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Erik
May 1st, 2003, 06:24 AM
What a world? (country NSW, Australia)... On Thursday, 24 January 2002, Derek Guille broadcast this story on his afternoon program on ABC radio. In March, 1999, a man living in Kandos (near Mudgee in NSW) received a bill for his as yet unused gas line stating that he owed $0.00. He ignored it and threw it away.

In April he received another bill and threw that one away too. The following month the gas company sent him a very nasty note stating they were going to cancel his gas line if he didn't send them $0.00 by return mail. He called them, talked to them, and they said it was a computer error and they would take care of it. The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome gas line figuring that if there as usage on the account it would put an end to this ridiculous predicament.

However, when he went to use the gas, it had been cut off. He called the gas company who apologised 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 them the previous day the
latest bill was yet another mistake, so 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. This bill also stated 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 beat the company at their own game and mailed them a cheque for $0.00. The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the gas company nothing at all. A week later, the manager of the Mudgee branch of the Westpac Banking Corporation called our hapless friend and asked him what he
was doing writing cheque for $0.00.

After a lengthy explanation the bank manager replied that the $0.00 cheque had caused their cheque processing software to fail. The bank could therefore not process ANY cheques they had
received from ANY of their customers that day because the cheque for $0.00 had caused the computer to crash.

The following month the man received a letter from the gas company claiming that his cheque has bounced and that
he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a cheque by return mail they would take immediate steps to recover the debt. At this point, the man decided to file a debt harassment claim against the gas company.

It took him nearly 2 hours to convince the clerks at the local courthouse that he was not joking.

They subsequently assisted him in the drafting of statements which were considered substantive evidence of the aggravation and difficulties he had been forced to endure during this debacle. The matter was heard in the Magistrate's Court in Mudgee and the outcome was this: The gas company was ordered to:
[1] Immediately rectify their computerised accounts system or
show cause, within 10 days, why the matter should not be referred to a higher court for consideration under company Law.
[2] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by the man.
[3] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by all the Westpac clients whose cheques had been bounced on the day our friend's
had been.
[4] Pay the claimant's court costs; and
[5] Pay the claimant a total of $1500 per month for the 5 month period March to July inclusive as compensation for the aggravation they had caused their client to suffer.

And all this over $0.00.

CP/M User
May 2nd, 2003, 03:54 AM
'Erik' Wrote in Message:

> What a world? (country NSW, Australia)... On Thursday, 24 January
> 2002, Derek Guille broadcast this story on his afternoon program
> on ABC radio. In March, 1999, a man living in Kandos (near Mudgee
> in NSW) received a bill for his as yet unused gas line stating that
> he owed $0.00. He ignored it and threw it away.

> In April he received another bill and threw that one away too.
> The following month the gas company sent him a very nasty
> note stating they were going to cancel his gas line if he didn't send
> them $0.00 by return mail. He called them, talked to them, and
> they said it was a computer error and they would take care of it.
> The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried
> out the troublesome gas line figuring that if there as usage on the
> account it would put an end to this ridiculous predicament.

> However, when he went to use the gas, it had been cut off. He
> called the gas company who apologised 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 them the previous day the
> latest bill was yet another mistake, so 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. This bill also stated 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 beat the company at their
> own game and mailed them a cheque for $0.00. The computer
> duly processed his account and returned a statement to the
> effect that he now owed the gas company nothing at all. A week
> later, the manager of the Mudgee branch of the Westpac
> Banking Corporation called our hapless friend and asked him
> what he was doing writing cheque for $0.00.

> After a lengthy explanation the bank manager replied that the
> $0.00 cheque had caused their cheque processing software to fail.
> The bank could therefore not process ANY cheques they had
> received from ANY of their customers that day because the cheque
> for $0.00 had caused the computer to crash.

> The following month the man received a letter from the gas
> company claiming that his cheque has bounced and that
> he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a cheque by return
> mail they would take immediate steps to recover the debt. At this
> point, the man decided to file a debt harassment claim against the
> gas company.

> It took him nearly 2 hours to convince the clerks at the local
> courthouse that he was not joking.

> They subsequently assisted him in the drafting of statements which
> were considered substantive evidence of the aggravation and
> difficulties he had been forced to endure during this debacle. The
> matter was heard in the Magistrate's Court in Mudgee and the
> outcome was this: The gas company was ordered to:
> [1] Immediately rectify their computerised accounts system
> or show cause, within 10 days, why the matter should not be referred
> to a higher court for consideration under company Law.
> [2] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by the man.
> [3] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by all the Westpac
> clients whose cheques had been bounced on the day our friend's
> had been.
> [4] Pay the claimant's court costs; and
> [5] Pay the claimant a total of $1500 per month for the 5 month
> period March to July inclusive as compensation for the aggravation
> they had caused their client to suffer.

> And all this over $0.00.

Boy, this one gets around! :-)

Regards,
CP/M User

thefoolonthehill
November 27th, 2005, 07:38 PM
Ha thats really funny, but kinda stupid too... it's almost like the company did it on purpose to annoy the guy. And why the heck did the guy not even use his gas line? Did he have an electric stove?

Vlad
November 27th, 2005, 07:41 PM
Electric Stove and Water heater in the summertime, what would use the Gas Line?

Unknown_K
November 28th, 2005, 12:28 PM
I assume that there was a rounding error somewhere that said the customer owed some fraction of a penny and was printed as $.00 instead of maybe $.0000006466 or something like that.

Best thing would have been to send $.01 and be done with it.

Unknown_K
November 28th, 2005, 12:31 PM
Electric Stove and Water heater in the summertime, what would use the Gas Line? Outdoor Gas BBQ grill maybe?

Vlad
November 28th, 2005, 12:50 PM
Good one, I wouldn't have thought of that one. Godforbid there be a slow leak somewere, that could use SOME gas, but I think that would be found before it added up to much. ( I hope)

-Vlad

carlsson
November 28th, 2005, 03:23 PM
I don't quite belive this story, not as it is written. The handling costs for sending out a bill normally is greater than $0. Even if the reminder in May was automated, sometime around that he called the company the second time, they should have discarded the previous bill. At least where I live, the reminder bill often comes with an extra fee, something like maybe AU$5-10.

Also, the part that the bank's computer broke down after cashing in a $0 check sounds a bit made-up. I'd check this story with Snopes.com or something like that.

Terry Yager
November 28th, 2005, 04:51 PM
True Fact (I dunno if it's quite on-topic or not):

A lady I know took part in the "Fen-Fen" Class-Action Lawsuit a few years ago. After all the dust had settled, she received a check in the mail...for $0.09! Her bank charges $0.10 to cash a check, so she loses a penny if she tries to cash the thing (not to mention, the $0.37 in postage to mail the check to her). I've come to the conclusion that the only people who gain from a class-action suit are the lawyers, who take 25 - 33% off the top. Sixty-million dollars, divided among 600-million victims just don't add up.

--T

carlsson
November 28th, 2005, 05:29 PM
It seems Massachusetts, USA and New South Wales, Australia have the same kind of gas line companies:

http://www.snopes.com/business/bank/zero.asp

Speaking about law suits, here is a recent one that appears to be true and still waiting to be resolved in court:

http://www.snopes.com/business/deals/hummer.asp

I don't quite understand the US law system. If someone tells you that you have won a prize worth so and so much money, and it turns out they tricked you, how can you claim damage and sue for that amount of money? It is one thing if you entered an amount of money into a lottery that turned out not to exist.

Unknown_K
November 28th, 2005, 05:37 PM
Those laws probably came about because people selling things like time shares or condos in Florida would lure you down there to get a free expensive gift and ended up giving you some cheap garbage.

Most laws come about because some people keep doing the same old scam over and over untill there is enough outrage to pass a law over it.

carlsson
November 28th, 2005, 05:44 PM
True. Still there is a difference between joining a time share and taking an expensive trip to Florida, and to be the 10th person to call to a radio station. The waitress who got a toy Yoda at least had worked hard for the prize. If the action figure had been signed by George Lucas, maybe she could have sold it and bought herself a Toyota for the money.