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Outdated Invoices Sent to Russian Members

On Tuesday, 9 June 2020 at 00:00 (UTC), we sent 25,000 outdated invoices to current and former members in Russia. The incident occurred during the Cyrillic translation of some billing documents and was caused by a cleanup in the translation code.

We became aware of the situation later that day and stopped our billing software from sending further emails. We then informed affected members and offered our apologies. After investigating the issue, we deployed a fix to our billing software on Thursday, 11 June 2020 and began sending invoices again.

Why did this happen?
Because our third-party billing software only supports Latin-1 characters, we use an internal workaround to translate billing documents into Cyrillic. This requires a lot of work from our engineering team, as we have to adapt it for each software upgrade. This process is prone to errors.

After we ran a cleanup in the translation code to filter which invoices needed to be translated, it triggered the translation and the dispatch of outdated invoices. This happened because some invoices have the same identification number and the cleanup code was not able to differentiate between old and new invoices stored in the system.