Didn't know if I should laugh or cry

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 18:09
ThreadID: 25142 Views:2544 Replies:8 FollowUps:21
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The Price of Stupidity


What a world? (country NSW)... On Thursday, 24 January 2002, Derek Guille
broadcasted this story on his afternoon program on ABC radio:

In March, 1999, a man living in Kandos (near Mudgee in NSW) 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 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, so 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 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 has 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 2 hours to convince the clerks at the local courthouse
that he was not joking. They subsequently assisted 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.
[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.

Regards

Kim

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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 18:20

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 18:20
I remember that at the time.. very funny... computers................
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Reply By: Nudenut - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 18:26

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 18:26
crap!
its a myth
AnswerID: 122588

Follow Up By: crfan - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 11:15

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 11:15
My Brother has called a Super company 5 times to tell them that the person that they want him to pay for no longer works for him.
has been getting a bill off them for 6 months with no amount payable
Yesterday got 35 letters out of his mail box all the same all from the same company.saying he owed them $00.00 and will take legal action if it's not payed.
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Follow Up By: Nudenut - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 16:13

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 16:13
what happened to me is not the myth above.... totally different!
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Follow Up By: Nudenut - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 17:09

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 17:09
you on drugs?
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Follow Up By: viz - Monday, Aug 01, 2005 at 19:38

Monday, Aug 01, 2005 at 19:38
That one's got whiskers on it - seen it do the rounds in one form or another for years...

/viz
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Reply By: rob&kev&roo - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 19:10

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 19:10
true or not it is beleivable as i was chase for years for an amount of 1 sent by the water board, when i tried to when i tried to pay it with 5 cents they told me they could not except it as they could not give me 4cents change. when told i did not want any change they replied oh we could not do that it would be the say as over charging me. i have since moved address and the letters have stopped.bleeps.
AnswerID: 122599

Reply By: Traveller - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 19:27

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 19:27
One of the great urban legends!

Go to:
http://www.snopes.com/business/bank/zero.asp

You don't believe everything the ABC tells you, surely.

Cheers, Rob.
AnswerID: 122604

Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 00:04

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 00:04
Damn! you just ruined a great story. LOL.
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Reply By: Member - Steve (ACT) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 22:13

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 22:13
I had a sort of similar situation, bought a new mobile phone with a deal that waved the connection fee of $65.

1st bill - phone charges + $65 connection fee, phoned up don't worry just pay the charges and we'll sort it out

2nd bill - phone charges +$65 + $10 late charges, phoned up don't worry just pay the charges and we'll sort it out

3rd bill - phones charges +$10 late charges and threat to disconnect.

Phoned them up explained that I'd never paid the bill late how could I have the late charges and threat to disconnect.

Their explanation, the only way to remove the original charge of $65 was to credit the account with that amount, this was taken off the bill in a way so they in effect paid my phone charges, and the amount I was originally charged for connection was left, so it was 3 months overdue. Unbelievably it took 20 minutes of arguing to convince her that no I didn't have to pay the amount immediately becuase it wasn't overdue and I didn't have to pay the overdue fee of $10.

Steve
AnswerID: 122635

Follow Up By: Rosco - Bris. - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 22:31

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 22:31
Just the other day I had occasion to close my business account with "Which Bank".

Had a gutful of their new policy of eviserating their customers.

Had a $0.09 credit balance. The "branch manager" asked how to deal with this anomaly ... put it your pocket says I .. "Oh no sir" says she. ... OK says I ... put it towards the postage on my final statement.

Never heard another word ...... ;o)

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Nudenut - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:04

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:04
one of my experiences with the bank involved me banking my customer customers cheque for $30.02. The statement showed a credit of $30.22.

as the customer has a computer driven cheque and tear off remittance i was able to check and prove that customer had only paid $30.02. ( (which was the debt he owed by my computer)

No problems I thought i'll ring which bank and get them to fix.....

well f%$# me, they wanted to know which of my accounts to deduct their Search Fee from?...needless to say i kept the 20 cents ....and no, its not my customers

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Follow Up By: Nudenut - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 09:04

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 09:04
i think they have to report large transactions of cash.
so do car dealers unless its under $10k
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Follow Up By: flappa - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 14:45

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 14:45
Absolutely they do.

You may find a visit from the Tax Office to explain why you are withdrawing $20k in cash . . . your choice ?

Also , due to security and Insurance reasons , Banks dont carry huge amounts of cash like they used to.

Not saying its right or wrong , just telling you why.
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Follow Up By: Spade Newsom - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 18:17

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 18:17
$10K above report to the CTRA (Cash transaction reporting agency) is done 1,000's of times a day by banks elcectronically. Bank staff also required to manually report any cash transaction they believe is suspicious. If you withdrew $9,000 three days in a row you might get on someones watch list. You would have to be doing something pretty dodgy and regularly to get caught up in the web. They can really only use it for investigations after the fact. The reports are used heavily for statistics as well.

Wanted to wothdraw $15,000 cash. phoned a couple of Banks. Quoted approx $40 for cash and $8 for cheque. Cheque for me thanks.

spade newsom.
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Follow Up By: Bitsumishin - Mike (WA) - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 19:48

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 19:48
Banks will let you withdraw a large amount of cash but you need to let them know in advance so they can get it ready. Many years ago, bank staff were being held up all the time & threatened with guns. The rule to keep low cash levels was made & immediately the holdup rate fell. If it means the lives of bank tellers saved for the inconvenience of you ringing the day before to get the cash, I can't see a problem.
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FollowupID: 377952

Reply By: Spade Newsom - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 23:29

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 23:29
Similar thing happened to me without the court case.

Had a phone account altered because I was connected at the wrong exchange when I relocated to a new house. New phone number and all was required even though I had used the existing one for a few months and telecom graciously redirected calls from the old number for six months for free. All existing call charges transferred to the new phone bill except one call charge for 12cents.

Every three months for five years I got a bill on this account threatening disconnection of the non existent number. Phoned a couple of times however "the account does not exist Sir it must be a mistake". It even followed me for two more moves and new phone numbers. Eventually the bills stopped coming.

One of life's little mysteries.

Another little mystery occured with TAA. Had a full paying airfare (rather than the apex fare) and didn't make the flight. Back in the good old days you could ask for a refund. Fare was around $350. They made me sit and wait for two hours (very patient I was....NOT) to process my refund and gave me cash. Angry about the wait I blurted why they didn't just offer to send a cheque. "We can't do that Sir we had to wait for some one to buy a ticket so we had enough cash to give to you". Off home I went with $350 (two weeks pay) in my pocket.
Two- three weeks later a cheque turns up in the mail for $350 being full refund of the cancelled ticket. Phoned TAA about my double dip, who explained that "You have made an error Sir you would not have been given a cash refund we only issue cheques". "of course your right madam", I replied

You lose some and you win some.
AnswerID: 122648

Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 00:00

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 00:00
TAA?
$350.00 two weeks wages?

Mate I hate to tell you your showing your age. LOL

Good story though.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Rosco - Bris. - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:20

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:20
Johnno

It was probably 175 pounds ...... :o)

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - John C (QLD) - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:20

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:20
Just in case you feel a little put down, I can remember being paid $32.00/week and buying 20 cents of petrol to get me home. Minimum pump amount at the time, when it was less than 40c a gallon.
No, they were not the 'good old days'.
Now there is someone who can always out do you on these types of stories, so any more memories?
It has taken me many years to get these natural grey hairs, so I reckon I have earned them the hard way.
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Follow Up By: Member - MrBitchi (QLD) - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:32

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:32
Bought my first V8 in 1977, an HQ P'Van. Was bone dry in the dealers yard, cost me an exorbitant $11 to fill the 72Lt tank (~=15c/Lt)
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Follow Up By: Rosco - Bris. - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:33

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 08:33
How about my first pay packet containing 5 guineas, out of which I paid six pence tax ....... LOL

Thats $10.50 and $0.05 for the young 'uns

And don't talk to me about that light black colour... LOL

Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 13:08

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 13:08
I had a similar problem with the WA Transport department, it went on for frigin 12 months! They didn't change my address (when I had notified them, and I had proof of this). They sent me a stamp duty bill for a motor bike (well they claim they did). It obviously went somewhere else, cos I didn't get it. After a couple of months I rang them because I hand't received it. They said, oh sorry, it's been sent to the wrong place, so they sent me out the bill to the correct address. With a fine of $50 for late payment.

Well...

I complained, they told me that it was my responsibility to pay it even if they didn't send it to me. I told them to go and get ##$%$%^^. Anyway, I finally convinced them after letters, phone calls, etc etc that they should take the fine away. I paid the bill, then got a late notice for the $50 fine, with a $50 fine for not paying it. Total $100. I range them again, went through the whole lot. 12 Months later I had so many fines they were threatening to take my drivers license away and throw me in jail! Luckily for me I had written proof from them that they had revoked the origional infrigment and of course all of the following on would have been null and void, but it was rediculous, I must have spent so many hours on the phone that I should have just paid the $50 in the first place!! (I guess that's what they want you to do). Even 9 months later, I was till receiving overdue letters and fines.
AnswerID: 122706

Follow Up By: slyonnet - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 14:30

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 14:30
You should have claim the cost of the phone calls to them. I recently had trouble to close out the insurance from a car I sold. Because I sold it just prior to go on holidays and couldn't get to a phone wher I was traveling I tried for 3 days to call them from my mobile. I spent around $60 in phone calls just listening to their waiting music after passing through all the prompts to get to the right person, but never had anyone picking up the phone. And I tried like that for 3 days at any time of the day. I then gave up and waited to come back from holidays to cancel the policy. Afterwards I send them a letter to complain that noone answered my calls after 3 days of trying and asked them to refund me the cost of my phone calls with attached copy of my phone bill to prove them I tried. It did not hear anything for a few months and thought nothing would happened but was surprised last week to receive a phone call saying they were sorry and that they had sent a cheque to refund me, which they did.
Sly.
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Reply By: johnsy1 - Sunday, Jul 31, 2005 at 10:36

Sunday, Jul 31, 2005 at 10:36
If you really want to throw their computers into a spaz return the mail to the company with the words addressee deceased you'll be asurred of action then.heh heh !
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