OT: billed for $0.00

Unbelievable story
On Thursday, 24th January 2002 , Derek Guille broadcast this story on his afternoon program on ABC radio:
In March 1999 a man living in Kandos (near Mudgee in NSW, Australia ) received a bill for his as yet unused gas line stating that he owed $0.00.
He ignored it and threw it away. In April he received another bill and threw that one away too.
The following month the gas company sent him a very nasty note stating that they were going to cancel his gas line if he didn't send them $0..00 by return mail.
He called them, talked to them, and they said it was a computer error and they would take care of it.
The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome gas line figuring that if there was usage on the account it would put an end to this ridiculous predicament.
However, when he went to use the gas, it had been cut off.
He called the gas company who apologised for the computer error once again and said that they would take care of it. The next day he got a bill for $0.00 stating that payment was now overdue.
Assuming that having spoken to them the previous day the latest bill was yet another mistake, he ignored it, trusting that the company would be as good as their word and sort the problem out.
The next month he got a bill for $0.00. This bill also stated that he had 10 days to pay his account or the company would have to take steps to recover the debt.
Finally, giving in, he thought he would beat the gas company at their own game and mailed them a cheque for $0.00. The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the gas company nothing at all.
A week later, the manager of the Mudgee branch of the Westpac Banking Corporation called our hapless friend and asked him what he was doing writing cheque for $0.00.
After a lengthy explanation the bank manager replied that the $0.00 cheque had caused their cheque processing software to fail. The bank could therefore not process ANY cheques they had received from ANY of their customers that day because the cheque for $0.00 had caused the computer to crash.
The following month the man received a letter from the gas company claiming that his cheque had bounced and that he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a cheque by return mail they would take immediate steps to recover the debt.
At this point, the man decided to file a debt harassment claim against the gas company. It took him nearly two hours to convince the clerks at the local courthouse that he was not joking.
They subsequently helped him in the drafting of statements which were considered substantive evidence of the aggravation and difficulties he had been forced to endure during this debacle.
The matter was heard in the Magistrate's Court in Mudgee and the outcome was this:
The gas company was ordered to:
[1] Immediately rectify their computerised accounts system or Show cause, within 10 days, why the matter should not be referred to a higher court for consideration under Company Law.
[2] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by the man.
[3] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by all the Westpac clients whose cheques had been bounced on the day our friend's had been processed.
[4] Pay the claimant's court costs; and
[5] Pay the claimant a total of $1500 per month for the 5 month period March to July inclusive as compensation for the aggravation they had caused their client to suffer.
And all this over $0.00.
This story can also be viewed on the ABC website.
Who employs these idiots??
Remember, these "people" walk among us and breathe the same air we do. What is worse , they breed !
This is a true story.
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On 04/24/12 07:11 pm, Malcom "Mal" Reynolds wrote:

<remainder snipped>
I don't class it as "unbelievable": I've read similar stories concerning various utilities in various countries.
Perce
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Should have kept sending 00 checks. !!
Greg
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I used to work for a gas utility, and we heard the story over 30 years ago, the bank computer system has been added as an embellishment.
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On 04/24/12 08:19 pm, EXT wrote:

That's probably around the time I first heard the story. I can't remember where it was alleged to have happened.
Perce
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On 4/24/2012 7:47 PM, Percival P. Cassidy wrote: ...

...
It's "happened" in/for every company that ever went to computerized billing...just as it did in this case.
--
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I have recieved a utility invoice for $0.01 when I made a mistake on my cheque. Cost them over $3.00 in postage plus untold book-keeping and printing expense to keep hounding me every week 'till the next bill came, which I promply OVERPAYED by $0.01 just to see what would happen.
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wrote:

I always round up to the nearest $. Really bothered some of the utilities and government bodies.
I would tell them to roll it into the next bill, and fix the acounting system Took a while before they got that fixed.
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On Tue, 24 Apr 2012 22:07:01 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

You're mean <g>.... ok, what happened?
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wrote:

They didn't care when they had MY penny.
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On Apr 24, 10:07pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Back before computerized billing/payment was the norm, I worked for a bank. One of my responsibilities was to process the checks that customers sent in to pay for their Safety Deposit Boxes.
These are the rough numbers for a situation I ran into:
Monthly fee was $15.10 Client sent in a check for $15.00 Postage at the time was $0.18
My manager had me mail the check back to the customer and request a new one. It cost the branch eighteen cents to recover a dime. The explanation was that the money came from 2 different budgets. The Safety Deposit Box numbers had to balance, stamps were just overhead and not tracked.
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Really?
I've written (sometimes with a team) multiple billing systems over the years. None of those systems would do anything like that.
Besides, we'd already heard that story.
--
Dan Espen

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On Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:11:05 -0700, "Malcom \"Mal\" Reynolds"

Probably just BS. If it were true, why no mention of the added overdue penalty of $0.00? Bank computer systems can routinely zero sum checks. When I started on-line banking, I sent a check to myself to see what it looked like. 10 bucks. Then I deposited it to the same account at an ATM. It was mailed back to me, uncashed, Dashed my hopes of a perpetual motion cash machine. When I was in college taking computer courses, one of the students in a class was already working in IT for Walgreens. In a break room he told some of us a useful story. Seems the main Walgreens batch processing program had "blown up" one night while processing hundreds of thousands of transactions. Massive program, thousands thick card deck. It had been running for years with no problems. They had about 4 guys working all night to debug, and find the problem. This guy spun a good yarn, but I'll keep it brief. They finally found that there had been no transaction errors. Program couldn't handle no rejects. That had never happened before. Best part of the story was how they fixed it. Everybody started talking code checks and such to put into this massive program, and this guy said, "Nah, we punched a zero sum transaction card that would reject, and instructed the operator to always put it at the front of the transaction deck."
--
Vic




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On Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:11:05 -0700, "Malcom \"Mal\" Reynolds"

I'll say it was true, happened to a friend of mine, I forget who the bill was from, but they were not happy until he sent a check for $0.00 then all was happy.
I would guess with millions of computers doing accounts receivable, even if 0.1% of the programmers forget a zero balance check line, there will be alot of that. With a utility bill who would think there would ever be a zero balance, even if you do not use any gas/electric/water there are still minimum charges incurred.
Remove 333 to reply. Randy
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For a while I was getting billed 0.0 . It stopped after a few months. Credit card.
Greg
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On Apr 24, 7:11pm, "Malcom \"Mal\" Reynolds" <atlas-

OMG HOW CRUEL...HE MUST HAVE SUFFERED SO MUCH. TO THINK.......IF HE HAD JUST SENT THEM A CHECK FOR $0.00 WHEN HE FIRST GOT BILLED NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.
BOOWAHAHAHAHAHA ! TGITM
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