Juan Zamora is really glad for overdraft protection.
When he pulled in to fill up the tank on his ’94 Camaro in Richland on Tuesday, he figured the $90 on his debit card was more than enough.
Turns out the Hanford Nuclear Reservation worker who commutes weekly from his home in Spokane was wrong – by nine very big zeros.
Zamora said the pump at the By-Pass Deli and Conoco service station at Stevens Drive and the Highway 240 Richland bypass registered only $26 for the fuel.
But somehow the transaction was recorded on his debit card as totaling $81,400,836,908.
“That’s a B, as in billions!” Zamora wrote in an e-mail to the Tri-City Herald on Wednesday.
Zamora said he always fuels up at the same station on his weekly commutes but this time it was anything but routine.
After learning that afternoon by e-mail that his debit card was maxed out, Zamora was concerned that his bank account might be in jeopardy. So he called customer service for PayPal, which is where he established the debit account.
Only to discover they were taking his grand expenditure seriously.
“Somebody from a foreign country who spoke in broken English argued with me for 10 to 15 minutes,” Zamora said. “ ‘Did you get the gas?’ he asked. Like I had to prove that I didn’t pump $81,400,836,908 in gas!”
Finally, Zamora was able to convince the customer service person that he wasn’t running his own version of a national stimulus plan.
How the glitch happened is still a mystery, even after Zamora went back to the Conoco station. He said the shift manager didn’t believe him – until he showed her the PayPal record for his gas purchase online.
“I guess the moral of this story is ‘pay cash,’ ” he said.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.