Open up your wallet or purse, look for a receipt, and think about the tale that goes along with it. Most bills or charges have a story behind them, because people don’t part with money easily. With that in mind, we thought we’d look for the interesting stories behind some of the largest bills, penalties, and fines ever issued.
10The Phone Bill Larger Than France’s GDP
You have to shake your head in disbelief here: A French company was so aloof and lackadaisical that they issued someone a bill in the millions of billions and didn’t realize it was a mistake.
Solenne San Jose had recently left her job and decided to cut back on certain things, like the ability to contact others, so when she told her phone company to end her contract, she was prepared the worst—or so she thought. The company issued Solenne a bill for €11,721,000,000,000,000, causing Solenne to almost have a heart attack. Good thing she didn’t, since if she’d actually had one she couldn’t call an ambulance.
Despite the fact the bill was obviously a mistake, the company was still dead set on charging Solenne the astronomical amount of money. When she called them to tell them that the entire country of France literally didn’t have enough money to foot the bill, the phone operator told her not to to worry because she could pay in installments. After (we hope) 40 minutes of swearing the company quietly quashed the bill.
9 The Largest Corporate Penalty Ever
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill was a disaster of almost unthinkable proportions: The sheer amount of damage to both the environment and people’s lives is almost unfathomable. Fittingly, the company was slapped with the largest penalty given to a company, ever.
But here’s the thing: BP, the company behind the spill, set aside way more in preparation for the slew of lawsuits they were going to be slapped with. The fine of $4.5 billion pales in comparison to the $38.1 billion the company has stocked ready to pay out.
Just think about that for a second. The largest-ever penalty imposed on a company in history is little more than a drop in the bucket for what they’re willing to shell out. When you can hold back $40 billion for “accidentally ruining the world” and still turn a profit, you may as well hire Skeletor.
8 George Washington Owes The World’s Largest Library Fine
Yes, that George Washington. The father of America reportedly borrowed two books from the New York library and never got around to returning them. The books in question (because we know you’re interested) were an extended essay on international affairs and a collection of debates from the English House of Commons.
Awesomely, the ledger from the time simply lists Washington as “president” and, presumably because of how awesome he was, there was no return date ever listed. Regardless, that’s not how library books work—and even if they don’t ask for them back because you’re the goddamn president, you should still probably return them.
Due to Washington borrowing the books hundreds of years ago, his fine now stands at $300,000, and we’re guessing it’s only going to go higher since he’s pretty busy these days.
7The Largest Drinks Bill Got The Guy In Trouble With His Mother
We all know drinks in nightclubs are overpriced, but Alex Hope took it to another level when he dropped £125,000 ($200,000) on a single drink. Okay, so the drink he bought was a 30-liter bottle of champagne—but come on, that’s still a little high.
In addition to this, Hope also bought £80,000 ($127,000) worth of assorted spirits shots and cocktails seemingly in an attempt to party hard enough for James Brown to rise from the dead. Hope’s exploits saw him covered by various media outlets, with many people criticizing how much of an ass he looked like by dropping that kind of money during a recession.
Of all the people Alex annoyed though, it was probably the scorn from his own mother he regretted the most. Yep, Alex’s own mother raked him over the coals for his antics. How’s that for a telling-off? We should mention Alex’s bill included an $18,000 service charge—in other words, he tipped more than many people earn in a year. Yeah, no wonder his mum was annoyed.
6The Speeder Who Outran The Cameras
Speeding tickets are no laughing matter. Just a few miles per hour can make the difference between someone being killed, or just really badly hurt. Oddly, it’s only the Swiss who’ve devised a system of really making sure speeders regret their crime.
In Switzerland, a speeding fine is calculated from your total yearly income and the speed you were going, to make sure everyone who speeds feels the sting of justice. For example, an unnamed man was slapped with a £650,000 ($1 million) fine a couple years back. His huge fine was calculated from his estimated speed of 300 kph (190 mph), and we say “estimated” because the guy tore past the cameras so fast they literally couldn’t measure how fast he was going. In fact, he almost got away with his crime because of it.
5 The Largest Hospital Bill Ever Is Really Depressing
Hospital fees in the States are incredibly high: On one hand, it causes thousands of people undue stress and pushes them into bankruptcy. On the other, they gave us Breaking Bad. So considering all the horror stories you’ve heard, what would you guess the highest bill ever came to? One million? Two million? Try $9 million.
The case of Tameka Campbell is depressing through and through. Tameka died in hospital after five years of palliative care, but it wasn’t until two years after her death that the hospital sent a $9 million bill to her estate. One thing they neglected to send, however, was any sort of itemized bill justifying their costs. This has led to a bitter court battle with Campbell’s mother steadfastly refusing to pay out a single cent, because (and here’s the depressing part) she’s adamant the hospital is at fault.
Holly Bennett (Campbell’s mother) went on to claim that the bill is nothing more than a scare tactic designed to stop her from suing them. So this story is either one about a hospital suing a grieving mother to stop her from receiving compensation for their mistake, or one about a grieving mother being driven into bankruptcy. But hey, she made it onto Listverse!
4One Of The Largest Shopping Bills Was Victoria Beckham’s Whim
Victoria Beckham is probably one of the richest women on Earth, both in terms of money and the fact she’s married to the nicest man in the world. Being rich beyond your wildest dreams has given Beckham a rather warped sense of money, whereas most of us would consider spending $100 on a new outfit and a few Pogs extravagant. Beckham can casually drop a cool million like it ain’t no thing.
In her insane and, from what we understand, spontaneous shopping spree Beckham bought 12 pairs of sunglasses and five sofas. Who buys five sofas?
But this was just the start. Beckham also bought two suits, some dresses, and a $400,000 wristwatch for her husband. When asked about the spending spree, she simply responded, “It’s as if all of those wonderful shops are calling out to me, saying, ‘Come and buy me! Come and buy me!’ ” That’s another advantage of the super-rich, apparently: They can afford to obey their hallucinations.
3A Record-Breaking NFL Fine Was The Sixth Time This Guy Almost Killed Someone
This year, pro NFL player Ndamukong Suh earned himself a staggering $100,000 fine for checking an opposing player with an illegal low block. (We don’t really speak “football” but we’ll assume that’s really bad.)
The football world, upon hearing this news, stood open-mouthed at the sheer size of Suh’s fine, until everyone remembered that the fine was probably due to Suh’s history of constantly nearly breaking people in half on the field.
Suh has been fined for slamming people to the ground by their face masks, stomping on their arms, and even sending a fully cleated foot into the groin of another player. At this point, we’re thinking that these weren’t fines so much as bribes for Suh to stop trying to murder his opponents.
2One Of The Largest Tips Ever Was 30 Percent Of The Total Bill
Tipping is one of the most explosive topics online—just don’t discuss it, ever. Trust us. However, that said, we think everyone can agree that a 30 percent tip is hugely generous.
So imagine the surprise of a waiter who served a bunch of high rollers a the ritzy Marcel’s restaurant and found a $10,000 tip on the table when he cleared up after their $32,000 splurge. Now we’ve all heard the stories about the rich people stiffing a hard-working waiter on a tip or only giving a server a few percent on a insanely high bill. So we thought it’d be nice to point out that not all rich folks have forgotten about the little guys. It’s just most of them.
1The Story Behind The Longest Receipt Ever Is Amazing
With the other stories on this list, a bill for $18,871.93 isn’t that impressive. However, the story behind it is.
When the awesomely named Hercules, owner of the even more awesomely named, “Hercules Fancy Grocery,” found out he was about to lose his lease and his livelihood, some people decided they needed to help him out. They did this by walking into his store and buying everything. And we do mean they literally bought every single item Hercules had in his store.
It took Hercules six hours to individually ring up every item and the end result was a 17-meter (57 ft) receipt. The group responsible cleverly put the record-breaking receipt into a glass box and put it on sale for a cool $18,871.93.
We know there’s some hard to swallow stuff on this list, so we’ll just leave you with this video of an elderly man realizing his business has just been saved.