Marci Robin was buying a Fiat 500X from a West Palm Beach, Florida dealership, and was in the final stages of signing all the paperwork, when she was presented with a strange but simple question: was she a robot?
This wasn’t online or anything, she was right there, in person, in front of the sales person, who wanted her to check a box, with a pen, on real paper, confirming that she was not, in fact, a robot. She claims she isn’t.
I reached out to Marci to see just what the hell was going on. Was I confused? Were they really asking her to confirm, in person, that she wasn’t a robot? Is she a robot? I asked her what happened, and this is what she told me:
The sales guy was handing me paper after paper with a brief explanation of what each one was for, and then he handed me that page — with literally nothing else on it — and just mater-of-factly said, “And this one is just to ensure you’re not a robot.
We both said, “Really?” And I don’t know if he’s just done it so long that it was normal to him now or what, but he was just like, “Yep.”
What the hell? Okay, I get that they’re printing these forms out from online, but, come on, they must know that “I’m not a robot” thing is part of the reCAPTCHA security thing that only makes sense if you’re filling out forms online, right? When you’re not sitting right in front of someone and you can tell that they’re not some blinking, blooping, oil-chugging droid?
Right? They must understand that?
I called the dealership to confirm if this is routine, this confirmation that the people there in the office are actually people, and not hyper-realistic androids who just want to buy a new Fiat.
It’s true. They do this. All the time. I asked them why, and was told by a sales associate,
“It’s not about us. In order for us to print the next one, you have to check that. So we print it out, and have the customer check that when we do.”
Okay... I guess this sort of makes sense, because they want to make sure the customer replicates every action they do online? But wait, this is still ridiculous; the check box only matters if you’re not, you know, with the damn biological human that wants to buy the fucking car, right?
Checking that box can’t matter when the person is actually there.
It also begs the question of would the dealership not sell the car to Marci if, say, she plugged her iPhone into her ear or chugged a bottle of 10W-40 or (this is Marci’s joke) said “it doesn’t look like anything to me” when they showed her the form? In short, would they not sell a car to a robot?
I asked the sales associate this, and he said if the robot had a social security number and an ID, then he’d sell it a car. In defense of their have-people-check-a-box-to-say-they’re-not-robots policy, he told me:
“You never know; they have that girl Alexa, and she can talk and make phone calls and stuff.”
You know, he’s got a point.