Mobile Number: 9.20E+11

I received an email today from a reputed Mutual Fund transfer agent, intimating me about the updation of my mobile phone in their records against my Folio.   Nothing wrong with the email, but for the line asking me to verify that my mobile phone number was the same as what they had in their record.  The next line had my mobile number as follows:

Mobile Number: 9.20E+11

You and I know immediately that this cannot be a valid mobile number, since it has a decimal, an "E" and a "+" symbol.  But how can this reputed transfer agent do this?  The answer is simple - a software anomaly.  The software which is taking the mobile phone data and putting into the email is converting this data into what is called an E-notation.  

The phone number is considered as a large number - possibly 12 digits - 91, followed by the 10-digit number.  The software uses the E-notation to display this number, which actually means 9.2 times 10 to the power of 11, which is 920000000000.   This number of course is absurd, due to the rounding that has happened.

To test this, I wrote a simple java program, which formats and prints a large number (the cell number is fictitious). Here it is.

public class TestNum {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        double cellNumber = 919804639461L;
        System.out.printf("My cell number is %3.2E%n" , cellNumber);

Compiling and running this, gives the following output:

My cell number is 9.20E+11

There then is the problem!

I have replied to the email asking if they did have my correct mobile number or not.  But I suspect this must have happened to thousands of others.  

Update:  I received an email in two days apologizing for the anomaly in their earlier email as well as with the correction of my mobile number.


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