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Lost in translation: Amazon website launch trips over faulty Swedish

Supantha Mukherjee and Helena Soderpalm
·2-min read
An Amazon logo is seen at its centre in Darlington
An Amazon logo is seen at its centre in Darlington

By Supantha Mukherjee and Helena Soderpalm

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc's long-awaited launch of its Swedish website on Wednesday was marred by glitches and translation errors, including mistaking the Argentinian flag for Sweden's.

The website, which offers customers more than 150 million products across 30 categories, had used faulty translation from English to Swedish, allowing offensive words in product descriptions.

The word valdtakt, which means rape in Swedish, is being used on several products instead of raps - the correct Swedish word for a plant.

Some product descriptions use a Swedish word for male genitals, instead of the word for rooster, and a frying pan has been listed as a product for women.

Many users took to Twitter to point out the errors.

"Your choice of words is a catastrophe for your launch and you need a new director for overseas sales. I assume your shares will plummet in response," said https://twitter.com/lorrie_e/status/1321435741470269446 one Twitter user.

Another user pointed out that the cost of a product listed on the Swedish website was higher than one on its German website.

Swedish customers could already shop on Amazon through its websites in other European countries such as Germany, and get their purchases shipped in, but this often meant paying high delivery charges.

"We want to thank everyone for highlighting these issues and helping us make the changes and improve Amazon.se," a spokesman said.

"If anyone spots any issues with product pages, please do use the link on the page to provide feedback and we will make the necessary changes."

Shares of budget DIY and homeware retailer Clas Ohlson, fashion specialist Boozt AB, and e-books seller Storytel fell between 2% and 5% on Amazon's entry.

The new website will also offer tens of thousands of products from Swedish businesses, said Alex Ootes, vice president for EU Expansion at Amazon.

Orders over 229 crowns and shipping from Amazon's distribution centre would be delivered free of charge, the company said.

Most deliveries would be made by postal company Postnord and shoppers will also have the option of priority shipping, with packages delivered within two days.

Amazon shares were down 2.7% at 1501 GMT.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Editing by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie)