FlashCord (aka Playback Polly) Gives Creepy, Paranoid Bosses an Easy Way to Spy on Employees

A few years ago, infomercials for Listen Up and Loud N Clear promoted those sound amplifiers as great tools for weirdos and busybodies to snoop on others. The infomercial for the FlashCord digital voice recorder uses the same odd marketing angle. FlashCord will appeal also to senior citizens and other people who are too stupid to figure out the voice record function on their smartphones:

The scene of the befuddled oldster in the doctor’s office brings to mind scores of corny jokes that begin with “An old man goes to the doctor…” such as:

An old man goes to the doctor and says, “Doc, I’m afraid I have Alzheimer’s disease. What should I do?” The doctor advises him, “Just go home and try to forget about it.”

Fortunately, the old man on the infomercial is so pleased with his FlashCord gizmo that he doesn’t get too stressed when the doctor explains that he will be completely incontinent for the entire five weeks he has left to live.

We also get to see the Flash Cord used to record a birthday wish for grandma, which is then sent to her as an email attachment.

This is brilliant! Sure, you could call grandma on the phone, but you never know how much of your valuable time she’ll waste, not to mention you’ll have to call her all over again next year. With FlashCord you can record a birthday greeting once and keep resending the same audio file every year! You can even set up your email program to automatically send it whenever grandma’s birth date occurs. A real time saver.

But the most innovative use for the Flash Cord is for business executives to surreptitiously record their employees around the office. In this case, the FlashCord’s small and easily hidden size really is an advantage over any smartphone! Now megalomaniacal control freaks can better detect dissent and insubordination and take swift action to crush it.

On the other hand, the only thing this boss ends up recording is two women saying:

“Did you see the outfit on Betty?”

“I know. It’s terrible.”

“Oh, it’s so trashy.”

Yet he is absolutely delighted to be overhearing this catty piece of gossip. So perhaps he isn’t a control freak, maybe he is just a dirty old man hoping to find out about the sex lives of his employees.

In any case it seems like an interesting work environment. The wall in the executive’s office is lined with books, which is reminiscent of a law office. But we hear his recorded voice saying, “First contact shipping, then send out all the emails,” which would indicate some other type of business. He has two attractive female assistants writing down what he says, and two other attractive female employees standing around the water cooler, talking about how trampy one of their co-workers dresses.

Despite the absence of cigarettes and cocktails, it’s safe to surmise that the producer of the FlashCord infomercial got his notion of what goes on in a corporate office entirely from watching episodes of Mad Men.

Update May 30, 2013: This product is also being marketed under the name Playback Polly, which sounds more like an alternative name for Chatty Patty. The good news is that except for the name change the infomercial for Playback Polly is identical to the one for FlashCord—so the creepy old boss is still spying on his female employees!


  • 4 Responses to “FlashCord (aka Playback Polly) Gives Creepy, Paranoid Bosses an Easy Way to Spy on Employees”

  • Is the voice of the doctor and the voice of the boss the same person?

    Comment by euGene on May 3, 2013 at 11:05 pm

  • I’m disappointed that we never get to see what Betty is wearing!

    Comment by bookendz on May 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm

  • What is this sorcery how can a good recording device be that small with no power source? What is this, the CIA?

    Comment by Trekkie313 on May 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm

  • These are actually pretty clever. The power source is a rechargeable battery that charges automatically when it’s plugged into the USB port; these batteries are typically not user-replacable, so the device has a limited life since the battery will wear out after a few years. If you want one, I suggest Amazon or eBay; just search for “USB Audio Voice Recorder” and you can easily find better models for under $20 with free shipping.

    Comment by Anonomous on June 5, 2013 at 12:34 am