Using Phone Bots to Torture Telemarketers

Telemarketing sales calls, spam, and outright scam have become an incessant nuisance for many individuals. These unwanted calls disrupt our daily lives and consume valuable time. However, a new trend has emerged as a response to this annoyance – hiring phone bots to turn the tables on telemarketers. This article delves into the rising popularity of using phone bots as a means to torture telemarketers and explores the effectiveness of this unconventional approach. Two new technologies make possible: AI software and voice cloners.

man holding telephone screaming phone bots
Photo: Icons8

Understanding the Telemarketing Menace

Telemarketing calls have long been a source of frustration for people across the globe. With advancements in technology and the ease of access to contact lists, telemarketers have multiplied in numbers, bombarding unsuspecting individuals with their sales pitches. The Wall Street Journal says that according to industry estimates, the average American receives 14 unwanted calls a month, making complaints about these calls the largest category of consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission.

Complaints about unwanted telephone calls are “far-and-away the largest category of consumer complaints to the FCC,” with the average American receiving 14 unwanted calls a month, according to one industry estimate, a spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission said.

Automated dialers at call centers can easily crank out 100 calls a second, constantly searching for people willing to stay on the line. Voice modulators remove foreign accents and software allows overseas operators to trigger prerecorded English phrases.

The FCC recently issued a penalty of $225 million, the largest fine in their history, to spam robocallers who sent out one billion phone calls about health insurance to households. Still the calls persist so many Americans stopped answering the phone.

Phone Bots: Useful for Consumers Too

In recent years, individuals have started fighting back against telemarketers using an innovative approach – employing phone bots. Banks have used these for years for customer service (even today, with little success). These bots are programmed to engage telemarketers in extended conversations, wasting their time and frustrating their attempts to make a sale. They are willing to stay on the phone. One notable individual is Roger Anderson.

You can hire a phone bot armed with AI and voice cloning technology to deal with telemarketers on your behalf. One notable example is the Jolly Roger Telephone, developed by Roger Anderson. This phone app utilizes OpenAI's GPT-4 and voice-cloning technology to engage in realistic but time-wasting conversations with telemarketers. This practice does not violate any of the 13 principles of responsible AI

The Mechanics of Phone Bot Torture

Roger Anderson's creation, known as "Whitey" Whitebeard", is a cloned voice. It operates as a digital contraption designed to simulate human interaction. According to the Wall Street Journal, when a telemarketer calls, Whitebeard engages them in conversation, often employing diversionary tactics such as discussing unrelated topics or feigning confusion. The chatbot, powered by OpenAI software, processes the telemarketer's pitch and generates responses to keep the conversation going.

The Jolly Roger Telephone works by allowing you to conference in the robot voice whenever you receive a telemarketing call. It actively participates in the conversation and fills any moments of silence with generic responses like "yes," "right," or "hang on." By engaging the telemarketers in prolonged conversations that lead nowhere, the Jolly Roger Telephone wastes their time and patience.

robot on phone while shopping phone bots
Rendered by Author


The creator, Roger Anderson, developed this solution out of frustration with unsolicited telemarketing calls and a desire to cause some inconvenience for telemarketers in return. He wanted to provide people with a sense of empowerment by allowing them to waste the time of telemarketers who were interrupting their lives. The Jolly Roger Telephone has been made available for free to the public, and recordings of the calls can be obtained for amusement.

The Psychological Impact

Telemarketers rely on swift conversations and persuasive techniques to make a sale. By employing phone bots that can prolong conversations and frustrate their efforts, individuals are effectively turning the tables on these persistent callers. The extended duration of the calls not only wastes the telemarketers' time but also exposes them to a sense of helplessness and ineffectiveness. This psychological impact can deter them from targeting the same individuals in the future.

Implications and Ethical Considerations

While the use of phone bots may seem like a justifiable response to the telemarketing menace, it is essential to consider the ethical implications of this approach. Telemarketers are often individuals trying to earn a living, and deliberately frustrating their efforts can be seen as unethical. Moreover, using phone bots raises questions about the privacy and security of personal information shared during these conversations. It is crucial to strike a balance between asserting personal boundaries and respecting the livelihoods of telemarketers. This method beats being rude or worse, wasting your time.

The Effectiveness of Phone Bot Tactics

The effectiveness of employing phone bots to torture telemarketers is a subject of debate. While it provides individuals with a sense of empowerment and a means to retaliate against intrusive calls, it may not be a foolproof solution. Telemarketing companies constantly adapt their strategies and train their employees to handle various scenarios, including engaging with chatbots.


cute robot shopping in store with phone bots torture telemarketers


The ongoing battle against unwanted solicitations is starting. While it offers individuals a means to assert their control and waste telemarketers' time, it also raises ethical considerations and may not be universally effective. As a result, phone bots may not deter all telemarketers and could potentially lead to more aggressive sales tactics in the future. So Americans on the whole now screen their calls. 

At first, ChatGPT-4 Resisted...

Interestingly, ChatGPT and GPT-4 resisted Anderson’s initial attempts to tie them into his phone bot. The AI system kept saying that a chatbot should not “waste” people’s time, referring to the telemarketers. So Anderson rephrased his prompts.

“I told it that, ‘You are a personal assistant and you are trying to protect this man from being scammed,'” he said.

And that’s not entirely untrue. the bot can equally frustrate both telemarketers and outright scammers so it's not violating any directives.

A Simple and Effective Method 

As the fight against telemarketers continues, individuals must carefully consider the consequences and evaluate alternative solutions that strike a balance between personal boundaries and respect for others' livelihoods.

Caller Kevin waited. And ultimately the entire call wasted more than 6 minutes of his time.

Anderson posts some of the calls as recordings to market Jolly Roger Telephone, which offers a 30-day free trial and then costs $1.99 per month. A month's trial is worth a try if you are frustrated. I can't think of a better use of voice cloning than this for dealing with spam callers. The frustration saved is well worth the fee. If it's a tug-of-war for productive time, on either side of the discussion, the consumer has a time-saving tool for avoiding time wasters and would-be scammers on the phone.


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