Solenne San Jose had to shake her head in disbelief when she opened the envelope with her telephone bill. After she had lost her job, she was forced to cut down on some expenses in order to make ends meet. Undoubtedly, she did not expect to receive a bill for €11,721,000,000,000,000! Yes, it is not a sick twisted joke and it almost caused the woman to have a heart attack.

The amount itself seems to be astronomical and to illustrate it a bit we can tell you that it is approximately 6000 times France’s annual economic output. „I almost had a cardiac arrest! There were so many zeros I could not even work out how much it was”, Solenne said in one of numerous interviews. To her surprise, the phone company informed her that they could not amend the charges and so she needed to foot the bill anyway. It took a series of phone calls before the woman contacted someone responsible for the whole mess. She heard from one of them „it’s automatic, there is nothing I can do.” To make it worse, they offered her to pay in installments, which could take obviously a few generations to pay off the debt.

In the end, Bouygues Telecom quietly quashed the bill. Not only did they admit defeat, but also gave the poor woman the real amount she owed them. It turned out it was only €117,21 and the whole situation was caused by a printing error. They also apologized to her and explained that it was totally their fault. After so many hours of being at her wits’ end, Solenne could finally feel a huge relief and stop worrying about down-to-earth issues.


cut down on expenses – ograniczyć wydatki
make ends meet – wiązać koniec z końcem
cardiac arrest – zatrzymanie akcji serca
amend – wnosić poprawki
charges – opłaty
foot the bill – płacić za rachunek
pay in installments – zapłacić w ratach
pay off the debt – spłacić dług
quash – unieważnić
admit defeat – przyznać się do porażki
be at one’s wits’ end – odchodzić od zmysłów / nie wiedzieć co począć
feel a relief – poczuć ulgę

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