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TMCNet:  The $15,000,000,000,000,000 phone bill

[October 12, 2012]

The $15,000,000,000,000,000 phone bill

Oct 12, 2012 (Los Angeles Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- It's not exactly a news flash that phone companies frequently screw up people's bills. Sky-high charges in the thousands of dollars have become routine.

But imagine how Solenne San Jose felt when she received a bill recently for nearly $15 quadrillion.

Yep. Quadrillion.

As in about $15,000,000,000,000,000.

"There were so many zeros I couldn't even work out how much it was," San Jose told the Herald Sun newspaper.

She lives in the Bordeaux region of southwestern France, typically known for great wine, pastoral vistas and now completely loony phone bills.

To give some idea how big $15 quadrillion is, San Jose would have to pay nearly 6,000 times her country's entire annual economic output if she actually wrote a check for the amount (although there's a pretty good chance the check would bounce).

San Jose's anxiety level wasn't helped when service reps for her phone company, Bouygues Telecom, said they were powerless to stop the mind-boggling sum from being withdrawn from her bank account.

I'd have loved to see the bankers' faces when that transaction came down the pike.

Finally, though, the company conceded that, possibly, they'd made a mistake. San Jose's actual bill, they conceded, was closer to $150.

Bouygues Telecom blamed the mix-up on "a printing error." I see it as the greatest stab at telecom chutzpah ever.

___ (c)2012 the Los Angeles Times Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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