it to my .com account.
 ;)

How did you remove your number? I've been looking and looking, and I've been unable to find where that's done.