Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

€11,721,000,000,000,000 ‘debt’ waived

Woman shocked holding bill or invoice

A woman from south-west France received the shock of her life after a technical glitch resulted in a phone bill of truly astronomical proportions.

Solenne San Jose, who lives in Pessac, a suburb of the city of Bordeaux, said that she “almost had a heart attack” when she discovered that her monthly bill had apparently come to €11,721,000,000,000,000 (£9.4 quadrillion).

“There were so many zeros that I couldn’t even work out how much it was.” Jose told her local paper, Sud Ouest.

Amazingly, the phone company, Bouygues Telecom, were initially unwilling to admit their error. When Jose called the company to query the figure, staff told her that there was little that they could do, claiming that the bill was automatically calculated.

One adviser at the company’s telephone helpline offered to set up a schedule of instalments for repayment of the ‘debt’, a figure which is nearly 6000 times France’s GDP.

Later, after more calls to the helpline and further wrangling, the company finally admitted it was their mistake and apologised for the distress. And her real bill, €117.21, was also waived.