Amazon’s Swedish website launch became a laughing stock on Wednesday after poor translations saw it filled with offensive descriptions for products.
The internet tech and online shopping giant, making its first retail foray into the Nordic countries, mixed up the Argentine and Swedish flags, labelled frying pans as items for women and bizarrely listed an Adidas ‘child sexual assault’ football shirt.
The new website, Amazon.se, appeared to fall victim to a poorly designed translation algorithm as it struggled with the multiple meanings of some English words on its launch day.
Amazon’s launch of its Swedish website on Wednesday was blighted by cultural gaffes and incorrect translations. The launch was met with amusement from many but compounded scepticism about the tech giant’s entry into the Nordic market. Pictured: An Amazon distribution centre (file photo)
In one example shared by a number of people online, the website confused the Swedish flag with that of Argentina’s in the drop-down menu when a user selects their country or region
One video game, ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’, was translated as ‘the savage’s breath’, while racing game Need for Speed Payback was displayed as ‘Do You Require Speed: Refund’.
Another game, ‘Watch Dogs 2’ became ‘Look at Dogs 2’, while ‘Star Wars Battlefront 2’ became ‘Star War: Battery Front’.
Meanwhile, an air-fix box containing models of Russian Infantry became ‘Russian infants’ while Nintendo’s video game console – the Nintendo ‘Switch’ – became the Nintendo ‘Circuit Breaker’, a user on Twitter pointed out.
Other gaffes were more vulgar. Calvin Klein boxer shorts turned into ‘men’s luggage trunks’, while pearl earrings were described as being ideal for ‘European prostitutes’.
The translation programme also showed the word ‘cockerel’ into Swedish term kuk, which is also a slang term for a penis in the Scandinavian country.
It meant an embroidery pattern displaying a rooster was listed as a ‘cross-stitch for adults – big di*k, do it yourself’.
Video game ‘Watch Dogs 2’ became ‘Look at Dogs 2’, one user pointed out, also highlighting other gaffes including an airfix box containing models of Russian Infantry becoming ‘Russian infants’ while Nintendo’s video game console – the Nintendo ‘Switch’ – became the Nintendo ‘Circuit Breaker’ he said
Confused users will have also seen items labelled as a ‘gypsy shirt’, pearl earrings apparently suited to ‘European prostitutes’, ‘Star Wars grievous bodily harm tank [top]’ and a fabric belt described as a ‘narcotics strap’.
The website’s translation algorithm appeared to have particular problems with products involving oilseed rape, which it translated to ‘valdtakt’ – Swedish for violent sexual assault – on numerous items.
The result was items such as jigsaws, mouse mats and shower curtains decorated with ‘sex assault flowers’, while a fishing a lure was described as ‘roach, barr, sex assault’.
People took to Twitter to share their amusing finds on Amazon’s Swedish website. One user made light of the flag mix-up, writing ‘FYI – I live in Argentina now’
One user pointed out that the video game called ‘Star Wars Battlefront 2’ had become ‘Star War: Battery Front’ in its Swedish translation
‘This baking tray is for chocolate, excrement and “goose water”‘ this user wrote on Twitter. He pointed out that the translation may have come from the German Amazon website
Swedish customers could already shop on Amazon through websites in other European countries, but it meant many consumers had to pay high delivery charges.
Amazon already had websites in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, but Alex Ootes, Vice-President of EU Expansion, said they wanted to ’empower small Swedish businesses through Amazon’ and ‘earn the trust of customers in Sweden’ through the expansion.
The company is even offering free delivery on all orders over 229 Swedish krona – equivalent to around £20 – to draw Swedes to the new domain.
An Amazon spokesperson reiterated the company’s excitement at the launch, but urged any consumers to notify them of further mistakes.
‘We’re very pleased to have launched Amazon.se but this is only our second day and we are always keen to improve the customer experience,’ they added.
Amazon already had websites in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Pictured: Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who is the richest man in the world, valued at 187.8 billion USD (£145 billion)
Amazon’s introduction to the Swedish market has not been entirely welcomed in the country, partly due to its low pay and allegedly tough working conditions in some of its warehouses.
Furthermore, the country already has a number of online retailers of its own that Amazon will compete with, while some small business owners are nervous about its presence.
The scepticism was compounded by the launch day errors, which were quickly shared on social media to the amusement of netziens.