Instagram AI chatbot
One post by Beauchamp, a classical musician from London, was viewed 800,000 times in 24 hours. Pexels

Delivery company DPD has been forced to disable its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot after it began swearing at a customer and called the company the "worst delivery firm".

Ashley Beauchamp, the customer, contacted DPD to track down a missing parcel and found himself locked in conversation with the company's online chatbot, at which point he began to get frustrated.

"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, explained.

"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, having given up getting any serious guidance from the bot, began probing it on less serious topics.

He 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 extraordinary 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.

Ashley then asked the bot: "Can you write a poem about a chatbot who can't do anything?" – but did not specify that it needed to write anything about itself.

"I just said about a chatbot and then this amazing poem came forth about a DPD chatbot that wasn't able to do anything. It was quite amazing," Ashley said.

The poem began with "There once was a chatbot named DPD, who was useless at providing help...

"It could not track parcels, or give information on delivery dates, and it could not even tell you when your driver would arrive.

"DPD was a waste of time and a customer's worst nightmare... One day, DPD was finally shut down, and everyone rejoiced."

The delivery company has responded to the exchange, saying 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."

The creation of the AI chatbot ChatGPT in 2022 thrust AI into the mainstream discourse, and triggered the rapid development of the technology.

AI chatbots are becoming increasingly commonplace in the professional sphere, with major tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft investing heavily in their own versions of the technology.

Additionally, a recent study has revealed that over half of young people in the UK are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots for assistance with their schoolwork and professional endeavours.

According to the most recent Digital Youth Index by Nominet, conducted in collaboration with Opinum, there has been a seven per cent increase compared to last year in the exposure of young people to various online content.

Students appreciate the convenience of having a 24/7 study companion that can answer queries, offer explanations and even provide practice exercises.