Friday, February 23, 2007

A Powerfully Bad Error

I was amused, but not all that surprised, to read the story about the utility customers in Weatherford who received electric bills for $24 billion this month. It turns out that, this time at least, the mixup was the fault of operator error, not computer error.

At least one local took it in stride: ""I know they raised the rates on kilowatt hours a little bit," [Weatherford resident Richard] Redden said. "I guess we shouldn't have run the heater quite so much this month."

The reason this doesn't surprise me? I once received a utility bill for over $2500 (for only a few months) in college; the error turned out to be that the meter had been changed during the billing period. I chronicled that story here, in a post that also reported how a guy in Malaysia got a phone bill for 218 trillion dollars.

At least in the Weatherford case, the company immediately discovered its error; in the cases of both the Malaysian guy and myself, the billing entities originally maintained that there was a chance that the outrageous bills were correct.

Cheeky behavior: A USC hockey goalie was ejected from a recent game for mooning the crowd. (It seems like he'd, well, freeze his butt off doing that on ice, wouldn't he?)

The name fits the crime: A woman in the Tampa Bay area was recently charged with taking off one of her high-heeled wooden shoes and hitting her boyfriend in the head with it. Her name? Kari Barefoot.

A good deed goes rewarded: The Wisconsin police officer who wrote himself a ticket for a traffic violation (reported in this post) has received over 150 congratulatory emails from around the world. (Two people even sent him $15 to help cover the fine.)

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