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Chatbot Error Costs Air Canada Nearly $500

After an Air Canada Chatbot gave “misleading words” about a bereavement fare to a flyer, the airline is ordered to compensate him for the issue.
Chatbots are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in everyday life – but what happens when they become “misleading?”


Such a case will cost Air Canada $482.74 ($650.88 CAD) in refunded fares, after a flyer gathering information on bereavement fares ended up getting incorrect information through the airline’s chatbot.


Tribunal Determines Air Canada Must Ensure Accurate Web Information

The small claims case stems from a November 2022 bereavement flight aboard the Canadian flag carrier. Jake Moffat requested information from a chatbot on Air Canada’s website after his grandmother passed away and he needed to travel from Vancouver to Toronto. When searching for his question about bereavement fares using the chatbot, he was told that a refund towards a reduced rate could be requested “if you need to travel immediately or have already traveled,” as long as he submitted his request within 90 days of the tickets issuance.


However, a policy published on another part of Air Canada’s website notes that bereavement consideration only applies to future travel, and that completed travel does not qualify. After requesting a refund for the bereavement fare, the carrier denied his request based on the policy. A customer service agent wrote that the chatbot provided “misleading words,” but would update the chatbot for the future.


In the decision handed down by a Canadian tribunal member, it was determined that Air Canada owed Moffat a “duty of care” in providing the correct information. Although the correct policy was provided on another part of the Air Canada website, the decision says Air Canada’s response “does not explain why customers should have to double-check information found in one part of its website on another part of its website.”


“I find Air Canada did not take reasonable care to ensure its chatbot was accurate,” the decision reads. “While Air Canada argues Mr. Moffatt could find the correct information on another part of its website, it does not explain why the webpage titled “Bereavement travel” was inherently more trustworthy than its chatbot.”


Air Canada has not publicly commented on the case or the decision.


Share your thoughts on the case of the misguided chatbot on the FlyerTalk forums.

blue2002 March 8, 2024

Such a poorly researched and put together article, right down to the title itself... Was it written by generative AI?

First of all, AC lost way more than 500 bucks. AC likely had to engage its legal, which likely put them out of pocket to the tune of thousands, not hundreds of dollar. Secondly, AC lost goodwill and credibility by getting this whole misadventure all the way to the tribunal and by - at the tribunal - offering the most asinine defense, suggesting the chatbot (on AC's website) was an independent agent and not AC's responsibility. 

Indeed, readers with any interest in this matter will be better served to follow the the forum link - the single piece of information with the most value in this article.

infrequentwings February 19, 2024

Headline is misleading - the customer would've acted differently and followed the protocols required if provided with different information, so AC didn't lose $500 there at all. Real story here is about why strong consumer rights are important.

gabbai February 18, 2024

Not just Chatbot. In an online chat, which I copied, I was given specific and unambiguous information about charges on award tickets. I was told that "taxes only" would be charged on a companion award. When I asked specifically if there would be any other charge over the government-mandated taxes I was told no. When the airline's substantial so-called "fuel surcharge" was also added, again in writing, I said that I was told differently. Take it or leave it I was told. I took it with the written rider that I was paying under protest in order to secure the reservations. After the flight, I applied for a refund which was denied. It was only after many emails back and forth and a threat of legal action that I was refunded, as a gesture. The company's Terms and Conditions were however altered at the same time!

CPRich February 17, 2024

Nearly $500! Will Air Canada be able to stay in business....

kai.lileboo February 17, 2024

Chatbot is a pain in the a*ss. One would rather make everything needed via this chanell rather than waiting for hours on call centre line.
Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian have all the same engine and the chatbot only does what it wants to do, if you need anything else, the answer is: I am not able to understand this...please contact one of our customer service agent through the numbers below....
The OP should claim 1000 CAD+ for misleading info.