Phone company to woman: you owe us US$15 quadrillion

Wow, suddenly that $1 billion mobile phone bill we received last month doesn't seem so bad; we could have received a multiquadrillion-dollar bill, like poor Solenne San Jose recently did.

(Euros image by Images_of_Money, CC BY 2.0)

Yes, you read that right. San Jose, who lives in the Bordeaux region of France, received a mobile phone bill late last month for €11,721,000,000,000,000, or about US$15 quadrillion. Lady likes to talk!

In all fairness, San Jose had been warned that she would be charged a fee for terminating her contract with Bouygues Telecom early. She was not, however, told that the fee would greatly exceed the GDP of France. (Or the entire world's economic output — by a factor of 214, no less.)

As you've probably already guessed, the unwieldy bill was the result of an error by the carrier, though San Jose apparently had a hard time convincing Bouygues Telecom of that fact.

Operators at the company even reportedly told San Jose they couldn't change the computer-generated statement or stop the balance from being debited from her bank account.

"One operator told me: 'It's automatic, there is nothing I can do.' Another simply informed me that I would be contacted to set up a repayment plan of installments," San Jose told French newspaper Sud Ouest.

Thankfully, after some persistent phone calls from San Jose, the company finally conceded the bill should have added up at €117.21 (about US$152 dollars). Bouygues Telecom told several news sources that the mix up resulted from a printing error — and subsequent confusion between San Jose and employees at the company's call center.

This isn't, of course, the first exorbitant mobile phone bill we've heard of, though not all of them turned out to be mistakes.

Still, the takeaway here? If paying your mobile phone bill could bail out the global economy — and those of more than 200 other planets, as well — you might want to do some investigating.


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