Millie Houlton turns to generative AI system to plead her case, gets a parking ticket waived in record time.

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Student Millie Houlton. Courtesy of Millie Houlton
Student Millie Houlton. Courtesy of Millie Houlton

Millie Houlton, a UK university student, found herself in an unexpected predicament on March 20th. Due to roadworks, her usual parking spot was unavailable, forcing her to park elsewhere. Following a traffic warden’s guidance, she parked her Citroën car in an alternate location. Despite having a parking permit, she was slapped with a £60 ($74.30) fine.

Rather than stewing in frustration, Houlton turned to ChatGPT, a generative AI system by Microsoft-backed OpenAI, to help her contest the parking fine. The AI platform, which has seen explosive growth since its November 2022 public launch, helped her craft a persuasive letter to the local council in York.

Two days later, Houlton received a response from the council, viewed by Insider, informing her that the fine had been waived. “I just found it a bit easier to use a tool that could put my thoughts into words and get my point across properly,” Houlton told Insider.

Generative AI platforms like ChatGPT have been widely used for tasks ranging from writing news articles to coding and even novel-writing. While some celebrate the time-saving benefits of these AI systems, concerns around plagiarism, bias, and potential arguments with users remain.

Houlton’s experience with ChatGPT was largely positive. The text generated was professional, and she only needed to add personal details to complete the letter. She also appreciated not having to worry about grammar, formatting, or formality in her prompt.

However, not all AI-generated text use cases have been as benign. With some students using ChatGPT for college entrance essays or assessments, several institutions have banned the software, implemented AI detectors, or altered assignments to account for the technology’s growing popularity.

Houlton, aware of the potential pitfalls, says she wouldn’t use ChatGPT for assessments, as universities are cracking down on AI-generated text. “Everyone knows at university that you can get caught using it, so we’re just trying to stay clear of it,” she explained.

Nonetheless, ChatGPT’s role in Houlton’s parking fine victory showcases the potential benefits and versatility of AI platforms in everyday life.

Ways to utilize the power of AI writing tools

  • Job Applications: Utilize ChatGPT to create polished cover letters, resumes, and follow-up emails, highlighting your skills and experiences in a professional manner.
  • Customer Complaints: Craft a well-structured and persuasive letter or email to express dissatisfaction with a product or service, providing details and seeking resolution from the company.
  • Tenant-Landlord Communication: Use ChatGPT to draft a clear and concise message to your landlord, addressing maintenance issues, lease renewals, or requesting permission for property alterations.
  • Business Proposals: Leverage the AI’s capabilities to generate professional business proposals, outlining project objectives, timelines, and budgets, effectively presenting your ideas to potential clients or partners.
  • Legal Correspondence: Create formal letters to communicate with legal professionals, such as requesting advice, providing case updates, or submitting evidence in a clear and organized manner.
  • Insurance Claims: Write detailed and convincing insurance claim letters, presenting the necessary information, documentation, and justifications to support your claim.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Use ChatGPT to generate well-written and compelling letters of recommendation for colleagues, students, or friends, emphasizing their strengths and accomplishments.
  • Grant Applications: Draft comprehensive and persuasive grant applications, articulating the objectives, methods, and potential impact of your project, increasing the likelihood of securing funding.
  • Formal Apologies: Craft sincere and professional apology letters to address any mistakes or misunderstandings in a business or personal setting, demonstrating accountability and the desire to make amends.
  • Debt Negotiation: Utilize ChatGPT to create a formal request for debt settlement or payment plan adjustments, outlining your financial situation and proposing a feasible solution.


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