Ecommerce SNAFU – Swearing & Cancelled Deliveries

Category: Ecommerce
Ecommerce SNAFU - Swearing & Cancelled Deliveries

The past week saw both DPD and Tesco hit by tech problems. DPD had a SNAFU when their chatbot started swearing at customers while Tesco had to cancel thousands of food deliveries when their systems went down.

We all rely on technology so much today that when something goes wrong it turns into a crisis for some, while others are more sanguine and simply accept that nothing’s perfect and these things will happen.


DPD had to disable part of their online chatbot when it not only started swearing at customers but also become highly critical of DPD themselves. This was in part caused by customers encouraging the chatbot to be naughty, begging it to be be hyper critical of DPD and to swear. It became a game that was irresistible – what could be more fun than getting DPD’s own AI chatbot to tell you that they are the worst delivery company in the world and that they’d never recommend them to anyone?

The truth is of course, that DPD have regularly been voted one of the top delivery companies in the UK and routinely offer a superb service on most occasions, but AI is still new technology and can sometimes blindly follow inputs from users to give responses that would get a human operator sacked…. and that’s effectively what happened with DPD sacking their AI and disabling part of their Chatbot support!

Tesco Delivery SNAFU

Tesco had a more serious SNAFU which led to no one getting their grocery deliveries on Sunday morning. Even those who were charged for orders will be getting refunds and as you might expect social media was rife with complaints from those who had no Sunday lunch delivered or were running out of nappies for their babies.

Tesco were busy firing off emails with the first informing customers their order wasn’t going to arrive, often several hours after the expected delivery slot had come and gone:

We’re really sorry we’ve had to cancel your order today and for the inconvenience this will have caused. We work very hard to deliver to our customers, but unfortunately, this time something has gone wrong

– Tesco order cancellation email

The second email customers would have received was to help customers re-order, with two variations – one for those that hadn’t been charged and a second for those who’s payment had been taken letting them know the money was being refunded but might take 3-5 days to appear back on their card or in their bank account:

We’re really sorry but we can’t deliver your groceries today because of an issue with our system.

You can re-schedule your order by following the steps below:

Sign into your account at

1. Select ‘My orders’ 
2. Transfer everything that was in your basket to a new order by clicking ‘Add all to basket’ 
3. Book a slot  
4. Checkout as normal
You haven’t been charged for the order. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.

– Tesco delivery apology email

The Tesco SNAFU was obviously the more annoying for customers, especially those who couldn’t jump in the car for an emergency shop, simply didn’t have the available funds in their bank account to pay for a second shop before they get refunded, or who couldn’t find another convenient delivery slot. We do rely on technology one hell of a lot these days and these two SNAFUs are a reminder that when things go wrong they tend to go wrong in a hurry!


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