Computer Credit Card Processing Fiasco
In March 1992, a man living in Newton near Boston, Massachusetts
received a bill for his as yet unused credit card stating that
he owed $0.00. He ignored it and threw it away.
In April he received another and threw that one away too.
The following month the credit card company sent him a very nasty
note stating they were going to cancel his card if he didn't send
them $0.00 by return of post.
He called them and talked to them about the problem. They said
it was a computer error and told him they'd take care of it.
The following month our hero decided that it was about time that
he tried out the troublesome credit card figuring that if there
were purchases on his account he could end this ridiculous predicament.
However, in the first store that he produced his credit card
in payment for his purchases he found that his card had been cancelled.
He called the credit card company who apologized 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. Having spoken to the credit card company the previous
day, he assumed 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 stating 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 play the company at their
own game and mailed them a check for $0.00.
The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement.
It reported that he now owed the credit card company nothing at
A week later, the man's bank called him asking him what he was
doing writing a check for $0.00.
After a lengthy explanation, the bank replied that the $0.00
check had caused their check processing software to fail. The
bank could not now process ANY checks from ANY of their customers
that day because the check for $0.00 was causing the computer
The following month the man received a letter from the credit
card company claiming that his check had bounced and that he now
owed them $0.00. Furthermore, unless he sent a check by return
of post they would be taking steps to recover the debt.
The man, who had been considering buying his wife a computer
for their anniversary, bought her a typewriter instead.