Unruly Teen Charges $23 Quadrillion At Drugstore

Kids these days! Hawkins writes, “My lectures about financial responsibility appear to have failed: yesterday [my teenaged daughter] charged $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 at the drug store.” You would think Visa would have caught the error and addressed it, if you were high. What Visa actually did was slap a $20 “negative balance” fee on it, of course. Update: Here’s what happened!

The embarrassingly-named VISA BUXX card is a debit card for teenagers: parents get reports, control, etc. My daughter has one.

My lectures about financial responsibility appear to have failed: yesterday she charged $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 at the drug store. That’s 2,000 times more than the national debt, which is a paltry 11 trillion.

The ever-vigilant folks at VISA added a $20 “negative balance fee,” and have suspended the card.

When I called, they said that there was a “system problem,” and that the “help desk was working on it.”

Note: Some readers have speculated that the number is the credit card number, but the OP says in the comments that it’s not:

Wow, I didn’t think of that before I submitted this story to Consumerist. Wouldn’t that be ironic cosmic retribution? Jerky consumer puts VISA’s honest programming mistake on display for the world to make snarky sarcastic comments about… but then it turns out that he’s just posted the debit card number!

Happily, this is not the case. Please carry on with the caustic commentary.

In that same thread, another commenter named mlcastle points out the series of digits fails the Luhn check, a simple checksum formula invented in the 1950s, and so cannot be a valid credit card number.

Update 2: Hawkins posted a follow up on page 3 of the comments:

I have an update, if anybody’s interested.

The issue was with VISA, not with CVS. Apparently lots of VISA debit card users were affected by it, at several different merchants. Each victim was charged exactly $23,148,855,308,184,500.00.

The folks at VISA have removed the 23-Grillion dollar charge, but not the $20 negative-balance fee. They promise to do so “as soon as this is all sorted out.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.