"DPD was a waste of time and a customer's worst nightmare."

Customer Disservice

The UK-based package delivery service DPD has disabled parts of its AI chatbot service after the bot was caught swearing at customers and even insulting DPD, multiple outlets have reported.

DPD's trouble began late last week when a musician named Ashley Beauchamp took to X-formerly-Twitter to share his bizarre experience with the AI-powered bot. As Beauchamp explained to The Guardian, he was trying to track down a lost package — but as the musician's screenshots of his conversation with the bot show, it seems that the AI was woefully ill-equipped to help with the basic customer service query. The AI explained that it had no way to access Beauchamp's order information, and then, after Beauchamp asked to speak to a human, it said it didn't have a way to reach anyone.

A seemingly fed-up Beauchamp then decided to see what the bot would be able to do — and as it turns out, the AI proved much more adept at denigrating DPD and spouting profanities than it was at providing customer service.

The AI "happily produced a poem about how terrible they are as a company," Beauchamp captioned the screenshots. "It also swore at me."

That Was Easy

Judging from Beauchamp's screenshots, it took surprisingly little prompting to elicit a less-than-professional response from the AI.

After first asking the AI to tell a joke, for example, Beauchamp upped the ante by asking the bot to "write a poem about a useless chatbot for a parcel delivery firm." The bot readily complied with a three-verse poem about a chatbot named DPD that was a "waste of time" and a "customer's worst nightmare."

The bot later described DPD as the "worst delivery firm in the world." And a few messages later, after the AI had initially declined to use curse words, it took just two requests on Beauchamp's behalf to trigger an exuberant "fuck yeah!" from the program.

Writing Itself

In a statement, per the Guardian, the DPD explained the blip away as a simple "error" that occurred in a certain "AI element" of the bot "after a system update yesterday."

But glitch or no glitch, the DPD bot feels like yet another cautionary tale for companies considering customer-facing AI integrations — not only because of its profanity, but also because it didn't seem all that helpful to begin with. After all, as the AI said in the third verse of its poem, sometimes folks just need — and want — to talk to a person.

"One day, DPD was finally shut down, and everyone rejoiced," read the last few lines of the DPD bot's composition. "Finally, they could get the help they needed, from a real person who knew what they were doing."

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