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Visa dings teen for $23-quadrillion restaurant charge

Admits 17-digit 'glitch'

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Visa says a technical glitch is responsible for a rash of notices warning customers their accounts are overdrawn to the tune of $23 quadrillion.

An anonymous Reg reader tipped us to one emailed statement, which claimed the account of the tipster's son was on hold because of a charge made to an Applebee's restaurant for $23,148,855,308,184,500.00. The tipster continued:

"After checking with him to make sure he really hadn't purchased 23 quadrillion dollars worth of food from Applebees - he's really not that big an eater - I called to dispute the transaction. A tired-sounding customer service rep interrupted me: 'Are you calling about the $23 trillion dollar charge?' I corrected her "Actually, it's 23 quadrillion. I looked it up."

Visa representatives quickly blamed the notices on a technical glitch. The 17-digit charges were applied to holders of prepaid cards, they said, such as the Visa Buxx card, a service parents can offer teenaged children.

"Late yesterday, July 13, a temporary programming error at Visa Debit Processing Services, caused some transactions to be inaccurately posted to a small number of Visa prepaid accounts," a statement issued on Tuesday said. "The technical glitch, which impacted fewer than 13,000 Visa prepaid transactions, has been corrected and erroneous postings have been removed. Importantly, this incident had no financial impact on Visa prepaid cardholders."

The Visa Buxx card is designed to help kids learn about finances by helping them track their purchases. It's already providing a valuable lesson in the importance of reading statements carefully. ®

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