Journalistic innumeracy, part 873

I love this story

about a $218 trillion phone bill.

Yahaya Wahab said he disconnected his late father’s phone line in January

after he died and settled the 84-ringgit (U.S. $23) bill, the New Straits

Times reported.

But Telekom Malaysia later sent him a 806,400,000,000,000.01-ringgit (U.S.

$218 trillion) bill for recent telephone calls along with orders to settle

within 10 days or face legal proceedings, the newspaper reported.

It wasn’t clear whether the bill was a mistake, or if Yahaya’s father’s phone

line was used illegally after his death.

It wasn’t clear whether the bill was a mistake???

Let’s say that Yahaya’s father’s phone line was used continuously and illegally

after his death, for 90 full days before the phone bill arrived. In order to

rack up a $218 trillion bill, the charges would have to be $1.7 billion per


Look at it this way: Malaysia has a population of about 24 million people.

If every Malaysian was on the phone at the same time, the average charge would

have to be $70 per minute in order to get up to a total of $1.7 billion per


I think we can assume that yes, the bill was a mistake.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Journalistic innumeracy, part 873

  1. Lock says:

    I take the (admittedly murky) prose to mean that the bill was either a (computer) mistake, i.e. randomly generated, or a bill actually generated by illegal usage.

    Either way, v. awesome.

  2. Felix says:

    Right. And there’s no way in hell that any amount of illegal usage could ever generate a bill of that magnitude.

  3. Stefan says:

    OMG you actually had to spell out the point of your post. lol.

Comments are closed.