Bad Gas Problem - *Warning - Contents are not Vulgor*
I just got this through email. I thought it was pretty funny.
On Thursday, 24 January 2002, Derek Guille broadcast this story on his
afternoon program on Australian 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 was 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 causedthe 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
The matter was heard in the Magistrate's Court in Mudgee and the
outcome was this:
The gas company was ordered to:
 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.
 Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by the man.
 Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by all the Westpac clients
whose cheques had been bounced on the day our friend's had been.
 Pay the claimant's court costs; and
 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.
This story can also be viewed on the Australian ABC website.
Marcos Ambrose - 2003 V8 Supercar CHAMPION
This could be the start of something big