back to article Deceased Malayan hit with $218 trillion mobile bill

What otherworldly ectoplasms lurk in the oblivion of such an unholy place as accounts receivable? A Malaysian man who paid off a $23 wireless bill and disconnected his late father's cell phone back in January has been stiffed for subsequent charges on the closed account, MSNBC has reported. Telekom Malaysia sent Yahaya Wahab a …


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  1. Glynn Williams

    I wonder if...

    ...Verizon actually have an extortionate rate to talk to Hades. It must be some link - allowing the son to talk to the father when he's dead.

    I bet it was a 2 minute call to the dead that raised such a 'small' bill!

  2. Joe Good

    $218 trillion = 135 million always-on phones

    Rather than comparing the number to GDPs, it's more fun to point out just how stupid this number is.

    There are 223 x 24 x 60 = 321,120 minutes in the year so far (January 1, 2007 through August 11, 2007 inclusive, so I'm being generous).

    At $5 per minute for ALL minutes, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week that's a $1,605,600 per phone phone bill. Even on a sliding scale where early minutes are cheap and later ones are sky-high, I think $5/minute is still almost certainly greater than the maximum.

    So let's see, $218 trillion/$1.6 million = 135,774,887 phones.

    So the poor dead man must have had almost 136 million people using his phone!

    Look alive, people! The dead are calling us! And they're racking up roaming charges!


  3. Daniel Winstone

    And you thought BT was expensive

    I'm just waiting for the ad campaign that says you can save trillions of dollars by using a different service and payment plan - no doubt via direct debit of course.

    Of course being able to contact living and deceased relatives do come at a higher premium, especially as all those bead curtains and candles can be expensive.

    I suppose this is what happens when you use a faulty non checked automated process.

  4. Rick

    Must of had an new Iphone

    With that kind of bill he must have had an Iphone out there in the neitherlands and didn't relize the roaming fees when he passed it around for everyone to check out and call family and friends to let them know they were ok and talking on the new Iphone.

  5. Kenny Swan

    Roaming rate...

    Maybe his father tried to give him a call. Does anyone actually know the roaming rate for the afterlife? I mean, he is calling from way outside the cell coverage area. Maybe a few trillion is standard for a call from the great beyond.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This reminds me of a situation that arose after my Father's death. I started receiving collection notices from some firm on behalf of the (then and still) defunct and out-of-business Montgomery Ward's department store. After some initial consternation, I decided to let it go, and see if a company that didn't exist any more could meet with any success collecting money from a person that didn't either. I viewed it as an interesting experiment. After several increasingly threatening notices, the problem went away on its own.

  7. edge_e

    Dead cert

    The cost of calling from beyond the grave is obviously a bit more than Verizon's standard roaming charges.

    Phone companies are clearly no threat to mediums yet!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whats this old story doing here

    This thing is at least a year old ooooh spooky.

  9. Teoh Han Hui


    Had his father died before the formation of Malaysia in 1963? I doubt cellphones had existed at that time.

    He should be called a "Malaysian".

  10. Jason Hall


    "The $218 trillion total is roughly 17 times the GDP of the United States."

    Or this would take approximately 20 minutes downloading on most UK networks' 3G rates.

  11. Corrine

    New Rule

    Roaming charges may not exceed the national debt in any given billing period.

  12. Warren

    Push it in, hang it sideways.

    When Verizon pushed your sh*t in, did it then proceed to hang sideways?

  13. Jags

    Can't they just round it off

    I can understand the '806,400,000,000,000' part but not '.01'.

    Can't they just round it off to '.00' LOL

  14. Ian Rogers


    I've just read the Tony Wilson tribute and now this and all I can say is, f*ck me there's a lot of swearing on El Reg today...

  15. Chris Goodchild


    This is simply more proof that accountants are demon members of the legions of the undead. Evidently part of the process of becoming an undead accountant leads to total removal of all vestiges of imagination and sense of humour.

  16. Andy Tunnah

    a theory on how it was done..

    right roll with me here

    he's dead yeah..died of old age so we're gonna assume he was a good guy so he went to heaven

    they say in heaven all you have to do is think of something and its done

    ...he thinks about cloning his phone for all his new ghostie buddies

    clones it for nearly everyone in heaven, they all have a bash at calling each other, voila, 727 billion hours of call time used in a few hours =)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wonder if he was using a Apple iPhone <grin>

  18. Uwe Dippel

    Good morning, everyone, after a looong sleep ...

    Burke Hansen, this applies to you. msnbc published this news on April 10, 2006. Why did it take exactly around close to somewhat of approximately one year to reach you, finally, in some place called SF; and then to show in ElReg ?

    Is it slow news day today ?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    if the story is over a year old

    may we ask what the conclusion was?

  20. Name

    poor reporter

    Burke Hansen: Your reporting is very poor, and your use of obscenities only makes it worse. You write as if you are 14 years old and still in school. If you want to be taken seriously, you should write more professionally.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... Maybe, He thought to himself when he sadly passed "what joke can i pull to get me in the news and have everyone talking about it now im dead"

    "I know, clone my old cell phone make a few calls from the afterlife during peak times and watch the expression on my sons face when he gets the bill"

    Bet he is rolling around the floor laughing at this one!

  22. Morely Dotes

    "Slow" news day, indeed

    "msnbc published this news on April 10, 2006. Why did it take exactly around close to somewhat of approximately one year to reach you, finally, in some place called SF"

    Burke's admitted to being a Verizon customer. Obviously, he gets his news via Verizon's service, as well.

    (As a very angry Verizon customer, I can tell you that there are no two people in the entire corporation who speak to each other, nor a single one of them outside the Tech Support office who can pull his head out of his arse long enough to find out *why* the customer is enraged.)

  23. Patrick McGarry

    PROBLEM!! Switched Dial Up Numbers /Done twice In Fact during the month


    I had no complaints when People-PC bought out my ISP and took it over. But now I'm vvery dissapointed in them. Whether it was a glitch in the software or whatever, my two Free Dial Up Phone Numbers were Deleted and TWO Long Distance phone Numbers were inserted in the Dial Up Program inside my Computer. I first noticed it when a small message said, "You can no longer use this Number...I felt they had a problem with it, or the system did at their Server, and moved me to TWO Other Free Dial Up Phone Numbers, so I didn't complain, just trusted them. Buuutttttt....when my Verizon Phone Bill came i was floored! Istead of my usual $40 or $60 stated that I owed $900+dollars for the month!! I would like some advice as to how I should handle this. Anyone ever heard of this particular problem before?



  24. Neal H. Paster


    Dear Patrick:

    suggest you come on into the 21st century and get a broadband connection. Even the slowest DSL connection runs circles around your dialup, costs just a few dollars more each month, and no long distance charges

  25. Paul

    Would if I could, Neal.

    I can't speak for Patrick's situation, but the reason I still have dialup is because I DON'T HAVE ANY !&$%ING CHOICE!

    So, Neal, much as I ache to join you in the 21st century, it's just not possible until those idiots at Verizon pull their act together, or HughesNet drop the price and increase the quality of their currently very expensive and crappy satellite service, or the FCC grow a set of balls and make broadband possible for everyone.

    The US is a BIIIG place, and we don't all live in broadband-enabled areas, you condescending arse.

  26. Jeevan Padiyar

    727 Billion hours!!!!?!?!?

    727 Billion Hours is 82,990,867 years!!! UGH...I wonder what their year end earnings are going to look like???

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