A British student who received a £60 (~$74) parking fine successfully appealed the ticket with a little help from OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT.
Believing the fine was issued in error the young student called upon the writing skills of the AI to help stand her ground. The case has a striking similarity to that of fellow Brit Shaun Bosley, who recently used ChatGPT to help him reduce a £100 final penalty to just £15.
Humans and chatbots unite
When Millie Houlton, a 22 year old Business Management student from York, was issued a ticket for parking at the rear of her home in she called upon an unusual ally for assistance: ChatGPT.
Although the ticket was issued in error due to the fact Houlton had a parking permit, she also felt unsure about the correct way to fight her case against the bureaucracy of her local council. At first she thought it might just be better to pay, until she struck upon the bright idea of employing ChatGPT. Houlton was already pretty familiar with the bot since she had employed it for various content creation tasks including the creation of an Easter egg hunt for her University running club.
“I put in all my details about where and when it happened, why it was wrong and my reference for the fine and it came back with this perfectly formed personalised response within minutes,” Houlton told the BBC on Friday.
The story has since brought Millie Houlton considerable attention on the social media platform TikTok with fellow users reaching out to find out how she did it. UK media outlets including The BBC, The Sun, The Mirror and The Daily Mail have also reported on the case which has now gone viral.
Use ChatGPT to fight a parking ticket
Houlton is not the only Brit who has thought to employ ChatGPT to fight a parking fine.
Shaun Bosley of Brighton used ChatGPT to write an appeal letter after driving through the drop off zone of Gatwick Airport. Several months after the incident Bosley received a ‘final notice’ of £100 for the infracture, having received no prior correspondence.
Bosley, a sales consultant for the Swedish firm Phyron, which uses AI in the creation of promotional videos for car dealerships, turned to ChatGPT for help.
According to a report in UK Dail Mail Bosley simply prompted ChatGPT with the following command: “write an appeal to a penalty charge notice for driving through Gatwick airport. I have received final notice, but never received first notice of the penalty”‘
In the letter to the NCP, which collects penalties on behalf of Gatwick Airport, ChatGPT wrote on Bosley’s behalf, “I understand that it is my responsibility as a driver to be aware of the rules and regulations regarding driving through an airport. However, I never received the first notice of the penalty and therefore, did not have the opportunity to contest the charge or pay the fine in a timely manner.
“I believe that the debt collection process has been premature and I request that you reconsider the penalties imposed.”
The NCP replied the next day reducing the fine from £100 back to its original amount of £15.
Houlton the viral sensation
Clever Brits such as Bosley and Houlton are demonstrating strong potential use cases for AI, especially in crafting effective arguments to reduce or revoke parking fines.
Houlton has also become a viral sensation in the process. As for how she intends to spend the £60 she saved from ChatGPT the student will celebrate with a night out. And thanks to ChatGPT she can safely leave her car at home.