An AI chatbot goes rogue during a customer service exchange

International shipping company DPD updated its AI-powered chatbot after it provided an unexpected response during an exchange with a dissatisfied customer.

Musician Ashley Beauchamp recently turned to DPD’s customer service chatbot in an effort to track down lost packages.

After making a little progress with the chatbot, he decided to have some fun by asking it to write a poem criticizing the company, which it did. He also asked him to swear, and once again, he obliged using the F word in his answer.

Beauchamp expressed his frustration in a post on social media that has now been viewed nearly two million times.

“Parcel delivery company DPD has replaced their customer service chatbots with AI robots,” the musician wrote. “There was absolutely no point in answering any questions, and when asked, he happily produced a poem about how terrible they were as a company. He also cursed at me.”

Parcel delivery company DPD has replaced their customer service chatbots with AI robots. There’s absolutely no point in answering any questions, and when asked, he happily produces poetry about how terrible they are as a company. He also cursed at me. 😂 pic.twitter.com/vjWlrIP3wn

— Ashley Beauchamp (@ashbeauchamp) January 18, 2024

The screenshot shows that Beauchamp asked the DPD chatbot to compose a haiku — a Japanese poem consisting of 17 syllables, with five syllables in the first line, followed by seven and five syllables. But the digital assistant couldn’t even get it right, messing up the syllable count, even though the sentiment was on point.

The poem says:
“DPD is useless,
A chatbot that can’t help you.
Don’t bother calling them.”

DPD said that an error had occurred with its AI chatbot following a recent system update, and added that it was working to ensure it did not happen again.

Although chatbots have been used by many companies for years as part of their customer service setup, many have been criticized for their inability to provide meaningful assistance. But with generative AI gaining huge traction in the last year with tools like ChatGPT, it is hoped that this more sophisticated technology will be able to turn customer service chatbots into much more effective assistants. But since Beauchamp considered DPD’s AI chatbot “completely useless” before he cursed and criticized the company, the technology clearly still needs some tweaking.

Beauchamp said that he found the incident amusing, but added that “these chatbots are supposed to improve our lives, but often when implemented poorly, they only result in a more frustrating and impersonal experience for the user.”

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