Perhaps you have heard about the encounter some Time Magazine reporters had with an oddly robotic saleswoman who was trying to sell them health insurance and refused to answer the question “are you a robot?” when asked repeatedly, simply responding with a laugh each time that she was “a real person.”
Over the course of the next hour, several TIME reporters called her back, working to uncover the mystery of her bona fides. Her name, she said, was Samantha West, and she was definitely a robot, given the pitch perfect repetition of her answers. Her goal was to ask a series of questions about health coverage—”Are you on Medicare?” etc.—and then transfer the potential customer to a real person, who could close the sale. You can listen for yourself to some of the reporting here:
If you want, you can call her too. Her number is (484) 589-5611. This number, if you Google it, is the subject of much discussion online as other recipients of Samantha West calls complain on chat boards about the mysteriously persistent lady who keeps calling them. “A friendly sounded woman on the other end claimed I requested health insurance information,” writes one mark. “She doggedly refused to deviate from her script.”
After answering her questions, one TIME reporter was transferred to an actual human who did not promptly end the call, as others had when asked about Samantha. Asked for the company’s website, the real human on the other end of the line said it was premierhealthagency.com, the website of a Ft. Lauderdale company. “We’re here to help. . . because we care,” is the company motto on its homepage. A TIME reporter called the company directly, identified himself and said TIME was doing a story about the robot who calls people on the company’s behalf. “We don’t use robot calls, sir,” said the person who answered the phone, before promptly hanging up the phone.
Glenn Beck seized on this story today on his radio broadcast because not only does it play into his fear about the coming “singularity,” but also because he wanted to falsely blame it on the Obama administration.
Even though Beck’s own “The Blaze” reported that these calls came from a company called Premier Health Plans Inc., and Beck acknowledged that the calls came from a “private health company,” he somehow managed to blame the entire thing on the Obama administration.
“Is there anything about Obamacare that’s real?” Beck asked. “Is there anything that’s real, that’s honest? Anything? I haven’t found it yet … They now have literal robots calling people for Obamacare … This administration has – garbage in, garbage out – has programmed it to lie. What a surprise!”: