Amazon Alexa Smart Home

Why is Alexa “having trouble understanding right now”?

Alexa having trouble understanding
Down and out: Alexa's servers are kaput

Because the Alexa service is down! 

When the Alexa service is unavailable, you’ll get a reply from Alexa saying she’s “having trouble understanding right now – please try again later”.

Remember that your Echo speaker doesn’t transcribe your voice commands on the device itself. Instead, those commands are beamed up to Amazon’s servers, where they are processed. If the Amazon servers go down, your speaker basically turns into an overpriced doorstop.

Is there anything you can do when you get this message? Not really. If there’s a problem connecting to your Wi-Fi, Alexa will give you a different warning message, so don’t bother resetting the speaker or rebooting your router – it will make no difference.

Instead, you’ll simply have to sit tight and wait for Amazon to get its servers up and running again. 

Now read this: What are the funniest things to say to Alexa?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at


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  • Ok so how come the Echo in my lounge works perfectly but the Echo in my bedroom says “ Sorry I’m having trouble understanding right now “
    If it was a problem with the Amazon servers then surely both would give the response “ Sorry I’m having trouble understanding right now “
    Yet another article written through guestimation

  • My Alexa has been having trouble understanding for well over a week! Surely this can’t still be a problem with the server?

  • It’s the same situation here, one in the den works fine, bedroom one is giving that message! It’s been doing it now for almost a week! Surely there should be a number to contact right?!?!

  • This is pretty inaccurate. Simply resetting the device (by removing power) works every time for me; the problem is that it’s a recurring, almost daily, issue!

  • Same problem here. re ‘Having trouble understanding right now’ . . . Why can’t we contact Amazon and actually ‘speak to a human’ ?