Royal Bank Robo Calls

Received a telephone call from what I believed to be human at the Royal Bank the other day. It turns out the caller wasn’t human, it was robot working very very well at imitating a real human. It was using technology similar to Siri.

It was understanding my interactions so well, that for the first few seconds, I assumed I was asked to talking to human. However, one point I asked how long was it going to take, and another voice responded saying “80 seconds”. [So the Siri like caller was being monitored. Great job there!] At that point became quite interesting. I wanted to see just how far I could go with the system.

It was a company calling on behalf of Royal Bank trying to sell me a long distance plan. Long-distance plan with guarantee 10% discount off of the best of Bell, Telus, or Rogers. So every month they would compare my long distance bill to whatever Bell, Telus, Rogers would be, and they would take 10% off of the cheapest of those. Seems like a wonderful deal! However I am not using Bell, Telus, or Rogers. I’m using Vonage. I do not pay for long-distance with Vonage.

I asked the system to try to explain to me exactly how it would work. The first time it basically repeated, almost Word for Word, the same spiel. Then I said, with a question sound in my voice, I’m sorry I still don’t understand can you help me understand better, and it came out with a totally different, and much longer variant of the first version. Then I asked it what it was going to do with the information in my telephone bill. Was it going to take all of my telephone numbers and call them, and try to offer than the same service? What was my privacy going to be? How are they going to guarantee it? At that point the system replied something along the lines well, it looks likes if you really do not need our services, goodbye. And hung up.

That’s too bad, because I wanted to see how much further I could go. I wanted to see if I could actually end up having the system sign me up for something that would take my money without me having ever spoken to a human being. Or, would a human being come on with to close the deal.

Today, I received another call from the Royal Bank. Clearly, I am on their telephone list! Today, the deal was if I wanted to protect my line of credit at the bank with a fee of $.81 per thousand dollars on the line of credit. That time however I was talking to human being. How much more satisfying an experience!

You can be sure other companies are going to start to use Siri like Technology. Soon we’ll be hearing really good sounding dialogue with people trying to get us to change our minds on political matters, sign-up for stuff we don’t want, the list goes on and on! And the whole time, we would be thinking or talking to a real person.

[Soon there will be YouTube videos of people interacting with these robots, and these dialogs will you come famous!]

I think the end game for this is that people are going to get fed up with their telephone numbers being used for all kinds of marketing: the inability to have your 7-digit really and truly removed from the call list is going to upset enough people that they are going to start to want new telephone numbers both for their mobiles and for their residences, if they in fact to use them.  I think what that is going to result is a whole series of new numbers or digits added to telephone numbers, similarly to what has happened with IP addresses getting an extra several billion added.

[How many times have you changed your e-mail address because the one that you preferred ended up getting so much spam … just easier to get a new one?]

Back to the robot, I wish I would’ve had the opportunity to ask it what its name was!

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