Air Canada Ordered To Pay Damages To Customer Who Was Misled By Its Chatbot

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Air Canada Ordered To Pay Damages To Customer Who Was Misled By Its Chatbot
Toronto: Air Canada, the largest airline in the North American country, was ordered to pay partial refund to a passenger after its chatbot provided inaccurate information, misleading the person into purchasing a full-price ticket.
The airline even attempted to distance itself from the error and claimed that the chatbot was “responsible for its own actions.”

The incident took place in 2022 when a person named Jake Moffatt’s grandmother passed away and he visited Air Canada’s website to book a Vancouver to Toronto flight. Since he did not know much about how the airline’s bereavement rates worked, Moffatt decided to ask the airline’s chatbot to explain the policy to him.

However, Moffatt was provided inaccurate information by the chatbot, encouraging the person to book a ticket and then request a refund within 90 days, according to Ars Technica.

In a screenshot of his conversation with the Air Canada chatbot, Moffatt was informed that he could apply for the refund “within 90 days of the date your ticket was issued” by filling out an online form, the report added.

“If you need to travel immediately or have already travelled and would like to submit your ticket for a reduced bereavement rate, kindly do so within 90 days of the date your ticket was issued by completing our Ticket Refund Application form,” read the screenshot shared by him.

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Moffatt, who had booked tickets to and from Toronto to attend his grandmother’s funeral, was surprised when he applied for a refund, but the airline told him that bereavement rates did not apply to completed travel and asked him to check the bereavement section of its official website.

Moffatt confronted Air Canada with a screenshot of the chatbot’s advice months later, however, the airline reportedly told him that the chatbot used “misleading words,” adding that it would update the chatbot software.

The passengers seemed unhappy with the airline’s reply and decided to sue Air Canada for the fare difference, which later prompted the airline to issue what tribunal member Christopher Rivers termed a “remarkable submission” in its defense. The company alleged that despite the error, its chatbot was a “separate legal entity”. Hence, it was responsible for its own actions, the report added.

“Air Canada argues it cannot be held liable for information provided by one of its agents, servants, or representatives—including a chatbot,” Rivers said.

Rivers noted that the airline does not explain why it believes that is the case or “why the webpage titled ‘Bereavement travel’ was inherently more trustworthy than its chatbot.”

While deciding the case in Moffatt’s favour, Rivers ordered Air Canada to pay a partial refund of $650.88 in Canadian dollars as well as additional damages to cover the passenger’s tribunal fees.

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