In March, 1992 a man living in Newton (near Boston), Massachusetts received a bill for his as yet unused gas line stating that he owed $0.00.
He ignored it and threw it away.
In April he received another and threw that one away too.
The following month the gas company sent him a very nasty note stating they were going to cancel his gas line if he didn't send them $0.00 by return mail.
He called them, talked to them, they said it was a computer error and they would take care of it.
The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome gas line figuring that if there were usage on the account it would put an end to his ridiculous predicament. However, when he went to use the gas, it had been cut off. He called the gas company who apologized for the computer error once again and said that they would take care of it.
The next day he got a bill for $0.00 stating that payment was now overdue.
Assuming that having spoken to them the previous day the latest bill was yet another mistake and he ignored it, trusting that the company would be as good as their word and sort the problem out.
The next month he got a bill for $0.00 stating that he had 10 days to pay his account or the company would have to take steps to recover the debt.
Finally, giving in, he thought he would beat the company at their own game and mailed them a check for $0.00. The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the gas company nothing at all.
A week later, the man's bank called him asking him what he was doing writing a check for $0.00. After a lengthy explanation the bank replied that the $0.00 check had caused their check processing software to fail.
The bank could therefore not process ANY checks from ANY of their customers that day because the check for $0.00 was causing the computer to crash.
The following month the man received a letter from the gas company claiming that his check had bounced and that he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a check by return of post they would be taking steps to recover the debt.