As businesses assessed the damage and began digging out, the picture wasn't as gloomy as they might have feared - WSJ, on the tsunami that killed thousands
A FRENCH WOMAN has been billed €11,721,000,000,000,000, or £9.4qn, for cancelling a phone contract.
Fortunately she will not have to pay the bill that was sent out in error, but judging by reports it gave her the shock of her life.
"I almost had a cardiac arrest! There were so many zeros I could not even work out how much it was", said Solenne San Jose in an interview with French newspaper Sud Ouest.
The child minder had asked to close her account while she was out of work. Her provider Bouygues Telecom said fine, but because it was going to be before the end of the contract she would have to pay a cancellation fee.
Ms San Jose was not expecting the cancellation fee to have more zeroes that a binary swear word, and was stunned to see a note at the bottom of the bill that told her that the money would be taken from her bank account.
She called a helpline and tried to convince someone that a mistake had been made. This did not work initially, and the person suggested that there was nothing that could be done, except perhaps, paying the €12 quadrillion over time.
At some point common sense descended and someone at the firm understood that no individual could possibly owe or pay a sum higher that France's annual gross economic output.
Following this realisation Ms San Jose was told that she must pay the much more reasonable sum of €117.21. Some reports have it that the whole bill has been waived. We are waiting for official confirmation.
Bouygues Telecom told us that what the customer received was not a bill, but rather a summary of information about her account.
A spokesperson explained that the high number was there due to a machine error and added that as soon as the mistake was realised the firm cancelled the bill, and sent the customer a bunch of flowers. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ