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Were You Hit By the $23 Quadrillion Error?

Of course, the additional $15 overdraft fee looks puny in comparison

Reports are flying around the Internet about people using their VISA debit cards and seeing errors on their billing statements for charges of $23,148,855,308,184,500.  That’s 23 QUADRILLION dollars.  For perspective, that’s:

Of course, the additional $15 overdraft fee looks puny in comparison.

That’s a pretty serious software bug and one that will cost VISA a lot of time and credibility to fix.  They’ve already indicated that the charges and the additional fees will be removed.  But in the meantime, some VISA holders are stuck with very empty bank accounts (these were debit cards, so they were directly tied to the card holder’s bank account).

Debit MachineBack in October, I wrote about what to do when things go very wrong – when catastrophic bugs get through the testing net.  It’s not clear if VISA did or did not have fail safes in place, but some of them could have been:

  • A real limit on spending – nobody is putting 1,600 times the US GDP on their debit card.  If they did, perhaps you ought to call them first.
  • Automated checks on retailer vs. purchase amounts.  One of the links above was for someone buying something at CVS – an American drug store.  What’s the most that anyone would spend at a drug store?  A few hundred dollars?
  • Banks actually own the accounts for the customer, not VISA.  Their systems should have rejected this as well.  If a card holder really is buying a few million space shuttles, then I doubt they’re going to care about that punitive overdraft fee.

Were you hit by the $23 quadrillion error?  What were you buying?

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Jennifer Moebius

Jennifer Moebius, Public Relations Manager at uTest, champions media efforts, analyst relations and speaking/awards programs. A media maven and creative writer, Jennifer’s accomplishments include feature articles in BusinessWeek, Fortune, Dow Jones, The New York Times and Investor’s Business Daily. Prior to uTest, Jennifer was Senior Account Executive at boutique PR firm Emerge Public Relations where she managed PR programs for a variety of tech clients including Burton Group, Information Builders, Action Engine, Tizor Systems, good2gether and Harvard Business Publishing.

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