Home > Statistic of the Week > Archive List > Detail

<< Prev 1/24/2010 Next >>

Juan's Dilemma: To Pay or Not to Pay

As part of his weekly commute, Juan Zamora stopped at a Conoco gas station in Richland, WA, to fill his 1994 Camaro with gas. When he left, the gas pump registered a cost of $26.21 for about 10 gallons of gas.

Soon, Juan received an e-mail, stating that his PayPal debit card could not cover the gas expense, as it had only $90 in it. Juan was puzzled, as he knew $26 < $90.

The problem: according to PayPal, his transaction was a mere $81,400,836,908. And, PayPal expected him to pay that amount immediately!

When Juun contacted PayPal, the representative did not believe him and repeatedly asked: Did you or did you not fill-up your gas tank? Gas is expensive, but Juan faced the task of trying to prove that his one tank had not cost more than 81 billion dollars.

As a final note, Juan eventually won his case, but the cause of the error is still unknown (i.e. PayPal claims it accidently used the merchant number for the transaction amount). Juan's response: "I guess the moral of this story is 'pay cash'."

Question 1: How many gas fill-ups could Juan have actually gotten for the amount of $81,400,836,908?

Question 2: Estimate the time it takes to fill 10 gallons of gas. How much time (in days? years?) would it take to do the number of gas fill-ups determined in Question #1?

Source: Seattle Times, February 26, 2009