With each day that passes, artificial intelligence continues to find new ways to enter everyday life. The latest comes in the form of artificial intelligence (“AI”) that targets telemarketing. A man from California created an AI-powered chatbot (named Jolly Roger), with the sole purpose of tricking telemarketers into thinking that they are speaking with a real live person. The Jolly Roger website boasts that the goal is keep telemarketers talking so that they waste time that could be spent calling others. Specifically, the Jolly Roger website states that “[b]y keeping the bad guys busy, you keep them from pestering other innocent people, and you hit them where it hurts most . . . their wallets . . . because no matter how hard they try, our robots won’t ever buy anything.”
Consumers can pay $1.99 a month to get access to Jolly Roger. There are two ways to use the AI telemarketing service. First, a subscriber can choose to manually merge calls. In this instance, the subscriber answers the calls and conferences in the robot who then begins to speak. Second, the subscriber can choose to have calls automatically answered by Jolly Roger. In the automatic setting, the service compares the incoming number to a real-time database of telephone numbers used by telemarketers, as well as the consumer’s list of approved and blocked telephone numbers; If the call is blacklisted, Jolly Roger picks it up.
Are There Flaws With the AI Telemarketing Chatbot?
There are several potential issues with the service:
- While clever, the founder of Jolly Roger has admitted that the goal of the service is not to stop telemarketing calls, but to exact revenge. By using the service, subscribers are not taking any steps to reduce the number of telemarketing calls received.
- In some instances, a telemarketer will ask if he/she should call back later, to which the AI telemarketing chatbot will respond “yes,” without knowing what it is really responding to. In some ways, the service may actually generate more calls for subscribers, as Jolly Roger is inviting telemarketers to call the subscriber back.
- If the subscriber chooses to use the automatic feature, it is very likely that he/she could miss an important call from a number that he/she did not have saved.
- The service runs on the assumption that all telemarketing companies use live agents rather than simply playing pre-recorded messages. In the case of pre-recorded messages, no time is wasted by using Jolly Roger, as the message would play regardless of whether the call was answered or sent to voicemail.
How Bad Is It?
It is no secret that federal and state agencies, as well as state attorneys general have recently set their sights on the telemarketing industry. Together with Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) class actions and state mini-TCPA actions filed on a regular basis, the last thing the telemarketing industry needs now is another headache.
Whether Jolly Roger will actually pose a real risk to telemarketing companies in terms of wasted time remains to be seen. The best thing for businesses that engage in telemarketing is to be prepared, and the best way to be prepared is to retain seasoned telemarketing attorneys.
The attorneys at Klein Moynihan Turco have decades of experience in defending companies against telemarketing claims and are well-equipped to assist your business with TCPA compliance matters. If you are interested in working with a law firm that has an extensive track record in the telemarketing field, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (212) 246-0900.
The material contained herein is provided for information purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Each situation is unique, and you should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney.