A motorist who was fined £100 after driving through the drop-off zone haggled the penalty down from £100 to £15 - using a chatbot. Shaun Bosley dropped off a work colleague at the airport in November last year and received the £100 “final notice” from NCP around seven months later.
Using AI, specifically ChatGPT, he managed to generate an appeal saying he had no previous notice of the fine. Mr Bosley, from Brighton, said the NCP had since reduced the fine to £15 - the original amount.
He told BBC News: “In the end, I just typed ‘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,’ and straight away it came back with a great response.”
At Gatwick Airport, motorists dropping off passengers must pay £5 for a maximum of 10 minutes. They are charged an extra £1 for every minute they stay after that, up to a maximum of 10 minutes.
Part of Mr Bosley’s letter created by ChatGPT read: "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 letter also referred to “undue stress and hardship” the notice had caused.
"It’s insane how it writes like a human,” Mr Bosley added: "I didn’t have to look at it and think ‘that sounds like a robot, I need to change some of it’, it was so conversational."
Commenting on the incident, NCP said it "takes appeals on their own individual merit".
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3 family of large language models and has been fine-tuned using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques.
It indexes words, phrases, and sentences using statistics, reinforcement learning, and supervised learning. While ChatGPT lacks true “intelligence”, it can effectively answer questions, write articles, summarise information, and perform other tasks.