That Pre-Recorded Voice Isn’t Really A Robot, But She’s Not A Live Telemarketer Either

Remember Samantha West? That was the name of the most definitely recorded voice insisting that she was a real person on a telemarketing call about buying health insurance. And while there probably is no Ms. West sitting by the phone dialing up potential customers, she’s not exactly a robot, either.

On The Media wanted to find out who, exactly, this voice could be. It’s not like this is the only example of pre-recorded voices insisting that they’re live people. But they’re not exactly robots, either.

“Samantha West is not a robot. If we wanted to give Samantha West a catchy title, it’d be a cyborg,” The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal explains to OTM.

What she actually is is a person sitting at a call center somewhere, pushing buttons on a computer to play certain audio clips during the phone call to the recipients of telemarketing campaigns.

So for example, you pick up the phone and hear a perky human voice, but there’s another human operator hitting buttons like “L” to make the voice laugh, or another button to say the right phrase at the right time. If the operator is really good at his or her job, these conversational asides are meant to make things more natural.

And while critics might point to this kind of recording as a way to commit fraud, another argument is that it’s actually a tool to prevent any wrongdoing. After all, someone working at a call center might not have the incentives to always say the exact right thing, whereas a recorded voice will always read all the disclosures they’re supposed to, and make sure that the pitch includes every single thing the script wanted said.

We’re still kind of sad, however, that there’s a prerecorded “I’m a real person, I am, I am a real girl!” bit of audio. Tugs right at the ol’ heart strings. But hey, put Scarlett Johansson’s voice on the other end and maybe you’ll get a slew of Joaquin Phoenix types falling in love.

I Am A Real Person [On The Media]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.