Saturday, December 9, 2006

Summary for those who haven't pieced all the details together.

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(Thanks phosphor for the image!)

Thanks to everyone for the words of support. So you know, at this point the $72, if I decide to pay it, would be well spent for all the laughs this has provided.

Thanks also for correcting the people who accuse me of being less than sincere. I'd have to have Jerky Boys skills to have pulled that off not being sincere. After re-listening to it, I wished I had realized how funny it was, and thrown in "oh God, God and baby Jesus help us!"

To clear one thing up that people don't seem to understand, I have the unlimited data plan in the states, and no concept of per KB cost. I was heading to Canada so I called verizon to find the voice and data rates. The rep told me the rate, and I actually worked out roughly in my head and out loud the per megabyte cost - I didn't nail it down to $.02 per meg (thanks trevor!), I just roughly estimated it at $1 per meg - thats the degree of accuracy I cared about. I would spend a few bucks, but I wouldn't spend closer to a hundred. I did think the rate was low enough to think something might be wrong, so I reconfirmed the rate with her - ".002 cents / KB?" - "Yes, thats correct." Then I had her note the quote in my account to be sure.

Also, in the states, since the plan is unlimited, and as many posters have pointed out, you could easily use gigs/month, if you were streaming video or audio ala SlingBox. So the thought that I could pay less than a dollar per meg, even $.02 (if I had computed it exactly) didn't seem impossible, or crazy, just slightly suspicious.

I make a great hourly rate, and this clearly hasn't been worth the hours I've spent for the $71 thats in dispute. It's been about false advertising and the principle that if you quote something at a certain price, you should really charge that price - certainly not 100 x that price, and certainly if the mistake is on your side. And its been pretty hysterical following this thing.

Also, to those who think I could have done better or planned this - I was blindsided by 3 levels of customer service rep thinking that 2/1000s of a $ is the same as 2/1000ths of a cent. I did the best I could while in disbelief, and even confused myself at times. I had talked to 2 other reps, one on a different call, and one before the first supervisor (the handoff is in the beginning of the audio), and they all seemed incapable of understanding basic math, so I thought to myself of the AOL cancellation guy Vincent Ferrari, and said to myself "you better record this."

Also, I had tried other approaches - I didn't always just jump into "do you know the difference between $.002 and .002 cents?" That just seemed to be the root of the issue so I figured with the management level people I should cut to the chase.

I am really surprised that I haven't gotten any resolution at this point from Verizon, it seems like it could be a huge can of worms for them, but hey, I guess I should't expect much.

Anyway, thanks again for the support, kind words, funny comments etc. I'll keep the blog updated so anyone interested can see the resolution.

Finally, here is the wrap up:

1. Rep who quoted me initially .002 cents/KB, confirmed the rate, the one who wrote the first note in the account.
2. Brie: rep I called first, went through the same stuff, she seemed to get it, even noted .002 cents/KB on my notes, but then left me a voicemail saying the charges were correct and there would be no credit. Conveniently she never mentioned units in her voicemail, just "point zero zero two."
3. Trent: First rep on 1st call, same nonsense, quoted .002 cents/KB but didn't realize I was being billed 100x that rate so I escalated - after asking twice for a supervisor, the third time was a charm.
4. Mike: Supervisor - first guy I battle on the mp3 - as you all heard ".002 cents/KB"
5. Andrea: Floor Manager - ".002 cents/KB... its a matter of opinion"

All 5 confirmed the rate as ".002 cents/KB", the last 4 "thought" this was the same as "$.002/KB" and claimed my bill reflected the quoted rate.

Thanks for playing.


Scott said...

Verizon is the new McDonalds.

James said...

Aren't Verizon the same people that blocked all e-mail from Europe without warning because they see us all as Spammers? Why would you even consider dealing with those people? Surely this sort of thing would be expected!

Mike said...

Actually, to Verizon, "unlimited" means 5GB or less. If you use more than that, they charge you $175 (early termination fee) and cancel your account. See here.

Gary said...

Have been trying to convince a friend of mine not to go for Verizon, with no result. Hope after reading this funny but painful at the same time incident of yours, he would get some sense. Even if I can cost Verizon one customer for their such @$$hole-ness, I would be satisfied. Waiting for the day they realize their mistake and bills you for 0.71 cents!

Scott said...

he download damn near 4mbs. I hope they throw the book at him

Colin said...

Just thought I'd let you know what you're up against.

A friend of mine worked for a Verizon call center here in Canada briefly. He hated it and ended up quitting. Anyway, basically what he said was that Verizon felt it was not economically beneficial for a Customer Service Agent to be on the phone helping a customer for more then 12 or 13 minutes. So when a call was reaching that limit they were basically instructed to do whatever it took to end the call and move on.

He said that many of the phone calls he had to deal with were customers who had previously called in and been lied to by the Customer Service Rep so that they could get off the phone with them within the time limit. The customers were understandably confused and/or angry, and I'm certain it would be hard to fix the lie and fix the problem within his own 12 or 13 minutes.

Interestingly enough, having listened to Georges recording I noticed that he wasn't on the phone with 1 single Rep. for any decent length of time, but rather, just kept getting transfered on.

Additionally, my friend said that Verizon would basically do whatever it took to make a sale and that often he would have people phoning in who had been sold a High Speed Internet package at a really great price, but nobody had mentioned to them that they needed a computer to use it.

They may already know that they are wrong, but might have people from up high telling them to continue to lie and confuse.

I myself will never, ever, ever, do business with Verizon. I think they are the shadiest, dirtiest company around. They even out rank MDG.

And to explain it clearly to them I would do it this way.

Tell them If they don't fix the problem it will go very public and hurt their business quite a bit. Probably to the sound of $1.5 million a year (just a random number I picked).

Then I would ask them if $1.5 is the same as $1.5 million. Also see if they think it would tick their shareholders off at all if they forgot to include the "million" part when they were reporting loses at the end of the year.

Beatrice said...

Absolutely hilarious. This story definitely made my day.

Just my 0.02(insert unit here)

toyhelp said...


Basically, this all boils down to 0.002 cents per KB = 0.00002 dollars per KB, and Verizon being unable to understand that basic mathematical construct.

If Verizon doesn't resolve this properly, you might want to consider tossing this out to the BBB site. Most people consider it a waste of time, but every time I've posted a negative comment about a major company there, they've fixed their issue.

I doubt your local AG will care much about a 71 dollar vs. .71 dollar charge, but it might be worth sending off an email to them about it, and cc'ing Verizon on it. It might light a fire called basic competency in math under someone's ass.

Regardless of how it turns out, thanks for posting this on the web. Truly a funny and sad story on the state of American Education.


Evan Flechsig said...

I found this link on NBF and I couldn't believe my ears. Thanks for putting up a fight and keeping a level head. If it were me, I might have lost it and started yelling. Someone brought up a very good point... class action law suit possible? If that goes through (probably not, but I can dream), be sure the settlement is listed in cents.

Don't give up man. Don't pay it

Peter H. Baenziger said...

I'm so excited to see how this plays out. Please do record any more conversations you have and post other correspondance. Oh, the hilarity!

Eric said...

Thats too bad :(

I was hoping for even more hilarious phone calls :)

And just as a matter of principle i wouldn't accept that bill, considering you were quoted 0.002 cents from 5 different reps.

I don't know how law works in the states, but this cant be like false advertising or a typo, they wouldn't stand a chance in court. Unless common sense has left American borders all together.

Luke said...

This is one of the funniest videos I have ever seen.

Incidentally, for those arguing that it was an act (I saw a response to that accusation in his original post), one proof that he's not is that he actually does make a few mistakes (no doubt because of the hour of sheer confusion imposed on him by the service reps). At one point, he says that 0.002 dollars is the same as 0.00002 cents (exactly backwards), and speaks of 0.002 cents per minute at one point also.

I point this out not to harp on George--imagine the confusion of trying to explain simple math to these people ad nauseum, but rather to lend support to the authenticity of his claim, since I noticed its being in question.

loconet said...

Classic. Thank you for bringing this experience to light.

One question: It seems like some people are under the impression that the people you spoke with were in Canada. Is this correct? I thought there was no such a thing as Verizon Canada and you just happened to be in Canada and called their support in the states.


Foppel said...

Maybe asking if they think 0.002 miles and 0.002 yards are the same, and then convert the principle to currency helps?

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"

Eric said...

I'm sure that the reason you haven't gotten a resolution is because you have now painted Verizon into a legal corner and they are having trouble decided what to do (their lawyers are gone for the weekend no doubt).

Option 1 - Admit you were misinformed but insist you pay the actual rate of $.002/KB, which would continue to piss off the internet populace and give them a lot of bad press.

Option 2 - Do the right thing and correct your bill. But now you've set a precedent. Every other person who thinks they were told the same thing over the phone will be calling up and demanding their bill be reduced by 100x. That could be thousands or millions of dollars lost by Verizon.

In any case I'm rooting for you. If anything this is a huge wakeup call that the average person can't do simple arithmetic and properly handle units, which is very very sad.

Phosphor said...

Hokey Smokes, Bullwinkle!

What a story!

Feel free to use the cartoon linked below, but please do not edit in any way.
(And apologies for the duplicate comment. Just wanted to make sure you had the opportunity to grab the cartoon if you wanted it).

loconet said...


Can't see the cartoon. Can you post it again?

Zschamm said...

The easiest exercise I can think of is to use the Google math function, type ".002 cents * 35000 in cents" and you get a nice little result in cents.

Eric said...

Here's the cartoon, mirrored:

Phosphor said...

@ Loconet:

These comments forms don't allow much in the way of HTML or image display.

Triple-Click on the link, copy, and paste into the URL field in your browser.

Here's a shortened version that may help:

esev said...

I find this article a little funny (or scary), given what happened to you!: Verizon grant helps teens learn math, science at CEET

Noah said...

These are the people who can actually get shit done. I was getting jerked around by Dell one time, and I emailed every C-level I could find at Dell that was mildly related, and within 48 hours, I had the VP of Customer Service on the phone with me and 2 people from his PERSONAL support staff assisting me with my problem. Result: they replaced my 3-yo laptop I was having problems with with a brand new one.

Here's the executive (assuming you're in california, as other posts have claimed) who will give a rats ass that his people look like flaming retards.

His email address is:

I'm sure he's going to have a great Monday and/or his Blackberry is about to BLOW UP! :)

p.s. sorry Charlie, but this is your job :)

toyhelp said...

Another thing that occurred to me -

It's so sad that Douglas Adams isn't alive today to see his "BistroMathematics" in action at Verizon.

He would have been so proud,


loconet said...


Thanks. I know these forms don't allow HTML. It just seems like the URL got cut-off on display. Had to look at the source.

Funny cartoon!

dave said...

I've been following your story since yesterday... and this frankly is the most incredibly eye-opening experience about the state of education in this country.

I am begging you, please, please don't pay the $.002 rate. You need to fight this out of principle. This is a second grade concept. I'm sure media outlets like CNN, MSNBC, etc would cover this story - write letters to them. Better yet, get the blogosphere to do it for you. Sick us on them.

I won't be satisfied until Verizon puts out a press release apologizing for their ineptitude (and you get tons of free stuff).

dave said...

And email the execs. They will be appalled!

georgevaccaro said...

FYI, I was not in canada during any of the calls. I was almost there during the quote call.

I'm ashamed to say, these were all Americans.

Also, there is a little misleading statement in the call. When Mike says "lets see...where in Canada." I think he was getting his "mind" into Canada mode. I think that's funny at a number of levels.


ericleeisme said...

I'm going to try and see if i can get this on MSNBC, they had an interview with the AOL cancellation guy on CNN, why cant' we get George on MSNBC or CNN? C'mon everyone, let's rally together and get this out into the free media!

Trevor Harmon said...

I didn't nail it down to $.02 cents per meg

Uh-oh George... I think you might be confusing yourself again. What does "$.02 cents" mean?

Allan said...

Next time you call, ask them to write this to a paper and then ask if they agree on it:

10 dollars = 1000 cents
1 dollars = 100 cents
0.1 dollars = 10 cents
0.01 dollars = 1 cents
0.001 dollars = 0.1 cents
0.0001 dollars = 0.01 cents
0.00001 dollars = 0.001 cents

Phosphor said...

@ericleeisme & georgevaccaro:

If, by some cool chance this does get big-media coverage, I can provide a higher-resolution version of the cartoon.

Phosphordigital [at] gmail [dot] com

Brian said...

Just a suggestion: report this to your locacl news station. They love stuff like this and they'll nail Verizon for it.

I did it for the Sony rootkit incident and they settled it for me.

And you'll probably get to be on TV. Just be sure to record it and post it on YouTube!

GregNick said...

George, don't you dare cut them anything more than a $0.72 check. It would be a terrible shame if they got anything more for this incompetence.

Shaun said...

You know, the funny thing is that this recording explains a lot to me. I applied for a Verizon customer service job once. I made it through the computer use and behavioral screening(aced both of these screenings), a phone interview, and two on-site interviews... and then I got a letter in the mail saying they didn't want me. I just couldn't figure it out. It must have been the minor in math on my degree that was listed on my resume. Now I can see this conversation going on:

Verizon HR person 1: You know, I really like this guy but do we really want someone that understands basic math?
Verizon HR person 2: Fuck no! Send him a letter!

It all makes sense now.

georgevaccaro said...

Thanks Trevor for your "$.02 cents."

Leighto said...

Eagerly awaiting the completion of this, please do not pay these people.

georgevaccaro said...

Hey, I was thinking about a funny idea, but I know there are a percentage of people that will think this was some sort of setup - I swear its not.

Here's the idea - put up google adwords for Sprint, Cingular, T-Mobile, and what the hell - Verizon.

Then I can start to make back my $71 - and it might make a more compelling case to Verizon if they visit the blog.

The other coincidental twist would be that I think I'd make $.002 / click!

Let me know what you all think.

Amber said...

I commented on your other blog last night and I'm amazed at how quickly you're getting publicized. If I were you, I'd stick some Google Adsense ads on your blog - you could probably easily pay your Verizon bill.

Thomas said...

Next time you should ask them if you can pay in Canadian Dollars...

georgevaccaro said...

@amber - thats bizarre... I just posted that not one minute before your comment...

georgevaccaro said...

well, figuratively. More accurately, 3 minutes before.

Kenneth said...

I've been following this story on every site I can find that carries it, and it's an absolute beaut!

I think you need to break it down for them more. Get the 0.002c into dollars, and then ask them to multiply the KB.

"2 cents equals point zero two dollars right?

Point two cents equals point zero zero two dollars, right?

Point zero two cents equals point zero zero zero two dollars, right?

Point zero zero two cents equals point zero zero zero zero dollars, right?

So in your calculator, what is point zero zero zero zero dollars times thirty thousands KB? 0.71. Dollars.

Yeah, on second thought, that'd probably still not do it.

Chris said...

To George V.

Next time you talk to them explain that after multiplying .002 cents and 35XXX KB that the whole number is still in cents. I know you've tried but maybe that'll get through to them a little better.

Cody said...

Ok, now this is clearly enough humor for $71. I believe it is anyways, but I still wouldn't pay it on principle. What concerns me the most is that this is happening to other people who obviously haven't done the math as well as you.

Can you imagine how many people from Seattle come into Vancouver every single day and use data plans? That means that every businessman that takes a trip across the border is paying 100 times what the actual quoted amount is.

I believe it is worth bringing this out to the mainstream media, not just digg and others to really show people what is happening here. I think this is your opportunity to take Verizon for quite a lot of money and is worth the effort on behalf of everyone else this has unknowingly happened to.

I hope you post the rest of the happenings in this effort, I have blogged about it as well and dugg the original post when i was done reading.

As an added note, I live in the greater vancouver area in BC, Canada and I believe the Verizon call center is approximately 20 minutes away from me, also in vancouver, not in the USA. No, Verizon itself does not do business in Canada, but their call center is here if im not mistaken.

Have a good one all, good luck George.

The_Lorax said...

I sent letters to them on your behalf, and I think everyone else posting here should do the same.

Now that it has been slashdotted, maybe they will sort it out for you.

Send them a check for $.72 and a letter explaining why.. don't give in...

You made my day with this, btw.

Take Care,


Airencracken said...

The opinion comment killed me, at that point I wanted hurt something.

Mike said...

Dear Verizon,

I just have to write you and let you know how pitiful it is that MANY of your customer service reps apparently cannot understand the difference between .002 DOLLARS and .002 CENTS, and in fact one rep apparently believes .2 CENTS and .002 CENTS is the exact same number.

I listened to the entire customer service call at:

Your customer service should not only take care of the bill for this poor unforunate person who wasted WAY too much time on the telephone with your reps, but should reimburse him for his time and apologize for the frustration you put him through.

I just have to hope I never have the "pleasure" to deal with such uneducated people if I ever find it neccessary to contact Verizon support.

You at least outsource your accounting to people who've taken high school math, right? :)

-Mike Ethetton
Software Developer, Consultant, Owner
Master Toolworks, LLC

P.S. Seriously, this puts egg on the face of not only Verizon, but the entire educational system. Surely your managars should know math?!?!? We can't even blame outsourced customer service for this one.

Tamale said...

I've already said it before, but I really think the crux of the problem is simply in the way these people are reading the numbers off their screen aloud.. and this is a HUGE problem!!!

This is how I would suggest attacking the problem:

First get several customer reps all available on speakerphone so they can verify each other's math. Then say this:

"Please write this on a piece of paper:

(dollar sign) 0.75

Would you read this as 75 cents, or POINT 75 cents?"

When they accurately say "That should be read as 75 cents" re-iterate that they didn't use the word 'point' and that "POINT 75 cents" is LESS THAN ONE CENT.. where as obviously 75 cents is MORE than one cent. Emphasize the importance it makes whether or not they use the word "point" at all.

Then say this:

"Please write this on the same piece of paper:

(dollar sign) 0.752

This is 75 POINT 2 cents, right?"

At this point you have to argue vehemently if they say "no, it should be read as .752 cents", referring back to the previous conversation. The whole crux of the argument is this stage I think.. because we generally don't see more than two digits beyond the decimal point in currency amounts..

Once you finally get them to agree with that, say:

"Now, please write this on a piece of paper:

(dollar sign) 0.002

Don't you see now why this should be read as POINT 2 cents? Or even better, ZERO POINT 2 CENTS?, or alternatively POINT ZERO ZERO TWO DOLLARS?"

You just need to point out why what they're SAYING when they see $0.002 on a screen is wrong.. that's all!

KudoKatz said...

I had a friend who called verizon support and had somebody try to convince them that g was included in hexidecimal symbols . . .

Amber said...


Great minds think alike, and also think the same things at the same time.

We're emailing Seattle Times your story. My dad and I still can't stop laughing.

xandross said...

This is where the going gets tough for Verizon.

Think about it this way:

They will have a hard time recruiting people to become their customer service because most probably these people won't even think of working there had this incident posted on some national media (TV or Newspaper).

For those who work in Verizon right now, it'll be harder for them to call non-customers (or to knock on the doors of non-customers) because they will have to deal with "I don't want to deal with a company that will cheat on me and failed math."

Poor Verizon. This will be one big giant mess for them

Kenneth said...


After thinking about this some more, I think you may have more problems, especially if Verizon hasn't yet caught wind of your MP3 file.

No doubt, they've been saying "point zero zero two cents" to you, but I bet you in every record they have, in every note on your account, they've been writing "$0.002." So when you call, they mistakenly read it as cents, but the actual rate listed is correct.

So while you have CSRs quoting you in cents after the fact, they have a good argument that you were informed of the correct rate at the beginning.

Not that it still isn't going to end up being a huge embarrassment for them, which they deserve.

Cale said...

Hey! Don't give up and pay this. Call and ask to speak with someone from accounting. Failing that, try and see if you can talk to someone who might be known around the office as "good with numbers". :P

And record it. It would be great if we could hear someone finally acknowledge that yes, they understand the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents. The internet would breathe a collective sigh of relief, I think.

Danny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noah said...

Big problem with this story, from a media standpoint, is it's boring as hell--*REALLY* hard to make interesting. I've talked to friends at both the major newspapers here, and while it's a good story, it's almost impossible to make interesting in print. The obcenity in this story is the aggregate of stupidity, which can really only truely be realized by listening to the tape in it's entirety(sp?). As Dr. Stephen Colbert D.F.A. would say, it's too "facty". My fear is, cable news wouldn't pick this up for fear of alienating their audience, whom they would think wouldn't see the distinction either. Sad but true...

Keep up the good fight!

Tamale said...

sadly noah, i'm afraid you're right.

jay leno would do it justice though :)

hakob said...

I wonder at what rate does Verizon file federal tax? Is it 0.002 cents or 0.002 dollars? ;)

ssv said...

Well... its time to move to canada for you... If a person cant do simple math who has been in the company for 1 1/2 yrs and an adult for some good number of years, I think administration should launch "No Adult left behind" program.

Btw, Kudos for your patience. I have a similar kind of experience (in charging) with AT & T. I just paid as i found really hard to convince them.

Zephos said...

George, sir, you are my hero, i really hope you dont pay them the 72 dollars because they can't comprehend the difference.

I'm sorry though for the hassle you have to go through. and i do hope it gets resolved in your favor.

Danny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danny said...

Don't give up! Make them pay the price you were quoted. Math and logic and all that is right is on your side.

I'm sure some government agency can step in to help you, although I'm not sure where to turn for help in Canada. The FTC or FCC might be able to help you anyway since they are based in the US.

I was able to find this form, but you might be better off talking to someone directly. Maybe someone who runs across this will be able to help you, or know someone who can.

Danny said...

Oops, I'm deleting all my comments. Lost this one:

Don't think of it as saving yourself $71, but as saving hundreds, maybe thousands, of future customers $71.

Chris said...

The real problem here is difference between written and verbal communication. When folks see "$.02" it is read as "two cents". It appears that personel reading off a script seeing "$.002" read it as "point zero zero two cents" which is actually .002¢ or $0.00002 USD.

They don't realize the difference the unit makes. Had anyone seen it written versus spoken, this confusion wouldn't have happened. It will be interesting to see how this is resolved.

p said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
p said...

Kafka anyone? said...

If you pay the bill, include on the check, and in an attached letter information that you are disputing the charge.

This way, you retain rights to continue the fight, and even go to small claims court.

Jake said...

I canceled my Verizon coverage and cited this as a reason.

This company sucks

Marc said...

I agree with the earlier comments about sending this on to the executives at Verizon. I would forward your reply to Nikki to every executive you can find an email address for. If anyone there has a stake and interest in making this outrageous incident and negative publicity go away it's them. With any luck, being at that level they'll be able to grasp the basic concept too... Maybe that's hoping for too much!

georgevaccaro said...

Jake, while I appreciate the sentiment, cancelling is a pain in the a__, when you consider number change, and getting a new provider etc.

Also, I have to say for my dollar they have the best coverage I have experienced. That's why I haven't cancelled myself.

I think Verizon needs to address this issue and change their policies regarding quoting their data rates, but I can't really comment on them as a company otherwise.

But at any rate, I do appreciate the sentiment, and that might in fact help get this resolved - so Thank you.

phpmattk said...

no joke... I used to work at a call center in portland (livebridge) that had a verizon account (verizon farms out their support), the other account in the building, a credit card inbound sales account for chase bank. There was a test as part of the interview process, if you knew math, you worked for chase, if you didn't you worked for the verizon account. I wouldn't be surprised if you were talking to people from there!

georgevaccaro said...


I have procured some addresses for some high level west coast (where I opened my account) executives. I have already emailed them the details but I don't expect to hear anything until monday. I do expect to hear something from someone on monday considering all the commotion, and the fact that on digg a verizon employee (not wireless) said he forwarded a link to all his friends at verizon.

I'll keep you all posted.

Kenneth said...


The problem is, the only thing in George's favor is the mp3. If they refer to the Nikki thread, and check the note on his account, I bet my hat what they're going to see is "confirmed to customer rate of $0.002." So technically, every internal process they can verify says they're right and he's crazy.

The MP3 (with all this bad press) is his only real leverage, but that's all after-the-fact.

loconet said...

"My fear is, cable news wouldn't pick this up for fear of alienating their audience, whom they would think wouldn't see the distinction either. Sad but true..."

Sad indeed. That point illustrates part of the problem in today's society when we are too worried about alliniating and offending people when pointing this types of stories. Instead of being offended/alienated, those people who do not understand the difference should use the experience as a wakeup call to maybe read up on what the difference is so they are not taken advantage of or make the same mistake at their workplace.

Sadly, what your media friends said is true and demonstrates the pathetic state of the media and society in general these days :(

Max said...

If you want to explain to them the different between .002 cents and .002 dollars say .002 cents is like taking a penny, dividing it into one thousand pieces and then taking 2 of those pieces. But .002 is like ripping up a dollar into 1000 pieces and taking 2 of those pieces (hypothetically assuming they still had any value left). Since you ripped up a dollar and a cent, the dollar, which is 100x larger than a cent, each piece would therefore have a larger value. Hope that helps.

loconet said...


Thanks for the updates and I hope someone replies to your concerns.

I'm sure you are more than able to pay $72 but as we all know, the seventy something dollar bill is not the point of this whole issue. The incompetence of these people and upper management's blatant disregard for customer service when they put out scripted drones in the front has gone for too long. I too have had to endured the stupidity that is a call/billing center. It is time someone harness the power of the Internet to send them a wakeup call.

Jeff said...

Next time you're talking to a rep, just send them to google:

Enter "0.002 cents * 30000 in dollars" in the search box, and it will unequivocally give you the answer.

And Google can't be wrong....

derek said...

Normally, I always hear people complaining about Verizon over Cingular.. But I had my problem with Cingular. Four months I cancelled my account to get on my mothers family account. (Still in college.) Anyway, the last time I called to pay the remainder of my bill, I specifically asked the lady if this was everything--including the early termination fee of 40 bucks. Anyway, she said yes, and I made sure that what she said was correct. "Yes sir, this is the last bill you'll have to pay." Two months later, my mom calls and says you're still getting bills here.
I call back, tell of the situation, and she assures me that the lady did not say that, and that even if she did, the fact remains that I still had yet to pay the early termination fee.
Finally, I say, alright, send me the last two months of bills, just to make it a hassle, and note that there aren't any charges for the "overage" that I experienced the last month. So I call to complain about those, and the guy says, well even though I can't see the charges either, you still owe.
So I paid. But I was still mad.

I say, fight til the end.

Colin said...

I'd just like to clear up my comment (5th or so from the top) about my friend who worked at a Verizon call center.

The fact that it was in Canada really wasn't relevant, I shouldn't have included it as it just confused things.

The point of the story was simply to show what sort of attitude Verizon has for it's customers. Which is basically, they don't give a rats ass about them.

If this whole incident helps people to see what Verizon is really like, then I feel it was worth your time George. Hopefully Verizon's bank account feels it too.

Certainly a lot of people here have read about it, and since it got slashdotted
I'd have to say it was probably a success!

Nice Job

XxTRAINxX said...

Can you set up a paypal account for donations? I feel like I should pay for this entertainment. Call it, "The Education for Verizon Fund" and I will absolutely send you .002 cents per second. But don't be surprised if it's .002 dollars per second :)

Drauka said...

(Long Post)

I'm listening to the recording as we speak. man, you kept cool when I would have cussed them out.

I can't stand stupidity.

Just for the heck of it, I'll show the math. For purposes of this showing, I'll use 100 as the total KB usage. (I'm going to use fractions for everything I can.)

100/100, or a Dollar, x 100kb is 100 Dollars, or 10000/100 Cents.

1/100, or a Penny, x 100kb is 100/100, is a dollar. (one hundred Pennies.)

vvvvvv Is 0.002/Cents KB Usage vvvv

So, 2/1000 (0.002) x 1/100 (0.01) =
2/100000, or 0.00002 per KB.

0.00002 x 100 = 2/1000, or 1/500 of a single cent. This shows up as 0.002 of 0.01 x KB Usage

Or ".002 Cents Per Kb usage"

^^^^^ Is 0.002/Cents KB Usage

2/1000 (0.002) x 100/100 = 200/100000, or 0.002 Cents Per KB

0.002 Cents x 100KB = .2 Cents
0.00002 x 100KB = .002 Cents

.2 or 2/10 and .002 or 2/1000 are not the same.

Or .2 Cents Per KB Usage.

.2 x 100 = 20 Dollars
.002 x 100 = .2 Penny
.2 x 380 = 76 Dollars
.002 x 380 = 76 Cents

0.2 Cents = Price Charged
.002 Cents = Price Claimed

Back to the beginning, just so show further.

.002 x 1 Cent, or 0.01
.002 x .01 = 0.00002
.002 x 1 = 0.002

0.002 does not equal 0.00002

As I said...
Charged = .2 Cent
Claimed = .002 Cent

0.002 Cents = 0.00002 Dollars
But they claim .002 Cents and .002 Dollars are the same.

This is using complex math, so I'd just make it simple for them.

1 Dollar doesn't equal one cent
1/2 Dollar doesn't equal 1/2 cent
1/100 Doll doesn't equal 1/100 cent
So 2/100 Dollar doesn't equal 2/100 cents.

And thus, 2/1000 Dollar doesn't equal 2/1000 Cent

Verizon, I hope you like being shown proper math by a 15 year old 9th Grader.

Teach these Verizon dudes frigging Commutative Property Of Multiplication, please?

Listen George man, you need to get this on CNN, and pwn Verizon into oblivion.

I'm gonna start spamming your blog in an hour or so.

Good luck on ripping Verizon a new one man. (I'm gonna write them a letter later too.)

So cheap, it can't be true! (Because it isn't.)

Also, sorry for the long post.

XxTRAINxX said...

I'm sorry I have to add one more comment here.... TRY THIS APPROACH.

This is childish but it JUST MIGHT WORK.

If you have 32 green beans and you multiply it by 10, do you agree that you have 320 green beans?

If you have 10 cars and you multiply it by 15, do you agree that you have 150 cars?

If you have .002 CENTS and you multiply it by 35,983 ... do you agree that you have 71 CENTS?

Using this method, you are showing them how the UNITS OF MEASURE are the most important part of this process.

Anand said...

I am amazed by your struggle. I do not know if this would help any but here is something that you can send them. It may help to have a visual aid when talking to them.

Petter said...

Thought you'd appreciate this link: Verizon Foundation Awards $323,000 in literacy, etc...

"Grant funds support [project so and so] which helps adults with reading, writing and math skills"

I am not sure why they are giving that money away - apparently it is needed internally. ;-)

N said...

You have to ask the right question to get the answer you want. In order to do that you have to get the "cent VS dollar" thing out of their mind. Ask the question like this; "If cents are pennies, how many pennies would I owe at .002 pennies per KB?" Answer; pennies.

Don said...

You lucked out that the Ops manager Andrea said "Ok I understand that" when you told her that you were recording the conversation and would be posting in on the your blog. She effectively removed the ability of Verizon to respond with a threat of suit for wiretapping. Hopefully the Verizon logo on the cartoon will be seen as a parody which will keep that person from copyright infringement.

lealias said...

Why would anyone sign onto Verizon in the first place.

Their phones only work in N. America. It's a joke.

MichaƂ said...

Yet another call to Verizon:

Customer: So tell me, is 2 DOLLARS the same as 2 CENTS?
Verizon: No, of course not!
C: And is $.2 the same as .2 cents?
V: No, they're different.
C: Then is $.02 the same as .02 cents?
V: Uh, oh... I'm not sure now.
C: And finally is $.002 the same as .002 cents?
V: Yes, of course it it is.

Derik said...

here's how I was taught to convert units. If you can either get them online, or just explain how to write it out.

Dan said...

Good luck with your plight...I'm pulling for you. The call was painful to listen to and reminds me of how I laugh every time I see a sign that says something like ".99¢" (cents sign if it doesn't show up right). I would suggest you ask them if $0.99 and 0.99¢ have the same value but I'm sure they'd say yes. Disappointing.

Davman said...

Well, I said it was remix time! Verizon Cant Do Math (Money Remix By Davman)

Davman said...

As a side note, I noticed you said: 'I wished I had realized how funny it was, and thrown in "oh God, God and baby Jesus help us!"'

If you want to record that and send me a copy, I'm sure I can work it into the mix somewhere :P

davman99 at gmail dawt com

Barney said...

I can't download that file. It says click "next page" till it gets to 10. Well it never reaches 10. I think thats the way they make money, but nevermind.

Marc said...


I agree that the recording is the thing that locks it all up. The reason I chose the note to Nikki as the one to send is because it's a complete, reasonably brief explanation and references a link to the audio.

Davman said...

If it never reaches 10, that might be a browser problem... getting to 10 works fine here :/

You could try This but I highly doubt that will work as the link is probably dynamically generated.

Marc said...

By the way...

Although this is an extreme representation, this is just how it seems to be when dealing with a big Telco. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about American or Canadian telco's either. (I'm Canadian myself)

I have over the course of my career had to deal with several different companies to get hundreds of repairs, installs and billing problems fixed and I don't know that I can count on my fingers how many got done correctly the first time. It doesn't even matter if you get someone good to help to help you (i.e. someone that knows how to work with decimals) the systems they use are so archaic and convoluted they're useless anyways.

gadgetfanatic said...

LOVE it! you definitely had a lot of patience, and I love the use of Google calculator to prove your point. can't wait for this to hit the TV news. :)

Ann Marie said...

I don't have any insightful "how to teach math over the phone" tips for you, I just wanted to say that this was very funny and that the clip is being passed around my law school while we all study for, ironically, our corporations law exam on Monday. I'd help you out, but I don't take the bar until July. =)

Sam said...

This is so sad! Keep us updated. I will be checking back regularly. Quite a laugh!

Phosphor said...

@ Don, regarding:

>>>"Hopefully the Verizon logo on the cartoon will be seen as a parody which will keep that person from copyright infringement."<<<

You're kidding, right?

First of all, I don't give a crap what any obscure bit of the DMCA has to say about the use of the Verizon logo is not generating any money for me or for George, nor is it diluting their brand identity.

Second, Verizon already has enough egg on their collective face, imagine how petty and vindictive they'd look to the public if they tried to harass me about using their logo in a cartoon parodying them and their pathetic understanding of math.

No...strike that.

I'd LOVE for them to drag my name out into the bright light of public glare.

My tiny little ol' one man graphic design business could use the publicity.

Oh, and in case anybody might be wondering...I'm NOT a cartoonist, and have never claimed to be. But this was just too good to pass up. It gave me a reason to bust out my way underused Wacom tablet to scrape out a bad drawing in Alias SketchBook Pro. :o)

mobileforum said...

This story has been hilarious from start and I think it'll get even funnier when Verizon responds, I'm in the process of building a forum where uses can discuss the pros/cons of there service providers and cell phones. My offer to you is for us to pay your $72 fee for you! Our site is here Mobile Forum Just hit the contact us button to collect your payment.

Josh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
peter said...

same f'ing thing scenereo with me

Josh said...

Everybody else is giving you advice; here's mine.

"Okay, so bear with me here. This may sound condescending, but let me walk you through something. You game?
"Okay. First, take out a pencil and a piece of paper. On the left side of the paper, write down a dollar sign, then a one. On the right side, write down a one, and then a cent sign.
"Can we agree that on the left you've written 'one dollar' and on the right you've written 'one cent'? And can we agree that those are not the same thing--that one dollar is one hundred times as much as one cent?
"Okay, next: on the left, write down a dollar sign, a zero, a decimal point, and a one. On the right, write down a zero, a decimal point, and a one, and then a cent sign.
"Now, looking at those, can we agree that on the left you've written 'zero-point-one dollars'? And that that is the same as 'point-one dollars' or a tenth of a dollar? Can we agree that a tenth of a dollar is a dime?
"And, if you look at the number on the right, can we agree that you've written 'zero point one cents,' and that that's the same as 'point one cents,' or one tenth of a cent? Does it help to think of that number as one tenth of a penny?
"And now can we agree, again, that a dime--one tenth of a dollar--is more than one tenth of a penny?
"Okay, third set of numbers: on the left, write a dollar sign, then a zero, then a decimal, then a zero, then a one. On the right, write a zero, then a decimal, then a zero, then a one, then a cent sign.
"Can we agree that, on the left, you've written 'zero point zero one dollars,' which is the same as 'point zero one dollars,' and which is the same as a hundredth of a dollar, all of which is the same as one cent?
"Okay, now: this part might start seeming confusing, because people aren't used to dealing with tiny fractions of cents, but bear with me again.
"On the right, so far you've written down 'one cent' and 'point one cent,' and we've agreed that those are not the same as 'one dollar' and 'point one dollars.'
"Can we now agree that the third number you've written is 'zero point zero one cents,' and that that's the same as 'point zero one cents,' which is, in turn, the same as one hundredth of one cent? If it helps, think of that number as one hundredth of a penny--a tiny little sliver of copper. And we can agree that a tiny little sliver of a penny is worth much less than a whole penny, which is what we decided the point-zero-one dollars is equal to, right?
"Now, finally, a fourth set of numbers on each side: on the left, dollar sign, zero, decimal, zero, zero, one. On the right, zero, decimal, zero, zero, one, and then a cent sign.
"We're getting into really tiny numbers now on both sides, so I'll try to walk through this slowly.
"Can we agree that what you've written on the left is 'zero point zero zero one dollars'? This is where I've had the sticking point with your other representatives. And just remember how we described the values above: first, one dollar, then point one dollar (a dime), then point zero one dollars (a penny). So now, we have to keep using the same units, right? So this value on the left should be point zero zero one dollars. That's less than a penny--it is, in fact, a tenth of a penny. Are we in agreement on that?
"Okay... now look at the number on the right. Remember that we agreed that the first number is one cent, the second number is point one cents (or a tenth of a penny), the third number is point zero one cent (or a hundredth of a penny).
"First, can we agree that this fourth number on the right is smaller than the third number on the right?
"Okay, second: can we agree that this fourth number on the right is smaller than the fourth number on the left?
"Now, remembering that we called the first number on the right one cent, the second number point one cent, the third number point zero one cent, can we agree that this fourth number is point zero zero one cent?
"And can we agree again--I just want to make sure--that this fourth number on the right is not the same as the number on the left, and that it is, in fact, a value much smaller than the one on the left?
"Okay, good. Now, what your representatives have quoted me is 'point zero zero two cents.' Write down, on the right, as your fifth number, zero, decimal, zero, zero, two, and then a cent sign.
"However, what I'm being charged is 'point zero zero two dollars.' On the left, as your fifth number, write down 'dollar sign, zero, decimal, zero, zero, two.
"Now, remembering that at each step of the way, we've shown that the number on the left is expressed in dollars, and the number on the right is expressed in cents, and that the number on the left is worth more than the number on the right.
"What I was quoted is zero point zero zero two cents--the number on the right.
"What I'm being charged is zero point zero zero two dollars--the number on the left.
"Can we now agree that what I'm being charged is not the same as what I was quoted?

peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

First, let me start off by saying that George is 100% right, and Verizon is 100% wrong. I do think I understand where the breakdown was though. The original rep (as well as every other person he talked to) saw "$0.002/KB" on their screen and verbalized that to George as "point zero zero two cents per kilobyte", which I would also interpret as "$0.00002/KB" just as George did.

If they saw $0.02, the would read that as "two cents". When you stick in another zero "$0.002", they can't figure who how to properly verbalize that, so they say "point zero zero two", and then use the wrong unit - "cents". Saying "point two cents" when you see "$0.002" may not be intuitive to the *cough* mathematically challenged.

Clearly, George is in the right, but I wanted to put in my opinion that the problem was the reps not being able to verbalize $0.002 in a way that makes sense to ... well, smart people.

btriffles said...

Please, do not just pay the $72. You are absolutely, 100% correct. Giving in to their stupidity would actually cause me (and other internet readers) substantial mental trauma.

Alex said...

rofl. first, i would like to say this is absolutely AMAZING. i am speechless.

secondly, this could be cleared up VERY easily. call verizon again and speak to the same reps. then ESTABLISH very clearly the fact that 1 cent is equal to 0.01 dollars.

after you've established that, the rest is easy.

0.002 cents is equal to 0.00002 dollars. and tell them to charge you according to that rate.

Katherine said...

I just moved to Blacksburg, VA. I have Cingular right now, and I was going to switch to Verizon to get better coverage. After listening to this audio, though, I think I'll stick with the geniuses at Cingular. They actually require college degrees, I think.


wam said...

Anyone else finding the irony of Verizon having sponsored math competitions? A lot of other ironic press releases are available as well.

Dale said...

In September 1999 a 125 million dollar Mars probe crashed into Mars because of a math error.

Since that time no one knew what happened to the rocket scientists who screwed up the math and caused the crash.

Until now... Now we know... They all went to work for Verizon.

An actual NASA conversations :-)

George: Do you recognize there is a difference between .002 newtons and .002 pounds of thrust per second?
NASA engineer: No.

George: Ok do you recognize there is a difference between .002 feet and .002 meters?
NASA engineer: No.

George: Do you recognize there is a difference between .002 pounds and .002 kilograms?
NASA engineer: No. Hold on a second.... Hey Joe, go ahead and launch that mars probe.

Jonathan said...

Hey man, I listened to that audio clip... Friggin' frustrating but funny at the same time, and I know it's not really a joke but... dang.

Like I said on the putfile site, you could have tried to explain it differently by telling them to convert to dollars first or whatever.... Doesn't really matter, that point's moot, the people are still idiots for not having understood it in the first place.

Good luck in the future with sorting it out, though.

David said...

Whew, i usually hate making these kinds of phone calls but this one takes the cake. I went through something like this with another mobile provider. Trying to explain a double charge, the phone rep would just say "it's right but maybe you don't understand because I'm explaining it wrong". Luckily when the rep offered to get a supervisor to "explain it to me better" he was actually able to see the math error that I was trying to explain to the rep.

Greg said...

Keep fighting the good fight! Years ago, I was offered those "pay half" deals for ridiculous fines I got while living in Philadelphia and instead of fighting, I took their offer. Looking back, I should have fought them. It doesn't help anyone when the offending party doesn't admit their mistakes and own up to them.

zibalas said...

You should realy sue the motherfuc****. You would win in 2secs You have permission to use audio recording. I say go ahead and sue them!

Eat_My_Shortz said...

George, you should send them a bill for your maths tutoring services.
Shall we say around 85 mins?

Charge for services rendered:
Flat rate: 50c per hour
Duration: 85 mins (1.42 hours)
Call surcharge: $1
Total: $72.00

David said...

I think that the problem is in the units--not the decimal.

Maybe you could have one of those people get a piece of paper out and have them write this down as they go:

3 dogs * 4 = 12 Dogs
4 apples * 7 = 28 Apples
8 quarters * 3 = 24 quarters
16 dimes * 3 = 48 dimes
3 cents * 6 = 18 Cents

and finally:
.002 cents * 35,893 = 71 cents

I would think that someone should be able to detect the pattern--but maybe not at VZ.

MailSmith said...

Their posted rates do not matter when a Rep of the company quoted the rate of .002 Cents per KB. When they noted it on your account they were locked into upholding that quote. Talk to a lawyer about Suing them for Fraud.

I worked for Ford Motor Credit Company we handled similar issues all the time.

Personaly If I was a Rep or a Manager at that company once I saw that quoted rate of .002 Cents per KB I would have just credited your account with $72.00 and thanked you for your time.

$72.00 is not worth the loss of a customer.

Jasmine said...

I've just read your story on

O.M.G. I'm speechless. You were SO patient with them. This must have been one of the most frustrating and maddening experience of you life!!

BTW, I saw the consumerist link on an unrelated discussion forum where someone had incorrectly said ".02 cents" when it was reasonably clear they meant "2 cents" or "$0.02". There was then a brief exchange on the forum about how .02 cents is not the same as $0.02, and then someone else replied with just a link to your story on