Amazon launches in Sweden with wrong flag and rude translations

Richard Orange
·2 min read
The Swedish flag is replaced by the Argentinian one on the website - Michael Campanella/Getty Images
The Swedish flag is replaced by the Argentinian one on the website - Michael Campanella/Getty Images

The online retail giant Amazon's long-awaited launch in Sweden has ended in fiasco, with the wrong flag featured in its 'choose your location' section, and children's jigsaw puzzle described with the word for sexual assault.

"This is the worst trainwreck I've ever seen," Nicklas Storåkers, head of the price comparison site Pricerunners told the Swedish tech news site Breakit. "They have no special offers, wrong translations, and the wrong texts for some products."

In place of the Swedish flag, the site shows a flag that appears to be that of Argentina, while the site's designers have clearly over-relied on an automatic translation programme.

A cat-themed hairbrush is described using the Swedish slang for 'vagina', clearly the result of a direct translation of 'p---y'. Frying pans are listed in the "for women" section, a Lego Star Wars Armoured Assault Tank is translated using the Swedish word for a criminal assault, and a children's puzzle featuring yellow rapeseed flowers is described as having a "sexual assault flower motif".

In a written statement to the Aftonbladet newspaper, the US company said that it was in the process of correcting the mistranslations.

"We would like to thank everyone who is bringing these issues to light and so helping us make changes and improve Amazon.se," a spokesperson wrote. "We are very happy to have launched in Sweden, but this is only our first day and we are determined to improve our customers' experience."

The launch was such a fiasco, that Richard Herrey, a TV presenter known internationally for winning Eurovision with the song 'Diggi-loo diggi-ley', suggested on Twitter that it was a PR stunt to distract Swedes from the coming upheaval to their country's retail sector.

"Amazon has managed to get enormous attention for its launch in Sweden today by everyone spreading these ridiculous automatic translations with stupid words for genitals," he tweeted alongside a gif video of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos laughing.

Linus Larsson, the tech editor for the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, however, dismissed that idea that covering its Swedish site with words like "rape" was some kind of "genius PR trick".