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$0.00 Check

Markus Wennrich - Thu Feb 11 16:37:35 1999

In March 1992, a man living in Newtown near Boston Massachusetts received 
a bill for his as yet unused credit card stating that he owed $0.00.  He 
ignored it and threw it away. In April he received another and threw that 
one away too.  The following month the credit card company sent him a very 
nasty note stating they were going to cancel his card if he didn't send 
them $0.00 by return of post. He called them, talked to them, they said it 
was a computer error and told him they'd take care of it. The following 
month he decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome 
credit card figuring that if there were purchases on his account it would 
put an end to his ridiculous predicament. However, in the first store that 
he produced his credit card in payment for his purchases he found that his 
card had been cancelled.  He called the credit card company who apologized 
for the computer error once again and said that they would take care of 
it. The next day he got a bill for $0.00 stating that payment was now 
overdue. Assuming that having spoken to the credit card company only the 
previous day the latest bill was yet another mistake, he ignored it, 
trusting that the company would be as good as their word and sort the 
problem out. The next month he got a bill for $0.00 stating that he had 10 
days to pay his account or the company would have to take steps to recover 
the debt. Finally giving in he thought he would play the company at their 
own game and mailed them a check for $0.00.  The computer duly processed 
his account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the 
credit card company nothing at all. A week later, the man's bank called 
him asking him what he was doing writing a check for $0.00. After a 
lengthy explanation the bank replied that the $0.00 check had caused their 
check processing software to fail. The bank now could not process ANY 
checks from ANY of their customers that day because the check for $0.00 
was causing the computer to crash. The following month the man received a 
letter from the credit card company claiming that his check had bounced 
and that he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a check by return of 
post they would be taking steps to recover the debt. The man, who had been 
considering buying his wife a computer for her birthday, bought her a 
typewriter instead.  

nick@roses.de                   http://www.roses.de/~nick/

There are two ways to write error-free programs. Only the third one works.