Zecco Trading makes millionaires for a day

What would you if you logged onto your brokerage account on April Fool's Day to find that your balance had suddenly increased by millions? This was the experience of some customers of the discount brokerage Zecco Trading, leading many to conclude the company had pulled the stupidest April Fool's joke in history.

However, the company was quick to post a notice acknowledging that some accounts were showing incorrect balances, and it denies that the error was intentional. More worrisome, imho, was that at least one customer that had suddenly been graced with millions of dollars placed an order for a million shares, which was carried out without question. Bit of bad programming, that.

According to My Money Blog, Zecco, realizing its error, quickly sold the shares, but at a loss. It then charged the customer a $19.99 commission for the transaction. Is that any way to apologize?

The question remains, was this a truly a foolish marketing ploy, or a grievous computer error? I have to believe that even the most clueless marketer would realize that joking about the brokerage's ability to properly handle client's money is as poisonous to its business as a restaurant jokingly warning customers that they've been served tainted food.

Either way, it suggests to me that investors might not want to take advantage of Zecco's "free" trades.

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