Right Idea, Wrong Customer
I suspect we will see something very similar to this to be issued to the US Gov by China in the very near future. Probably right after they dump all of their 'Dollars' for Euros.
Most of us know what it's like to receive one of those "your account is £X overdrawn and unless we get the cash by noon tomorrow we're going to sell your kids for scientific experiments and break your mother's arms and legs" letters, so spare a thought for Joe Martins of Cobb County, Georgia, who was rather surprised to learn …
Anyone else remember the 70s TV show "That's Life" with Esther Rantzen?
They used to have a story like this most weeks, about how the Gas Board (or some other large bureaucracy) had charged some hapless pensioner 30 squillion pounds for the last quarter.
There would usually be some sort of comical interchange where the presenters read out bits of the various correspondence in funny voices and then they would end the piece by blaming "computerisation".
I expect most of their audience has now moved on to "Last Of The Summer Wine" or similar unfunny pensioner-oriented guff.
Doubt this would have hurt his credit rating if it had been reported. The kind of person who can run up a billion or more in defaulted debt is the sort of person who can get a loan under a million without a problem (probably just left his wallet in the other jet). Customer's too big for the little bureaucrat to deny, and loan's too small for the big bureaucrat to look at. It's the guy who can't pay back ten thousand who gets it in the neck.
Anonymous this time, for reasons that will become apparent.
I used to have to watch that show because my mother was a Cyril Fletcher fan. Remember the dog that was used as a primitive speech synthesiser and, with its owner manipulating its throat, could say "sausages"? Or the vegetables that resembled external genitalia? Straight out of a fairground feak show, some of it.
To be fair, they did air some real issues, and Childline, founded by Esther, is genuinely useful.
Back in the real world, due to the international credit squeeze, the banks are putting on the pressure about debt, usually correctly assessed. A lot of people are in trouble over that, myself included.
I suppose it was representative of its time and all that. It certainly got huge viewing figures, but I think there were only 3 TV channels then so anything half decent stood a good chance. I was in school at the time and the "sausages" (or "rorrages") catchphrase definitely caught on.
At least it was original, which is more than you can say for its pathetic modern whining bastard stepchild "BBC Watchdog".
More to the point, as some other posters mentioned, it's a bit of a slow day on El Reg if this is news.
>> Word Processing Error?? how on earth do you accidentally type something like 211,010,028,257,303 into a word processor and not notice?
Mail merge the wrong field? I am quite surprised the bank creates the letters using a word processor. Must be quite small local bank.
My guess is perhaps the original outstanding amount was £100, before the value of the US dollar fell through the floor ;) Or perhaps they bounced a cheque for some insignificant value and charged HSBC-esque penalties and charges.
They had changed my meter out (the new one starting at "0"), but forgot to reset the counter on my account to 0, so it had calculated that I used enough juice to flip the counter and I had a bill for $25,000 or something crazy like that.
"I believe there is a problem with my account..."
"What is your account number, sir?"
".....oh....I see....It looks like you're our best customer, so what's the problem?"
(yes, she was joking)
What a bunch wankers , which tends to consolidate one's view that many banks that start with the letter "w" are so appropriately named they neatly fit bill perfectly as organizations riddled with adherents of the "peter principle" from the top to the bottom rung !
But then again has anyone else noticed the bank in question for this idiocracy is in the top ten on the current FDIC list ?
I am still awaiting an amended Electricity bill after my last one claimed I had used £5,500 of juice in the last quarter.
My normal bill is about £160 but I suppose there is a chance that when they dug the road up during the summer, they connected the entire county to my meter.
The nearest I have come to a bank error in my favour was changing some foreign currency after a holiday; I had guestimated it was about £35, so could not hide my look of surprise when I was told it was £1500.
DRAT!! the teller took one look at my face and re-checked - £36 and a few pence
BUGGER BUGGER BUGGER!!!!!!!!
"I'm doubtful -- the number is a little large, to say the least. It seems a tad unlikely that the bank would have anticipated ever having 211 trillion accounts -- nearly 32,000 accounts per member of the human race."
You foolishly assume that account numbers are strictly ordinal in assignment. 1, then 2, then 3, etc, whereas almost all banks use a classification type account number, that could include all kinds of information, such as the branch in which the account was opened, the employee that opened the account, the date the account was opened, the type of account (savings, checking, etc) the actual account number, some kind of checksum, etc, etc, etc.
My own account number has 12 digits to it, and I doubt my bank has hundreds of billions of accounts.
debt = credit....
Means a credit rating good for well over a few trillion$ If you could blag somebody that a bank had the confidence to invest that much capital in you as an individual, that's a heck of a lot of persuasive power!
Somebody probably transcribed the US housing losses by mistake and assigned them to this poor guy.
Maybe it's a new twist on an old scheme ? A tad more direct tho, going to your bank instead of you... "Dear Bank Of Presidential You, I'd you pleased send us in the name of $211,010,028,257,303, sum be guarantee by of the Lord Joe Martins of Cobb County, Republic of the Great Land Of Somewhere In Georgia in our trustee name etc etc etc"
The Bank had been ordered to cover the losses of the credit crunch by transfering the costs to the customers.
Unfortunately, original marching orders were short of single s in word customers and they ended up billing it all from single customer.
So it was a word prosessor error after all.
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My power company put in a new meter a few months ago at my house. They sent me a bill for $2600. I've had the house for almost two years and only paid around $1700 for that whole time. Their response was since they had been "low-balling" my usage, they were going back and adjusting the bills that I had already paid and closed on. I asked them about the amount I had already paid; they said it was already applied. Stupid utility monopolies.
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