The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Google’s Stock Takes Hit From Fat-Finger Mistake

Frenchwoman receives telephone bill for €11 721 000 000 000 000 is told she can pay it off in installments

2 min read
Google’s Stock Takes Hit From Fat-Finger Mistake

This week’s IT-related “ooftas” was a mixed bag, starting out with yesterday’s “fat-finger” mistake by R. R. Donnelley & Sons, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) financial reporting filing agent for Google.  Donnelley accidentally filed Google’s quarterly report some three hours before NASDAQ stock exchange trading ended instead of after the exchange had closed, the New York Times reported.  Google’s report, which showed an unexpectedly large fall in earnings, led to a loss in Google’s stock price of nearly 8% by the end of the trading day. At one point, Google’s stock fell so much that trading on it was temporarily suspended.

Although Google’s market capitalization dropped by $22 billion at one point, with its stock price at about $695 per share, no one is worried about the company’s immediate future – in fact, some analysts are seeing the mistake as creating a buying opportunity, the Wall Street Journal noted.

Donnelley’s share price fell off a bit as a result of its mistake which it attributed to "human error", and there is some speculation about whether it will be sued by Google for the early disclosure.

Knight Capital announced mid-week a quarterly loss of $389.9 millionas a result of a bigger than estimated loss on its zombie trading algorithm debacle in early August, Bloomberg News reported. Knight thought the 45-minute or so trading fiasco would result in it taking a $440 million hit; instead it resulted in a $457.6 million loss. Knight had to seek $400 million in financial help to stay solvent. It's stock has remained in the doldrums since the fiasco, trading at about $2.60 a share as compared to the $10.33 before.

Ford also announced mid-week a recall of 262 000 Ford Fiestas built in Mexico between 3 November 2009 to 21 September 2012 and sold in North and South America. According to CarScoop, Ford discovered that “the curtain air bag on the passenger side will not deploy in some crashes when the front passenger seat is empty, thus increasing the risk of injury to the right rear occupant in the event of a side impact collision.”

Ford says it will be reprogramming its Fiesta’s Restrain Control Module (pdf) to fix the problem. Some 154 000 of the vehicles were sold in the U.S.

And in a glitch from last weekend, a Frenchwoman claimed that she received a final telephone bill for €11 721 000 000 000 000.00 from Bouygues Telecom after closing her account. According to a BBC News account, the phone company initially told the woman when she inquired about the bill that “there was nothing they could do to amend the computer-generated statement and later offered to set up installments to pay off the bill.”

The phone company eventually admitted that she owed only €117.21, and that the mistaken bill was due to a printing error. They apologized and decided to waive the amount owed, apparently because of the unsympathetic customer service advice she received.

What kind of surprises me is that the printing software would allow for so many digits to be printed in the first place. Or is Bouygues Telecom just planning ahead for runaway euro inflation in the EU?

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less