The AFP news agency reported yesterday that a manager of French distillery Maison Vedrenne in Nuits-Saint-Georges received a 716,414,273 euro ($1.2 billion) phone bill from Orange, France Télécom's mobile phone subsidiary. Needless to say, the manager was a bit stunned:
"It's so enormous when you see it written down, you can't believe it, so several of us had a look."
An Orange spokesperson said it was all just a bill printing error which was blamed on "a computer glitch."
"The figure inside the computer is correct," said the spokesperson.
Still, while impressive, it still doesn't match the $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 bill - plus $15 in overdraft fees - one customer received from VISA in 2009.
The Orange spokesperson says the company is going to look into how the problem happened.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.