A French woman had the shock of a life time when she received a phone bill of £10 trillion – nearly 6000 times the country’s GDP. Solenne San Jose nearly fainted when she saw exactly how much she was meant to pay for closing her account. Despite the outlandish sum, Ms San Jose, from Pessac, Bordeaux, struggled to convince the company that the figure was a mistake and was told she had to pay up.
Ms San Jose had contacted her phone company to terminate her account after she lost her job as a child-minder in early September. She was told there would be a cancellation fee added to her final bill, but when the the letter arrived on September 28, she had to sit down.
At the bottom of the bill, Bouygues Telecom informed her €11,721,000,000,000,000 would be taken out of her account.
“I almost had a cardiac arrest! There were so many zeros I could not even work out how much it was”, she told French newspaper Sud Ouest.
She soon came to her senses, realising that it was a mistake and called her phone company to report the faulty charge.
To her surprise, operators at Bouygues Telecom said they could not amend the charges and that she was liable for the sum, insisting it would automatically be withdrawn from her bank account.
“When I explained that it was obviously a mistake, they replied that these amounts were calculated automatically and withdrawals would begin.
“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 re-payment plan of installments.”
The astonishing amount is 5872 times France’s annual GDP and would have taken generations to repay, Ms San Jose said.
It took a series of phone calls before Bouygues Telecom admitted defeat, giving her the real amount she owed them, the much more reasonable €117.21.
Bouygues Telecom’s Director of Customer Relations, Alain Angerame, yesterday apologised for the mistake blaming a printing error.