Saturday, December 9, 2006

Transcript (ala JT)

Transcription generously, and I DO mean generously provided by JT who gives a shout out to pubatch, rill, and kino on IRC.

Transcription not guaranteed to be 100% perfect - it was 27 minutes long and donated after all...

[Start of Call]

[on hold with Verizon Wireless customer service]

Trent (Verizon): Hi.. Hey, George?

George: Yes.

T: Hey I'm really sorry about that wait there. Hey, I got Mike on the line. He's my supervisor over here and uh, he'll take care of you from here on out, okay?

G: Thanks.

T: Alright.

Mike (Verizon): Thanks Trent. Good evening George, how are you doing this evening?

G: Great, except that I've been trying to resolve this for two calls and over 45 minutes now.

M: Okay, well lets see what we got here, I'm definitely sorry that uh, that you've had to call in that many times. Let's see, ummm, looks like you're questioning some kilobyte usage that was done while in Canada?

G: Well, let me just start out with a basic question.

M: Okay.

G: Do you recognize that there's a difference between “point zero zero two dollars” and “point zero zero two cents”?


M: Point zero zero two dollars?

G: Do you recognize that there is actually...

M: ...and point zero zero two cents.

G: Yes, do you you recognize there's a difference between those 2 numbers?


M: No.

G: Okay, is there a difference between 2 dollars and 2 cents?

M: Well, yeah, sir..

G: Well okay, is it.. is there a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents?

M: .002 dollars and .002 cents.

G: Yes, is there a difference between..

M: Sir, sir, they're.. they're both the same if you, if you look at 'em on paper-wise

G: No.. they're not, actually. It.. is .5 dollars the same as .5 cents?

M: Is .5 dollars..?

G: Is half a dollar..

M: That would be.. That would be 50 cents.

G: A half a dollar.. is it the same as a half of a cent?

M: No.

G: Right.

M: Okay.

G: So, clearly, two one-thousandths of a dollar, which is your rate for airtime as I now understand it, uh, your rate per kilobyte in Canada is two one-thousandths of a dollar. But two one-thousandths of a dollar is different than two one-thousandths of a *cent*. What I was quoted was .002 cents. That's two one-thousandths of a cent per kilobyte.

M: Mmhm. okay...?

G: I specifically asked the rep. I said, “Are you saying it's .002 dollars or .002 cents?” because I .. *I* recognize that there's a difference. Just like there's a difference between that half a dollar and half a cent.

M: Okay.

G: There's a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents. Your rate in Canada is .002 cents.

M: Correct.

G: Uh, it's point, point... Well okay, it's not true, it's .002 dollars. You're still quoting me .002 cents when in fact it's .002 dollars per kilobyte. So, if you want to charge me .002 cents, I'd be happy to pay the bill, the problem is I was charged .002 dollars per kilobyte.

M: Okay, so if you take.. okay.. do you have a calculator with you?

G: Yeah, I do.

G: Okay, take this uh, 71.79.

G: Yeah.

M: And divide that by uh, 35,893 you should come out with .002

G: Yes, and what units should it be? Dollars or cents?

M: Well that's per *kilobyte*.

G: Right. And is it dollars or cents per kilobyte?

M: Well, let me take a look here for ya.

[time passes...]

M: [looking up rates] We're.. we're in Canada..

[time passes...]

M: Hold on one second for me..

[time passes...]

M: [mumbles something about Canada]

[time passes...]

G: For the record, what I was quoted before I went to Canada, I called because I'm on an unlimited plan in the United States and I thought I might be paying more when I go to Canada.

M: Right.

G: What I was quoted was .002 cents. That seems to be what you believe is the rate is .002 cents. Unfortunately, your computer system charged me .002 dollars per kilobit, er, per kilobyte, so my point here is the confusion is on your side, and the first rep I spoke to, the second rep I spoke to, and including you, in calling “.002 dollars” “.002 cents”, that's a hundredfold difference just like one dollar is 100 times different than1 cent.

[time passes...]

M: Okay... looking at the pricing here for ya.

M: Okay.. for data.

M: National roaming access coverage in Canada is .002 per kilobyte cents.

G: Can you say that again?

M: It's .002 cents per kilobyte

G: .002 cents per kilobyte. So you just quoted me again; your price is .002 cents per kilobyte

M: Correct.

G: Okay, so now I'd like you to translate my 35,893 kilobytes into dollars if you would.

M: Okay, if you take .002

G: Cents, remember, cents.

M: Times 35,896. 71 dollars and 79...

G: No, that would be 71 cents because you started with a rate per *cent* and multiplied by the kilobytes, so that would be 71 cents. I'll tell you what the problem is here, is you, you're.. the original person I spoke to *before* I used my airtime...

M: Mmhmm.

G: Up to and including you, are quoting .002 dollars per kilobyte as if it's .002 cents per kilobyte and they're not the same, so I assumed that you guys knew how to do math. No offense here , but i assumed that you knew the difference between .002 cents and .002 dollars. And it sounds like there's still some confusion about that. .002 dollars is two one-thousandths of one dollar, or two tenths of one cent, which is very different than two one-thousandths of one cent. It's one hundred times different. [pause] I'll give you a brief example: If you're selling your car and I said I'm gonna give you twenty thousand for it, and I show up with 20,000 pennies, we're not speaking the same language. If you quote me .002 cents it's not the same as .002 dollars. So, when you just did the math .002 times 35,893, you came up with 71 cents. You didn't do the translation from cents to dollars, which would be... you'd have to.. uh, divide by a hundred, so then you get .71 dollars: 71 cents, So, I do understand, even though it seems like maybe *you* don't, that the rate is, I now understand: .002 *dollars* per kilobyte. But that was not what i was quoted, and that's not how I used my airtime because i thought it was... I thought it was cheaper than it actually turned out to be, because I was misquoted.

M: Mmhm.

G: I also had no context. The previous person i was speaking to said I should have had some context because i know what the united states rates - I *don't* know what the United States rates are, because I have an unlimited plan. I don't have to be concerned about the United States rates.

M: Mmhm.

G: So. It all comes down to me being misquoted, and it's hard.. it, would, it, it.. At the time, I, I said there could be some confusion here, so I asked the customer service rep, “Can you please write that down in the notes, that you quoted me .002 cents?”

M: Mmhm.

G: And she did.

M: Right, and I see that.. I see not only one, but I see several reps that have put it in here.

G: Right. So I.. I hope, it sounds like you may not actually see what the problem is yet, but ah..

M: Well, I've been working here 2 years sir, and I've been a supervisor for almost a year and a half.

G: Okay..

M: Okay? Umm, ya know, I'm going by what is.. what is documented here in the system.

G: Right.. so can you tell me then if, if the rate is as you quoted .002 cents per min.. per kilobyte, and I used 35,893.kilobytes, how much should I be charged?

M: By, by.. The way this is calculated? Seventy-one dollars and seventy-nine cents.

G: You did your math wrong, so what I'm saying is you did... bring up your calculator.

M: I.. I've got the calculator in front of me, sir. If i type in .002 and multiply that by 35 thousand, nine hundred...

G: But wait! but but.. Here's the key.. I know, but here's the key: What does the .002 represent? Cents or dollars?

M: It's cents, sir.

G: Okay, .002 cents...

M: So basically you're paying... you're paying two tenths of a penny [pause] per kilobyte. If you want to look at it that way.

G: Two tenths? hold on, hold on.. two tenths of a penny...

M: Mmhm.

G: ...would be .2 cents. You quoted me .002 cents. Do you see what I'm saying? [pause] Two tenths of one cent...

M: Mmhm.

G: ...would be point two cents. You quoted me .002 cents.

M: That's correct.

G: there's a difference between .2 cents and .002 cents. They're 100 times different. So which is the real rate?

M: .002 sir.

G: .002 what?

M: Cents per kilobyte!


G: So you just said it was .2 pennies and then you also said it was .002 cents. Those are 2 completely different numbers. They're 100-fold different. Quoting someone .002 cents per kilobyte is different than .002 dollars per kilobyte. I... I don't know what else more I can tell ya. The math... the math on the bill is right if it's .002 dollars per kilobyte. It was quoted .002 cents.

M: George, hold on one second for me okay?

G: Sure.

[on hold for 2 minutes, 35 seconds]

Andrea (Verizon): This is Andrea, the manager on the floor. How can i help you today?

G: Hi, uh, I think we've got a terminology and mathematics problem goin' on here and it's... It's very basic to me, but I think we're just having a problem because of the numbers involved.

A: Okay.

G: Just to summarize, I was quoted before I entered Canada... I was quoted .002 cents per kilobyte.

A: Okay.

G: And, just so you know, I have no context for how much you guys charge for data because I have a unlimited plan in the States so it's uh, I don't... Someone has... had mentioned to me I should have known that what it was because of what I pay in the states, but I pay... I get unlimited usage in the States, so I don't have any knowledge of that. .002 cents per minute is what's quoted for me... is what was quoted to me. My bill reflects .002 *dollars* per minute

A: What do you mean .002 dollars?

G: [big sigh] Okay, I think I have to do this again. Do you recognize that there's a difference between one dollar and one cent?

A: Definitely.

G: Do you recognize there's a difference between half a dollar and half a cent?

A: Definitely

G: Then, do you therefore recognize there's a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents

A: No.

G: No?

A: I mean there's... there's no .002 dollars.

G: Of course there it's.. it's two..

A: There's .002 cents is what you're quoted, and that's what I do show that you... you paid, or that ya know, you're paying for the kilobyte usage.

G: Okay. [sigh] I don't.. I don't know a better way to express this. .002 dollars is the same as .2 cents.

A: Okay. Well how would you... What would .002 dollars look to you?

G: It's point...

A: Obviously, a dollar is “one, decimal, zero, zero” right? So what would a “point zero zero two dollars” look like?

G: I don't know...

A: I've never heard of .002 dollars. .002 dollars, it's just not...

G: This is just... this is just math we're talking about... this is...

A: ...not a full cent.

G: That's right. And...

A: Okay.

G: That's right. And .002 cents is also not a full cent. My point here, is .002 dollars if you do the math, is .00002 cents. It's 1/100th difference. There's a hundred cents in a dollar.

A: But you were quoted .002 cents not .002 dollars.

G: That's correct, but what I was charged...

A: Okay, so take .002 cents as .002

G: Dollars?

A: No,cents... .002

G: [to friend] You gotta hear this.

G: .002...

A: Uh-huh.

G: ...cents, is two one-thousandths of one cent. I'm teaching math here.

A: [laughs] And I... I mean, I'm trying to get what you're saying here, but it's just not...

G: Here's the... Let me... Let me cut to the chase...

A: I'm sorry that you um, already talked to a few different people here..

G: ...Let me cut to the chase.. Well

A: ...and they've all explained to you that you're being billed .002 cents, and if you take...

G: I'm not being billed...

A: ...and put it on your calculator.. it shows you that..

G: No it doesn't, I can do...

A: We never said that you're gonna get billed .00002 cents.

G: That's right, you said I was gonna get billed .002 cents per kilobyte, and I'd be happy to pay that. Now, why don't you bring up your calculator?

A: .002 cents, yeah.

G: Take .002, and we're talkin' about cents, right?

A: Right, .002, and if we multiply that by the amount of kilobyte usage that you have...

G: 35,893.

A: ...35,893, that comes out to what you paid, $71.79.

G: Cents. You never did the conversion from cents to dollars.

A: Cuz we're talkin' about cents, we're gonna multiply the amount of cents by the amount of kilobytes that you used...

G: Okay, ya know, ok...

A: ...not dollars, nobody's mentioning anything about dollars.

G: Let me start over here. Let's... Let's just say, hypothetically, that your rate was one cent per kilobyte. Right?

A: One cent, that would be .01

G: Right. .01 in her calculator. Correct. So, if it was one cent per kilobyte, and I used one hundred kilobytes, what would my charge be? You would take .01...

A: Uh-huh.

G: ...times 100. And you come up with 1.

A: Right.

G: Right? for 1 dollar.

A: Right.

G: That's if it was 1 cent per kilobyte. You're telling me, you're telling me though that the rate is not 1 cent, it's .002 cents.

A: Right. [pause] that's less than one cent.

G: .002 cents, if... if you, if you... in, in pure mathematics, it's the only way I can express this, .002 cents is 2 one thousandths of one cent.

A: Okay.

G: Right?

A: So it's less than a cent right?

G: It's very much less than a cent.

A: Okay.

G: So, two one-thousandths of a cent. So lets start with two cents, just like we started with the one cent.

A: Okay, why are we doing two cents? We need to be doing .002 cents.

G: [big sigh]

A: My, I guess my point is, is that we quoted you .002 cents.

G: That's right.

A: If you write it down is decimal point zero zero two...

G: No, it's not, this... this is what I'm saying...

A: all we have to do with the calculator is decimal point zero zero two and multiply it by how many kilobytes that you had...

G: This is where... This is where you're wrong, I, I don't know how to make this any clearer. Let's try this. Write down 1 cent. How do you write down 1 cent?

A: Point zero one.

G: How do you write down half a cent?

A: Uhhh, that would be point zero zero five of a cent.

G: Okay.

A: [laughing] I don't know, I'm not a mathematician. All I'm telling you is I can tell you that with the calculator...

G: Yep.

A: ...and we take the .002 as everybody has told you that you've called in and spoke to...

G: Yes, but...

A: ...and as our system bill accordingly, is correct.

G: But you said .002 *cents*. Why don't you just write it down on a piece of paper. You have .002 *cents* not dollars. .002 *cents*...

A: Right

G: ...times my 35,893. It's a number, but it's still in *cents*. If you quoted me .002 *dollars*, everything is correct. If you quoted me .002 dollars, which represents two tenths of one cent - per kilobyte, then everything is fine. But I wasn't quoted two tenths of one cent, I was quoted two one-thousandths of one cent. I was quoted .002 cents. It's a terminology problem. You guys are quoting .002 dollars as if it's cents, simply because there's a decimal point involved.

A: We're not quoting .002 dollars, we're quoting .002 *cents*

G: Ah, God.. Honestly.

A: I mean the computer is calculating the, the figure here...

G: I know it is, it's... it's a terminology issue...

A: ...and we are calculating the figure here, and we're all coming up with the same thing - except for you.

G: .002 cents is different than .002 dollars. I'm being charged .002 dollars per kilobyte. .002 dollars is one tenth of one... I mean, two tenths of one cent.

A: Okay, well, I mean it's obviously a difference of opinion...

G: It's not opinion! This is.. this is..

A: ...the amount that you're billed for the data usage is entirely correct.

G: [exasperated] Ah, God.. Okay, well, you know what, I'm gonna post this recording on my blog, and...

A: And that's, if that's what you want to do, that's fine.

G: ...that's what I'm gonna do, and, and then you guys all at Verizon can learn math, and you'll learn how to quote it correctly. The rate as I understand it now, and according to my bill, which is now, I'm getting *after* the usage, is .002 *dollars* per kilobyte. Just so you know. if it was cents, you'd have to quote it as two tenths of one cent, or .2 cents.

A: Right.

G: It would be like - another example: Half of a meter is very different than half of a centimeter. Half of a centimeter is written ".5cm". Half of a meter is ".5m" They're two very different things. You can't just write .002m equals .002cm. They're one-hundredfold different. What I was quoted was a rate per cent, not per dollar. Uh, a rate in cents, not in dollars. If I was quoted .002 dollars, there would be no problem, but I was quoted .002 cents. I was quoted fractions of a cent.

A: Okay, well, the only thing I can say is it was just a misunderstanding between...

G: It was a misunderstanding, but I did the diligence to ask what the actual rate was, when she told me .002 cents, I said "Are you sure? Can you note it in my account?", and she did. As .002 cents. But the problem here is that you're not even acknowledging now that there's a difference between .002 when you're talking about dollars, and .002 cents. My assumption was it was .002 cents, because that's what you told me. But it's been calculated on my bill as .002 dollars, or two tenths of a cent per kilobyte, which is different than two one-thousandths of a cent per kilobyte.

A: Okay.

G: It's a hundredfold different. My, my bill according to what you quoted me should be 71 cents not 71 dollars.

A: Okay. Well, again, there's not... we're not going to be able to make any adjustments to the bill because it is correct, and I do apologize if it was... obviously miscommunication or misunderstanding in explaining that to you.

G: Okay, is there someone i can escalate this to? because...

A: No, I'm the floor manager, so...

G: Because this is not adequate. An example I gave to the previous rep would be, if I said to you "I'll give you twenty thousand for your car" and I showed up with twenty thousand pennies. It... it matters whether you say .002 dollars or .002 cents.

A: Okay.

G: Unfortunately, it seems like our educational system is making an ambiguity between .002 dollars and .002 cents, they're very different.

A: Okay.

G: So I was quoted a different rate than I was charged and you don't seem to want to take responsibility for that.

A: Okay, well, I mean, if you wanted to contact the corporate, you could do that on our website...

G: Can...

A: There's a link under support that you can send an email directly to the corporate office and request that they contact you.

G: I.. I'm on there right now can you just bear with me while I find it?

A: Sure.

G: Support...I don't see it here, where would I see it? Under “Contact Us?”

A: Om, just a second here. [typing]

A: OK, yeah go to the actually the “Contact Us.” Its going to give you a drop down box to choose whether you are a customer or not.

G: Um Hmm

A: Once you select the dropdown box its going give you a grid here that says “send an email.” You type in all of your information...

G: I don't see that. I'm already logged into my account, is that the problem?

A: Are you hitting “Contact Us” at the very top in blue?

G: Om...

A: It should still allow you to get there even if you are logged in.

G: “Contact Us.”

A: At the very top where it says “Home, Site Map.”

G: Yeah, so I click on that.


G: “Send us an email – What type of Verizon Customer?”

A: Yes, exactly.

G: “I receive a monthly statement”?

A: Hit “Yes” and then this is the email grid that you fill out.

G: OK great. And what was your name again?

A: Andrea.

G: Andrea, is there a way I can get back in touch with you if I need to?

A: I can just give you my direct line?

G: OK great.

A: It's 888 581 1070 extension xxxx.

G: Alright, thanks.

A: Thank you.

G: Bye bye.

A: Bye.

G: [Click] Buffoons.

[End Of Call]


Alexandra said...

you need to seperately link the transcrpit to a file; this is way too long for a blog post

georgevaccaro said...


@xoxo hth - I hit your law discussion - holy crap, that one dude is clueless - I'm no lawyer but do I play one on tv. In order for his argument to hold up:

1. they had to quote me the CORRECT amount verbally ".002 dollars/KB"
BTW, I recognize now (after my calls) that they may very well have noted "$.002" in the account.
2. I would have had to rack up the charges, essentially saying "screw it, ill scam them later" not knowing how I'd do that (unless I'm a lot smarter than I know I am)
And finally:
3. I would have had to somehow mind meld in advance that the reps would uniformly make a mistake that the first rep didn't (assumption 1) and speak the amount "$.002" as ".002 cents" despite my constantly trying to correct them to the actual rate.

Thats f___ing preposterous.

Not that I care, I know that discussion is all hypothetical, but that guy is a huge ass. I wouldn't hang with him either - for the same reason I wouldn't hang with the verizon folks - too smart for their own good.

2YBL - nerdpwned.

loconet said...

Reading the transcript just brought the comedy to a new level. I'm once again laughing my ass off.

I swear you could probably take your experience and that of many other unsatisfied customers and make a sitcom out of cases like this.

This is gold.

georgevaccaro said...


I know its a pain, but just use the nav - and scroll baby scroll!

I'll work out a separate place for this file tomorrow - so late... I need to get my life back too :).

Mathias said...

Been following this a little on and off, listening to the recording and now skimming the transcript (which had a bit more at the end).

Even though I live over here in Europe I feel like sending Corporate an email explaining my disgust over how this whole situation has been handled.

Jan Marie said...

I'm a math major and I was so completely shocked that people can't get the concept of .001 = 1/1000 through their heads! It's not that hard!

Yad said...

Why does the transcript not list Andrea's extension? It is 2234, and her voicemail box is completely full. :)

georgevaccaro said...

@yad - rotflol

Yad said...

I wanted to leave a message but couldn't. Her voicemail was Dugg and Slashdotted before I could get through. She will have a lot of voicemail Monday I am sure.

Aven said...

Please sue them George, this should not have to haapen to anyone else.

Kelly Hawk said...

I'm no big city lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but contra proferentem means that IF a contract is ambiguous it should be interpreted AGAINST the drafter.

So IF 0.002 is ambiguous, it would be interpreted in George's favour (ie. against Verizon). That's a big IF, because (as far as I am concerned) there is NO ambiguity to 0.002 cents.

The law of contracts is your friend, George. :)

James said...

Absolutely maddening. I sympathize with you man. Hopefully. this will get enough publicity to embarass the hell out of Verizon

I think I would have tried to have them write out a unit conversion problem. That's the only other way I could think of to try to teach someone the difference between $71.97 and 71.97 cents.

Jerr said...

maybe it would have gotten better through to them to have done factor labeling:
.002 cents 35893 kb
---------- * = 71.786 cents
1 kb

the kb clearly cancels out.

Aaron said...

I'd glossed over your story on reddit for a while and finally got around to reading it tonight. As a math teacher I feel your pain. On the upside - guess what ALL and I mean ALL of my students will be doing in class on Monday. From my in service students to my Calculus students.

Yad said...


Check your Private Messages at Howard Forums. :)

ichthys said...

I can't wait for this to hit mass media. (Excluding DIGG and slashdot ofcourse ;)

Prashant said...


As a Computer Engineer, an Electrical Engineer, and an Economics degree holder, i have to say you are 100% correct.

For future reference, (in case you didnt know) this is what is called the "Factor Label Method"

A better way to tackle this situation would have relating to the people something everyone is familiar with. Driving.

I would have said.

Ok, lets try this another way, let me show you why I am right. First, lets do something totally different.

If you are driving:
50 Miles

and you drive 2 hours, how far do you go?

They would of course answer 100 miles. I would then say, why miles, why not feet, or yards or inches? To which you can continue to say is because of simple math.

You do 50 miles/hour, multiply it by 2 hours, the label of "hours" is removed as it is in both the numerator and denominator to get 100 Miles.

Similarly when you multiply the 2 numbers you present them with, the cents/kb * kb leaves you with 71.XXX cents
NOT dollars.

you have documented proof, not only would i bring up an fcc complaint, i would contact the local media, and national media to bring this discrepancy to their attention. You could cause (and justifiably so) Verizon a lot of headache, and for someone who has to sit for hours listening to morons on the phone, i feel it is more than justified.


georgevaccaro said...

@aaron - sounds great to me! Someone on digg said the same thing - I suggested labeling the "method" the "George Vaccaro Conundrum." My math team buddies from high school would all be jealous! - take it or leave it. :)

@Prashant - I've heard a bunch of methods, like talking bananas (not crazy - i tried that already), to remove the units conversion issue - and that one seems like it might have worked. I like yours too - I think that might have worked as well. At the same time, man, if I believed I had to explain that - I don't know where it would have stopped - explaining what numbers look like?

It was so frustrating. Thanks for the comment though. If i do wind up calling them again - I'll try it and let you know how it worked :).

Prashant said...

hehe, theres nothing i hate more than idiots, and ignorance. Obviously people dont understand that when something is written as $.002

you dont say "point zero zero 2 cents"

you either say "point zero zero 2 dollars"


" zero point 2 cents "


Altar000Altar said...

I have been following this since Friday. I would have tried explaining the situation a little differently, but by the sounds of it, it would not have worked either.

Hopefully everyone learned something from this:

1) .002 dollars does not equal .002 cents

2) How a mere $71 dollars has cost verizon at least 3 customers.

3) How not treating the customer with respect over a minor disagreement (I do not know if I can even call it that) can turn into a major PR disaster.

4) How wonderful the internet actually is.

Truthfully, I hope Andréa or Mike hear the recorded conversation. I do not believe anyone can be that stupid. If they took themselves out of the situation, I believe they would see the errors of thier ways. (Truthfully, I think Mike actually did, then panicked, and played stupid and escalated it to Andréa.)

Good luck to you, I have passed this around to all the bullitin boards I am part of.

Nintendorks said...

I only listened to the first 4 minutes.

Fact: This customer knew the quote was wrong, which was why he asked several times before he went to Canada. He admits this at one point.

Fact: This customer was not overcharged.

Fact: This customer was misquoted.

Fact: This customer was not overcharged.

Fact: This customer used 35 MB of data, which is an insane amount on a cell phone.

Fact: This customer was not overcharged.

Fact: This customer enjoys being a smartass and teasing someone who just doesn't understand his point.

Fact: This customer was not overcharged.

Fact: This customer should have just hung up the phone and wrote a letter. The people who have to form complete sentences to write a reply are probably smarter than anyone at Verizon that works the phones. Or the customer could just pay the bill, because he wasn't overcharged.

Fact: This guy got so passive aggressive about a COMPLETELY CORRECT $70 charge he didn't want to pay, he posted a recording on the Internet, and now we're discussing his $70 charge. $70.

Fact: This customer's inability to see that he was charged correctly is an equal crime to Verizon's inability to comprehend math.

That said, Verizon should absolutely refund him the difference between what he was charged and what he was quoted, and advise him that the going rate is $0.02/KB for next time.

Armadous said...

Wow, this is amazing. I created an account with this blog thing just to post a comment here.

I'm amazed and entirely not supprised at the same time. I have written Verizion an e-mail saying I intend to never use their service and I plan to tell my friends to do the same.

I would encourage any one else who has the same idea to inform Verizon of such intentions. I know my little e-mail will be of no matter but if there are enough Verizion won't be able to ignore it.
If you feel so inclined.

Yad said...


PM@Howard. :)


I have been passing the links to anyone I can think of. I have been sending emails to local DJs, local news, Verizon, etc. The way to help is to spread this story!! Keep it up folks.

Give Andrea a jingle on Monday morning... 1-888-581-1070 Ext. 2234. Give this number to the press or your math teacher. LOL, I am going to try to call her Monday as her voicemail is full for some reason. Hmmm... :)

Eric said...

This has entertained me tonight for quite a while, and it truly baffles me that there are people this clueless in our society. I am eagerly awaiting the continuation of this story, for I'm sure it will escalate to something even more entertaining. Props for not getting too lost explaining the math to such un-educated people, especially after repeating it over and over and over.

georgevaccaro said...

@Altar000Altar - great post!

Prashant said...


You are correct in that he was not overcharged had the quote been read correctly to him, but it was not, and therefore, he was in fact overcharged.

the rate was misread, and that is not his fault.

let me put it another way.

If you were getting a swimming pool in your house and got a quote for "two hundred dollars" and you say, what? two hundred dollars? are you sure? and he says, yep, and you say, two hundred dollars, can i get that in writing, and they give it to you in writing, then they install the pool and give you a bill for not two hundred dollars, but twenty thousand dollars (same order of magnitude as the discrepancy mentioned here) would you be a little annoyed?

georgevaccaro said...

@nintendorks - or justin - whoever the f you are:

Fact: you didn't listen to the whole tape - so you might want to know the "facts" before you comment.

Fact: 35 megs is ~40 minutes of streaming audio at 128kbps.

Fact: 35 megs costing $72 on a cell phone is nuts - especially when for $30 I get up to a theoretical limit of 5gigs/month before Verizon gets bitchy - do the research.

Fact: If you were overcharged - you would try to get the charge reversed - or you're just a pushover.

Fact: You repeated many supposed "facts" for unknown reason.

Fact: You sir, are a douchebag.

Eugene said...

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to go into work (I work at KVIA, ABC-7 El Paso, TX) to see if they might be interested in breaking this story. I do believe like many other stories, this will eventually go national. Especially, if it is a slow news day.

Eric said...

ps: to nintendorks... I believe a few of your facts should be re-classified as opinions.

Prashant said...

FACT: Honey Bunches of Oats cereal=the best cereal in the world....

why im eating cereal at 2:34....thats a fact better left for another day


Newsletter said...

Prashant et al:

He was billed correctly. You can't argue that. Yes or no: Was he billed correctly? You must answer yes. He was billed correctly, quoted incorrectly.

If a zero has fallen off the Dollar Menu sign at McDonalds, do I stand around and insist on getting $0.10 cheeseburgers, or do I recognize that cheeseburgers are $1 and move on?

I listened to the whole recording, and he admits at some point that he asked and double-checked the quote - because he knew the quote was wrong. He's being dishonest and trying to get a $0.10 cheeseburger.

Kelly Hawk said...

FACTS: like math, are apparently a matter of opinion.

Prashant said...


he was billed incorrectly from the perspective of what he was quoted.

theres a difference between a decimal sign falling off a board, and being told, point blank, (and even double, and triple checking) that the rate was .002 cents per kb.

if everyone was allowed to quote whatever they wanted and bill something totally different, the world would be a very different place. when you get a price, thats what it is.

if you "accidentally" on national tv say something is free BEFORE rebate, and its actually free AFTER rebate, whose fault is it? the customer, or the company.

sorry, no way in hell are you going to convince me that verizon is right here.

and not only was it 1 person who quoted him wrong, we know for sure, that a total of (at a minimum) 3 people said the price was in fact "point zero zero two cents per kb"

sorry, you dont have a leg to stand on.

Altar000Altar said...


I have run into many situation where some one quotes me a price, and I double check, just to make sure. (When dealing with government pay, you have to double check everything, and get it in writing.) It is called covering your ass when something sounds wrong.

If George knew the price was $.002, he may have not downloaded 35 megs.

I would have done the samething. Made sure the price being quoted was correct, (He went as far as double checking to make sure it was correct) made a note of it, then listened to music on the drive with the assumtion it was the price quoted.

Clearly he was misquoted the price, and he went on an assumtion that the employees that work for the company were giving him the correct information, despite a "feeling".

There is nothing wrong with covering your own ass.

Newsletter said...

I agree with you, Verizon should ABSOLUTELY stand by their quote and refund him the difference.

But to repeat what was said earlier:

Fact: This customer's inability to see that he was charged correctly is an equal crime to Verizon's inability to comprehend math.

As I said, he should have written a letter. Not an email. A letter to the executive response department. People who work in call centers and answer emails are high school graduates who have made wound up in a call center, and just don't comprehend things like you and I. It's incredibly sad to listen to more than 20 minutes of this guy trying to teach them 4th grade math. It's sad that he didn't just give up after 2 minutes. And saddest of all was when he threatened to post the unauthorized recording of the conversation on his blog.

But what still boggles my mind is that we're discussing a guy who was correctly billed $70 and doesn't want to pay it, and has gone to Internet extremes of passive-aggressiveness.


georgevaccaro said...


Why dont' people like you understand things that are so simple. The explanation is on the front page, but I'll repeat it here for you. If I knew the rate was what it turned out to be $2.05/meg - I wouldn't have used it. Since I thought it was consistent with the very resonable rate I was getting in the states, I used it. I'm not trying to scam anyone or get anything for free. They told me what it cost (granted they screwed up), but I counted on the info and then used the service accordingly.

I didn't know it was wrong - I was surprised it was that cheap for roaming, but she confirmed it with me, had no doubt in her voice, and it was consistent with the US, so I was pleasantly surpised, but also smart enough to cover my bases - the note in the account.

BTW, I'm the type of person that corrects the teller if they give me too much change. This is about the principal, and the practice of systematically quoting one thing and charging 100x as much.

Figure it out, and don't be so damn negative. Would I do all this work for $72? Think about it.

Altar000Altar said...

Is it unauthorized? Legally I do not know. Like all call centers I am sure there is a verbal message that states the call can be record for quality purposes. Both parties know they can be recorded at this point. Legally does it matter which party is doing the recording? I do not know myself. Can some one with greater knowledge of law answer this.

georgevaccaro said...


By the way, did you listen to the mp3? I was told every single time that the rate was .002 cents/minute - even when I tried to correct them - so if they don't know - how the hell would I know that the rate was different?

Wake up.

Newsletter said...


I'm glad you understand that you were billed correctly. As for the principle of the thing - I 100% agree with your fight, and I hope Verizon refunds the difference.

As for why you're doing this (the blog, the recording, etc)? I don't know - attention? Why else have updates like "TOP RATED POST ON YOUTUBE!" Hooray.

And lets talk about being negative - thanks to your hype about $70, a Verizon employee or two might lose their job 2 weeks before Christmas. Granted, that could be because they're inept, but was the correctly billed $70 worth it, George?

Prashant said...

let me also add, as a former employee of bellsouth, i have a vested interest in seeing verizon pay for this through bad publicity. not because i like bellsouth, but because i DESPISE all the ma bell phone companies.

they are the greediest, most dishonestly run companies you will ever see.

Daniel said...


Everyone wants attention. Is that a terrible crime?

Also, I don't think someone who is this bad at math should hold a job that requires performing it every once in a while. Just my opinion.

Prashant said...


your recent comment is beyond unfair. To say someone will lose their job and use that as a guilt trip is beyond unfair. If someone is incompetent, if someone doesnt do their job right. Then they deserve to lose their job. I dont care if they are dying of cancer on their birthday which happens to be christmas, the same day their three legged hiv infected dog gives birth to a litter of blind puppies.

If you cant do the job you are paid for, you should be fired.

The attitude of biting the bullet is what keeps companies like verizon in business AND what leads to more jobs being shipped overseas.

georgevaccaro said...


First - why didn't you just get to your point instead of trying to make me out to be a liar? Interesting approach.

As for the blog - and the "top rated" - its to make it perfectly clear to Verizon (not specifically the reps) but whoever will ultimately correspond with me, that as a policy, and as a company the f___ed up, numerous times.

1. They should have had managers, and floor managers that could handle a simple situation like this.

2. Three policies should change:
a. When in doubt - the customer is right.
b. Don't advertise rates in ridiculous increments 1/5th of a cent per KB? Come on - most people don't even know what a KB is - at least a MB is about the size of the average digital picture, and a simple fraction of the size of a mp3 file. The $.002/KB is a scam.
c. If you are going to charge fractional cents - make sure the customer service reps quote it the right way - 5KB/penny, .2 cents - at the very least the first supervisor should know this.

3. Its still not clear that the reps didn't do this knowingly. Mike seemed to get it just before he passed it on to Andrea.

As far as I am concerned - if they lose their jobs - I'm sorry for them, but they made the call - Andrea had the power to reverse the charge and honor the quote - but she didn't - that was her mistake - not mine.

She also could have got the email of someone from management above her instead of sluffing me off on a web form - which, by the way I did fill out and submit and it got me a 50% refund when a 99% refund was due.

Will I feel sorry for them if Verizon fires them - yes. Believe it or not I am a very compasionate person. But sometimes if you make a mistake you have to face the consequences. Would I chose to fire them - no. I would chose to have them trained if thats the issue - or sent to ethics classes if that was the problem.

I thank you for making me think about this, because admittedly I wasn't thinking about it as much as I should. I was thinking mostly of avoiding having people getting screwed like this in the future.

I appreciate the comment - next time though, don't shroud it in a veil.

georgevaccaro said...


And finally - you may say "Correctly Billed", but its just stupid.

If you looked into ordering HBO, and the rep told you $5/month so you said "OK", then after you watched it for the month when you got the bill it was for $50, would you consider that "Correctly Billed?"

Adam said...

Try this approach with them--

"Let say for a second that your rate is .002 doughnuts per kb and I use 35000 kb. Now how many doughnuts do I owe you?"

The problem here is that when people see a number like x.xx they automatically assume dollars.cents because its so unfamiliar with fractions of a cent.

This of course ignores the entire dumbing down of our school system to the point that people cannot actually put their mind around a problem but rather just know how to punch buttons on a calculator.

Kelly Hawk said...


re: attention

I for one think that bringing massive amounts of attention to corporate scams and/or ineptitude is a very (very) good thing.



georgevaccaro said...

@kelly hawk

Thanks. Also, I'm not anti-corporate (not implying you are), just anti-scam, and definitely anti-shitty-customer-service.

georgevaccaro said...

Goodnight everyone, I need some serious sleeps...zzzz

Kelly Hawk said...


I'm not anti-corporation either.

But I am anti-corporate scam and anti-corporate ineptitude.

There is a lot of power inherent in large corporate bodies. It becomes easy for them to ignore small problems in terms of customer relations and staffing. This is why (I believe) you have encountered such ignorance at every level of Verizon.

Good luck man.

a Tick said...

This is, by far, the dumbest thing I have seen in a long time. You're my hero for talking to those guys for more than 5 minutes without your head exploding.

It wouldn't be so bad if it were only the first rep who had screwed up. If the issue had been resolved immediately, I'd say take the 36 bucks and be done with it.

That didn't happen.

Instead, you were repeatedly told that the rate was .002¢/kb. Given the ineptitude that pervades every layer of Verizon that you have had contact with, I say you are fully justified in demanding a full refund.

Now, I'm no expert on law either, but it seems to me if they can show that you signed a contract that delineates roaming charges, you don't have a leg to stand on.

However, as you said, you are due at least 99% of what you charged, and you owe it to everyone who has ever been unjustly overcharged, everyone who has seen this site, and ,dare I say it, the internet at large to fight this thing out to the end. This is about more that 72 dollars. It's about the right to not be screwed by total idiots. You've invested too much time to give up now.

By the way, do you know whether that original rep wrote down 0.002¢ or $0.002? Just wondering whether everyone you talked to was seeing $0.002 and misinterpreting it as 0.002¢.

CS3 said...

I'm from India., I forwarded the whole story to many of my friends working throughout India. [ For Sure: it will get forwarded within their Intranet ]

I'm eagerly waiting for Monday: to see the rest of discussion.,

Shivalyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

Hey, thought i would help out if you need any more examples.

Tell them this:

What is 1 dollar in cents? 100 cents.

What is 0.2 dollars in cents? 20 cents. With me so far?

What is 0.02 dollars in cents? I've went down a decimal place so that's 2cents. Correct?

What is 0.002 dollars in cents? We do the same as we done last time and we have 0.2 cents. It's just dividing by 10.

So 0.002 dollars in 0.2 cents so it is completely different to the quote you gave me of 0.002cents. Understand?

And then you wait for... "It's a matter of opinion sir."

Shivalyn said...

@Newsletter: Calling attention to a corporations stupidity? That's wonderful man. Why are you getting mad at George for warning the rest of us?

I've cancelled my Verizon account because of this. This is just basic level math, it's ridiculous that they couldn't do this.

And them losing their jobs? If they can't see the difference between two thousands of a cent and two thousandths of a dollar they shouldnt' be working in that job. They should be flipping burgers.

Would you want them doing surgery on you? They can't tell the difference between hemostats and forceps but why should that stop them?


I seriously cracked up at three spots:

The first guy:
G: So you acknowledge that there's a difference between 2 thousandths of a cent and 2 thousandths of a dollar?
D: (long pause, unsure voice) No.

Second guy: Same situation, same answer as first guy.

The Girl: It's a matter of opinion.

My God....

Mark said...

That is, without doubt, the single most frustrating conversation I have ever heard.

I mean, I can understand the misunderstanding, but what I can't understand is how not even one of five different people is able to grasp what has happened and acknowledge it.

GetPaidForTime said...

In my opinion, in addition to your bill being reduced, you should demand that you be compensated for the time it took you to rectify this situation. If they don't pay some sort of penalty, they have no incentive to properly educate their employees and no disincentive to screw future customers.

Chris Johnsen said...

After reading the transcript, it occurred to me that you could have them ask Google to do the math:

35893 kilobytes * 0.002 cents/kilobyte in dollars

Obviously you'd have to get them to spell out C E N T S instead of writing $0.002 (and avoid other non-sensical variations like "$0.002 cents"), but maybe a unit-aware neutral third party could have been handy.

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


I thought you might like to know there's a thread on this on the Something Awful Forums

Currently it has 342 responses and 28,487 views - that's not a typo!

Kijuki Magazaki said...

Yeah I am calling it scam on this one. i've seen companies do this they 'll advertise for .50 cents (half a cent) when they actually mean 50 cents. And whether this be
a mistake or not, it still falls down under false advertizement, because when it comes down to math, THE MOTHERCORE OF LIFE, MATH (lol), .50 cents i half a cent and not hlaf a dollar.

@newsletter: You do not know whether this was or wasn't some "smart" advetizing alec. Neither does george, but in this case he gains the benefit of doubt, and has the right to fight this any way he can, that of course stays in line. So far, the only thing that could be a bit out of line is the recorded phonecall, however, in a sense he got a verbal "ok" from one of the managers to post it in his blog. How this is expanding is thanks to the many users in the internet, and the obvious stupidity Verizon has to offer. Even if Andrea's ok doesn't fully legally cover him, she still ok'd it. Another stupidity from them would be that she doesn't know what a blog is. But that would be still her fault, in this case, Verizon's.


I am really admired by your patience and your ability to hang in there. Some of the people would just give in, but this is clearly the case of "the customer is right". I really do want to see this been cleared out by either them : accepting they're wrong, or being told by the court they're wrong.

Because you are right; it makes the world no better if this stays as is. AND THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THIS WHOLE THING.

Cause imagine; how many other people have gone through this and not even notice?

Iain said...

Having previously worked in "customer service" myself, I'm stunned by this - but actually not surprised.

And it sounds like the supervisor and manager got their jobs, not through ability, but by who they knew.
An added complaint towards Andrea, though - she hardly showed an ounce of customer service to you, continually interupting you, refusing escalation requests: you asked for someone higher. Even if she could only give her manager's name, who may have nothing to do with the department, she should have damn well given you that name.
She's a "floor manager", that means she's not the CEO. Therefore, someone higher.
In my old job, there were 2 others above the floor manager equivalent that were based in the same area

The only concern I really have with all of this, is a potential legal backlash to yourself.
You left Andrea's number unedited. While most people will not do anything, there's that small minority that will [and apparantly have] leave her voicemails mocking her, insulting her, and who knows what else.

N said...


I just googled ".002 cents to dollars" got 511,000 hits, your VerizonMath issue had 16 of the top 20 slots.

Keep up the good fight!


Lidarose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Benjamin said...


I haven't read all the comments, but I want to talk briefly about the importance of what you are doing here, and why I think you should not give it up under any circumstances. The issues here, as I see them, are actually much larger than just one phone bill, or a few people in a company who fail to understand some basic mathematical principles.

There is one particular section of the phone conversation that stucj out to me as particularly disturbing:

"A: I mean the computer is calculating the, the figure here..."

First, as I'm sure has been said before, this quote, and the situation in general is a clear indication of our increasing willingness to allow computers to do thinking for us. It seems apparent that everyone you have spoken to at Verizon is only too happy to whip out their calculators and punch in the exact same math, then accept the figure they were quoted on the screen as being in dollars because that is what they are used to dealing with. They are completely unused to doing the thinking necessary to realize that the number is still in cents and needs to be converted to dollars.

Failing that, of course, they do what unfortunately all too many of us do-- they fall back on the presumed infallibility of the computer. Yes, a computer spouts out information according to what was programmed into it, and the computers tabulating your bill at Verizon are doing just that. Human error caused a discrepancy between what was quoted and what was actually charged. But what happens once the miscalculation takes place is far scarier. Coupled with an increasing tendency to deny respobsility, shift blame and simply not want to "deal with" problems, we have become frighteningly quick to say, "well, what the computer says must be right." We're not willing to question the computer anymore because it takes too much effort to do so.

Next, this quote:

"A: ...and we are calculating the figure here, and we're all coming up with the same thing - except for you."

The group mentality is equally problematic, because it comes from a belief that what most people believe to be right, must be right. So because no one at Verizon understands (or is unwilling to expend the mental energy necessary to understand) the discrepancy between the quote and the billing, YOU must be the one in error.

Both of these issues connect to the final one, embodied best by this quote:

"A: Okay, well, I mean it's obviously a difference of opinion..."

The implication now is that REALITY and FACT are matters of opinion, and that one can choose which reality to subscribe to. By doing so, reality can be changed to fit one's own opinion or worldview, rahter than one's opinion or worldview being shaped by what one has come to learn about the real world.

Everything you said to the Verizon reps was a matter of FACT, not opnion. There is only ONE way to interpret the basic mathematical truths that resulted in the discrepancy between the quote and your bill. And it's maddeningly frustrating for those of us who see the problem as clearly as crystal, and stand in baffled amusement that supposedly educated adults could fail to understand what you are attempting to explain.

But this gets really scary when you couple it with the previous quotes. You are probably familiar with a book by George Orwell called 1984. Well, in the dystopian future of that novel, the powerful maintained their power by using all of the bove techniques. First, they mastered the principle that one can control reality if everyone believes the same thing. In the book, since the government says The Party has always existed, and every citizen believes it without question, then it is reality-- there is no need to debate what the truth really is. 1984 even uses a mathematical example to illustrate this priciple. If The Party says 2 + 2 = 5, then it equals 5-- it does not matter what mathematical priciples say. In the same way, if everyone at Verizon believes that .002 cents is the same as .002 dollars, then that's what you are billed, regardless of the fundamental mathematical truths that fly in the face of that assessment.

The falsehood is reinforced as truth over and over by virtue of the fact that everyone in Verizon, due to their lack of education, mathematical understanding and/or communication skills, believes the same thing. This "groupthink" forms another layer of the impenetrable wall that preserves untruth at the expense of truth. Finally, our reliance on computers, and the computer's concurrence with the groupthink, seals the deal. No one at Verizon was willing to look beyond what the computer was telling them.

So what I'm getting at is, if you have a situation where a corporation (Verizon), through its willing employee servants' groupthink and infallible computer, dictates that a certain mathematical truth is no longer true, and substitutes their own version of reality, and can get away with it, we have lost all freedom. Once that happens, Verizon can dictate that your bill is whatever they want it to be, because logic, reason, and communication no longer have any impact on their decisions. By turning a blind eye to reason we become entities within a machine, no longer free.

I know this all sounds a bit far-fetched and very distant from where you are right now. But I see larger implications in this and I think it's fascinating. I wish you the best of luck in resolving this. I encourage you not to yield for the sake of the larger principles involved.

webhill said...

I emailed your blog's URL to verizon along with a note saying that this was EXACTLY the reason I wouldn't do business with Verizon any more - I'd had too many experiences like this. They wrote back to me and said:

"Dear H. Israeli,

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter. My name is Lynette, and I will be handling your request today.

This message is in response to your email dated December 8, 2006. I will be happy to assist you.

I am sorry to hear that you were disappointed with our service. We appreciate your feedback and I apologize for the difficulties you've experienced.

The information found on blogs are not always true, can be one sided and are usually highly opinionated instead of factual.

For security reasons, we will not be able to access the blog you provided but I would like to thank you for your concern.

In the meantime, if you have additional questions, please let us know. We look forward to serving you.

Thank you for contacting Verizon.

Verizon eCenter"

georgevaccaro said...

Wow, great comments everyone. I'm really blown away by this.

@Benjamin - very interesting read - I never thought about it that way. I have to say though, my experiences here should be a great example of why we might not need to be worried about that eventuality. There are way too many smart people, and people willing to at least have their voices heard, as evidenced by the spread of this discussion of this call. Thank you for the very interesting comment.

Ken said...

This is amazing. Your blog has found the attention of where we have been discussing how to teach these guys basic math. The best suggestion so far looks like this:

You: "If a kilobyte costs two thousandths of a cent, what's a thousand kilobytes?"
Them: "Two cents."
You: "How many thousands of kilobytes did I use?"
Them: "Thirty-five."
You: "What's two cents times thirty-five?"
Them: "Seventy."
You: "Seventy what?"
Them: "Seventy cents. oh..."

Hope you find this and i hope it helps the next time you have to talk with one of them. Credit for the walkthrough idea due to the SA user iS!

georgevaccaro said...


That's a new approach. I've received a number of really good ones. Just don't forget, at one point the rep said it was .2 pennies - and in the same sentence .002 cents. I don't think I ever got them to acknowledge that .002 cents is the same as 2 thousandths of a cent. That would have been progress... Thanks for the idea.

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

I bet you have gotten a lot of replies and so forth, and these reps are seriously failing at basic math. The female seemed unable to even grasp that $0.002 could even exsist. Well I'm just trying to add my .002 cents.

Another helpful aid from Mad Scientist is this link:

Well, thats probably impossible to give to someone over the phone, but email it to them or something if you can. That visualy displays everything thats going on with the math.

The biggest thing we can think of is that all of the reps are reading a writen down out rate of "$.002 per kb" and are reading it as cents and because of a quick mental error entering that into the calculators as well. Also if you make them do the math again, dont let them change units on you. That seems to be another huge stumbling block for them.

Also, style points on asking for an acountant. That was a good idea and funny as hell. Try to get them to confrence call one if you do this again.

Ken said...

Hmmm, link didnt seem to work. I'm new at this blog stuff, made the acount just to post help.

Hope this works:

Yad said...


Good approach, but we are obviously not dealing with very smart people here. I think George needs to break it down into more simple terms- if that is even possible.

G: What would you rather have in your bank account: .002% of $1 billion or .002% of $1? Do you see there is a difference??

VZW Rep: Uhh... no?


Write down all of the ideas, and then place and record another call to them and try them all.

G: I have 100s of examples here of ways to explain this to you written by lots of savvy people on the Internet, where would you like me to start?

Andrea: I am sure they are all just a difference in opinion.

:) I would lol.

Anthony Hobday said...

I've spotted the problem here, George, but you didn't give an email address so I couldn't hook you up. No matter, I'll just post it here:

"G: Let me start over here. Let's... Let's just say, hypothetically, that your rate was one cent per kilobyte. Right?

A: One cent, that would be .01

G: Right. .01 in her calculator. Correct. So, if it was one cent per kilobyte, and I used one hundred kilobytes, what would my charge be? You would take .01...

A: Uh-huh.

G: ...times 100. And you come up with 1.

A: Right.

G: Right? for 1 dollar.

A: Right."

If, at that PRECISE moment, you'd told them "NO, .01 is .01 dollar. 1 cent is written "1 cent"" then it might have made sense to them. But you agreed with her?!

georgevaccaro said...

@anthony hobday

I know - I realized that after the call. I knew I was onto something there, but I screwed it up. I wasn't using a pen and paper - that was a big mistake.

Anthony Hobday said...

It's because even though they're saying the word "cents", it doesn't mean jack. They're still working in dollars.

Ken said...

I'd still like to protest the first idea i posted would be the simplest and fastest way possible. It involves very little math, and no verbal "point zero zero two"'s which seem to be a massive stumbling block. In 6 lines with no calculator it gives you a value that is no where near the amount billed and it doesnt let the rep screw up converting cents to dollars.

@george, I dont know if you a vindictive sort of person or not, but if this is happening to you it's probably happing to any customer that roams to canada. You could submit your recording and everything to a media soruce, your new channel of choice, and get it aired. There was a man that had a 21 minute phone call to try to get his AOL acount canceled and he got a 5 minute segment on CNN. If you really feel like it, you could probably do this too. Additionaly you could submit this all to the competition. Imagine being the guy responcable for the "At sprint, we know the differance between cents and dollars" commerical.

Just putting that out there cause well, after what you've been through, I would be tring to screw them over how ever I could. And you, you've got ammo.

Anthony Hobday said...

Ken, the problem with your method is that the people at Verizon don't seem to think that .002 cents is 2 thousandths of a cent. They think it's 2 thousands of a dollar. They're just using the word "cents" wrongly.

If you told them what you wrote, they'd say something like "But we're not charging you 2 thousands of a cent".

Ken said...

Good point... hmm, how about asking them how much 500 kb would cost? 1/500 = .002 so ask how much for 500 kb. The problem then might be they say 1 dollar, and i'm trying to figure out how to work around that. If they say 1 cent, then you can just multiply by 70 and you've walked them through to the right answer (roughly, at 35,000kb).

Ken said...

Okay, maybe a slightly refined idea.

"1 kb is .002 cents right?"
".002 cents is 1/500th of a cent"
"500 kb then costs 1 cent right?"
"if 500 kb costs 1 cent, then multiply by 70 and we get 35,000 kb and 70 cents"
"i'm a dumb verizon employee that wont follow this example"

Okay, well last line is me being a cynical jerk, but i dont know how that example could possibly fail, but i will safely asume that verizon will find a way.

Andrew said...

I guess you gave her your two cents.

Or .2 cents.

[/bad pun]

Seriously man, good luck.

Dmitri said...

Wow, man. You rock!
Seriously, they need to take some math classes there..

Schlotzky said...

"Alexandra said...
you need to seperately link the transcrpit to a file; this is way too long for a blog post"

Uh-oh, run!!! It's the BLOG POLICE!!


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


you might be interested in the teaching example i used earlier:

The crux of the problem is simply in the way these people are reading the numbers off their screen aloud.. here's what I think you should do:

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!

Fungii said...

This also showed up on Metafilter...

loconet said...


Excellent points. Those are greater issues I'm seeing as well and why I hope this whole mess is brought to light to as many people as possible.

The problem of people not being able to or not wanting to do some thinking for themselves is a problem affecting our society from all aspects. We see it in the state of politics, pop culture, etc.

On this quote however,

"A: Okay, well, I mean it's obviously a difference of opinion..."

The implication now is that REALITY and FACT are matters of opinion, and that one can choose which reality to subscribe to"

I don't think they are actually consciously realizing that they are stretching reality and setting it up as a matter of opinion. This goes back to your previous two points, they are not willing to "deal with the problem" and do the mental exercises to think for themselves. I'm quite certain the "Well, it seems like we have a difference of opinion" is a scripted response. A response which someone up the corporate chain put together in order for their customer service reps to use whenever they have reached beyond their mental abilities or to the point where they no longer want to deal with the problem. Response's whose purpose is of course to minimize the risk of the corporation losing money by low level managers actually making decisions. As you said, society is being trained to not think. Your point obviously still stands.

loconet said...


"The information found on blogs are not always true, can be one sided and are usually highly opinionated instead of factual."

but but..webhill, didn't you mention there is a phone recording as well? lol. These people don't get anything!

This is some scary stuff we all knew about but aggregated makes it that much more clear.

Max said...

I'm sorry that you had to go through this. It's absolutely ridiculous that they can't understand the concept. Unbelievable...

MZukrow said...

"For security reasons, we will not be able to access the blog you provided but I would like to thank you for your concern."

Wow! are the verizon employees allowed to see day light? or is that a security risk as well? How about bathroom breaks?

Hex said...

Thought you missed out a chance when you asked one of them to write out 1 cent and they said 0.01. Should have corrected them at that point that it's 0.01 dollars.

Ah hell, it's easy enough to say stuff from here - kudos on keeping it together while arguing it out with them though.

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.

Andrew said...

Dealing with Verizon is a nightmare. I am glad one incident has been memorialized so well! The company as a whole is truly clueless!

Ceetar said...

M: National roaming access coverage in Canada is .002 per kilobyte cents.

G: Can you say that again?

M: It's .002 cents per kilobyte

Now as I read this, and I accept that it may be a typo in transcription, he's saying two different things. .002 kilobyte cents is different then .002cents/kilobyte.
.002 kilobyte cents being, if you convert it out, the correct rate, and the other obviously being what you were quoted.

Not that that changes anything, it just appears they might have it listed correctly?

JT said...

I was a little confused by that too.. He may have actually said ".002 per kilobyte... in cents" With an indistinct "in". I listened to it a couple times as I was writing, and couldn't really tell. I think the guy was just confused, and realized he should have said "cents" in there somewhere, so he added it at the end.

Valerie said...

My favorite part was Andrea announcing, "I'm no mathemetician..." Ya think?

kelly said...

@ MZukrow -

"For security reasons, we will not be able to access the blog you provided but I would like to thank you for your concern."

Wow! are the verizon employees allowed to see day light? or is that a security risk as well? How about bathroom breaks?

I've never worked for Verizon, but I have worked for Gateway Computers, Cox Communications, and Western Digital, all in their technical support call centers (and in other technical call centers, as well). These were all set up fairly similarly, with the call center in a large 1 or 2 story building, where the innermost room (a very large room in most cases) was filled with rows of desks or cubicles where the call center agents worked. It was very rare for a call center "floor" like this to have any windows at all.

Call centers are very unhappy environments in which to work, for a variety of reasons, especially in tech support. Not only are you in a very large "warehouse" environment with little to no job security, generally poor pay and benefits, no natural light or interesting scenery... virtually no one calls in for support when everything is working fine or they are completely happy with a service. All of your calls are based around a negative experience. Imagine talking to angry, grumpy, irritated, pissed off, dissatisfied customers for 8 or more hours a day on the phone. Imagine trying to lead them through complicated and confusing troubleshooting steps for the majority of the call. Imagine your boss breathing down your neck to make sure you calm your customers down and fix whatever weird problems they can come up with in under 10 - 12 minutes per call.

Imagine being paid about $10 or less (on average) an hour to do this.

I'm so very glad I escaped the call center world....

Nancy D. said...

Gotta wonder of ol' Andrea would notice if Verizon calculated her paycheck using .002 CENTS or .002 DOLLARS...

Doesn't matter one whit if they actual charge is in fact .002 Dollars. They keep. repeating. and. are. redundant. again. and. again. repeatedly. that the correct rate is:

.002 CENTS.

Pritthish said...

man, i never knew ANYONE could be THAT dumb LOL I thought they taught the difference between a dollar and a cent at grade4!!! This is simply stupid!! Either all these people are extremely dumb or they bribed their way in and are illiterates LOL

Adam Margeson said...

You know, one thought that I had while reading through all of this is, don't brute force it forward. They obviously don't get it. But if you were to go backwards...

Give them back what they gave you:
$71.97 / 35893KB = $0.002, or
"point two cents per kilobyte".
That doesn't equal the quote of
"point zero zero two cents per kilobyte".

Taffy said...

once i had a customer service rep. mailed me a Penny in an envelope with a .29 cents stamp on it, this has nothing to do with the .0002 cents issue....... anyway, rep was from a credit card company, don't remember which one, but i think it was one of those big company, it was at least 5 years ago..... long story short, i noticed $.01 = Penny, (am i right?) was over charged on my bill, so of course i called and get it credit back to my account, rep simply told me that, she couldn't credit the Penny back to me, because the computer system simply doesn't allow her to do it,because of this small amount! so i was like..... $#&%^&%^*, that's not my problem...... you can't do that, so i told her to send a Penny to me, she was in the east coast, i was in the west coast, so told her to put a 29cents stamp (if i remember correctly) on an envelope and mail it to me, she did. and i had the penny taped on my big CRT monitor ever since, it was a brand new shinny Penny too : ) IT IS SIMPLY NOT YOUR PROBLEM IF THEY CAN'T DO IT.

R~* said...

I just stumbled on this and what a great read it was. Really, whether they got it or not, refunding the charge would have saved them in the long run. I think this is a clear example of how we can get when we believe we are right. They are right when they say the "system" charged the correct amount it did. They just cannot seem to let that go to understand that they misquoted you. I thought she might get it when you asked her to take responsibility but no one wants to do that. Did you ever get your money back?

R~* said...

I just all the links at the top of the entry that I did not see the first time out. good for you for sticking to it and getting your money back. I have had a similar experience with Bell Canada. A very basic request to transfer a credit balance on one bill to a balance owing on another (the credit balance was due to a Bell error not one on my part). They have yet to figure it out and I get all kinds of strange emails from them.

I truly believe that large Coporations just don't give a damn. They talk the talk all over the place. They don't need to walk the walk because we as customers never take any united action. Imagine if all VW customers switched. Think of the changes they would make in an instant. Same as if we all used only one gas station until the prices dropped. We have the power we just don't use it.

Xocai Answer said...

Thanks for the due diligence and patience in working with them. They will not admit error or they will have to refund MILLIONS!!!! so they want to keep it quit. Thanks to the NY Times we can all ask them what they charge us and how they did their math!

David said...

Now, imagine if this happened in Zimbabwe, where the inflation is so bad that they have One Trillion dollar currency. How does a nation that has rampant illiteracy deal with such huge sums? guess is that whoever programmed the computer that spits out the bill for this, made an error in forgetting to do the math..and forget it was cents, not dollars. What's worse, is that in Canada, years ago, they went from Imperial Gallons to liters for fuel. The guy in charge of fueling a commercial passanger craft didn't make the proper conversion, and the plane ran out of fuel. They were lucky enough to land on a racing car dragstrip with all engines out.

Chuan said...

There's no mystery here. The reps saw "$.002". They saw it as a point-something dollar -- less than a dollar, they called it ".002 cents"! Too bad for you, contract wise, it's "$.002", not ".002 cents". But it's a very funny story.

dokteriq said...

lol ... freaking idiots. they cant do basic freaking math ... LOL !!!

Jessa said...

I am absolutely amazed at how calm you remained throughout the entire discussion. Major kudos to you for your endless patience in explaining and re-explaining over and over again a simple math problem.

The fact that you didn't dissolve into a screaming argument makes your point that much stronger.

Also, in high school, I had a group project in which we made a comic book to explain integral functions... you have totally brought the "Integrator(!)" to life (or voice, rather) in my head. Except now it seems like he would be an alcoholic, depressed and slightly insane superhero due to his misunderstood status.

MyTherapy21 said...

Here is a letter, units converted for your case, I had to send to a UK Data supplier for much the same reason.

Examples to ensure language use is consistent in numbers (and words in parenthesis). All examples of penny and cent are interchangeable. Each example is one tenth of the line above
1) $ 2.00 = 200¢ ( Two Dollars, Two Hundred Cents or Two Hundred Pennies)
2) $ 0.20 = 20¢ (Point Two Dollars, Ten Cents or Ten Pennies)
3) $ 0.02 = 2¢ (Point Zero Two Dollars, Two Cents or Two Pennies)
4) $ 0.002 = 0.2¢ (Point Zero Zero Two Dollars, Point Two Cents or Two Tenths of a Penny)
5) $ 0.0002 = 0.02¢ (Point Zero Zero Zero Two Dollars, Point Zero Two Cents or Two Hundredths of a Penny)
6) $ 0.00002 = 0.002¢ (Point Zero Zero Zero Zero Two Dollars, Point Zero Zero Two Cents, Two Thousandths of a Penny)
As you can hear from the recording I was repeatedly quoted “Point zero zero two cents per kilobyte” which is highlighted in the 6th (sixth) line above, in numbers $0.00002/KB or 0.002¢/KB. Since I used 35,893KB (thirty-five thousand eight hundred and ninety three Kilobytes) the cost is calculated as below

35,893KB x 0.002¢/KB = 71.786¢ (seventy-one point seven eight six cents)
35,893KB x $0.00002/KB = $0.71786 (point seven one seven eight six dollars)

What I am being charged is $71.786 (seventy-one point seven eight six dollars) which is also 7,178.6¢ (seven thousand one hundred and seventy-eight point six cents) which calculates to a rate of
$71.786 ÷ 35,893KB = $0.002/KB (point zero zero two dollars per Kilobyte)
7,178.6¢ ÷ 35,893KB = 0.2¢/KB (point 2 cents per Kilobyte or two tenths of a penny per Kilobyte)
This rate is equivalent to the 4th (fourth) example line at the top of this letter. The 4th and 6th example lines at the top of this letter are not equal the 4th line is 100 times the value of the 6th line. I am willing to pay for the services received (35,893KB of data) at the rate quoted (point zero zero two cents per Kilobyte) which I have rounded up to a value of 72¢ (seventy two cents) and enclosed."

Not sure if it would have helped though.