Saturday, December 9, 2006

OMG - this sums it up so well!!!

Verizon Fails at Math

Thanks to pmccall at for this!!!


Scott Lamb said...

O'Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?'


'And if Verizon says that it is not four but five -- then how many?'


The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over Winston's body. The air tore into his lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by clenching his teeth he could not stop. O'Brien watched him, the four fingers still extended. He drew back the lever. This time the pain was only slightly eased.


'How many fingers, Winston?'

'Five! Five! Five!'

'No, Winston, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are four. How many fingers, please?'

'Four! five! Four! Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!'

zen said...

Hi George,

I know it doesn't feel like it, but -- WELL DONE! Years of people saying "that's how it is" has lead us down this slippery slope. Now people boast about working for their company for 2 years, and being made supervisors 6 months in (your first supervisor in the recording). There are many awful truths here, and your recordings bite at their core; sadly this isn't limited to Verizon.

Your car analogy is the clearest, I'd stick with that ("If I offered to buy your car for .002 cents per pound..."), but the problem you're likely running into underneath the math issue, at probably just after it, is that Verizon has been billing ALL of their clients .002 dollars in Canada, and likely a rate 100 times that advertised in every country as well (US, too?), and clearly every single one of them is owed a 99% refund! Enough to make everyone up the ladder at Verizon, even those who are bad at math, choke!


Seth said...

What happened to the old math solution process...just cross out the matching letters and you are left with the result.

.002c | 35000KB = 70c
--------------- --
1KB |

oracle said...

i will be living on your site to see how this ends. I am sure they had to call an exec meeting today for this. Anyone who works for Verizon HQ reading your posts?

Will said...

haha someone ytmnd'ed it. i do hope this turns out in your favor. like half of the the web browsing world i have been up waiting for verizons response. keep fighting the good fight.

P.S. nice 1984 reference.

Markus said...

Just ask them what you get if you divide a dollar 100times
and ask them what you get if you divide a cent 100times.

or just ask if 1$/100 is the same as 1c/100

Aaron said...

I'm surprised that no one has pointed this out yet, but Verizon has a problem on their hands that's simply huge. The fact that 5 representatives all told you .002 cents means that this is very well ingrained in their system, and that they've probably been telling all their customers this rate and then billing them another.

They're probably vulnerable to a class action lawsuit, plus false advertising and bait and switch. If they acknowledge that you've been over billed and that they did the math wrong, all it takes is for other customers to show that they were promised the same thing, and demand their money back.

This could easily mean millions of dollars to Verizon. Save that audio file.

yonnermark said...

listen to the long/original version - much better and worth the time spent listening.

KKyuubi said...

All I can say now is that you're the man now, dog!

info said...

For the sake of all the people in the world who have been fscked over by a big corp, please see this thing through. This is a huge black eye for Verizon, and it's only gaining momentum. They have wasted so much of your time at this point, you cannot settle for $71. Bill them at $100/hr for all the time you've lost. Take them to small claims court and bill them for that as well.

You've got this company by the balls, and they need to be taught a lesson. Don't sell out cheap; an opportunity like this comes once a lifetime :-)

JustAnyone said...

I just emailed one of Verizon's investor relations people highlighting that this is probably a problem for their stock price since anything which will materially affect their bottom line must be disclosed to the investor community promptly. Since I have now informed their investor relations, they are legally obligated to respond to the situation and, at least, put out a press release clarifying the situation.

Davman said...

I think we need a dance remix for this...

Just my .002 cents ;)

Neo said...

Wow... I knew that new math they're teaching in school was going to screw up the world. Dude ya gotta see this thru. Verizon has screwed me over more times than I care to count on a residental line. However... you're dealing with CS and not accounting. The .002 is confusing them. $0.00002 is the number they really need to use. IT's not math... It's paying attention to what is said. Some manager has forgotten the basic rules of CS... the customer is always right even when they are exactly right and CS doesn't understand English.

This sounds like they'd fall for the 5 fingers not digits trick... you have 4 fingers and a thumb (which is an opposable digit and has never been called a finger.)

Jack Sparrow said...

Hey it's not great but I started so I'll post.

TonyV said...

Don't you dare give this up! And be sure to pay them that $0.72. You don't want them taking on a $30 late fee for not fulfulling your obligation to them.

I empathize with your frustration, but thanks for posting it. This is frickin' hilarious.

Aaron said...


My name is Aaron. I'm a freelance journalist, and I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about all of this. I'm having troubles finding your e-mail address, so if you could please send me an e-mail at, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks again, and good luck with this.


Chris said...

Have you considered taking this to your local news media? Lots of them have "[channelname] on your side" type segments where they cover people being abused by businesses. Do a google search for "7 on your side" for some examples.

Ron said...

Do NOT let up. They have quoted you repeatedly at 0.002 cents, and they should freaking honor that. Uuuugh.

bbesong said...

Ha, ironically Verizon donated some $50,000 dollars to promote Math and Science a few years ago:

TranceCanada said...

I've heard people telling you that you should try to get something extra, beyond your 99% refund, out of verizon. Unfortunately, it would seem their contracts state quite deviously :


It would seem the only way to really stab them for their stupidity would be to file a class-action lawsuit. The good side is that there is absolutely no shortage of lawyers who would love to make a name for themselves with a big case like this and would happily take it on with a no-win, no-fee agreement (given your certainty of winning!)

Dave said...

Excellent, thanks for some beautiful entertainment. Also, congratulations on remaining calm and reasonable for so long. I agree with the others that to convince them, try to have them work it down by scale. For example, I would try to email them this, or get them to write this down and agree to each line:

Suppose the rate is 2 cents per KB:
2 cents / KB * 35893KB = 71786 cents = $717.86

Suppose the rate is .2 cents per KB:
.2 cents / KB * 35893KB = 7178.6 cents = $71.786 (What I was charged!)

Suppose the rate is .02 cents per KB:
.02 cents / KB * 35893 KB = 717.86 cents = $7.1786

Suppose the rate is .002 cents per KB:
.002 cents / KB * 35893 KB = 71.786 cents = $.71786 (What I was quoted!)

Also, if you get into another conversation with someone who cannot grasp the unit conversion after many tries, I would say something like this:

"I really mean no offense or insult, and I understand how this matter can be confusing, but I believe that you're not understanding the math behind the difference of .002 dollars per kilobyte and .002 cents per kilobyte. It's also difficult to explain it on the phone without being able to write it out. Is there anyone I can speak to who you believe has a very strong understanding of math?"

And don't give up, George! Stay calm, reasonable and argue your case. You are in the right. You will prevail.

Chris said...

Try explaining the conversion to them in an arbitrary unit. They have the math "right" in that they are getting 72.whatever. They simply are then swapping the word dollars where cents should be.

Tell them that hypothetically you want to pay in ducks. And they charge .002 ducks per kb. When they do the math they will arrive at 72.whatever ducks as your cost. Swap cents in place of ducks on both sides and voila. 72 cents.

That would probably confused them more though.

Ray said...

According to , "NationalAccess roaming in Canada will be charged at a rate of $0.002/kb." So I don't think Verizon will be stuck giving a 99 percent refund to every customer. They'll only need to answer to those customers who happened to get someone to quote them a rate of 0.002 cents and then were able to get that quote permanently engraved in Verizon's records.

I'm surprised Verizon was willing to make a permanent record of this quote. When I was shopping for new cell service recently, no one was willing to put the rates they quoted me on paper or even in an email. I always thought there were laws requiring these things to be put in writing, but I guess I've been living in the past.

Matt said...

Better car analogy: I've always wanted to top off and one of those podunk stations on the highway with cheap signage reading:

and then a c with a line through it, indicating the extraordinary price of 2.14 *cents/gallon

Tried to google up an image, but couldn't. Find a pic of one of those signs to help clarify your case

Keep fighting. Eventually we'll find out if Verizon's CFO can do basic math.

Ryan said...

YTMND has got your back. .002c != $.002. don't let them tell you otherwise

Jarrod said...

FYI: I sentthe URLs for this site (and the ytmnd + digg post) to Engadget Mobile. Hopefully they'll republish your story and continue to raise awareness...

Juan said...

Apologies if this has been said, but the impression I get is that they are looking at a chart that says "$.002/KB", wrote that same thing in your file, and are looking at it every time, even when they are saying it wrong. The problem is that they are mentally wired to look at something like $0.50 and think about cents instead of dollars, since in their non-mathematical world, they have to get cents out of their pockets instead of dollars when they see something with a decimal point. So, they truly think that "$0.002" can be said as "0.002 cents". This explains why the one person thinks it's the same thing on paper, and the other person thinks that "0.002 dollars" doesn't even exist. Of course, that doesn't mean you have to pay 100x what you were quoted, but hopefully this elucidates the idiot mindset.

iotashan said...

I would seriously consider talking to a lawyer. I'm sure there are *many* people who have used this service in Canada, unknowingly being charged a rate higher than Verizon swears is the correct rate.

Bob said...

I would explain them this way:

20 $ = 2000¢
2 $ = 200¢
.2$ = 20¢
.02$ = 2¢
.002$ = .2¢
.0002$ = .02¢
.00002$ = .002¢

So .00002$ * 35893 = 0.71786$

Matt said...

I thought of another idea:

Say "I've got an idea: let's just pretend there's no such thing as dollars and do a cents-only bill. .002 cents, as you know, times 15K is 71-point-something. Since there are no dollars in the world, what do you think there are seventy-one of?"

Kewliuke said...

I'm in agreement with Jaun on this one. They are misinterpreting $0.002 (dollars) by saying it as $0.002 (cents). And since you were quoted at $0.002 (cents) then that's what you should pay. Big mistake on their end.

Apu said...

This is really sad and it shows how American education system fails.

Brian said...

It appears that math isn't the problem. It's their ability to read. $0.002 is "Point Zero Zero Two Dollars" and they think since the 002 is to the right of the decimal that it changes the unit to "cents" (not the case) -- The unit should remain "dollars"

Jordan said...

So I read about this article on and nearly peed my pants while listening to the call..... how retarded can 3 people be? Just goes to show that companies usually hire seat fillers (aka ex-walmart greeters, the retarded ones not the old ones) to run their customer service. I think we should all call Andrea on Monday when she gets in to work. If you listened to the call, she left her phone number 888-581-1070 extension 2234. I bet if we get a bunch of people to tell her she is retarded, she might start to believe.

What do you think?

Phosphor said...

Hokey Smokes, Bullwinkle!

What a story!

Feel free to use the cartoon linked below, but please do not edit in any way.

peter said...

same damn thing happened to me two weeks ago- the fact you have gone through this and was able to record it probably has kept me from going completely insane.

Julie said...

This is why teachers used to mark things wrong if the units were not labeled correctly.

Dee Dee said...

I wonder how many total hours all of us have spent listening to this call. We all hoped that the lightbulb would finally shine for these Verizon folks !! What can we do to help you? I am so sad and angry at the same time. This speaks for a generation of non-thinkers. No imagination. You will prevail. Yes, I am going to call Verison. What is the solution here? Some one out there must have connections to the A.P.

Paul said...

I'm planning on using this in my math lesson tomorrow for 12 year olds to see if they can spot who is wrong. I'd be surprised if they don't say Verizon.

Midnight said...

You are a stupid immature jack ass who makes a mountain of a mole hill. I hope the hours and hours you spent typing all this out was worth it.

Mark said...

The problem is what people are saying at Verizon.... I am pretty sur ethey have it written down correctly. what i am guessing is going on is not that they cant do math but that they cannot read decimals. in their billing rates they look at im guessing is shows something like:


and when they vocalise this into words they see a decimal and immediately say cents because its less then a single dollar. they are not grasping that what is written down is actually a dollar ammount despite the lack of a number to the left of teh decimal.

this explains why they dont grasp what you are saying...

TheConsumerWeatherman said...

Mr. Vaccaro,

I'm hoping I might be able to be of assistance in this matter. If you elect to deal with Verizon again on this issue have them pull up their calculator, multiply .002 by 35000 and when they say "$70.00" you respond with, "Ah, but you're not done yet. Now you have to divide by 100. We're dealing in cents, which are 1/100th of a dollar so you need to divide that $70.00 total by 100 and then you arrive at the correct total of $0.70."

However, there is an easier way. You have Andrea's permission to record and post the phone call on your blog (in effect, publishing it) and she is clearly engaging in an illegal sales tactic called "bait and switch." Bait and switch is when a merchant quotes you one price for an item and charges you another. I would suggest that you notify Verizon that you have this clearly recorded and you are going to turn it over to the consumer protection division of the Attorney General's office in your state. There is no doubt in my mind that anyone with as much as a high school diploma can see they quoted you a rate 100 times less than the rate they charged you and are continuing to insist that is the rate. Verizon's math insufficiency is their problem not yours.

By the way if they don't respond favorably I would really contact the Attorney General's office, because if they're doing this to you they're doing this to everyone else. That they are doing this out of ignorance and not malice does not alter the fact that they are committing a crime. This is fraud, and I believe your state's attorney general will agree.