A character gets the bill for a service they used and is shocked by the price on it. This is usually due to hidden or undisclosed fees that were added on by the unscrupulous merchant. It can also be due to a clueless character ordering expensive services without realizing the cost, or in cases like Extremely Overdue Library Book, neglecting to pay for something over a long period of time. This presents a conundrum for them as the character doesn't have the means to pay the outstanding balance.
Possible outcomes include:
- Work Off the Debt
- Spit Take or Wild Take
- Asking if they got the wrong check
- Asking if you have the bill or the establishment's telephone number
- Running away without paying
- Trying to coerce someone else into paying for it
- Driven to Suicide, in more extreme cases
The bill is often related to room service, restaurants, credit cards, medical services and, recently, cell phones. It's almost an Obligatory Joke in an episode where a hospital is essential to the plot.
A less comical example is a form of extortion racket where the business presenting the bill is crooked and has enough "legitimacy" or connections to get away with it. Anyone who refuses to pay the bill is free to "discuss" it in the back with the large burly men.
This may overlap with Undisclosed Funds if the exact amount of the bill is never shown. This trope also includes reactions to looking at the price tag. There is almost always a random number of cents in the price.
- One Mastercard commercial featuring Simpsons characters shows Homer having to pay $75 for quick snip of a tiny tuft of hair on top of his head.
- A commercial for Golden Corral showcasing their low prices has a customer screaming upon seeing her bill at another restaurant.
- In the Area 88 OVA, Mickey is shocked when McCoy hands him an $50,000 maintenance bill for his F-14. McCoy reminds him that an F-14 is expensive to maintain.
- Black Jack: The good doctor tends to charge somewhere in the equivalent of several million US dollars. He rarely collects that fee, though - it's usually a test to see if the prospective patient is determined enough to go through with it. If you can afford it, however, he'll make damn sure you pay.
- Dragon Ball: after the first Budokai tournament Muten-Roshi treats the gang to dinner, not taking Son Goku's Big Eater tendencies into account. The bill ends up taking most of his prize money for winning the tournament.
- In Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger, Shogo asks the clerk of Gread Treid for information on Raise, a lost white magic for bringing the dead back to life. He and his friends are floored when she asks for an upfront payment of 600 million Gil, an impossible amount for all but the wealthiest people to pay.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Ed becomes enraged when he gets the bill from Ling about the food he and Lan Fan ate in the hotel.
- In Great Teacher Onizuka, Urumi is blackmailing Onizuka, and orders him to take her and some of her classmates to an expensive sushi restaurant, where they order several platters of expensive fatty tuna. Eventually, Onizuka snaps and buys five more servings for himself and starts eating like there's no tomorrow. Cue heroic music. Then he orders five more servings of abalone and sea urchin. And a sashimi boat. And 10 MORE servings of salmon roe, ark shell, and sweet shrimp. His plan from the beginning was to dine and dash, which he does, still clutching the sushi boat, with his students running behind him, pursued by the chef. Then he gets hit by a car and forces the driver to pay his bill.
- And then goes back to the same restaurant and orders more food. The bill (which the driver has to pay) ends up being over 200,000 yennote
- King Dedede in Kirby: Right Back at Ya! has ordered so many monsters from Night Mare Enterprises that this trope was inevitable. In the episode "Waddle While You Work", the N.M.E. sales guy calculates the final cost as 1,170,411,246,413,708,686 D-bills.
Salesguy: Of course, you understand that this is just an estimate.
Escargoon: [Dedede] spends like he eats!
- In the Naruto Land of Sound filler arc, Jiraiya visits a bar and is presented a ridiculously large bill. When he notes this the bartender calls in a number of armed thugs since he's being "unruly".
- In only the fifth episode of Pokémon titled "Showdown in Pewter City", Ash and Misty discuss the upcoming Gym battle with Brock over a meal. After Ash refuses help from Misty, she angrily leaves the restaurant and Ash is left to stare at the bill and subsequently yell for Misty to come back. The bill originally read ¥1150, which just barely qualifies for this trope, but the 4Kids Entertainment dub changed it to a dollar sign without bothering with exchange rates (or even just adding a decimal point to make it $11.50 since assuming "1 yen = 1 cent" will almost always get you in the ballpark), which makes it a rather more potent example.
- Jojos Bizarre Adventure:
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Avdol and Kakyoin are hospitalized for injuries they suffered during the battle with N'Doul. Polnareff initially struggles to read the bill, but is horrified to find that the hospital bill is 46,350 Egyptian pounds.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Josuke is shocked to find out that a huge chunk of his savings is spent on Joseph buying a ton of baby supplies.
- Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Downplayed; when Tohru explains how dragons get energy, the topic of Kanna using her tail to plug into the electrical outlet makes Kobayashi realize that's what has been causing the electric bill to run high.
- In Muhyo and Roji, Goryo charges Rika, a high school girl, 5 million yen ($50,000 US in the localization of the manga) for exorcising a spirit, and says she can split it with her friend Yumi if it's too much. The two girls are rather disturbed, especially after hearing that Goryo allowed another client to be possessed for not paying.
- The Quintessential Quintuplets: In Chapter 57, Itsuki meets Shimoda, a former student of her late mother Rena who works now as a cram school lecturer. Shimoda invites Itsuki to a local cafeteria and treats her to all the cake she wants to eat. Naturally, Shimoda is left with a rather big bill to pay after Itsuki leaves.
- In Rebuild World, Akira is left with a 60 million aurum bill for medical treatment following his fights with the three Relic Hunters, only half of which was covered by his original payment. Hearing this nearly makes him lose consciousness then and there, but Kibayashi instead offers him a deal: the government will cover his bill and give him 100 million aurum in exchange for having his combat record wiped and not breathing a word of this to anyone. For Akira, it's a no-brainer given how little stock he put into said record. He doesn't know that he's being scammed, as the hospital purposefully gave him expensive treatments to jack up the bill since the City Government would pay for it, all to pressure him into signing their non-disclosure agreement.
- In the third chapter of Tokyo Ghoul :Re, Urie hands in his receipts for his monthly investigation expenses. Sasaki is comically horrified and confused when his subordinate tosses him the receipts for ¥198,220 ($1,777.98 USD) in taxi fares.
- In the first episode of Chuck Chicken, Chuck takes a job to stop a volcano from erupting for a $10,000 reward. Not only does the mayor not pay him for unwittingly filling the volcano with holes using Don and Dex's drilling vehicle, when Chuck accidentally makes the whole volcano collapse, he's charged $10,000,000 for it.
- A very frequent punchline in Archie Comics strips and covers, usually in the form of this joke:
Veronica: What did you order?
Archie: Separate bills!
- Used quite seriously in one story in which Reggie tells everyone about a phone service that you can call to hear jokes (from what we're shown, they're quite funny). What he doesn't tell anyone is that this service adds extra costs to the bill, and his friends and others rack up some serious bills. When Reggie is called out on his omission, he says it's not his problem. For his part, Archie sells his comic collection to help pay the telephone bill, which impresses his father.
- In one page of the French comic Les Zappeurs, the father is furious to discover a 18121F (about 2800ï¿½) phone bill. Turns out the grandfather had inadvertently bought a cell phone, which he'd been mistaking for a TV remote all this time (unwittingly making pointless calls with it).
- In "Zio Paperone e lo slogan invincibile", a Donald Duck story, Rockerduck causes widespread panic in the city by accidentally adopting a panic-inducing Brown Note as his advertising slogan. Not only his sales plummet, but he soon gets visited by the furious mayor, who gives him "the biggest fine ever". Cue Rockerduck screaming when he looks at the amount to pay.
- Bloom County: Opus managed to rack up $3,000 from ï¿½dial-a-mom.ï¿½
- In Garfield:
- Garfield noticed that Jon racked up a bill of $542.16 for using the Dial-A-Compliment service in the July 28th, 1994 strip.
- In the September 5th, 2013 strip, Jon gets a very expensive bill for his refrigerator being cleaned. The cleaner stated that he lost his two best men in there because of the expired meatloaf.
- In the December 27th, 1980 strip, Jon screams in shock at his electric bill complaining it's been raised again. Garfield falls asleep on top of the bill.
- One Popeye arc had Olive Oyl inheriting twenty million dollars. Getting a big head, she decides to make a movie about herself with the money, but expenses soon tally up to twenty-five million dollars. Olive goes mad from the shock and trying to cure her becomes the focal point of the next arc.
- Fletch: while Fletch is at the country club he orders lots of food and liquor and tells the waiter to put it on another guest's bill. When the other guest gets the bill he's shocked by the amount and tries to find out who did it.
- In the Rhapsodie in Blue segment of Fantasia 2000 a woman brings her Henpecked Husband and fluffy little dog to "Le Pampered Pooch". After she buys a huge stack of items, the clerk presents her husband with a bill that unfolds multiple times until it reaches the floor.
- The bill Conrad van Orton gets hit with by Consumer Recreation Services in The Game turns out to be a lot more than he anticipated; fortunately, Nicholas agrees to split it with him.
- The final scene of Home Alone 2 has Buzz being delivered his little brother Kevin's room service bill. Their father, Peter, is not happy.
Buzz: Merry Christmas indeed. Oh, Dad...[the scene cuts to Kevin outside]Peter: [offscreen] KEVIN! YOU SPENT $967 ON ROOM SERVICE?!?
- In the '40s film I Accuse My Parents, the start of Jimmy's life as a mob courier is when he gets a $77 check for his birthday dinner - a small fortune for a young man making $25 a week selling shoes. The local mob boss had tricked him into going to a restaurant far more expensive than he could afford so that he could ensnare the kid into working for him - he needed a new guy the police wouldn't be watching to transport stolen goods.
- In Innerspace, after Tuck's pod is injected into Jack, he starts trying to figure out what's going on while Jack is ringing up items at his job. His attempts screw with the scanner, causing the items to ring up at hundreds of dollars each.
- Late For Dinner: one of the main characters tries to order food after spending a few decades in cryogenic stasis. When the girl at the counter tells him how much it is, he exclaims "That's highway robbery!... Ma'am."
- In D3: The Mighty Ducks, The Eden Hall varsity hockey team invites the freshman hockey team to a fancy dinner and then sticks them with the bill. The freshman team ends up washing dishes, and they swear to get revenge on varsity, leading to a prank war.
- This is the central plot of Ralph Breaks the Internet. Ralph and Vanelope drive up the price of an auction to win a replacement steering wheel for Sugar Rush, are presented with a bill for 27,001 dollars, and must find a way to make the money before the auction expires.
- In What's Up, Doc?, Howard goes to a drugstore to pick up some buffered aspirin. Judy (who he hasn't actually met yet) picks out a clock radio and behind Howard's back, tells the cashier to put it on her "husband"'s tab. The cashier tells Howard that the total is around $16.
- In White Christmas, Bob's reaction to the estimate on how much the Christmas show is going to cost is "Wow!", which is apparently "Right up there between 'ouch' and 'boing'."
- In The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan's father Max loses his temper over Jordan about the multi-paged American Express bill confirming that Jordan has spent over $430,000 in only one month. Jordan claims the bill was for business expenses, but then it turns out he spent the money for dinners and prostitutes. Jordan isn't too worried though, mainly because of the illegal ways he is earning wealth at Wall Street.
- Occurs in National Lampoon's European Vacation when Audrey calls her boyfriend on a hotel phone... from England. And decides to wait on hold while he goes to have dinner. The hotel stay itself is prepaid, so her father is first confused when told there's a bill to settle, then horrified.
- There is a joke about a woman undergoing several plastic operations. In the end, she asks the surgeon whether he can make her eyes large and expressive. The doctor says "No problem, here is the bill".
- Why are ET's eyes so big? Yours would be too if you saw his phone bill.
- In Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad, the travelers are stunned when they are hit with what they think is a gigantic bill by the hotel owner on the Azores for a festive meal. Things get better when they realize that this is due to Ridiculous Exchange Rates and that they owe much less than they thought.
- In Return to Planet Tad, Tad's mother gives him her old cell phone as a birthday gift. She and his father forbid him from calls other than from or to them, but don't specifically forbid the use of text messaging. He soon starts text messaging like crazy and also uses the phone to update his online blog. It transpires that the phone did not come with a text message plan and when his parents are hit with a $127.40 bill (20 cents times 637 text messages), they forbid him from doing anything with it other than talking to them on it and also require that his ringtone be "I'm a Little Teapot."
- A minor example is found in Propeller Island by Jules Verne. A few people find themselves on a mobile island inhabited exclusively by millionaires. Being unaware of that, they are quite surprised at the first restaurant bill they get.
- Magyk, the first book in the Septimus Heap series, describes a situation in which two feuding sisters abused the Message Rat service by using the message rat Stanley to convey their arguing messages, eventually descending into simply sending him back and forth with nothing to say. It was their mother that received the shockingly expensive bill, resulting in the cancellation of the service.
- In "Something for Nothing" by Robert Sheckley a man finds what seems to be a wishing machine. Throughout the story, several people attempt to take it, and he barely fights them off. It turns out he should have let them take it - the machine was nothing but a device for ordering. In the end, he has to pay over 18 billion credits. Working in marble mines. For 2-3 credits a day. The only thing given for free, apparently, is immortality, which he ordered just before being given the bill.
- In Married... with Children, Al's method of paying bills consists of crying, screaming at the total amount, banging his head on the table, getting depressed or suicidal and ultimately just waiting for Peg to finish signing the check for the bill.
- In Community season 2, Abed stages a My Dinner with Andre dinner with Jeff (at the same time as Jeff tried to do a Pulp Fiction dinner for Abed). During the credits stinger, Abed and Troy get the bill from the waiter. While we don't get a figure, Abed's eyes pop out of his head and Troy briefly breaks down in tears. The two decide to run.
Troy: They said it was market-price! What market are you shopping at?!
- Mike from Suits is panicked when Smug Snake Lewis runs up a ridiculously large bill on wine at his dinner. Naturally, Jerkass with a Hidden Heart of Gold Harvey pays it off for him.
- Several instances on Square One TV.
- One time on Mathnet George was working undercover as a diner cook, and had to deal with a patron who didn't expect tax on his bill. "I didn't order tax on my hamburger, just ketchup!" Of course this was just an excuse to deliver some Educational Programming about tax and percentages. The bill wasn't that much bigger than he expected, but it was bigger.)
- In a "Dirk Niblick" animated segment, siblings Fluff and Fold have three dollars to spend on birthday presents for a set of quadruplets, and they estimate that their four toys cost the full three dollars. However, because Fluff has rounded her prices up and Fold has rounded his prices down, they are four cents short.
- In one episode of Arrested Development, Michael calls his father on the phone in the hotel room where he's waiting for his fiancee, to prove to him that he's not afraid of intimacy. After his father tells him to put her on, Michael claims she's in the shower, to which George Sr. replies that he'll wait. They end up waiting through to the following morning, and anybody who's ever seen the overpriced phone rates at hotels can anticipate Michael's reaction to his room charge that morning:
Michael: Oh, come on!
- Happy Days: in episode "Goin' to Chicago" the high school choir goes on a field trip to Chicago. Richie, Potsie & Ralph sneak out of the hotel room they're staying in to go to a nightclub, where all checks are $36. Link.
- On Chappelle's Show, Dave Chappelle is getting a haircut when the TV in the barber shop reports that he just signed a contract for his show paying him millions of dollars. Cut to everyone at the barber shop looking at him and the barber announcing that the bill for the haircut is $11,000.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway? had an absurdly large bill come at the end of the Emergency Room version of the restaurant sketch.
- Earl from Dinosaurs is shocked at the high number on his phone bill, until Francine points out it's their phone number. Earl is not as shocked when he sees the actual bill, although he does admit it's pretty high.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, upon receiving a plumber's bill:
Dawn: That's a weird phone number. Oh, wait... Is that the bill?!
- Played for Drama on The Sopranos. Chris is the low man on the totem pole when the crew goes out to dinner, so he's constantly stuck paying the tab. This starts a vicious feud between Chris and Paulie about respect, which culminates when Chris is saddled with a six-figure restaurant bill from Atlantic City. He can barely cover the cost of the check, and when the waiter follows him into the parking lot to demand a tip, Chris murders him.
- The Aliens in 3rd Rock from the Sun thought the bill was the population of Cleveland. When informed of its true nature, they used a modem to redirect the bill to one of the actors visiting the same hotel, namely George Takei.
George Takei: (looking at his bill) $3,000? That's all right, I can afford it. I'm a famous actor.
Desk Clerk: No, that's $30,000, Mr. Takei.
George Takei: Oh, my!
- One episode of Victorious features this, prompting both a Spit Take and a successful sneak out from their teacher. Unusual in that they already knew the restaurant was expensive and had ate there before, but Robbie had asked for a big bowl of caviar putting the price beyond what they could afford. Granted, the waitress never told Robbie that would be an extra charge, so she's kinda to blame too but nobody points that out. The restaurant manager decides to call the police, making Sikowitz run away unnoticed while the students are left to protest and argue with the staff.
- Used as the last joke on the Alice Cooper episode of The Muppet Show when Gonzo appears in a flash of fire and brimstone. In his hand is something even worse than a Deal with the Devil: the bill from Special Effects, which is enough to frighten everyone on stage.
- In CSI: Crime Scene Investigation the mobster Lou Gedda ran an extortion racket in his strip joint where high rollers would receive absurdly large bills. Anyone who objected would be strapped into a barber chair in the back, beaten, and then threatened with a straight razor. Two corrupt cops on his bankroll kept the police at bay.
- Invoked for laughs in the Red Skelton Show episode "The Cop and the Anthem". Freddie the Freeloader is trying to Get into Jail Free, so he convinces the staff of a high-end French restaurant that he's an Eccentric Millionaire and orders a lavish dinner. When the bill comes, he reads off a list of expenses that covers the front, back, and edges of the paper, then blithely admits that he doesn't have a penny to his name.
Freddie: My compliments to the cashier!
- At the end of one episode of Drake & Josh, the boys have come home from an unauthorized skydiving trip that went very wrong. They're in the clear up until the angry instructor comes at their door and sticks Walter with a $400,000 repair/replacement fee for them crashing the helicopter. Knowing that he'll ground them for it, the boys do it themselves and go to their room while he's trying to process it.
- On Friends when Joey decorates his new apartment, he goes overboard with his credit cards, prompting the company to send "Envelope 1 of 2."
- In "The Friar's Club", Jerry briefly ends up losing a New York Friars' Club jacket when one of the members of a magic show he was watching throws it into the audience. He tries to get a replacement, but it would cost $800 to do so.
- In "The Mom & Pop Store", Kramer points out to the owners of the eponymous store that their ceiling had faulty wiring and advises them to get it fixed. However, it turns out their shop is so out of code that to bring it up to code would cost $4000, and are put out of business as the electrician has no choice but to report them.
- In one episode of The Weird Al Show, Al, in order to maintain a Celebrity Lie, looks up how much it costs to hire John Tesh for an afternoon. At first he thinks it's only $300, but then the Guy Boarded Up in the Wall reminds him to count the zeros. "Ah, three hundred zero zero! ...Thirty thousand dollars?!?"
- Odd Squad:
- In "O is for Opposite", Oprah's Mirror Self ends up doing a Dine and Dash, eating five egg salad sandwiches and a tub of egg salad at Delivery Doug's back-alley restaurant before suddenly disappearing when Olympia and Otis catch up to her and the former attempts to get a selfie with her. Upon them finding out she left, Doug sticks them with the bill totaling $500, much to their shock. The reason it's so high is because Doug uses goat eggs instead of chicken eggs for his egg salad, which are stated to be hard to get. Olympia and Otis end up leaving without paying the bill at all.
- Subverted in "Overdue!" when Orla goes to return an Extremely Overdue Library Book to Octavius, the Odd Squad Librarian in charge of the organization's Main Library, and is told that the overdue fine she'll have to pay for a book taken out 400 years ago is no more than $10.
- SMG4's Mario Bloopers: In "The Wacky Wario Bros.: Money Mayhem", while Wario and Waluigi mess up and dance in their new mansion, a tax collector sends them a furniture, strippers and housing bill, which reads that they must pay $199,230,203,020,320,302,232,322,323.note Wario instead ignores the bill and kills the tax collector.
- In more recent editions of the RPG Paranoia, getting slapped with one of these by a oh-so-helpful service agency is yet another way in which a player-character can end up being hopelessly screwed.
- Played for laughs in Final Fantasy XIV in the Hildibrand 3.3 quest, "The Gigi Situation." During one of his many poses, he knocks over an expensive vase and then gets the bill from a very angry shopkeeper.
Frine: "One hundred and twenty three million, five hundred and four thousand gil at last assessment. 'Twas over seven hundred years old and graced the homes of a dozen archbishops, eight counts, two lord commanders, and one duke."
Cyr: <cough> One hundred million gil!? <wheeze> (he drops to a Pose of Supplication) O Halone, why have You forsaken me...?
- In Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood, Gosetsu's katana ends up in the hands of a Hingan merchant. Alphinaud, as a gift to Yugiri, buys it back for the asking price without even attempting to haggle, sending the bill to the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. While the player never find out exactly how much he paid, we DO see Tataru's reaction to the receipt - immediately upon reading it, she demands Alphinaud meet her at the office for a talk. The next time the player regroups with Alphinaud, he's so afraid of reinvoking Tataru's wrath that he refuses to even buy so much as a cup of tea without counting every penny he has, much to Alisaie's consternation.
- The premise of Recettear is Recett being left with such a debt after her father disappears, and having to open an item shop to earn enough money to pay it off. When Recett asks Tear (her fairy debt collector-turned-assistant) how much the total figure is, she refuses to say, for fear of provoking the fainting responsenote .
- Persona 4: Yosuke reacts with shock when he finds out Teddie has eaten 10 bowls of ramen on the receipt. And before that, Yosuke says he almost pissed in his pants when he found out the price of the clothes bought for Teddie.
- In Persona 5 Sojiro takes the Player Character and Futaba out for sushi near the end of August, and is shocked when the bill comes back as 120,000 yen. Since he owns a coffee shop that doesn't see much business, this is a lot for him.
- In Law's ending in Tekken 5, after using up the prize money to pay his son's hospital bill, Paul comes to him in a rickety bike carrying loads of wreckage with him. As he collapses in front of his friend, he hands him the bill for the wreckage, having pegged it on Law, who does a Wild Take. When Paul asks him to pay, Law simply knocks him out and runs away.
- The Zeekeeper's bill to help take down Bowser's Castle in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. The mystical guardian figure actually treats the thing like a rockstar/actor's expenses bill, complete with hotel, dining, souvenirs, medical and insurance, ending up with a charge of 80 million coins. Mario's reaction when Prince Dreambert and Dreamy Luigi say he'll pay said bill is priceless (beforehand he even says Mario will hand over every single coin he's got).
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link has to threaten a certain character with one of these in order to get him to divulge some plot-important information. The description says that the total amount is 'astronomical'.
- In Tales of Xillia 2, Ludger is pinned with a massive bill by Rideaux for some medical treatment he gave him without consent, and proceeds to give him additional charges for keeping Elle in his custody (abusing his position in the local Mega-Corp to do so). He ends up with a bill of twenty million gald in total, and you're required to pay it off little by little as you progress through the story.
- Near the end of the story mode of Tony Hawk's Underground 2, Nigel Beaverhausen tells Tony and the rest of the skaters of the World Destruction Tour that he would promise to pay for the whole tour if they have him film the whole thing in video. Tony and Bam agree right after Phil shows them a bill to pay for the destruction they have cause during the tour, $21,117,55.84 to be exact.
- After Star Fox 64's credits, The Stinger is of General Pepper receiving an invoice for the Star Fox team's services rendered amounting to $64 per point of your final score. He'll declare a low amount to be Worth It, but if you've scored over 1200 points, Pepper will let out a Big "WHAT?!"
- The Druuge in Star Control II offer to buy a couple of your items for "all the fuel your ship can hold". Your flagship is fully customizable, so your fuel capacity can range anywhere from 10 (hardly any fuel at all) to 1610 (a massive amount of fuel, worth more than 10 of the most expensive escort ship in the game). If you are given very little fuel, the Druuge officer celebrates his amazing deal. If you are given a moderate amount of fuel, the Druuge officer comments that it's a fair trade. But if you are given a very large amount of fuel, the Druuge officer panics at the massive bill he faces.
Aieee! I am ruined! You have sucked my full tanks until they are dry! Cruel Monster! Bloated Villain! Slicer of innocent throats! What shall I tell the Manager?! My spouse?! I shall certainly be assigned to tend the furnaces. I shall burn in the atomic fires! Aieee!
- Battle Chess: In the event that a Pawn takes the King, the Pawn withdraws a tax statement and shows it to the King, whose eyes go wide, clutches at his chest, and promptly dies from a heart-attack.
- At the beginning of Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, one of the first items Zak picks up is an unpaid phone bill. If you read it, Zak will exclaim "$1138! I'd better pay this soon!"
- Partway through Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, Kenshiro accidentally breaks an old woman's vase. He is then told it's worth one hundred million IDL. This leads to a chain of events that results in him becoming the manager of Eden's nightclub, opening up the "Manager Ken" minigame. And yes, the game expects you to pay it all back... if only to finish a Side Quest. Plotwise, you can ignore it completely after you unlock the minigame.
- One "Majima Everywhere" event in Yakuza Kiwami has Majima disguise himself as a bartender, then offer Kiryu a variety of liquors. He then demands a ludicrous amount of money for it. This is done with the full expectation that Kiryu will refuse to pay and kick the crap out of him for it. After the fight, Majima is greatly amused that he managed to pawn off rotgut as top-shelf booze to Kiryu.
- General Protection Fault: Fooker got his very first mobile phone and started using it for all sorts of things. Unfortunately, he used pay as you go... thud.
- Dominic Deegan: A more justified use in the "Battle for Barthis" arc in that the bill in question covered both rebuilding the entire town of Barthis after it was destroyed and repaying Gregory's debt to the kingdom.
- Burnie and Gavin of Rooster Teeth related a time they had gone to dinner with Dan Gruchy, where Dan got loaded up on every fruity cocktail on the menu, under the impression that they were complimentary. His $350 bill was quite a shock for him. Watch the Animated Adventure here.
- In one What If?, You get this if you switch on an 11 petawatt hairdryer.
- Homestar Runner:
- In the Strong Bad Email "extra plug", Strong Bad plugs his new energy-sucking "'Lectric Boots" into the King of Town's power grid (disguising it as an "auxiliary food-related thing"). While we don't see the bill, the King does complain "This electricity bill is pretendous!
- Played with in "environment". Strong Sad and Marzipan complain that Strong Bad's Lappy drains too much energy, enough that his monthly electric bill "uses eight trees' worth of paper", and Strong Bad is shocked that this is considered out of the ordinary.
Strong Bad: Are you trying to tell me that $70,000 power bills aren't the norm?
- In the YouTube Poop video Wallace and Gromit: The Hearse of the Square Rabbit, the titular duo charge ridiculous fees for their rabbit catching business: one poor sap is charged £25,000 for a single rabbit. If the clients can't pay, Wallace and Gromit will cheerfully release the rabbits and drive away.
- StacheBros: In the Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon episode of "Luigi Time!!!", Luigi receives a very expensive bill for Mario's de-paperization operation, the amount of which we don't find out, and tries to convince Toadsworth not to charge them for it to no avail. However, after Luigi deals with a Boo infestation in the hospital, Toadsworth decides to let them go free of charge.
- The Simpsons:
- In "The Dad Who Knew Too Little", PI Dexter Colt charges Homer $1000 for expenses, including a $40 steak. Homer flees, refusing to pay, and Colt swears revenge.
- One time, they were checking out of a hospital and:
Homer: Is that the bill or your phone number?
Nurse: That's the phone number. That's the bill.
- In "Two Cars In Every Garage, Three Eyes on Every Fish", Burns asks Smithers how much it would cost to bring the power plant up to code. Smithers calculates that it would be about 56 million dollars.
- In "Brother From Another Planet", Marge finds a $378 phone bill for calls made to the Corey hotline by Lisa.
- In "Bart vs. Australia", Bart makes a collect call worth $900 to Australia.
- In an Itchy & Scratchy short in "Lisa the Vegetarian", Itchy tricks Scratchy into eating a piece of his own stomach, which he keeps trying to eat as it keeps popping out of the hole he cut it from. Itchy later gives him a bill of $100, which causes Scratchy's head to explode.
- In "Catch 'Em If You Can", the kids chase their parents presumably around the world, using Rod and Ned's credit cards, respectively. At the end of the episode, they both freak out at their hefty credit card bills.
- In "Mypods and Boomsticks", Lisa accrues a $1200 bill from Mapple for downloading 1212 songs from iTunes. Lisa tries to appeal the bill by visiting Steve Mobs, but is promptly ousted.
- In "The Old Man and the Lisa", Homer has a heart attack. After receiving medical care, he says he wishes Lisa hadn't turned down a check for 12 thousand dollars. Lisa tells him that the check was really for 12 million dollars, making him suffer another heart attack.
- In the "Treehouse of Horror XXVI" segment "Wanted: Dead, then Alive", during Bart's Death Montage, he asks Sideshow Bob how much power the Reanimator he has created is using; instead, Bob hands him an electric bill that says that Bart's "current billing period" is "$3,205 due", causing Bart to suffer a Hollywood Heart Attack and die.
- In "22 Short Films About Springfield", Moe tells Barney that he once had NASA calculate the drunk's bar tab, and the bill is in. He read off 70 billion dollars, but that turned out to be for the Voyager spacecraft. The actual result was only 14 billion dollars. (For comparison, assuming that he drinks five pints of beer a day at 2.50 a pint, he'd hit that sum in a little over 3 million years.)
- Subverted in "Husbands and Knives", where Homer goes to a plastic surgeon for an experimental procedure and attempts to anesthetize himself by looking at his bill. However, he finds that the price is fairly reasonable, and that's what knocks him out.
- In "The Winter of His Content", Grampa and his friends move into the Simpson house. After using a defibrillator on Old Jewish Man and Jasper when they have heart attacks, Homer has one himself on seeing his $2,467 electric bill, so Marge revives him.
- One Futurama episode has Bender Work Off the Debt at Elzar's restaurant because the crew didn't expect the bill to be so high. (They didn't expect it because Elzar had blinded Leela earlier and led them to believe the meal would be free.)
- In the DVD commentary, producer David X. Cohen says this was based off a real-life incident that happened to a writer on The Simpsons; he (the writer) and a group of 10 friends went for a meal prepared by a shared acquaintance who was a chef. The chef told them he would "take care of" the meal, which they all assumed meant the meal was on the house. After a lavish meal which included wine, champagne and cigars, they were shocked to receive a bill for $3,500.
- The Fairly OddParents: when Timmy was momentarily a grown-up. Eating at a restaurant and is surprised at the bill, saying "This is more than I get for my allowance- I mean, more than I make in a month!" Cut to him washing dishes in the back.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In "Krusty Love", Mr. Krabs is shocked at the cost of the bill ($100) for his fancy dinner with Mrs. Puff. The waiter apologizes and brings him the real bill, which he finds even more shocking ($100,000). SpongeBob himself lampshades it.
- In "Krusty Towers", Mr. Krabs is initially shocked at his hospital bill ($15,000) but decides to send SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward to med school to get in on the racket. Earlier in that episode, Mr. Krabs turned his restaurant into a hotel after learning how much the last hotel he was a guest at charged for a hamburger. His earlier reaction was getting his claw inside his mouth to retrieve the hamburger and give it back to avoid paying for it. Surprisingly, aside from being covered in saliva, it had no sign of being a previously eaten hamburger.
- In "Whale of a Birthday", Mr. Krabs gives SpongeBob his credit card to buy birthday presents for Pearl. At the end of the episode, he's bought a mountain of presents and hired the boy band Boys Who Cry, then gives Mr. Krabs the bill for all of it. We don't get to see the total amount, but Squidward did mention that the bare minimum cost of hiring Boys Who Cry just to show up is $1,000,000, and Mr. Krabs wasn't too happy with how much SpongeBob had charged him.
- In "Le Big Switch", the French chef that Mr. Krabs got as part of an exchange program gives him a massive bill for his services after Mr. Krabs has been forced into bankruptcy due to the chef's extravagant demands.
- In "Tutor Sauce", Mr. Krabs is handed a bill for all of the damages to the Krusty Krab that SpongeBob incurred with his driving, which included rebuilding the entire restaurant after it was destroyed in an oil tanker explosion. When SpongeBob drives into the side of the building, the contractor takes the bill and adds onto the total amount.
- In "What's Eating Patrick?", Patrick is unsure if he can compete in a Krabby Patty eating competition since it requires him to eat the patties whole if he wants to win, meaning he can't taste them. Mr. Krabs threatens to charge him for all of the patties he ate while training, and the bill has an impossible amount of zeroes.
- In "Drive Happy", SpongeBob's snobby new self-driving car takes them to a fancy mechanic place and sticks SpongeBob with an enormous bill.
- In "Plankton's Old Chum", Plankton makes up the holiday Chum Day to get SpongeBob to hide his chum throughout the town, which results in Bikini Bottom being covered in chum the next morning. While everyone is enjoying it and Plankton takes credit for it, the health inspector charges him $1,000,000,000 unless he eats it all. He complies, ending up very obese at the end of the episode.
- At the end of the Roger Rabbit Short "Tummy Trouble", Roger does a Wild Take and faints at the sight of his hospital bill.
- The Classic Disney Short "The Trial of Donald Duck" has Donald going into a fancy restaurant to get away from the rain and orders a small cup of coffee. After being served a thimble-sized cup, he gets angry and decides to eat his packed lunch at the table. The maitre'd is outraged, so he decides to charge Donald for his own lunch. Unable to pay the bill with the one nickel he has on his person, he is sentenced to pay it off washing dishes... a decision the maitre'd regrets after he breaks most of the restaurant's flatware in the process.
- In the Mickey Mouse Works short "Donald's Dinner Date", Donald takes Daisy on a date with the promise of keeping his temper under control. In the end he does manage to do so, even at the hands of Goofy as his waiter, but Daisy winds up losing her self-control over how Goofy handled their service, despite Donald trying to console her. After Goofy hands him the bill however, which simply shows the total at "REALLY Expensive!", he goes completely nuts.
- In another "Mickey Mouse Works" short, "How To Wash Dishes", Goofy becomes tired of his same old job as a dishwasher, so he decides to go on vacation with the help of a narrator—and a shiny new credit card! The entire short shows him going on vacation including buying plane tickets, clothes, and souvenirs all with his credit card, to which he simply tells the person involved in the co-payment to "Charge it!" As the short ends, he is dining at a fancy restaurant when his credit card is declined due to a racked up bill, leaving him back at square one working off the debt by washing dishes.
- Super Mario World: In "Rock TV", Luigi reminds Mario of "the trouble we got into with that 'Speak to Santa' hotline", where they managed to rack up a phone bill of $1,295.31. Provides the page image.
- In the second episode of Birdz, Eddie runs up a nine gazillion dollar charge on his father's credit card buying gifts for his friends.
- In "To Beak or Not to Beak", the bill for Eddie's beak surgery is "$$$ A LOT".
- The Looney Tunes short "Porky Pig's Feat" had Porky Pig and Daffy Duck being stuck with a huge bill after staying in a fancy hotel that even charged them for air and sunshine. (The situation wasn't helped by Daffy gambling away all their money either.) They frantically try to fight off the hotel manager and run out on the bill, but are eventually caught for good and confined to their room until they can pay off the debt. A few weeks later, they get the bright idea to call Bugs Bunny and see if he can give them any advice, only to reveal that Bugs is confined to a nearby room himself!
- If you do the math for the hotel bill Porky got, you would realize that it should be $20 more than what was listed on the bill.
- In My Life as a Teenage Robot episode "Labor Day", Jenny has an accident that wrecks half of Tremorton. Skyway Patrol sends Mrs. Wakeman the bill for the damages, which is totaled to;
Mrs. Wakeman: Three hundred million dollars?! That's a lot of zeroes!Skyway Patrol officer: We'll mail you the rest of the zeroes on the separate cover!
- In one episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Pleakley discovers credit cards but doesn't realize that they have to be paid off later. At the end of the episode, Nani presents him with all the bills that have arrived for him.
Pleakley: Is that a balance due or an intergalactic ZIP code!?
- In the Brickleberry episode "Crippleberry", lawyer Malloy gives Woody the bill for how much to pay to make Brickleberry handicapped accessible just for Steve.
Woody: Why do I have to call a phone number to find out how much I owe?
Malloy: Uh, that is not a phone number, that is the amount due.
- Taken to a ridiculous extreme in the cartoon "Whining Out" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Life in the 90's". After tying down the waiter to get some service at a very snooty restaurant, Buster, Babs, Plucky, and Hamton each end up getting a tiny stale piece of cheese in gravy, each item costing tens of thousands of dollars and totally to "Everything you own and your first born". They pay the bill using Montana Max's student I.D.
- On King of the Hill, Hank received a $900 Army haircut bill when Bill cuts his hair at the base after Hank's barber went insane. He wrote a letter to his congressman in response. The Army gave him a $3,900 check and a crystal award as a percentage share of eliminating government waste resulting in Bill losing his job.
- This happens to Mighty Mouse in one episode of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, when he gets a doctor's bill.
Mighty Mouse: EIGHT...HUNDRED...DOLLARS?!!
- A South Park episode has this when Stan was repeatedly yelled at by his dad for spending in-app purchases on a Terrance and Phillip Freemium mobile game and develops an addiction becoming like his grandfather.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Just the Two of Pus", Sperg goes to the hospital for a horrible case of acne and Dr. Ted is otherwise completely ineffective at doing anything about it, giving him a paper bag to hide his face. After spending the episode trying to get rid of the acne by rubbing his face with Grim's bones after a mystic tells him to, Sperg gets rid of it with Billy's caustic batch of stew, which also causes his mouth and nose to disappear. Sperg goes back to Dr. Ted to fix his mouth, but he just assumes the bag worked and charges him $16,000 for it, which Sperg can't object to.
- In Garfield and Friends episode "Green Thumbs Down", Jon buys groceries delivered to his house. When handed the bill, he screams at the total amount due, then shoves the money right into the deliverer's mouth and angrily gives up buying groceries altogether because he thinks paying $1.93 for tomatoes is outrageous. He buys gardening supplies to grow his own vegetables — and ends up spending $200 per lettuce leaf and $300 per radish.
- Rocko's Modern Life
- In "Rocko's Happy Sack", Rocko gets to the checkout lane right before the 90% off sale at the supermarket ends, but Filburt is going so slow that the sale ends and Rocko's total goes from $1.50 to $150, leading to Rocko yelling at Filburt to change it back.
- In "Junk Junkies", a pizza place charges Rocko with $500.95 in unpaid bills. He has to sell things from his garage to pay them off so he's not forced to pay by making pizza deliveries.
- In "Boob Tubed", Rocko is charged for an extravagant television when he wanted to buy something less expensive. According to Heffer, the TV will cost him a dollar a month for the next 632 years, meaning that it's about $7,584.
- In "Floundering Fathers", Rocko's ancestor tells Ed that when his ancestor John Quincy Bighead bought the land that would become O-Town from Native Americans for $2.98 and a pack of breath mints, he shorted them 29 cents. 200 years later figuring for inflation, Ed now owes their descendants $37,000 and two tons of breath mints (which could actually cost close to or more than the 37k).
- In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Matchmaker", when Sylvia is charged a large amount for her and Wander eating at a diner, it's followed by her reaching into her wallet and pulling out a sizable stack of money. The Once an Episode titles become a Running Gag in this episode, and when Sylvia pays there's one that reads "The Overpriced Lunch".
- The Amazing World of Gumball
- In "The DVD", Gumball and Darwin go out of their way just to get the $25 restocking fee for a DVD they dropped in the garbage disposal. After Nicole pays for it herself, she gets charged $700 for the time Gumball and Darwin had it. They decide to cut and run.
- In "The Finale", the Wattersons are charged $800,000 in damages done to Elmore.
- In "The Points", Tobias spends $15,000 in microtransactions on a Freemium game. He initially exaggerates how much he spent and says that it's numbers they haven't been taught in school yet.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Mr. Greg", Greg decides to spend some of the ten million dollars he got in royalties at the end of "Drop Beat Dad" on a trip to Empire City with Steven and Pearl. After throwing money around at a fancy hotel, the rather lengthy bill Greg gets apparently put enough of a dent in his money to put him off any spending sprees for a while.
- In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation L.I.Z.Z.I.E.", after an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight fails, it takes a brainwashed Numbuh 1 to receive an extremely expensive restaurant bill to make Lizzie's Boyfriend Helmet on his head go haywire and explode, returning him to normal.
Numbuh 1: WHAT?! How can you charge that much for a lousy STEAK?! UGH!!!! It's, it's, it's - IT'S HIGHWAY ROBBERY!!!!!
- In Mr. Bean: The Animated Series episode "The Visitor", Bean has to get rid of Harry and decides to "treat" Harry to a free dinner. Harry having eaten lobster, chicken, fries, chocolate cake, wine and more at a restaurant ends up screaming in shock at the bill's final amount but relaxes cause Bean promised to pay when really Bean snuck out. In the end, Harry has to wash dishes and cries while doing so. Roll the credits!
- The Rupert episode "Rupert and the Temple Ruins" begins with Mr. Trunk giving Rupert's father Mr. Bear a bill for his plumbing repairs. We do not see what the price is, but Mr. Bear's alarmed reaction makes it clear that it must be pretty steep.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Millions", Joker is willed $250 million by a rival gangster, seemingly as a hatchet-burying gesture. After Joker's gone a little spending spree, a man from the IRS tells Joker he has to pay inheritance tax and gives him a sum that sends Mistah J flying off of his chair. The real kicker is that most of the money Joker received was fake, but admitting it would be telling the world he got played by a dead man. And the balance due?
Ernie: 137 million?
Joker: Yes, and if I don't pay up, I'll go to jail for tax evasion! I'm crazy enough to take on Batman, but the I.R.S.? Nooo thank you!
- Kaeloo: In Episode 64, Stumpy has to pay for a meal that he bought at Mr. Cat's new fast food restaurant. He takes one look at the bill and drops an F bomb.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "The Saddle Row Review", the interviews between the journalist and the cast take place in a café. When Big Eater Pinkie Pie is presented with the bill for the mountain of food she has eaten, she looks shocked at it for a moment, then with a sheepish grin on her face passes it to the journalist.
- Subverted in the episode "Point of No Return". Twilight worries that the late fee on her overdue library book will be huge, but it turns out the library caps its fees after one month late and it's only 28 bits.
- In The Crumpets episode "My Family's Full of Losers", Uncle Hurry charges his TV game show viewers fifty quidnote per second for any phone call deciding which Crumpet family member should be disqualified.
- In "Sound the Alarm", when Caprice calls the phone service while trying to cancel the delivery of her typo-ridden text to Marylin, she receives a message relating to payment.
Please repeat your request clearly. Press one to pay more. Press two to double your monthly tariff.
- In "Sound the Alarm", when Caprice calls the phone service while trying to cancel the delivery of her typo-ridden text to Marylin, she receives a message relating to payment.
- In Frosty the Snowman, Karen finds out that sending Frosty to the North Pole by train isn't cheap with the total bill coming to $3,000.04 including tax.
- Played with in Family Guy. After getting his hospital bill Peter cracks an angry joke at the receptionist if this was his bill or his phone number. She replies it actually is his phone number.
Peter: (Beat) Well it's still pretty high.
- One "Sonic Says" subject from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is about false advertising. Tails watches a commercial for a toy robot priced at $9.98, only to find out it actually costs $99.98 with all the bells and whistles thrown in.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force
- In "Kidney Car", after Shake completely pulverizes Carl's Cool Car in a demolition derby, Meatwad gets a repair estimate for it from a towing company that, due to his bizarre demands such as an exorcism for the apparently haunted air conditioner, totals out to $32,724.51.
- "Boost Mobile" opens with Frylock opening the mail and finding a $2,600 electric bill caused by Shake charging his giant Boost Mobile phone.
- Beetlejuice: In "Keeping Up With the Boneses," the Ghost With the Most tries to one-up the Boneses couple by getting a credit card and going on a shopping spree. Once he gets his first bill and finds he doesn't have a cent to his name, the creditors keep Lydia as collateral until he either pays the bill or gives back everything. He gives back everything but is now left to pay the interest on the charges.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Appropriately named "Dexter's Debt", Dexter finds himself saddled with a bill from NASA from having them monitor his lab that's worth 200 million dollars. The episode focuses on Dexter's frantic attempts to try and make enough money to pay off the bill before they appropriate his lab as compensation. In the end, Dee Dee wins a sweepstakes with the prize money being exactly what Dexter needs, but in exchange for letting Dexter use it to pay off the bill, Dexter has to turn over part of his lab over to her.
- At the end of "I Dream of Duffy" from Rugrats (2021), Drew tells Stu not to worry, that he'll pay for everything that Angelica ordered using Duffy. He asks Duffy for the total and as Duffy gives the total (which we don't hear), the scene cuts to the exterior and Drew's scream of pain and anguish.
- In Australia, patrons who subscribe to Foxtel are required to pay:
- $60+ per month for the "Entertainment" pack, a compulsory basic package.
- An extra $10 per channel pack for HD programming.
- $125 for installation.
- Up to $75 for the iQ2 set top box and remote.
- A monthly fee of $15-20 per rental box.
- $2 for paper bills.
- $1.50 to pay over the counter at a shop/post office.
- An early termination fee of $300 to get out of a 12-month contract.
- The FCC has noted that, due to the complexity of mobile phone plans, 17% of customers have experienced a "Bill Shock" at some point. The highest value complaint to the FCC in the first half of 2010 was in the amount of $68,505.
- A woman in Florida got a cell phone bill for over $200,000 after spending two weeks in Canada. It was later reduced to $2,500.
- A woman in France received a rather substantial phone bill of 11,721,000,000,000,000 euros; (5,000 times the GDP of France itself). The phone company was kind enough to allow payment in multiple installments. It was then revealed to be in error—she actually owed only 117.21 euros; 0.000 000 000 001% of the original bill.
- One family from Singapore that went on vacation got a rude surprise when they forgot to disable their data plans while overseas and racked up a $3000 bill over the course of a few days. Starhub later tried to prevent future repeats of such incidents by introducing roaming-dedicated data plans specifically tailored to travelers and a data cutoff point when the overcharge rates exceeded a certain amount. In any case, Singaporean telecom companies offer pre-paid SIM card plans for travelers, giving them a good choice of temporary local phone numbers with reasonable billing schemes for data on a daily basis.
- In Finland most fines are tied to the income of the offender to ensure the ultra-rich don't ignore laws because they know they can afford it. One Nokia executive was hit with a $100,000 ticket for driving 15kph over the limit. Multiple countries employ a similar system.
- More than a few people traveling to other countries might experience sticker shock if they forget to take their exchange rates into account. For instance, 5 (HK) bucks for a soda isn't so unreasonable a price when you remember that that is about 63 cents US.
- Becomes a great deal more extreme when a country has recently experienced a currency crisis. In the early years of this century, people used to joke that the quickest way to become a millionaire was to change one British pound into Turkish lira. note To continue the lira theme, Italians before the introduction of the euro would routinely expect to be paid multi-million-lira salaries, since the lira was worth so little - one or two thousand were equivalent to one dollar/ pound/ deutschmark.
- This has become a common occurrence when children are given access to Allegedly Free Games. The kids might not realize that the in-game purchases were in real money and the parents might not know that the game would let her make the purchases for 15 minutes after they last used their account password without prompting for the password again. To give an example, when the parents of an 8-year old girl let her play the game Smurfs' Village on their iPhone, she bought $1,400 worth of Smurfberries in the game. The publisher Capcom Games and Apple received many similar complaints about this issue from parents seeing $100+ bills on their accounts.
- In a related example, this wildly irresponsible child spent over 1000 pounds sterling on his Xbox then blamed Microsoft.
- Can also happen when children can use their household smart speaker. One little girl bought a dollhouse and a stack of toys by asking Alexa for them. Her parents first planned to return the toys, but turned it into a teachable moment by taking the girl to donate them to a children's hospital.
- A pretty common scam in a lot of countries. Cute girls find a foreigner (as all foreigners are rich!), invite him to a tea ceremony, and the final bill ends up being relatively expensive. The scammers pay as well (although they get their money refunded after the sucker leaves).
- In a similar vein, bottle bars, also known as clip joints. Upon entering a bar, the guest will be joined by several pretty girls who coax him into ordering as many bottles of wine, champagne and whatnot. When it comes time to pay, the bottles turn out to cost well into the triple digits and some large men arrive to "protect you" while you get the money from a nearby ATM.
- The once-ubiquitous advertisements for mobile content provider Jamster are criticized for being misleading in that its content is provided as a monthly subscription despite the ads making it seem that customers are buying one-off ringtones or wallpapers. A British girl ran up 70 pounds (around US$100) just from ordering said content.
- Not Always Right has a few instances of this as well. One entry in the Laser-Guided Karma section of the page has a customer who for all intents and purposes should have expected that to happen, because she'd only bought a few free minutes because she'd trusted her teenage girls with phones and they were "responsible adults." Cue her coming back in a few weeks later to get the charges (which were about 500 dollars each) taken off her bill, throwing a fit when they wouldn't (including smashing the phone when she threw it at the worker) then very nearly tearing the front of her brand-new, expensive car off by hitting a streetlight as she had attempted to angrily drive away.
- A patron at a Bobby Flay restaurant asked the waitress to recommend a bottle of wine since he had no experience with wine. She pointed out a bottle and said it cost thirty-seven fifty. When the patron got his bill he found out that it was $3,750, not $37.50 as he expected.
- Some patrons not accustomed to restaurants where a gratuity is automatically added to the check may be shocked when they see the additional 20% on their check. This is especially true for large groups where the gratuity can easily exceed the value of any single dish served. One incident of this involved the customers arguing to have the gratuity removed only to leave a tip that was larger than the original gratuity.
- In possibly the largest in terms of amount case of this ever, this story about a woman who received an electric bill for nearly 300 billion dollars, specifically $284,460,000,000. It was billed in December 2017 with an initial stated required payment of $28,156 and due in full by November 2018. After a call to the utility company from the son, it was discovered that somehow a decimal point had been put in the wrong spot and the real bill was $284.46.
- During The '80s and The '90s, it was not uncommon for a 900 Number to be advertised to children or teenagers during Saturday Morning Cartoons, or after-school TV blocks. Typically, these particular numbers were offering kids the chance to talk to a favorite character or a Teen Idol. (Or, at least someone pretending to be him/her.) Since these numbers charge extra money by the minute (they're premium-rate numbers), the FCC got complaints from parents who got larger bills than they ever thought possible. New laws went into effect concerning these phone numbers: they have to provide an automated message at the beginning of the call stating that they are a pay-per-call service and that the customer will be billed X amount per minute, they have to allow at least 3 seconds after that message is read during which the caller may hang up without incurring any charges, they must not market any services towards minors, and phone companies must provide their customers with ways to block calls to these numbers and to dispute or contest any errors in billing. (Today, however, these numbers have mostly gone the way of the dodo thanks to these and other restrictions placed on them, as well as toll-free and local phone numbers, as well as Internet sites and mobile apps that provide many of the same services for free.)
- At the Turn of the Millennium, there was a scam that affected landline and cell phone users in the US and Canada. The mark would receive a call from an unfamiliar phone number, stating (variously) that he/she had won a lottery or contest, or needed to settle a debt, or had a family member in distress, or that they had been offered a job, or whatever else might get them to call the number back. When they did, they were routed to a pay-per-call number that had them pushing buttons, or on hold forever, or even routed to a fax machine. It worked because the area code looked like a regular US or Canadian phone number, but it was actually a phone number from a Caribbean country (809, the Dominican Republic, was a popular choice, although there were several others), and therefore the person on the other end would unwittingly rack up international charges. Emailed warnings about this scam would say that the victims had been taken for tens of thousands of dollars, although that was most likely an error in transcription. (Though they were still taken for enough that it was noticeable when it showed up on the bill.)
- Similarly, there was another scam that went like this: the mark would receive a call from someone claiming to have been arrested and only getting One Phone Call, but that they dialed the wrong number, and needed to be transferred to their spouse/lawyer/etc. by having the mark press *72 and then the number. What they didn't know was that the *72 is the code to initiate call-forwarding. So then the scammer would give out the number that he/she had just told the mark to transfer them to and have their friends/family/colleagues/etc. call them collect on that number, with the victim unaware (except maybe wondering why he/she wasn't receiving calls), until they received a bill with unusual collect, long-distance, and international charges.
- There's yet another one that works in a similar manner, although it does not affect residential or cell phone customers (contrary to emailed warnings about this one). It affects only businesses, hospitals, hotels, etc. that still use PBX systems. (The kind where you have to dial 9 and then the number to place an outgoing call. If you do that on a home or cell phone, you'll most likely just get a fast busy signal.) The caller would ask to be transferred to an extension beginning with 9 or 900, and then the business would rack up collect, international, and long-distance charges.
- Some cities have business taxes and license fees for individuals that do freelance work, even for small jobs. In Los Angeles, some freelancers received tax bills of $30,000 for an assignment that paid $500.
- Tim Allen's character in the The Santa Clause jokingly suggested that he call 1-800-SPANK-ME as an emergency number. After the movie was released to VHS, Disney got hit with complaints alleging that children were racking up huge phone bills. Unbeknownst to the parents, 1-800-SPANK-ME turned out to be a real number for a phone sex hotline. To prevent repeat occurrences, Disney removed the scene from later home entertainment releases and television airings.
- This tends to happen at hotels when guests damage or take non-disposable amenities such as towels or linens. Protip: Don't use the towels to wipe blood from cuts, as a barf bag, or even just to wipe makeup off your face. In many hotels, the towels in question are declared biohazards that have to be disposed of and you will be charged for replacements. This is why many hotels require an incidentals/security/damage deposit. A subversion of this can occur should one decide to pay using a credit or debit card, depending on the exact method that the hotel uses for transactions. Suppose the room itself is $200, plus an incidentals hold of $150. You'll see a transaction of $350, but what is actually happening is that the hotel ran an authorization hold of $350, which is less binding than an outright charge (i.e. "hey bank, set this money aside for us, but don't actually move it out of the customer's account yet"). Once the transaction settles, and assuming you don't ring up any incidental charges, the final charge on your bank statement will be $200 as expected. Of course, you have to have $350 in the first place, and the remaining $150 can take time to be available again, so this mechanic can cause headaches for first-time travelers.
- This happens depressingly often in the United States when it comes to healthcare, with people routinely being shocked to find that a visit to the doctor costs something like $150, just to see them for 30 minutes about a fever or stomachache. Usually, the receptionist is kind enough to inform the patient of the co-payment before they see the doctor, but sometimes the charge doesn't come until some days after the visit, thus making the patient believe that the visit is free at first. Emergency trips to the hospital are even worse: go in for a broken bone or cardiac arrest or whatever, get it treated, get a bill in the mail a week later stating that you owe $3,000. As a result, a common criticism of American healthcare is that it's effectively locked out for the lower-class, with the equally-shocking charges for a (subtly mandatory) funeral turning it into a huge Morton's Fork in more extreme situations.
- Even if you do happen to have insurance, this can affect you. How insurance works is the hospital makes up a fee for a service/medication/device/etc., and charges this bogus amount to the insurance company (creating the illusion that they're saving the consumer money.) If the consumer does not have insurance, then they are charged that bogus price. This can also happen if the insurance company decides that a particular item or doctor is "out of network" and therefore they don't cover it. And anything can be "out of network," from the doctor you see, to the medications they give you, even to something as seemingly small and insignificant as the Vacutainer hub the phlebotomist or nurse attached to the needle (to hold the tubes in place) while drawing your blood. (And, in most cases, you will not be informed of this until you actually get the bill in the mail, and wonder why in the world you're being charged $5000 for a few blood and urine tests and a dose of Tylenol.)
- In the wake of a statewide blackout in Texas in February 2021, some customers who retained power were charged at the market rate - meaning roughly 2400 customers of Griddy Energy were on the hook for a combined $29.1 million in fees. Griddy Energy wound up filing for bankruptcy not long after, which meant those customers no longer had to pay the company that amount.
- However, industrial companies who did not have a fixed rate still were on the hook for the power bills. Rumor on the Houston ship channel was that some plants had bills of more than $1 million per day for week of the Valentine's Freeze.
- This was a problem with the French Minitel online service in the '80s and '90s before it was superseded by the Internet, as you could buy groceries, train tickets, and flirt on adult chat lines, which were all billed to a user's phone bill.