Air Canada has been instructed to compensate a customer who was provided with incorrect information by the airline’s chatbot.

Air Canada has been instructed to compensate a customer who was provided with incorrect information by the airline’s chatbot.

The biggest airline in Canada has been directed to provide compensation following an incident where its chatbot provided a customer with incorrect information, resulting in the purchase of an overpriced ticket.

Air Canada faced additional backlash after trying to separate itself from the mistake by asserting that the bot was “accountable for its own decisions”.

As companies increasingly turn to automation for their services, this case – the first of its kind in Canada – brings up concerns about the extent to which companies are able to monitor and control chat tools.

In 2022, Jake Moffatt reached out to Air Canada to inquire about the necessary documentation for a bereavement fare and the possibility of receiving retroactive refunds.

Based on a screenshot of a chat between Moffat and the chatbot, the resident of British Columbia was informed that they could request a refund by filling out an online form within 90 days of the ticket’s issue date.

Moffatt purchased round-trip tickets to Toronto to attend a funeral for a relative. However, when he requested a refund, Air Canada informed him that bereavement rates do not apply to fully completed trips and referred him to the bereavement policy on their website.

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After being confronted with a screenshot of the chatbot’s advice months later, Air Canada acknowledged to Moffatt that the bot had given misleading information. The airline promised to make updates to the chatbot.

Moffatt subsequently filed a lawsuit for the discrepancy in fare, which led Air Canada to make a defense that tribunal member Christopher Rivers deemed as “remarkable”.

Air Canada stated that despite the mistake, the chatbot was considered a distinct legal entity and therefore accountable for its behavior.

According to Rivers, although a chatbot allows for interaction, it is still considered a component of Air Canada’s website. Therefore, Air Canada is accountable for all the information presented on its website, regardless of whether it is from a static page or a chatbot.

Air Canada stated that accurate information was accessible on their website, however Rivers noted that they did not clarify why their chatbot was deemed less reliable than the webpage labeled “Bereavement Travel.”

It is not necessary for Mr. Moffatt to be aware of the accuracy of one part of Air Canada’s webpage while being unaware of another, stated the author.

Air Canada is required to compensate Moffatt in the amount of C$650.88, which represents the discrepancy between the cost of Moffatt’s flight and a reduced bereavement fare. In addition, they must also pay C$36.14 in interest before the ruling and C$125 in fees.