Oral-B Sold a $230 Alexa Toothbrush—and Then Pulled the Plug

As we’re currently seeing with AI, when a new technology becomes buzzy, companies will do almost anything to cram that tech into their products. Trends fade, however, and corporate priorities shift—resulting in bricked gadgets and buyer’s remorse.

That’s what’s happening to some who bought Oral-B toothbrushes with Amazon Alexa built in. Oral-B released the Guide for $230 in August 2020 but bricked the ability to set up or reconfigure Alexa on the product this February. As of this writing, the Guide is still available through a third-party Amazon seller.

The Guide toothbrush’s charging base was able to connect to the internet and work like an Alexa speaker that you could speak to and from which Alexa could respond. Owners could “ask to play music, hear the news, check weather, control smart home devices, and even order more brush heads by saying ‘Alexa, order Oral-B brush head replacements,’” per Procter & Gamble’s 2020 announcement.

Oral-B also bragged at the time that, in partnering with Alexa, the Guide ushered in “the truly connected bathroom.”

Oral-B Discontinued App for Setting Up Alexa

On February 15, Oral-B bricked the Guide’s ability to set up Alexa by discontinuing the Oral-B Connect app required to complete the process. Guide owners can still use the Oral-B App for other features; however, the ability to use the charging base like an Alexa smart speaker—a big draw in the product’s announcement and advertising—is seriously limited.

The device should still work with Alexa if users set it up before Oral-B shuttered Connect, but setting up a new Wi-Fi connection or reestablishing a lost one doesn’t work without Connect.

That’s a problem for Patrick Hubley, who learned that Oral-B discontinued Connect when his base inadvertently disconnected from the Wi-Fi and he tried using Connect to fix it. He told Ars Technica that when he tries using the Alexa wake word now, the speaker says, “I’m having trouble connecting to the internet. For help, go to your device’s companion app.”

Hubley attempted but failed to get a refund or replacement brush through Oral-B’s support avenues. He says he will no longer buy Oral-B or Alexa products.

I only purchased this toothbrush from Amazon because that was the only way to get the water-resistant Alexa speaker that I wanted for the bathroom … I’m ready to be done with Alexa and Oral-B both.

Connect no longer works on devices on which it’s already installed. A few users have also stated on Amazon that they can no longer set Guide up to use Alexa. However, the Guide is still available on Amazon as of this writing, with images of its box saying “Alexa built-in” and the product’s title reading “Alexa Built-In” and “Amazon Dash Replenishment Enabled.” The listing is from a third-party seller, but since Oral-B released the Guide exclusively through Amazon, shoppers could easily not realize that Alexa setup is borked.

I reached out to Amazon about this, and spokesperson Connor Rice told me:

The Oral-B Guide still has Alexa built-in and customers can keep using the Alexa experience on devices that were set up through the Oral-B Connect app. The Oral-B Guide is currently sold by an independent seller on Amazon.com. Please contact Oral-B for any further questions about their app.

Oral-B’s Response

Oral-B discontinued the Guide about two years ago and now only has one mobile app, called Oral-B. If a toothbrush brand is going to have any apps at all, one seems like the maximum reasonable number. It’s unclear why Alexa capabilities weren’t integrated into the still-standing Oral-B app.

When I reached out to Procter & Gamble, a company spokesperson said:

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