A recent news account told of the delinquent District of Columbia tax bill for $0.01 received by the owners of a Northwest condominium, with a threat of a foreclosure tax sale. We're not trying to play "Can You Top This?" but here's a candidate:

In one of the further wonders of telephone disintegration -- look the word up! -- John T. Fitzgerald, who lives in the Westmoreland area of Montgomery County just outside the District, has received a bill for $0.00 for phone instrument service charges from the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. Not only that, but he has received notice that:

"We are here to make sure that your phone communications continue to be the best in the world. To save you time and money (the cost of writing checks and postage) we are only going to bill you four times a year. Even though you will only be hearing from us quarterly, you can rely on AT&T quality . . . .

From now on, the notice continued, "you will be billed only $0.00 every 3 months on the 22nd of March, June, September and December."

Fitzgerald admits he's delinquent on a nonpayment that was due June 16 but intends to send a check for $0.00 once he has that little in the bank -- and he's curious whether AT&T will deposit it. If his dial tone dies, we'll let you know.