Amazon has apologised after stumbling into a political debate on Twitter on the status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
The company’s Twitter account told a customer from Northern Ireland he could not watch a programme as it was “only available to subscribers in the UK”.
Chris Jones, a writer from Ballyclare in County Antrim, contacted the company after he was unable to watch a rugby match through the Amazon Prime service.
The response he received has been retweeted thousands of times.
In its response Amazon stated: “We apologize but upon reviewing your location you’re in Northern Ireland.
“Rugby Autumn Nations Cup coverage is exclusively available to Prime members based in the UK. We don’t have the rights to other territories,” the tweet said.
When corrected by Mr Jones the consumer giant maintained its stance on the issue and replied: “Many apologies but, we don’t have the broadcast rights for Ireland or other territories,” the second reply said.
Speaking to BBC News NI, Mr Jones said he had taken to Twitter after customer service on web chat had failed to tackle his rugby-viewing problem.
A back and forth about the issue followed, and Mr Jones explained “they put out the tweet, and when they sent that I just thought it was funny”.
“I thought a few people on my Twitter might find it funny and it snowballed from there.”
He added: “It started off slowly, and then it was picked up by people with bigger follower counts, like comedians David O’Doherty, and Dara Ó Briain.”
Mr Jones said he appreciated that someone working in customer service might not have an intricate knowledge of Northern Ireland’s geopolitical status.
“I have worked in call centres before, and I know what that is like, and it’s a difficult job, so I hope nobody gets in any serious bother over it,” he said.
In the end, the issue was resolved by changing the location of his account from the Republic, where he used to live, to the UK – something he had suspected needed to be done from the start.
Mr Jones added he hoped “it livened up what looked to be a dull Saturday night in the middle of the pandemic”.
Following the back and forth with Mr Jones, the company tweeted an apology.
“We apologise for the error in our colleague’s response.
“Our Prime Video subscribers in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK can access and watch the Rugby Autumn Nations Cup on Prime Video as part of their subscription.”
The exchange provoked reactions across social media.
Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain responded with the tweet “Amazon Prime have delivered a United Ireland, and before 6pm on the same day.”