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At some point in every entrepreneur’s career, he or she will learn that one of their customers has unpaid fees. It’s up to the entrepreneur to determine how he or she will react. Regardless of the course of action, however, one fact remains clear: today’s business owners need to know about failed payments as soon as possible. Without early detection of unpaid fees, you could end up in some truly undesirable situations. In today’s article, we take a look at three of the more extraordinary examples of unpaid fees that the world has ever known.

1. The World’s Most Indebted Man

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Jérôme Kerviel (Source: leralais.ma)

The summer of 2007 was not a good time to be a stock trader. The global economies were entering into the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression, and uncertainty hung in the air. There was no doubt a lot of anxiety, as the world watched the markets tumble.

But there was one French stock trader who was having no trouble making rent. His name was Jérôme Kerviel, and he worked for Société Générale. Kerviel amassed a private fortune by carrying out approximately 50 billion Euros worth of unauthorized trades. By taking advantage of unintended discrepancies, Kerviel ensured that he would make a profit whether stocks went up or down. It was a genius plan — that is, until Kerviel got caught.

On January 25th, 2015, police raided Kerviel’s home and seized his computer files. This was the beginning of a process that would culminate in Kerviel being sentenced to three years in prison. He was also sentenced to pay back every penny of what his antics had cost Société Générale — which turned out to be €4.9 billion.

This total, bare in mind, was what Kerviel’s activities had cost the Société Générale, not what Kerviel actually earned. Kerviel made a handsome profit from his illegal activities, but it was nowhere near billions of Euros. In other words, Kerviel’s sentence is a fee that he will never be able to pay off. Not only an unpaid fee, but an unpayable fee.

This punishment stands as a stern reminder to other traders about the consequences of illegal trading.

2. We Won’t Put Out That Fire

Firefighters not putting out fire Most of us can’t relate to owing billions of dollars like the character in the first story. But what about $75? That’s a bit more relatable. Maybe it’s the bar tab at the end of the night. Maybe it’s a pesky parking ticket. Maybe it’s a haircut in the trendy part of town. Whatever the case, we can all understand what it’s like to owe $75.

What’s difficult to understand is the story of Gene Cranick, a homeowner in rural Tennessee who decided not to pay $75. That’s the annual fire service charge for his county, which is too sparsely populated to be covered by any fire department. When a fire grew out of control at Cranick’s residence, he called the nearest town’s fire department. The department informed Cranick that he wasn’t on their list. The firefighters eventually did arrive, but only to extinguish the parts of the blaze that had spread to a neighbor’s property.

Perhaps the most incredible part of this story? History repeated itself, when the very same fire department let another home burn, a year later.

3. That’s One Expensive Trip to the Library

Most Expensive Library Book

Not all unpaid fees involve police raids or house fires. Sometimes it’s as simple as an unreturned library book. If you frequent a library, it’s almost expected that you will eventually encounter late fees. After all, the late fees are often ridiculously small amounts.

But day after day, small adds up.

Just ask Emily Canellos-Simms from Kewanee, Illinois. Emily checked a book of poetry out of the Kewanee Public Library in 1955. At the time, the overdue charge was only two cents a day. Decades later, Emily found the book of poetry in her mother’s house. It had been 47 years since she had checked it out.

To her credit, though, Emily returned the book, along with a check for the full amount owed — $345.14 USD. Even two cents a day adds up when left unattended. Emily Canellos-Simms, meanwhile, holds the Guinness World Record for the largest library fine ever paid.


Whether it’s billions of dollars or only two cents, the Control app provides instant alerts when your customers have any unpaid fees. Failed payments distract entrepreneurs from other important tasks, and negatively affect the bottom line. But there is another choice… to get control.

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