Database Follies

My “biz” (I use the term loosely) credit card statement had a $7.25 mystery charge from “NEWARK US CHICAGO IL”. I have done biz with Newark Electronics (and their HQ is in the Windy City), but not recently. Soooo, I gives ’em a call to ask WTF. Got passed from ear to ear, eventually reaching Jolanta in Credit Card Billing.

I described what I knew, she tapped in my credit card number, paused for a moment, then said “Oooooh, I know what happened!”

Turns out that they use “general account numbers” (or order numbers, or some such) for low-budget customers like me and that they recycle those numbers. A while ago it seems “the computer” started

  1. Assigning some no-doubt-carefully-chosen general account number to the new transaction
  2. Reaching into the database for, um, data
  3. Sending the bill to the old account holder


She says “the programmers are working on it right now” and she’ll refund the money muy pronto.

Wanna bet that a few somebodys got mystery charges for a few kilobucks apiece?