Monday, December 12, 2005

It's the Decimal Point, Stupid

While some TIAA-CREF customers reported IT issues that resulted in them not being able to access their retirement funds, others have come forward to say that they are receiving far too much money.

"The first sign of the problem was when IRA payments from TIAA to my wife and me were not made on schedule in mid-November," said a TIAA-CREF user who sent an e-mail to eWEEK.
"I called and was told that they would be made shortly. They were, but the payments that were made were 100 times too large!"

The TIAA-CREF customer said that he and his wife both received payments of 100 times what they were owed. Instead of scheduled $600 payments, both recipients received automatic electronic deposits into their accounts for $60,000 each.

This story brought a real chuckle because this type of error went out of style in the 1970s. $600.00 with a misplaced decimal point (or $60000 with no decimal point) was a common enough programming mistake that testing procedures routinely checked for such a slip-up. Nice to know there's a new generation of programmers out there who have this lesson to learn.

Pop Quiz: How many TIAA-CREF customers who got 100x too much in their monthly checks forgot to drop a dime back to TIAA-CREF?

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