Account Numbers

A tiny rant about huge numbers.

There are approximately 7 billion people on the planet earth. 7,000,000,000. That is a 10 digit number.

In the United States we have about 320 million – a 9-digit number.

So why is it that every month when we pay our bills (where we jot down our account numbers on the checks), we have to write out a 16-digit number?!?! You know what I’m talking about. This…


16 digits!

If corporations handed out a personal number to every person on the planet, they’d only need 10 digits. But be fair – nobody has just one credit card or utility bill or bank numbers or whatever. So let’s be lenient — let’s give everyone on the planet TEN different personal numbers! You’d still only need 11 digits to cover everyone.

Now let’s assume the planet’s population jumps in size. Let’s call it 9.99 billion people….and every single last person (right down to folks who are off the corporate spectrum: Australian aborigines, African bush folk, South American mountain Indians, etc.) has 10 different personal numbers. That’s 99,999,999,999 unique account numbers. Until that fateful day when the planet groans under the weight of that many people (and their bulging wallets), we’ll still only need AT MAXIMUM 11 digits.

So why the F*CK do these corporations need to slap on 5 more digits?!?!?! We ain’t running out of numbers, guys!

Let me put it this way. With 4 digits on an account number, a company can have 9999 customers (just shy of 10,000). If the company adds a digit (now 5), it can have one-shy-of-100,000 accounts. And one shy of
6= million
7 = 10 million
8 = 100 million
9 = billion
10 = 10 billion
11 = 100 billion
12 = trillion
13 = 10 trillion
14 = 100 trillion
15 = 1 quadrillion

Finally, at 16 digits a company can have 9,999,999,999,999,999 separate accounts. That’s one shy of 10 quadrillion people! By the time corporate conglomerates handle that many humans, we’ll be standing shoulder-to-shoulder on each other’s excrement!

Wake up, corporate America. Even our phone numbers only go up to 10-digits. You don’t need 16 freaking digits on every account number. Hell, if you’re Sears, you probably only have a few million accounts. That’s 7 digits total! Your credit card should look like this. image546261x.jpg

Until Chase or Discover has 99 quadrillion customers (that’s about 10 billion times more than they presently have),  they gotta KNOCK IT OFF!

My local water company, bless their hearts, only doles out enough numbers for their clientele. I’m number 104456. Six simple digits. Until the population of the Santa Clairta Valley reaches a million, they don’t have to worry!!! And when that fateful day arrives, they’ll simply slap one more digit on. So wake up, you  Visa vacuum-heads. You Discover dolts. You Amex ambulatory tree stumps. When you have 99 quadrillion customers, then –and ONLY THEN– should you dole out 16-digits.

So enough with the numbers.



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