French phone bill waived after 12qn-euro blunder

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A woman in south-west France, who received a telephone bill of nearly 12 quadrillion euros, has had the real amount she owed waived - after the company admitted its mistake.

Solenne San Jose, from Pessac outside Bordeaux, said she received a huge shock when she opened the bill for 11,721,000,000,000,000 euros (£9.4qn).

This is nearly 6,000 times France's annual economic output.

She had requested her account be closed after losing her job last month.

The former teaching assistant said she "almost had a heart attack. There were so many zeroes I couldn't even work out how much it was".

The phone company, Bouygues Telecom, initially told her there was nothing they could do to amend the computer-generated statement and later offered to set up instalments to pay off the bill.

In the end, the company admitted the bill should have been for 117.21 euros only, and eventually waived it altogether.

It has also apologised for the gaffe, which it says was down to a printing error and a subsequent misunderstanding between the client and staff at their call centre.

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