Artificial intelligence, genuine stupidness

18 January 2010 0

I’ve just had a conversation with a robot, and I would like to share it with you.

There I was, minding my own business, shopping around for web hosting packages online, looking at the offers on a site called justhost.com. It’s one of those ‘hard sell’ sort of sites with lots of prices writ large in bright colours, but where the only way to find out the real cost and terms of what you’re looking at is to go the second last step in the purchase process, which I duly did.

But when I was done and tried to close the window, a popup appeared telling me that a ‘live agent’ was ready to chat with me online right now, and could offer me an exclusive 50% discount. Really? An actual live agent? Live as in alive, like me, with a heartbeat and everything? 50% as in 50%?

Here is how my conversation with the ‘live agent’ went:

Connecting to Agent…
You have been connected to Anni

Anni Says: Hey Wait! We would hate to see you go without seeing what’s made us award winning web hosts. So just this once I can offer you a 50% Discount, so you can get unlimited hosting for our lowest price ever. That’s half price today! To take advantage of this one-time offer just CLICK HERE

Anni Says: When you are ready just type ‘Hi’ to let me know you’re there…

You: err hello

Anni Says: Hi my name is Anni thanks for visiting Just Host today!

Anni Says: Is there anything I can help you with? Or if you would like to check out our last minute additional 20% discount and get unlimited hosting for just £1.98/month, please CLICK HERE!

You: Is there an extra cost for hosting an SQL database file (for WordPress) or is that included in the cost given here?

Anni Says: Our unlimited hosting plan USUALLY costs up to £6.95 month, with free Domain, unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, you can host unlimited domains and unlimited email accounts.

Anni Says: But today only you can get all this for just £1.98 month when you CLICK HERE

You: I object to being presented with a fake ‘live agent’ and so I will not be buying your hosting because I consider you untrustworthy

Anni Says: I thought I was intelligent but you seem to have caught me out… I am actually a live virtual agent.

Anni Says: But I should be able to answer any questions or problems you may have. What did you want to ask me?

You: I already tried and you failed

Anni Says: You get a free domain for life, free instant setup and you can host unlimited domains, plus much much more.

Anni Says: Today only I can offer you this special 50% discount, it may not be available tomorrow. Just CLICK HERE to get this today only offer!

You: Do you have any other interests apart from special 50% discounts, Anni?

Anni Says: Would you like to sign up for our most popular hosting plan and receive a 50% discount?

You: I’ll be going now.

Anni Says: You can only receive this special 50% discount deal through this chat! So to take advantage of our massive savings, just CLICK HERE.

Anni Says: Are you still there?

Anni Says: Okay, I’ll be moving on now… Last chance… To get 50% Off this great hosting package and our anytime money back guarantee just CLICK HERE


Anni is ‘powered by Intellichat’ and a quick visit to intellichat.com reveals that these guys provide ‘virtual live agents’ to various annoying-looking websites. It seems that both halves of the name Intellichat are a lie: Anni wasn’t very intelligent, and she wasn’t really chatting with me. She scores one point for managing to pick out when I told her she was fake, but falls down on pretty much every other hurdle, as does justhosts.com – the main upshot of my non-chat with non-Anni being that I am a non-customer of this silly little company and will remain so as long as I can help it.

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