car dealership captcha robot


A car dealership made a woman fill out an ‘are you a robot’ CAPTCHA in person

Blame Alexa.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on May 23, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 3:08 pm CDT

Robots are becoming increasingly lifelike as seen with Sophia and those disturbing sex machines, but we’re still at least a few years away from our trek to the lowest depths of the uncanny valley.

That’s why Marci Robin, a contributing editor at Allure Magazine, was shocked when a car dealership asked her to check a box to confirm she wasn’t a robot. Just to clarify: This happened in person. On pen-and-paper. As Robin stood directly in front of the salesperson.

The tale doesn’t get any more believable when told by Robin, who was hoping to purchase a Fiat 500X. She spoke to Jalopnik about the mystifying exchange.

“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 matter-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,'” she said.

The Florida dealership told Jalopnik it was standard practice to ask customers to verify their biological makeup. For whatever reason, the folks at the dealership think every step customers are required to complete online also has to be done in person, even the CAPTCHA, a challenge-response test made specifically for websites to fend off bots.

“It’s not about us. In order for us to print the next one, you have to check that,” the dealership told Jalopnik. “So we print it out, and have the customer check that when we do.”

That at least explains why the paper was printed in the first place but not why it wasn’t tossed in the trash. Perhaps for some, the boundaries of online and reality have started to merge, and the dealership thinks the next piece of paper won’t arrive until the “are you a robot box” is inked.—or that we’re trapped in a VR simulation

Whatever the case, the salesperson told Jalopnik he would only sell a car to a robot if it had a social security number and ID, then defended the checkbox with: “You never know; they have that girl Alexa, and she can talk and make phone calls and stuff.”

We can’t fault that response.

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*First Published: May 23, 2018, 10:39 am CDT