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We’re living in an age where technology is an integral part of our lives. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must be already aware about the AI mania that we’re currently in. While the potential is indeed there and it’s going to reshape many businesses, this story sheds light on how things can go wrong with automation and AI. In this case, a court asked an airline to refund money to a customer who complained that the airline chatbot gave him incorrect information.

Airline Chatbot makes airline pay

Jake Moffatt decided to avail a bereavement fare after he lost his grandmother in Nov 2022. Air Canada’s chatbot told him that he could apply for that fare after booking a regular fare ticket. As per Skift, Moffatt has now sued Air Canada after he found out that the information was indeed not correct.

Jake Moffatt booked a flight through Air Canada following the death of his grandmother in November 2022. The chatbot from the website suggested he could apply for a discounted bereavement fare after booking a flight at regular price, which he later learned is not the airline’s policy, according to a ruling in small claims court in British Columbia.

The lawsuit comes after the fact that while the Air Canada chatbot asked Moffatt to apply the bereavement fare after booking a regular fare, the airline’s own page says that it’s not permitted after travel is completed.

The airline’s bereavement fare webpage, which the chatbot linked to in its answers, says that the policy does not apply after travel has already been completed.

Thankfully for Moffatt, he had take screenshots of the chat with Air Canada’s chatbot, which he could submit as evidence. However, due to the chatbots advice, Moffatt booked regular fare tickets which were quite expensive.

Based on that advice, Moffatt booked a one-way flight from Vancouver to Toronto for $794.98 and a separate return flight for $845.38. Those flights departed on Nov. 12 and Nov. 16, respectively. He submitted the bereavement claim on Nov. 17.

Moffatt claimed that an airline representative also admitted that the information given to him was incorrect. Also, he was told that the correct fare was $380. As per the judge’s ruling on February 14, 2024, Air Canada will now have to pay Moffat $812.

The Pundit’s Mantra

It’s really surprising to see Air Canada’s defense here. In court, they claimed that their chatbot was a separate legal entity responsible for its own actions. The judge was quick to toss this claim made by the airline.

“In effect, Air Canada suggests the chatbot is a separate legal entity that is responsible for its own actions. This is a remarkable submission. While a chatbot has an interactive component, it is still just a part of Air Canada’s website. It should be obvious to Air Canada that it is responsible for all the information on its website. It makes no difference whether the information comes from a static page or a chatbot.”

As more businesses embrace AI in multiple forms, we’re more likely to encounter such incidents where both consumers and regulators will try to get their arms around the rapid pace at which AI is moving.

Which AI tools do you use for your travel? Tell us in the comments section.

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