When Juan Zamora stopped to refuel his car at a Conoco service station in Richland, the gas pump’s calculator registered a total fee of $26.
But in a freak computer hiccup, the PayPal debit card he used recorded the transaction as $81,400,836,908. Yes, you read that correctly, that’s more than 81 billion dollars.
“That’s a B, as in billions!” Zamora told the Tri-City Herald.
Zamora says that he always refuels at the same gas station during his weekly commute.
He only learned of the astounding figure when he received an email later that afternoon informing him that his debit card, which started out with $90 on it, was maxed out.
Initially, Mr. Zamora thought it must’ve been a joke. But after contacting PayPal customer service he was surprised to see that the company treated it as anything but a laughing matter.
“Somebody from a foreign country who spoke in broken English argued with me for 10 to 15 minutes,” Zamora said. ” ‘Did you get the gas?’ he asked. Like I had to prove that I didn’t pump $81,400,836,908 in gas!”
He would have needed more than 3 billion fill-ups of the amount he actually pumped into his tank in order to reach that outrageous sum.
Eventually, Zamora said, he was finally able to convince the representative that he didn’t deserve to be in the same position as General Motors, who has lost roughly 80 billion dollars since 2005.
When Zamora returned to the Conoco gas station, he said, the attendant would not believe him until he showed her the printout of the PayPal receipt.
The exact cause of the error is still unknown.
As always, there’s a lesson to be learned. “I guess the moral of this story is ‘pay cash,’ ” Zamora said.