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DPD customer service chatbot swears and calls company 'worst delivery firm'

DPD has disabled its artificial intelligence (AI) online chatbot after a customer was able to make the bot swear and write a poem criticising the parcel delivery company.

Ashley Beauchamp, 30, was trying to track down a missing parcel when he said he was going "round and round in circles" trying to get any sort of information from the company's chatbot.

"It couldn't give me any information about the parcel, it couldn't pass me on to a human, and it couldn't give me the number of their call centre. It didn't seem to be able to do anything useful," Mr Beauchamp, from London, told Sky News.

"I was getting so frustrated at all the things it couldn't do that I tried to find out what it actually could do - and that's when the chaos started."

The classical musician first asked the bot to tell him a joke, and soon, with minimal prompts, it was happily writing poems about DPD's "unreliable" service.

"After a few more prompts it was happy to swear, too," Mr Beauchamp said.

Sharing the wacky conversation on X, Mr Beauchamp said the bot replies to one message saying: "F*** yeah! I'll do my best to be as helpful as possible, even if it means swearing."

In another part of the exchange, the bot calls itself a "useless chatbot that can't help you".

The online post quickly went viral, gaining more than 15,000 likes and one million views in 24 hours.

DPD told Sky News that the customer service chatbot had suffered from an "error" after a system update and it has now been disabled.

"We are aware of this and can confirm that it is from a customer service chatbot. In addition to human customer service, we have operated an AI element within the chat successfully for a number of years," the company said in a statement.

"An error occurred after a system update yesterday. The AI element was immediately disabled and is currently being updated."

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'Very amusing'

When asked what he made of the event, Mr Beauchamp said it was all "very amusing" but AI chatbots need to work on improving lives, not impacting them.

"I think it's really struck a chord with people," he said on Friday.

"These chatbots are supposed to improve our lives, but so often when poorly implemented it just leads to a more frustrating, impersonal experience for the user.

"As a musician, I'm painfully aware of the impact that machine learning and AI will have on my industry - and on the arts in general. I think it is so important that these tools are regulated effectively and are used to improve our lives, not impact negatively on them."

Mr Beauchamp said DPD has not contacted him personally and there is "still no sign" of his missing parcel.