Joshua Browder graciously gave some of his time to talk with me about DoNotPay. Don't miss my full interview.
Here are some more technical snippets from my interview with Joshua Browder that I didn't think fit with the main article. Many of these answers helped explain some of the issues I've experienced in DoNotPay.
I really wanted to know if DoNotPay is using an algorithm to answer user issues, or if there's a human writing the final report that gets sent. Especially when my report for my Canadian passport renewal came back a bit garbled.
Joshua: What we do is, we have software in place that tries to answer the question and that it gets approved by a human or denied. It's all automatically generated.
Then I asked him if these are getting approved by an internal or external team.
Joshua: That's right, it's all internal. It doesn't go to Mechanical Turk or anything like that.
Remember when I couldn't book a flight or hotel? I asked him about this.
Joshua: Well, how many points do you have?
Me: I have 1,050.
Joshua: That's $1.05, so it's very hard to book a flight with that amount of money.
Joshua: With the point system, what we do is we want to give you a small reward if you lose your issue.
Me: So, if I were to get enough [points] to pay for a flight, would that feature be available at that point?
This gave me two answers:
- We now know how much points are worth. 1,000 points = $1 USD.
- You can't use reward points towards a booking, you have to pay for the whole booking with points.
The only thing I failed to mention in the interview was that maybe there should be an error message of some sort. You know, for dopes like me.
I was pretty curious if PDFs were going to stay as the standard response format. And luckily they are not.
Joshua: No, we're gradually moving away from that. We have this escalation screen now. Before you just got a PDF. Now you get something like an escalation screen, where you can mail it, and it's actually in the app. The reason we started with PDF, is it's the easiest to share. People liked to share it with family or mail it somewhere.
This is one of my biggest gripes with DoNotPay at this point. It's nice to know that it won't be this way forever.
Upcoming Android and web versions
When I asked Joshua when we should expect the upcoming web and Android versions, he pointed me towards the beta of the web version at donotpay.com/web. However, he didn't mention a date for the Android version.
I asked Joshua what the most popular features are in DoNotPay.
Joshua: It's very distributed, as I'm sure you can imagine. The most popular features are the free trial credit card, parking tickets, certain fee refunds and skip waiting-on-hold — which we actually just launched last week.
He also spoke a little more about the "skip waiting-on-hold" feature.
Joshua: It's really great, because it's a problem we all face. It's one that I use about once every two weeks. So I really love that feature. The way it works is that if an automated machine is on the other end it can tell because they have a certain frequency versus a human voice. Eventually once a human gets through, it forwards the call to you.
And he mentioned a new feature that they just released:
Joshua: I don't know if you fly a lot, but actually just today we've launched a new feature where you can get refunds for terrible in-flight Wi-Fi. We're always tackling these new issues.
I'm flying in December, so maybe I'll try the Wi-Fi...
Does he like the blog?
I was honestly a bit nervous to interview him knowing full well that he's read some of the posts and they aren't necessarily glowing.
Joshua: Thank you for writing the daily blog. I promise you, the whole team reads it every day. I think it's really balanced and a lot of people have the same issues.
He even gave me some extra points!
Joshua: And although it's not enough to book a flight, we'll definitely give you 10,000 points.
That means he kinda likes me, right?
- Money spent: $0
- Money saved: $0
- Money earned: $10 in rewards points!
- Time saved: -15 minutes (but so worth it)
If you want to support me:
Try DoNotPay yourself. You'll get 2,000 points (about $2 USD) using this link!
Try DigitalOcean which is used to host this site. You'll receive a $50 credit towards your first 30 days of hosting using this link!
Buy a discount gift card from Raise. You get $5 off your first purchase using this link! I buy all of my Nintendo eShop cards there when they have sales and keep them for when I purchase my games. Every penny counts!