Is Anyone Else Getting Telemarketing Calls From This Super Smart Robot?

 

When "Samantha" first called me something didn't seem right. Her voice was too perfect. She didn't sound like a depressed person who hated her job; she sounded excited to speak to me. She sounded like a voice-over actress, and she certainly didn't sound robotic. 

At first I thought that I was simply speaking with a girl who had recently started her job. She must not have been aware of how much everyone she was calling hated her and how the company she worked for lied about "working for Google" to get you to buy AdWords through them at a premium. The more I spoke to her though, the more I began to notice other strange tendencies. She paused after everything that I said a split second longer than a normal person would. The tone and reflection of her voice didn't always match her last statement or reflect the question that I had asked her. Eventually I had to ask "are you a robot?" After a slight pause she said "haha no, I'm a real person we must have a bad connection." Everything that she said was right, it was something any human might say. It was just the way she said it that didn't seem right. The more questions I asked the more confident I became that she was in fact a computer program.

Here's a video of her in action.

Now when she calls, I can instantly recognize her voice. She will call me as a Google certified specialist who noticed a problem with my SEO or she will call me as a credit card processing specialist who can save me money on my POS system. Being that I'm a bit of a nerd, Samantha was really impressive to me at first. This computer program almost convinced me it was human. Now, it just makes me mad. 

In the past these telemarketing companies had to pay humans to sit down and make call after call. I enjoyed wasting their employee's time and in turn eating up profit for these horrible companies. Now, with recorded messages and computer programs like Samantha, what is stopping them from getting even worse? What is stopping me from downloading the software for Samantha and have her call every American 100 times a day and tell them to visit Fstoppers.com?

I've done the "do not call" list. I've asked to be removed from the call list every time I get a call. I personally block the number of every telemarketer that hits my phone every day. I've pranked every caller I possibly can to waste as much of their time as possible and nothing works. I still get multiple calls a week, sometimes multiple calls a day. 

Does anyone know what the laws are with this? It doesn't seem legal, but it's only getting worse. 

Update: I just came across an interesting article by Time that claims that Samantha is not actually a computer program. She may simply be a sound board.

Rasman said that Samantha West is not a robot but a computer program used by telemarketers outside of the United States—he would not say where–to allow English speakers with thick non-American accents to sort through leads to find real prospective buyers before passing them off to agents back in the United States.

When Samantha West calls, there is a person on the other end of the line, he said, who is an active participant in the conversation. That the person was limited to communicating through a machine with pre-recorded utterances did not change the fact, he said, that there was another human participating in the conversation.

At this point I don't know what to believe. Maybe I just need to start freaking out of these people like this lady. 

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20 Comments

Michael Kormos's picture

Ehm.. slow day at the office, ey Lee?

Jason Connel's picture

From what I remember if you as a company to put you on their do not call list they can be fined, and that fine is paid to you the victim. But, you have to get the name of the company thats calling not the company they are working for. You have to keep track, but it can make it worth your time.

Lee Morris's picture

I could seriously make this a full time job and live off these fines I get so many of these calls.

Jimmy Schaefer's picture

Do not call list don't work with today's tech you can simply call someone over and over from VOIP where the number changes randomly across the globe. The laws need to be rewritten and it needs to include the new tech like VOIP and SKype etc...

michael buehrle's picture

i'm the real samantha west.

Caleb Kerr's picture

Why would it be illegal?

Lee Morris's picture

Because with technology like this, every company in the United States could call every American every day without any real cost. When will this stop?

Jason Ranalli's picture

At some point this becomes what is known in the IT world as DoS(Denial of Service) which is more or less illegal since it prevents an entity from conducting normal business:

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/D/DoS_attack.html

I believe the laws need to be rewritten on the voice side now that the technologies have changed substantially.

Caleb Kerr's picture

Lee, your statement is true but still doesn't explain why it would be illegal. If a robot can call one person today and it's legal, if they could call 10,000 I don't see why that would change anything.

Lee Morris's picture

I don't think robots should be allowed to call anyone every to try to sell them something. If my doctors office wants to call me with a robot to remind me about an appointment that is one thing, but simply calling random numbers in the hopes of tricking someone into buying something from you is unacceptable in my mind.

Casey Berner's picture

Photography? Video? huh??

Lee Morris's picture

I guess I failed to mention that all of these companies got my information from paying for Google Adwords to advertise my photography business

Bill Klingbeil's picture

It is in fact a sound board where agents handle several calls at once. That way the company pays one person to do two people's work.

Telemarketing isn't going away anytime soon because it works. People continue to donate money and purchase products from third party vendors who make a healthy slice of the pie.

Cornelius van Schaarn's picture

In my country there are no telemarketers. Instead they stuff your letterbox full of paper adverts.

Lee Morris's picture

Don't worry, we get those too

Douglas Sonders's picture

ive gotten a crazy amount of google optimization robot calls recently. super annoying

Lee Morris's picture

Do you buy Adwords ads?

Jason Vinson's picture

I get at least a few a week. Always the same recording.

Stephen Swiney's picture

I have gotten "hello, this is Rachel with Cardmember services" - Everybody knows that call right? they have changed over time, different names and now the calls are from local numbers.
I did some research - Surveys and Political calls are allowed to use Robocallers but never telemarketers, it always has to be a live person, and number spoofing is illegal. There are other items about this call that are illegal but are not the same as the circumstances in this article. We won't even go into the do not call list, they ignore it which is also illegal.
Last fall, the FTC settled with one of the companies and everyone who complained about being pestered by Rachel got a check from the FTC as part of the settlement. I assume this was everyone who filed a complaint.
Bottom line, if you get a telemarketing call that violates any of the above, file a complaint with the FTC. Who knows, you might get a surprise check in the mail as part of a settlement. If no one files a complaint then these companies with continue with there illegal practices.
Rachel is still alive and well, when one company gets shutdown, a new one takes the baton because there are enough desperate consumers out there. We need to pressure the law makers to add per call fees to VOIP mass callings or some other means to make it more expensive for this type of operation because obviously the risk of getting caught and the fines levied are not enough of a deterrent.

Ralph Hightower's picture

Our household had been receiving calls on a daily basis, except for Sundays (I don't know why), that this is our final notice to reduce our credit card interest rate to below 1 percent. Yea, right!
This past Labor Day, I was in a playful mood and pressed 1 to speak to a person instead of 3 to be added to their "Do Not Call" list.
After a hold, I said "Finally! I get to speak to a person! Your machine has been talking to my machine for over a year. I thought they were having an affair!"
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure"
"If this is my final notice, then why do I know that tomorrow, I will get another call from your company?"
"I will add you to our Do Not Call list".

They lie! The same Caller ID was logged by our phone the next day without a message. I received a text from my wife "Do something with these Cardholder Services" jerks!

The FTC recommends to not respond to the robocall asking to speak with a person or be removed from their calling list. A response on your side verifies that they have a live phone number.

These are criminals. They spoof telephone numbers, which is a criminal offense. My wife was duped into signing up for their service; the upfront fee was $900 and all she got was a UPromise card that she's trying to cancel. There is another culture that claims to recover the $900; all that they want is $400!