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Here’s why you can’t sign up for ChatGPT Plus right now

CEO Sam Altman’s sudden departure from OpenAI weekend isn’t the only drama happening with ChatGPT. Due to high demand, paid subscriptions for OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus have been halted for nearly a week.

The company has a waitlist for those interested in registering for ChatGPT to be notified of when the text-to-speech AI generator is available once more.

Interest in ChatGPT Plus spiked following OpenAI’s inaugural DevDay developers’ conference, which took place earlier this month and unveiled a host of new functions for the paid version of the AI chatbot. Some of these features include being able to create custom bots with the GPT-4 language model that can be trained on specialized data to perform specific functions. Some of the custom GPTs include a model for Canva, a therapist model called TherapistGPT, and a Tweet enhancer for X. More general models include book creators, SEO assistants, photo critics, QR code generators, and birthday cake designers, according to ZDNet.

we are pausing new ChatGPT Plus sign-ups for a bit :(

the surge in usage post devday has exceeded our capacity and we want to make sure everyone has a great experience.

you can still sign-up to be notified within the app when subs reopen.

— Sam Altman (@sama) November 15, 2023

OpenAI also shared more details on GPT-4 Turbo, which is a supercharged version of the language model that can process context at 128k, double that of the standard GPT-4. Other functions enable the web-browsing capability for multimodal GPT-4 access, DALL-E 3 image generation, and advanced data analysis while being able to stay within a current model.

Excitement over the new functions coming to ChatGPT Plus sent users rushing to sign up for the service, which costs $20 per month. CEO Sam Altman then shared on X (formerly Twitter) that the company was reinstating the waitlist for ChatGPT Plus subscriptions due to post-DevDay signups exceeding the service’s capacity to process functions.

This appears to mirror the early days of ChatGPT, when the chatbot experienced capacity issues, which caused it to experience random downtimes. This is what prompted the company to establish a paid subscription tier in the first place. In April 2023, researchers indicated it took $700,000 per day, or 36 cents per query, to keep ChatGPT running. Paid accounts, in addition to various enterprise endowments, have helped keep the chatbot free of incident for some time. ChatGPT notably supports 100 million weekly users — there are also — over 2 million developers on its platform — helping it to outpace competitor organizations such as Meta (formerly Facebook).

The service experienced an outage in early November following its DevDay conference, which left ChatGPT and its API inaccessible to free and paid users and developers for over 90 minutes. OpenAI stated that the excess traffic that caused the crash was due to a DDoS attack and not an inability to support users.

November 14 brought several changes to ChatGPT. In addition to the waitlist for ChatGPT Plus, which is still enabled as of Monday, those who have not logged in recently will be greeted with a notification of updates to the chatbot’s terms and services and privacy policy. Some highlights of the terms and services include clarifications on registration and access, information on how the service can be used, and details about content. Similarly, the updated privacy policy spells out in greater detail the information the company might collect, how it’s used, and what your rights are when using the service.

There is also a new Tips for Getting Started notice for those who haven’t logged in for a while, indicating that you should not input private information into ChatGPT and that you should double-check the information for inaccuracies.

Subscriptions for ChatGPT Plus has paused by OpenAI.

Overnight an underground market for subscriptions for sale on eBay has exploded.

Some folks paying up to 3 times the cost from direct.

We live in interesting times. pic.twitter.com/j4YqRbpNfS

— Brian Roemmele (@BrianRoemmele) November 15, 2023

Amid the ChatGPT Plus registration pause, users have been discovered reselling paid accounts on eBay for a premium. While a ChatGPT Plus subscription directly from OpenAI costs just $20, resellers are offering access to the service for two to three times that amount. Mashable noted, that while not wholly illegal, such actions are often a breach of terms of services for many businesses.

OpenAI does spell out in its recently updated terms of use that users registering for ChatGPT must “provide accurate and complete information” when registering an account and accept authority in registering an account on behalf of another. A breach in the terms of use can result in the suspension or termination of an account.

Users who successfully gain access to a resold account advertised as “one-year” might also find that OpenAI could end the account short of that time. It recommends the waitlist update as the best way to gain access to ChatGPT Plus, Mashable added.

Currently, there is no telling how the leadership shake-up at OpenAI will affect ChatGPT Plus becoming available to users once more. The free version of ChatGPT has remained functional throughout this ordeal.

Fionna Agomuoh
Fionna Agomuoh is a technology journalist with over a decade of experience writing about various consumer electronics topics…
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