Cool Tools 2019 Spotlight: DoNotPay

This Cool Tools story begins with a British American entrepreneur named Joshua Browder who grew up in London.  He started driving at the age of 18 and incurred numerous parking tickets.   This got him thinking about the ticket structure in general.  He was non-plussed that the tickets seemed to disproportionately target the elderly and disabled, and he recognized the formulaic nature of the appeal process.  Having taught himself to code by age 12, Joshua created the web-based DoNotPay chatbot to help others navigate the parking ticket appeal process efficiently.   The chatbot is said to have saved motorists in the UK and New York an estimated $5 million dollars.

These days, DoNotPay can assist freely with:

efficiently scheduling your visit to the DMV by pinging for cancelled appointments, expediting TSA PreCheck enrollment, and registering you for the National Do Not Call List (Government Paperwork).

contesting your parking, speeding, red light, and toll booth tickets in New York and California (Traffic Disputes).

generating demand letters for breach of contract, housing issues, or personal injury claims (Customer Service Issues / I am owed $500+).

canceling subscriptions, appealing bank fees, and getting you free food by completing your food surveys (Find Hidden Money).

DoNotPay is only available on current iPhone or iPad (iOS 11.0 or later) devices and is free of charge.  After downloading the app, however, you are required to connect it with your bank account.  (This caused me to pause and investigate further.  DoNotPay uses Plaid for its banking transactions, a platform that is well regarded and is used by venmo.)   DoNotPay requires bank account access to send you any money reclaimed from corporations or the government, to process any voluntary contributions (tips) made in the app, and to process any external government/corporation fees to help you complete your task.

DoNotPay’s most recent feature, DoNotSign, allows users to upload licensing language which the app will then review to highlight warnings and loopholes.  This service, which comes with a monthly fee of $3, debuted in November and is currently only available in the United States.

This story continues as Joshua, now a Stanford graduate, has secured an additional $4.6 million in seed money in 2019 from Silicon Valley investors to further develop DoNotPay. This funding has permitted expansion of services into new jurisdictions, perhaps with one near you.  Although the app refers to itself as “The World’s First Robot Lawyer,” a debatable claim by those familiar with artificial intelligence, it is a contributing player in the access to justice movement.