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Woman’s $18K Mistake Goes Viral As Typo Leads Her To Overpay Gas Bill

Woman's $18K Mistake Goes Viral As Type Leads Her To Overpay Gas Bill

A woman’s $18K mistake turned to her moment of internet fame after a mistake on her utility bill caused her to grossly overpay.

The woman’s $18K mistake happened as she was filling out her Southwest Gas bill online, My Fox Phoenix reported. The bill was for $18.29 , bit she accidentally turned the decimal point into a zero.

Debra Tupper, the woman who made the $18K mistake, said she is normally careful with her money, and was shocked to find out that the utility company had drawn a small fortune from her bank account.

“I paid the bill online — it was $18.69 and it was a keystroke error, so it went out at $18,069,” Tupper said.

When Tupper first received a call from Wells Fargo that her account was $18,000 under, she thought someone had stolen her identity, ABC 15 in Phoenix reported.

“I lost my iPad on a plane and thought someone had used it to break into my bank account,” said Tupper.

Tupper turned to Southwest Gas for help fixing the mistake, but it has been difficult fixing the $18K mistake.

“The first person I spoke to with Southwest Gas informed me that they would look into it and it would be credited to my account. I don’t know who would use $18,000 in gas in a lifetime — it certainly wouldn’t be me. I live alone. I’m single.”

But the problem didn’t go away right away. In fact, the woman’s $18K mistake only snowballed as her bank account sat empty and she started to accumulate overdrafts and penalties. Tupper said she had to borrow money from a friend just to get by.

Southwest Gas made a statement saying it was working with the woman to fix the $18K mistake:

“We sympathize with Ms. Tupper, the customer involved. We have worked with Ms. Tupper and her bank to rectify her overpayment as swiftly as possible, while keeping all security and fraud protection practices in place. We are pleased that all funds are expected to be returned to the customer within the next few business days. As always, Southwest Gas is committed to delivering exceptional safety, service and reliability to our customers and the communities we serve.”

The woman’s $18K mistake has become a national story, trending on the internet and featured on a number of national news sites. Tupper said she takes full responsibility for the $18K mistake, and hopes it serve as a warning to others paying their bills online.

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37 Responses to “Woman’s $18K Mistake Goes Viral As Typo Leads Her To Overpay Gas Bill”

  1. Cheryl Lundgren

    Taking a week to return the money is not effective. It takes twelve departments, fourteen calls and seventeen ineffective staff members to get anything done these days. Every company is too big to be efficient. No one has the power or knowledge or overview to make quick decisions and take decisive action.

  2. Michael Higgins

    Screw that utility. They let this innocent woman rack up fines an penalties on an obvious brain fart. This shows the regard that big companies really have for their individual clients.

  3. Wendy Brueckner-Post

    The bank is supposed to pay off of the legal line on a check. (The line where you write the numbers out ex.. One hundred dollars) So unless she wrote Eighteen Thousand Sixty-Nine dollars on the legal line it would be a bank error. Banks never pay off of the numeric numbers that are written on a check.

  4. Gary Lyle

    She paid online – read the article before commenting. The problem is the lady can't type, look at you keyboard – the peiod key and the zero key are not even close to each other.

  5. Shawna Marie

    This is why no one should opt into overdraft protection. It is a SCAM!

  6. Anonymous

    OK. WHY would Wells Fargo PAY THAT! It is CLEAR she didn't have the money – so WHY ON EARTH would they pay that? That makes NO SENSE!

  7. Anonymous

    @Wendy, she paid ONLINE – the bank never SAW a check! The transaction was COMPLETELY ELECTRONIC!!!

  8. Gary Lyle

    Oh yeah, it was the numeric keypads fault – not the idiot behind the keyboard…

  9. Susan Jones

    Someone at the gas company should have called HER when they realized the mistake. There HAVE to be bookkeepers? real accountants? Someone who actually breathes? not just computers. As for retuning her money, that's great, but also give her extra to pay the overdrafts, etc.

  10. Anthony Galvin

    If her account was $18K short and she paid $18,069 – that means she had $69 in her account. Not exactly as if she was missing a ton of money.

  11. Susan Jones

    its not about how much she was missing,,,, its about how much she now owes in bank charges. The less money you have, the harder it is to lose it.

  12. Katrina Armanda Nadeau

    I'm going to try that,,, and pay like 12 quadrillion dollars,,,,,,,, see how much intrest they make off the banks… we will see the end of this country soon,, thank god…. and once we start over… only cash will work…. even banks and stock markets have to make every deal in cash………. this would end people becomiing billionaires…. and the end to speculation on the markets.. cash trades only…….. would take days to pay on trade…. slow things down,,,

  13. Gary Lyle

    Yeah, if I was down to $69 I would be really careful paying my bills

  14. Kaoru Baker

    They can't know the difference between an individual or a large business with an equally large utility bill in the computer age.

  15. Rebecca Rodriguez Rivera

    The the check arrives at the bank.. Bounces Fees $35.then the gas company charges a bounce check fee..lets say $25 plus a late fee charge of 3-5 % of the bill. THEN..By the time she gets the bank NSF Notice in the mail and talking to the Gas company.. the eletronic check is already at the bank where it has bounced again..#2 another $35 charge, then causing an overdraft at a fee of $25, then back to the Gas Company that charges her another bounce check fee of $25. Who says companies are struggling in America.. They struggling on ways to get more money from the little fees.

  16. Gary Lyle

    I love how Shannon Rindahl does not capitalize the first word of a sentence…

  17. Julia Tucker

    And just think, people just like this will be handling ALL Of our health care in 2014. Can't wait!

  18. X-Wanda Larrier

    It seems they kept it long enough to make interest on it, while she was out of money the whole time.

  19. Curtis James Ballard

    Don't they usually call to very the amount to prevent fraud? Why would the bank pay that out when it's so out of the ordinary and she didn't have the money?

  20. Brian Soto

    I work for a bank there are two things she could have done. If the amount was posted to the account and came in electronically she could have filled out an ACH affidavit return the amount and would have received a business credit within two business days. or

    She could have block the account of all ACH transactions and when the transactions showed up on the banks reject report the bank could have returned. I am surprised that the Gas company did not tell her to contact her bank.

  21. Evie Rodriguez

    I was thinking the same thing. They sent her a bill saying $18.29; why would they withdrawl $18,000.00 from the account. Send it back, as the check was clearly a mistake OR withdrawl only the amount needed.

  22. Curtis James Ballard

    Don't they usually call to verify the amount to prevent fraud? Why would the bank pay that out when it's so out of the ordinary and she didn't have the money?

  23. Fred Golden

    The bank should not have honored her withdrawal of $18,000 to the utility company when she did not have that much money in her account. I blame the bank. The bank should have known that the average last 12 months where say $15 to $80, so this was not a manufacturing company that makes $18,000 utility payments each month, they should not have honored it, just like if she had signed a $18,069 check to pay her bill, the bank has the ability to say "This is the wrong amount, and she does not have this much funds in her account!" We will not pay it!

  24. Anonymous

    You can't try to block an electronic transaction after it's already taken place.

    She could have notified the bank (a bit redundant, since they contacted her) or filled out a bank-issued form, but that doesn't guarantee a return of funds in two business days. Per Reg E, banks have ten days to do their research of error before they are required to offer a credit.

  25. Anonymous

    Oh geez, been there..done that..LOL..but not that extensive! Once over paid on my electric bill, several months in a row by transposing numbers. When it all came full circle, while everyone else's bill was exorbitant that winter, mine was…$0.00 due for 3 months!

  26. Rodney Connolly

    My bank would simply deny the transaction if I did not have adequate funds in my account to cover the item.

  27. Preemie babies

    They paid because she had the money in another account or she paid for overdraft protection. I had a less astonishing issue of the same nature when paying over the phone. My payment was processed by the call center 3 times. The overpayment took 2.5 weeks to rectify. The bank charged me over $200 in resulting fees but just kept processing payments.

  28. Elizabeth N Franklin

    I don't understand how they would allow the payment to process. I have actually done this before by typing 3000 instead of 300 into online pay. My bill was somewhere around 350. The system kicked it back out saying that you could not pay more than the balance due online. If for some reason you needed to have a credit on your account you had to mail in a check or go into the office. If you mailed in a check you had to include a letter explaining why you were overpaying. This makes absolutely no sense. The lady made a mistake but frankly I would advise her to sue the bank. 18000 to a utility company when the typical amount is 1% of that should have set off fraud parameters. This type of thing is clearly fraud or a mistake. The bank should have caught it and contacted her or the gas company. And to allow a week to pass before this was resolved is insane. It should have immediately went to corporate and someone with some real power the minute the mistake was pointed out. I would have escalated that immediately. I work in a call center and I have had situations in which incorrect billing was done and if it was not something I could control I always get a supervisor right then and then I follow up a few hours later. While she is not entirely blameless the two companies (bank and Gas) should take responsibility for failing her as a customer and should find a way to fix this for her. Nowadays, big companies have all the control and no one seems to be willing or able to fight them.

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