back to article Air Canada must pay damages after chatbot lies to grieving passenger about discount

Air Canada must pay a passenger hundreds of dollars in damages after its online chatbot gave the guy wrong information before he booked a flight. Jake Moffatt took the airline to a small-claims tribunal after the biz refused to refund him for flights he booked from Vancouver to Toronto following the death of his grandmother in …

  1. Terry 6 Silver badge

    It makes no difference whether the information comes from a static page or a chatbot.

    It sounds as if someone in the airline has swallowed the crap about "Artificial Intelligence" - though not to the extent of going on to accept that the bot has the same responsibility as a human.

    This all sounds a bit like the "self-driving Tesla" approach to sales.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      The bot is not human. It has zero responsibility. But the airline has 100% responsibility for what happens on its website, including chatbots.

      With a human it would be exactly the same. The airline is 100% responsible. Meaning they have to give the refund. Except they could sue their (probably ex) employee if he gave out wrong information intentionally.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Terminator

        Perhaps they could sue the bot? After all, if it's an independent intelligent agent, surely they're paying it some salary, so it'll have money in the bank.

      2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

        They could probably also sue the chatbot creator as well, although they'd have had to include a clause saying that the responses from the chatbot will actually reflect Air Canada policy.

        This is really going to start biting people using AI for support, isn't it? Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

        1. veti Silver badge

          I assume the (probably off-the-shelf) chatbot creator has some standard contract terms, and they've probably thought the thing through more deeply than their customer, so... yeah. I doubt if they'd be vulnerable.

          1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

            I think any reasonable person would assume that the chatbot creator's standard ts & cs basically boil down to "you're on your own". Probably not going to stop a legal department from giving it a go if the CEO says their jobs are on the line if they don't though, is it?

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Even if the bot was a human operator - does that mean they can spout nonsense and then expect the customer to just suck it up when it's wrong?

      If anything, a human being in error would hold MORE weight, not less. So why would they think that claiming the bot was some kind of free-thinking independent entity would make it not liable? Their own humans wouldn't be!

      I just don't understand why a company would deploy these things on a front-end website. At absolute best, if you believe every bit of hyperbole over AI, it's like putting a small child on the customer service team and then letting it run off and say whatever it wants, unchecked.

      Maybe eventually another fad will come along and these places will learn that such bots are absolutely a liability to them and are in fact a pretty damning security hole - I've seen other news of them be manipulated to get prices and discounts not actually available, and to get into conversations that are wholly inappropriate for any agent - automated or not - to get into on a corporate website.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I just don't understand why a company would deploy these things on a front-end website

        Because it's cheaper than employing a meatsack. No other reason required as far as they're concerned...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          ^ that. It's cheaper than a real operator whilst giving a (false) impression that the business is actually interacting with the customer and providing some service.

        2. hedgie Bronze badge

          Hells, an Eliza bot would be better than AT&T's "tech support". Their agents (except in cancellations) are tightly nailed to a script that doesn't even follow any sort of flowchart but is completely linear.[1] Unfortunately, broadband where I live is either them or comcrap which seems to have far more outages. If employees can't actually use any brains they have, why not replace them with a bot.

          [1]The last time I had to deal with these fools, the agent refused to proceed until I replaced the ethernet cable between the tower and the router, despite a traceroute showing that the packets were dropping outside the local network.

          1. WolfFan

            You need to use the magic words

            I just ‘upgraded’ my TV service from AT&T U-Verse (a.k.a. glorified DSL) to Direct TV Streaming. I had requested four units, one each for the four TVs. So… one unit had problems. It buffered endlessly. When I removed it from the TV it was on and put it on a different unit, it was dead. The little LED was dark. The TV showed a black screen with ‘no signal’. Meanwhile, the unit which had been on that TV worked just fine on the one which had been buggering. So I call AT& Useless. The support guy wanted me to go to a site, allowing him to use my phone camera to see the screen. I told him that that was not going to happen, the unit was dead. I wanted a replacement. M’man said that he could not do that. I told him to transfer me to a supervisor, or if that were not possible, in the morning, I would proceed to the local AT&Useless office and hand in the defective unit and demand that it be removed from my account… and that the agreement with AT&Useless specified that I had 14 days to ‘love’ the service or I could return it. The 14 days were not yet over. He caved and sent a replacement, which works. The dead unit is on its way back to them, using their packaging and their mailing sticker, at their expense.

            If you threaten to cost them revenue, they cave. Especially if they can be certain that I really would return it, mostly because I would. Indeed, I might have just canceled Direct TV altogether and gone with Hulu or similar. Money talks.

            1. hedgie Bronze badge

              Re: You need to use the magic words

              Yeah. I even read on the support fora that the only way to avoid the script is to transfer to cancellations. And it really does seem silly to do that just to get basic support, but needs must. The "replace something that is obviously working or nothing" was perhaps the most egregious one. The previous time I called them they basically BSODed when trying to get me to go through some Windows settings when I said that it was impossible to do so because there were no Windows boxen in the house. Instead of escalting or trying to even trying to figure out how to get whatever information they "needed" via other means, they expected me to conjure up a Windows machine somehow or just wait for me to lie and say that I did it (I did the latter).

              Out of every ISP and mobile provider I've dealt with, their service has been the worst, and I don't think that a company like that could even remain in business without having a monopoly.

              1. WolfFan

                Re: You need to use the magic words

                Unfortunately, AT&T is not the worst. Comcast is worse. I used to have Adelphia, which was literally a criminal organization; the father-and-son team at the top spent time in a Federal pokey. Comcast got the Adelphia customers in my area; Roadrunner got many others. Later on, Comcast bought Roadrunner. At the time, Roadrunner was rated the #1 worst cableco in America, and Comcast was #2. They instantly got the #1 rating all to themselves and showed every intention of keeping it.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "Because it's cheaper than employing a meatsack"

          ...Until it's not

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        I just don't understand why a company would deploy these things on a front-end website.

        That's the easy part. When customer service (or indeed the product as a whole*) is considered as an unwanted cost, to be eliminated, rather than what the business is supposed to be supplying they'll take any expedient to remove it.

        *It does seem as if some companies are doing their best to eliminate supplying a product from the business model.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Coming soon

      Customer: Poor granny, I miss her so much.

      Chatbot: Well, we have a special promotion where we can bring your granny back from the dead for a subscription of only $29.99 per month.

      Customer: What if I cancel the subscription?

      Chatbot: No problem! You can terminate granny your subscription at any time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Coming soon

        Excellent!

        And, of course, now that you have written that on the internet, that text will now be inhaled by the crawler bots of crappy artificial unintelligence systems as absolute truth, for them to hallucinate back at some poor customer later…

    4. Robert 22

      They thought they had artificial intelligence, but they had really only achieved artificial incompetence.

      1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
        Trollface

        That's funny, it tastes just like regular incompetence!

        Artificial incompetence, the same terrible experience as regular incompetence with only half the calories.

  2. elDog

    Can't wait until Air Canada replaces all of its C-suite high-priced suits with AI

    That will totally solve the problem of humans in decision-making positions making bad decisions.

    Right?

    1. cdegroot

      Re: Can't wait until Air Canada replaces all of its C-suite high-priced suits with AI

      Air Canada is one of these brain dead corporate corporations. I don’t think I’ve seen a single positive but of news on them in the last decade.

      So replacing the C suite with AI would be a big step up in the quality of decision making.

      1. Tishers

        Re: Can't wait until Air Canada replaces all of its C-suite high-priced suits with AI

        Engaging with a gate agent is as just a soulless, draining experience as well.

    2. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Can't wait until Air Canada replaces all of its C-suite high-priced suits with AI

      Short answer:

      YES

  3. Martin-73 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What a strange position to defend.

    Even if they genuinely did believe the chatbot was not 'their agent' (due to some incapacity in the cerebellums of their legal team), choosing to fight a bereaved person is ...a bad move, shirley

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a strange position to defend.

      You're not talking about my poor dead wife, Shirley?

      You insensitive clod!

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: What a strange position to defend.

        Yes, but don't call me Shirley! :)

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: What a strange position to defend.

          You'll get Oveur it.

          1. bpfh

            Re: What a strange position to defend.

            Roger that

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What a strange position to defend.

      Maybe their legal team used a chatbot to decide what to do. Or the C-Suite used a chatbot that told them they didn't need a legal team at all, just use a chatbot. Perhaps Ait Canada has already been taken over.

      1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

        Re: What a strange position to defend.

        It's chatbots all the way down.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: What a strange position to defend.

          "It's chatbots all the way down."

          Is everybody Dunn now?

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      And if that position was legally defensible

      How would it be any different from hiring some call center company in India to handle your calls? "Sorry our call center is a separate legal entity, we're not responsible for what it tells you". Every big company would love to have that out!

      Just because the call center full of people is being replaced by an "AI" chatbot doesn't change the legal relationship. They are still paying a third party for service, and providing that service to their customers from their website with the understanding that it is representing Air Canada.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: And if that position was legally defensible

        A person acting wholly outside the bounds of their role can be held to be acting independently. For example, if a person working for the company, but without the right to say such a thing, says 'you can have free flights forever, if you pay a dollar', then it would not be binding.

        It's far more complicated than 'if someone working for the company says something, the company is bound by it'.

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: And if that position was legally defensible

          I think in your example there would be no legally binding contract formed. But if I took a taxi to the airport to get my first one-dollar flight and get turned down, they might very well be liable for the cost of the taxi both ways.

          But not if I tried it again, because I now would know there is no contract.

    4. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: What a strange position to defend.

      I went to university with somebody whose hobby was helping people to sue Air Canada (still does it in fact). He has not had a lack of material.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a strange position to defend.

        For some years I coached many unhappy Virgin Media (UK cable company) customers through the regulatory complaints system as a superuser on their help forum. Plenty of cases due to poor quality nailed down scripts and third world customer service, and I reckon I must have cost the company tens of thousands of pounds paid in arbitration settlements and case fees. Despite this, the company continues to have high complaint volumes, the overwhelming majority of complaints either being settled as soon as the customer takes the matter to arbitration, or the company fights arbitration and loses. Air France are the same, as are many UK energy suppliers.

        There's just something about shitty companies: They all have the numbers, they know they're shit, they know it costs them a lot of money from customer losses, reputational damage, complaints settlements and case fees, as well as unwelcome attention from regulators. But they can't and won't do anything about it. Often the roots of the service problem are in some aspects of penny pinching, so the opportunities to apply AI chatbots will be a siren call to their execs. And they still won't fix the broken processes, dirty data and poor organisational culture that causes all problems in the first place.

        Once a shitty company, always a shitty company. I do take note of corporate matters, and I can't think of any major company that's genuinely gone from zero to hero.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: What a strange position to defend.

          "Tens of thousands of pounds"? Over how many years? And how much would employing a whole bunch of extra people cost them?

          No comparison.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: What a strange position to defend.

          "they know it costs them a lot of money from customer losses, reputational damage, complaints settlements and case fees, as well as unwelcome attention from regulators"

          Fine multipliers for sustained poor performance would "encourage" them to get their fecal matter together. Otherwise it's just a cost of doing business

          However as long as they can pay off politicians to avoid such things, the bribes are also just a cost of doing business

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big companies are especially vulnerable to small claim tribunal attacks. Their tendency to say what is indefensible in plain language, leaves them losing when they can't use legalistic bs as a defense. In human friendly countries (i.e. not the US) they are a great recourse, or at least some cheap vindictiveness.

    As an aside, a very nice browser feature would be to record all web chats automatically, save pages and sign and date it all so that it can be produced in court and scumbag corporates can't change the web, then claim they didn't say/publish it.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Totally agree.

      Had a dispute with Orange broadband (pre EE).

      Part of the package should of included free international calls to Orange customers in Europe, however after multiple attempts to get it working by them (typical brain dead support) I got an arrogant rep telling me basically tough

      So I cancelled the contract in. They promptly tried to claim the remainder of the contract. I told them nope.

      Got a threatening letter from legal team, so counter claimed in small claims for breach of contract

      As soon as that hit the legal team, 100% refund,plus costs plus £200 "goodwill".

      I guess having to send a very expensive rep from London to the midlands for a case they had no chance of winning wasn't worth their time.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        That's just standard practice because so many people would just give up and pay rather than fight because "lawyer" is a scary word, that they actually profit by doing so. Their legal team probably handle dozens to hundreds such cases every day and I bet most never get a small claims against them.

        More importantly - if it came to it, you would just demand the transcript from the support session. It's up to them to provide it, not you.

        In my experience, companies will fight tooth and nail because it takes a LOT of effort to actually bother to argue with them and most people just don't know how to do it. I've had run-ins with Three, I took down a car insurance company entirely, I fought against a letting agent and cost them £10,000+ and many of their landlord customers, etc. and plenty of others. Because to me it's a game and a point of principle. I've been threatened with court many times, and I've never yet once set foot in one. Strange that. Might have something to do with the fact that when they threaten it, I gladly accept their offer and say if there's anything I can do to advance that process to court, they should let me know. I have, though, also initiated actions that literally stopped companies in their tracks and made them realise that I wasn't going to ever go away - and then they actually bother to read the complaint and evidence (which they simply don't bother to do up until that point) and hastily backtrack and settle.

        People need a grounding in legal basics, especially contract law and that's what written often isn't cast in stone even if you willingly agreed to it! They also need to drive such complaints past the point where it costs the company more money than it's worth, and do so on a regular basis whenever they see such things.

        But, yes, the standard response is "do nothing and deny" and point at terms and conditions that are basically unenforceable in the situation, and not bother to do anything until you're about to cost them money (and then they will make an offer way under the amount of money it's already cost you or them in terms of hassle, and significantly less than it would ever cost them otherwise anyway).

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          And eventually when enough people are doing this regularly we might get an improvement in default customer handling methods, not holding my breath but stranger things have happened.

        2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          Corporate lawyers like to write lots of bollocks in their contracts to try to intimidate consumers. But in the UK, as a consumer, you have a lot more legal protection that other parts of the world. e.g. It is impossible to sign away your legal rights - no matter what the scary corporate lawyer claims. And even if you've signed an onerous contract, the court can tear it up if they think it's unfair.

        3. gnasher729 Silver badge

          My only success that way was stopping an ad for a penny auction site for a few weeks (writing that I realise they have disappeared completely. What happened?)

      2. ChrisElvidge

        should have

      3. Snake Silver badge

        re: corporate policy

        Many companies make policies that make no sense, are illegal, or just abusive - as long as it benefit them, the policy must be "OK".

        Had that issue with Virgin Mobile almost 2 decades ago. Bought a new prepaid phone and they said they wouldn't carry over the balance from the old to the new. Light bulb moment:

        "So, you're telling me that you're guilty of theft of services because you refuse to provide the service I've already paid for??"

        Hold please...

        Oh, look! We'll be happy to carry over your balance!

        ...

        Never, never, ever, discount corporate greed. Never.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re: corporate policy

          In the US, nearly every dump truck has "NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WINDSHIELDS" on the back, to discourage drivers from being too close. Because, of course, they are in fact liable for broken windshields of drivers behind them.

          Of course, they're not required to have any identifying marks on the back of the truck, including a license plate, so good luck reporting which truck it was!

          1. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: re: corporate policy

            On the other hand, if that legally worthless sign keeps drivers away from your truck at a reasonable distance, and avoids damages, that's money and annoyance saved for everyone,

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: re: corporate policy

            " to discourage drivers from being too close."

            No, it's to put people off from taking those companies to task for broken windscreens. Way back in the stone age when I held a CDL, I can remember that only two things are allowed to come off a truck (HGV/Lorry) and that's feathers from live fowl and clear water. I doubt that a copper would cite an onion truck that was shedding onion skin so there the law and then there is the application of those laws. Rocks, are definitely out. And, trailers must have a license plate on the back. The difference is that current registration stickers go on the front plate rather than with passenger cars where they go on the rear plates. Dash cams are almost a must these days. If you send the trucking company a demand for a the price of a new windshield and a snippet of dashcam footage, it would be less money for them than to try and fight it in court. The sign means nothing but you still need some proof that the rock came from their truck or a judge might not give you the win.

  5. biddibiddibiddibiddi

    Well, guess you should request that all your relatives die on a schedule that is convenient for you to be able to book the cheapest flights on short notice or that their funeral be held off until you can get a copy of the death certificate to send to Air Canada in time to wait for approval of your discounted fare.

    Do they think allowing a retroactive discount is going to result in large numbers of people bumping off a relative so they can book expensive vacation flights on short notice? Or using their vacation time to dig through the obituaries to find people that died a few days before to pretend to be relatives? Is everybody going to have 6 dead grandmothers each year?

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      >Is everybody going to have 6 dead grandmothers each year?

      Only Nobby Nobbs.

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        These days he'd probably have to prove he was human first!

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          And what are the chances of that? About a million to one, I reckon.

        2. short a sandwich

          Disqualified from the human race for pushing was the last adjudication on Mr Nobbs

        3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          -- These days he'd probably have to prove he was human first! --

          Not at all - he's a minority (hopefully of one) so should automagically be treated better than any majority.

    2. keith_w

      A Vancouverite is unlikely to consider a Vancouver to Toronto trip a vacation flight. On the other hand, a Torontonian may consider a trip to Vancouver a vacation. Also, both Air Canada and WestJet, our 2 major airlines, both frequently mistreat passengers and their luggage and end up in front of the tribunal.

  6. PghMike

    Air Canada must really be terrible

    I can't believe they took this case to court instead of just paying the $1000 or so difference, esp. considering their pathetic justification that the chatbot was its own entity. What idiots.

    FWIW, we had our own problems with Air Canada. We purchased a refundable ticket and then canceled (well within the cancelation period) a flight with Air Canada. They refunded everything but a $46 seat purchase fee, which for some reason they claim we have to recover from their partner airline, who of course refused to refund money they never received.

    I thought Canadians were supposed to be reasonable, but AC sounds like it's run by dolts.

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

      Canadians used to be reasonable. Now? Not so much. Recently, a Canadian military veteran, when complaining about not getting funding for a stairlift, was asked if they would consider suicide instead...

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/christine-gauthier-paralympian-euthanasia-canada-b2238319.html

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

        Interesting read, within months of the 2022 law change to allow assisted dying for less than a terminal diagnosis governnment officials are offering to help with suicide.

        Hugo Boss uniforms on order?

    2. Chz

      Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

      Air Canada has been called Mapleflot by those in the know for decades. That should tell you all you need to know.

      1. flokie

        Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

        Ouch. But if Air Canada are that bad, where does that leave Air Transat then?!

        1. cdegroot

          Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

          Compared to AC? Pretty good. Glad the AC takeover fell through, I fly them often and got scared for a bit :)

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

            I've used Air Transat\Canadian Affair (Dual branding) many times in the past to go from UK - Canada.

    3. Whitter
      Devil

      Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

      Perhaps they are also using an AI chatbot to respond to complaints?

    4. JoeCool Bronze badge

      Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

      From the story, my take is that

      The ticket cost difference was less than $300 -that's what AC was fighting for !

      The rest of the $800 was effort + time or punitive damages I guess.

    5. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

      "I can't believe they took this case to court instead of just paying the $1000 or so difference, esp. considering their pathetic justification that the chatbot was its own entity. What idiots."

      The people asking for money fall into three categories: Idiots who are just trying it on, people you damaged and that you legally have to compensate, and people that you damaged but for some reason you don't have to compensate them. Appearing in small claims court sorts out the first category. And that is important, because if you pay them, there will be more and more appearing. The other two categories, you just pay because that is cheaper than a defense with a real lawyer, and it's the right thing to do. You might actually turn them back into happy customers.

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Air Canada must really be terrible

      "I can't believe they took this case to court instead of just paying the $1000 or so difference"

      The real danger is/was the precedent set by going to court. If they just ponied up the refund, there wouldn't be the case law for the next blood sucking lawyer to find and quote.

  7. spireite Silver badge
    Holmes

    Chatbot vs Human

    Amazed they tried to get out of it....

    On the other hand, anybody who has called any of the following in the UK with questions.........

    Border Agency

    HMRC

    Benefits

    will probably conclude they'd get more accurate and sense out of a chatbot!!

    YMMV.

    1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Chatbot vs Human

      I well remember phoning HMRC to ask if they could send me a "replacement" tax form since the one sent hadn't arrived (my wife's had but not mine) and having to go through the security process before I was allowed to ask them to send the form. The word "jobsworth" was floating in front of my eyes during the conversation.

      1. Kevin Johnston

        Re: Chatbot vs Human

        It gets worse (yes, it really can). If you complete your tax affairs using the information provided by HMRC Tax Inspectors you can be found at fault when their advice was wrong and be taken to court if you challenge that

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Chatbot vs Human

          With HMRC, you're presumed guilty and you have to prove your innocence.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Chatbot vs Human

            Bit like the Post Office then...

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Chatbot vs Human

          " If you complete your tax affairs using the information provided by HMRC Tax Inspectors you can be found at fault when their advice was wrong and be taken to court if you challenge that"

          It's the same in the US. You are better off paying the money for a tax accountant that has a guarantee. Even if you need to save up the money to pay them and pay penalties by filing late. Chances are very good that an accountant in private practice will know more about tax regulations than the unsackable chair warmers at the IRS.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Chatbot vs Human

        No, to be fair, they are bound by rules and we'd be the first to complain if things go pear shaped because they don't follow them. And it would literally be more than their job's worth.

        (The phrase exists and was incorporated into comedy routines because it is literally true quite often.)

        Also, I've had this with private companies too.

        "Can I take you through security questions".

        "It's a general query and doesn't need any personal information"

        "I'm sorry, but I can't speak to you until you've answered the security questions"

        Sigh "OK" .

        .

        .Security passed

        " Thank you. Now can you confirm for me the post code for your office at....I have it written down wrong. I have it as...etc."

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Chatbot vs Human

          " Thank you. Now can you confirm for me the post code for your office at....I have it written down wrong. I have it as...etc."

          In my experience, when asked to "verify" a piece of information, they are actually asking me to provide that information to them. I tell them they need to go first and they don't seem to understand the issue since most Oxygen thieves will happily hand people all of their PII just for the asking. I have to patiently explain that confirming information is the process where they tell me the information they have and I tell them if it's correct or not.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Chatbot vs Human

            Sorry, I used a poor example, but it was the only example of a simple generic query I could think of.

            . It was me asking them for their postcode, after I'd got through security. Any other trivial question would have done.

            As to your own point. Yes I agree. I'm sick of companies phoning me, unsolicited, and asking me to go through their security. O2 currently, trying to sell me a more expensive, poorer contract than my current rolling one that they'd like to get me off.

    2. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: Chatbot vs Human

      Try dealing with an NHS trust complaints department! They make most other government agencies look responsive, by comparison.

  8. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
    Coat

    'Twas the AI

    "The dog ate my homework"-excuse, workplace edition 2.0

    -> Mine's the one with the "Get out of AI for free"-card in it.

  9. rgjnk
    Alert

    The wonders of AI

    "automated chatbots will regurgitate false information"

    Did it regurgitate old/false information, or did it just do the wonderful AI thing of inventing it from thin air?

    One of those problems is a cockup & manageable if they could be bothered, the other is an inherent fault that could bite again and again and again...

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: The wonders of AI

      I was watching a video last night and saw it as documenting the appearance of AI in 1997 - Red Dwarf illustrated on youtube

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: The wonders of AI

        The third comment on the YouTube video might explain why Google offered the link in my search before the joke comment I posted. Is Google Searching using AI?

        GilesBathgate had posted on YouTube "Ironically in 2023 we are trying to teach AI how to stop lying" ... my icon for GilesBathgate's inspirational comment.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The wonders of AI

      I'm thinking there could be some fun and games to be had here.

      We've already got people poisoning and breaking these language models for fun and research.

      But if we could break the ones used for customer service in specific ways that advantage us... Profit.

      Sounds like an interesting project.

      All you have do is get the chatbots to say you're allowed to claim the costs of something back for whatever reason - then you put in your claim and get free stuff. Takes time and effort, but might be fun.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Air Canada is by far the worst national carrier I have ever flown on, which is saying something. Never on time, always rude staff.

    1. Sparkus

      bottom of the barrel

      Air Canada is assuming that if it's seen as doing a "good job" at one of the worst airports in the World (Pearson), we'll all believe that AC is capable of doing a good job elsewhere..............

  11. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    The fact the “intelligence” is artificial is , imo, irrelevant. It was still employed by the Airline, and still gave the wrong advice.

    As such, the airline is liable. If the AI Is responsible, they need to take it up with their suppliers.

  12. Bitsminer Silver badge

    The Air Canada Slogan...

    "We're not happy until you're not happy."

  13. JoeCool Bronze badge

    Wrong story conclusion

    "The dispute is a perfect case to remind ourselves that automated chatbots will regurgitate false information, so use them at your own risk"

    That is the lesson for the airline, not the customer - that's what the tribual determined.

    The lesson for the customer is "track all correspondence as if it is false informatin and is putting you at risk"

  14. mevets

    oblig air canada joke

    Two drunks were sitting in an airport lounge, when a couple of flight attendants walked in. One drunk approached the attendants with the tired line "... If I can guess which airline your with, you have to let us buy you a drink ..".

    One of the attendants, without skipping a beat, replied "I don't care what your problem is, go back to your seat and shut the fuck up."

    The drunk smiled and said "Easy. Air Canada".

  15. Sparkus

    wOW

    Holding a firm financially and legally liable for the accuracy and appropriateness of it's algorithms, bots, and hopefully soon, AI?

    Wonderful news.

    1. biddibiddibiddibiddi

      Re: wOW

      I'm sure they made that money back by laying off a pilot for a week.

  16. Derezed
    Terminator

    Do we even know if AI has anything to do with this bot? They’re normally simple decision trees with canned answers, the only clever bit being interpreting what it is being asked…everything else should be clearly defined and as accurate as the meat sack who authored the responses’ intention.

  17. LateAgain

    It's not that long since the "chat" was a person

    So a chat session with a real person and a chat session with a "bot" look the same and should be legally treated as such.

    Quite a few sites actually still have people on the web chat. You can spot them because they go offline at the end of the "working" day.

  18. ChaosFreak

    Out of Pocket!!!

    A million kudos for the proper use of the phrase "out of pocket"!

    Out of pocket means you are left to pay an expense yourself that should have been covered by another party, for example, your company. It does not mean "out of the office" or "on the road" as so many misuse it today.

    Whenever I hear someone misusing it this way, I think to myself that they are psychopaths contributing to the downfall of modern civilization as we know it. Perhaps I'm overreacting...

  19. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Chatbot for the loss.

    The airline would have been better off by directing the person to go to the web site and search using the term "bereavement tickets". If the bot was on the web site, it could have presented the link to that page with both the verbose legalese and a plain English/French (being Canuckistan) translation about how to qualify for that discount. There's little value in having the bot formulate it's own response when the official one is ready to hand.

    Personally, I'd want the discount up front rather than paying full fare right away and then having to beg for the rebate which could take months in the best case.

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