Video: $23 quadrillion dinner

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/15/2009 10:52:10 AM ET 2009-07-15T14:52:10

Some Visa cardholders were surprised to find that recent purchases cost them a little more than expected — $23 quadrillion, plus change.

In New Hampshire, Josh Muszynski said he swiped his debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes and when he later checked his account online found that he had been charged  the 17-digit number — a stunning $23,148,855,308,184,500.

In North Texas, Jon Seale saw the same 17-figure bill on his credit card statement, presumably for a meal July 13 at a restaurant owned by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, NBC affiliate KXAS TV reported.

"For that amount of money, I could actually own Wolfgang Puck himself," Seale said.

Seale said he spent much of Tuesday making calls to Visa and his bank, Wachovia, in hopes of getting the exorbitant charge removed from his Wachovia Visa Buxx credit card. "It's an inconvenience, but it's not like I was truly worried my money was gone," he said. "It’s an obvious, glaring error."

Seale even tried tracking down Puck "on Facebook and add him as a friend to see if he’d make a comment, but I didn’t have any luck finding him."

Muszynski, for his part, said he spent two hours on the phone with his bank, Bank of America, trying to sort out the string of numbers and the $15 overdraft fee. The bank corrected the error the next day.

Visa said a technical glitch caused the trouble, but it did not say exactly how many accounts were affected.

"A temporary programming error at Visa Debit Processing Services caused some transactions to be inaccurately posted to a small number of Visa prepaid accounts," Visa spokeswoman Elvira Swanson said in a written statement. "The technical glitch has been corrected, and all erroneous postings have been removed."

Visa later elaborated that "fewer than 13,000" transactions were affected.

A Visa representative said affected customers will have any overdraft fees removed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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