10

The Hedgehogs’ Smart Home – Part 3

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Where we are: Harry and Vivian Hedgehog’s smart home is becoming a nightmare with merchandise arriving without being ordered. Vivian has been working with Euphrates to fix the problem, but it has continued.

Harry and Vivian were extremely disappointed. As much as they liked Venus, they couldn’t keep using her. It was irritating to keep getting things they hadn’t ordered. Besides, it was tying up their credit while the return was processed. They didn’t want to have any problems with their HedgeAccess card. What would happen if something got lost, and they had to pay Euphrates for something they had never wanted in the first place?

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Harry contacted Euphrates to see if they could use Venus but disable her ability to order from Euphrates. The representative told him that Venus had to communicate with Euphrates. It was part of her basic programming. There was no way to separate the ordering function from the rest of the communications sent to Euphrates.

Harry disconnected his chat and thought about what the representative had said. What type of information would Venus need to send to Euphrates except sales information? He looked at the paperwork they had received from Euphrates when they bought Venus. Reading through it, Harry found what he was looking for:

“All conversations recorded by Venus are the property of Euphrates. This information may be used for marketing purposes or for the solicitation of new customers.”

Hogs! He knew he should have found a hedgehog vendor rather than using the Cobras.

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Harry: It looks like there’s no way around it. It’s either get rid of Venus or live with the unwanted items.

Vivian: We can’t just turn off the ordering?

Harry: No. It’s tied into Euphrates’ ability to listen in on what we say.

Vivian: I knew it was too good to be true. We’ll have to pack everything up and send it back tomorrow.

Harry: Why can’t we do it right now?

Vivian: Don’t you remember? Pete and Stella are coming over for dinner. We have to get ready.

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Pete and Stella were Harry and Vivian’s best friends. Harry and Vivian had moved into the burrow next to their friends. The burrows were so close that sometimes they could head each other scratching the ground or running on the treadmill.

Dinner went well. The grub-avocado salad was delicious. And they enjoyed the dandelion wine, although it did come from a human recipe.

Pete: How’s it going with your smart home?

Harry: Not so well. We keep getting stuff we didn’t order. You’re supposed to get her attention, by saying “Venus” before you ask her to do anything. Apparently, if it’s something they sell, the rules don’t apply.

Vivian: Or something. We can’t figure it out. All we know is that we’re not using the “official” words, and we keep getting stuff.

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Stella: What kind of stuff?

Vivian: The first thing was a television.

Stella looked at Pete.

Pete: Was it a Katsu 4K streaming model?

Vivian: As a matter of fact, it was. Then we got some Badger-b-Gone. The most recent thing was a vacuum cleaner.

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Stella: Oh, my hogs! I am so sorry, but we know what happened.

Harry: You do? How?

Pete: After you got Venus, we thought it would be fun to pretend to order things online with our own Venus.

Stella: So, we told “our” Venus to order a few things. We never thought it would interfere with your real Venus.

Harry: It shouldn’t have. That’s ridiculous.

Pete: I agree. But it’s the only possible explanation.

Harry: You’re probably right. Well, it’s a good thing that we decided to get rid of Venus. It’s bad enough that she was listening in on what we say. But she was spying on you too.

Stella (laughing): It’s a good thing Pete and I weren’t very imaginative when we were playing around. You might have ended up with a 4-foot pink armadillo pillow.

Vivian: I guess it’s back to Prickles and Quills for us.

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12

The Hedgehogs’ Smart Home – Part 2

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Where we are: Harry and Vivian Hedgehog have decided to invest in a smart home. They are extremely happy with Venus, their personal assistant from Euphrates, until merchandise starts arriving at their house that they haven’t ordered. They think that Venus must be ordering things on her own.

In the morning, Vivian called Euphrates about Venus. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, Vivian finally reached a representative who spoke hedgehog. She was pretty sure the work was outsourced; the hedgehog was heavily accented with meerkat. Hopefully, they could understand each other.

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Voice: Thank you for calling Euphrates. My name is Eugenia. How may I help you?

Vivian: We purchased a Venus a few weeks ago, and we think she’s ordering things on her own.

Eugenia: That’s not possible. Our technology has been extensively tested to prevent that problem. Perhaps someone in your family ordered the items and didn’t tell you.

Vivian: The only other hedgehog around is my husband.

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Eugenia: He probably ordered the items and didn’t tell you.

Vivian: No, he did not.

Eugenia: Perhaps one of you just forgot what you ordered.

Vivian: We did not forget. Are you going to help me or not?

Eugenia: I am trying to help you. There’s no need to get angry. What is your customer ID?

Vivian: 100-672-437-925-107-688-04692

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Eugenia: Am I speaking with Vivian or Harry Hedgehog?

Vivian: I’m Vivian Hedgehog.

Eugenia: Please give me your mother’s maiden name to verify your identity.

Vivian: We’re hedgehogs! We all have the same last name.

Eugenia: And what is that name?

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Vivian: Hedgehog! This is ridiculous!

Eugenia: Please calm down Mrs. Hedgehog. You’re not helping the situation. It shows that you ordered a Katsu television and 4 boxes of Comco Badger-be-Gone in the last month.

Vivian: That’s what I’m trying to tell you. We didn’t order those things. I’m returning them both.

Eugenia: I see that there is a refund in process for the television. I’m sorry it didn’t meet your expectations.

Vivian: I didn’t have expectations. I. Did. Not. Order. A. Television.

Eugenia: I don’t see anything here about a return on the Badger-b-Gone.

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Vivian: That’s because we just got it yesterday.

Eugenia: You don’t have to be ashamed about wanting to keep the badgers away. I hear they are quite dangerous to hedgehogs. In fact, I’ve read…

Vivian didn’t get to hear what Eugenia had read because she hung up the phone before Eugenia had a chance to tell her.

Vivian was so upset that she needed to spend 45 minutes on the treadmill to calm down. She made herself a cup of marsh-grass tea and tried to decide on her next step.

She went to the contact information on the Euphrates website and discovered that she could chat online with a technical support representative. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about anyone telling her to calm down.

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“Thank you for contacting Euphrates. My name is Tim. How may I help you?

Vivian: We bought a Venus and she is ordering things on Euphrates that we didn’t tell her to.

Tim: That’s extremely unusual. Let me check your account.

Vivian: Thank you.

She waited while he accessing her information.

Tim: Thank you for waiting. Your account shows that you purchased a television and some Badger-b-Gone. Are these the items in question?

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Vivian: Yes. We didn’t order them. Venus ordered them.

Tim: It also shows that you ordered a Venus Ultra X62957. Is that correct?

Vivian: Yes.

Tim: And that is the machine that is giving you trouble?

Vivian: Yes.

Tim: Normally we don’t see a problem with that model. It is possible that the memory was holding data from testing.

Vivian: Can you fix that?

Tim: I have removed everything from the memory between the date of manufacture and the date of purchase. You should be all set.

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Vivian: Thank you very much!

Tim: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Vivian: No. That was the only problem.

Vivian told Harry about her conversation with Tim. They were both excited that they would be able to enjoy Venus without monitoring everything they said for fear that Venus would might pick up something to order.

It seemed that everything was well for a few days. Then they received a vacuum cleaner from Euphrates.

What was going on?

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Next week – Do the hedgehogs finally get to the real reason Venus keeps ordering things?

All pictures courtesy of Google Images