$151 quadrillion phone bill and a hot 7-Up machine

Ever had a problem with a bill and you just couldn’t get the company who sent it to understand what the problem was?

Could have been worse. You could have been Solenne San Jose of Pessac, France.

Solenne lost her job as a nanny and decided to cancel her telephone service. So she asked the telecommunications company, Bouygues Telecom, to send her a final bill, so she could settle up.

Which they did. She opened the bill and found out she owed 151.4 quadrillion dollars. (It was in Euros, of course, but that’s what it comes to in American money.)

Solenne called customer service at the phone company and was told there couldn’t have been a mistake because her bill was “figured electronically.”

Hey, are we sure that’s not an American company? I think I’ve talked to them!

So her next call was to the newspaper Sud Ouest. They got on the story and figured out Solenne’s bill was for six times the gross national product of France.

She got it worked out but it took a week. Solenne actually owed $151.40. But she was never worried. “It was so many zeroes I really never had any idea how much it was,” she told the newspaper.

• On the whole, though, it would have been better to be Solenne than “Tracy,” a mother of five in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

“Tracy,” which is the only name she was identified by in the Rock Hill Herald, had a problem with nails falling out of her ceiling.

She one day she climbed up into her attic to see if she could find the cause.

Which she did. It was an ex-boyfriend, one she had broken up with 12 years ago. He had apparently been living in the attic for most of a year.

Here’s the worst part. He got away. Maybe by the time you read this he will have been captured because Tracy and her kids are terrified.

She said they broke up because he “had problems.”


• The owner of the Gobi Restaurant in Brighton, England, had problems, too, but he knew exactly what his were.

They were named Andy Miles and George Dalton.

Andy and George had been coming to the Gobi, a Mongolian all-you-can-eat buffet.

Which is fine except almost every day and night for two years, the two pigged out with 5 to 6 huge bowls of food each, eating so much the restaurant often ran out of food during a week.

“We didn’t have enough food for the other customers,” the owner told the London Daily Telegraph. “You can’t stay open if most of your expenses go to serve two customers.”

So he took an unprecedented step. He went to the courts and successfully got Miles and Dalton banned from the restaurant for life. Yes, for life.

“They didn’t even leave a tip,” he explained.

• At least he didn’t have to deal with insane corporate restaurant policies like Mary Archer of Fairborn, Ohio.

Mary was assistant manager of an Arby’s, working the late shift, when a man came in, threatened her with a knife and demanded money.

She distracted him, made a break from the counter and escaped by wriggling through the drive-through window.

For which, she was fired.

Why? Corporate policy. The rules say there must be two employees in the restaurant at all times and when Mary fled that left only one.

Mary had worked for Arby’s for 23 years. She told NBC News she didn’t want her job back.

Not hard to figure out why.

• I’ve saved the best for last.

That would be Debra Johnson of New Bern, North Carolina.

According to a Charlotte television station, Debra tried to buy a 7-Up from a vending machine at a Piggly Wiggly.

She put her money in the slot and the machine ate it and didn’t give her a soft drink.

So she tried it again. Still no soda. Then she kicked it. That didn’t work either.

Debra was carrying a newspaper. She folded it up, set it on fire and stuck it up into the slot where the soft drinks were supposed to be dispensed.

The machine burned, melting all its electronics, plus $35 in change, and created a lot of hot 7-Up.

Firemen came, followed by police. Debra was arrested. They read her those famous Miranda rights.

To which Debra replied “I don’t need a lawyer, cause I’m guilty.”

Just in case they didn’t understand her position, she went on: “I don’t need no *&**/* lawyer to get up and lie for me cause I did it.”

Oh, I like Debra on so many levels.

I wonder if she ever considered running for public office.

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2012-11-01 digital edition

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