Sunday, November 4, 2007

Verizon is still quoting in fractional cents per KB...

On my February 12th post here I reported that it appeared that Verizon had finally cleaned up their act with respect to quoting in fractional cents per KB instead of a more reasonable and understandable $ per MB.

It seems that the site I reported on was a b2b site (business to business). Well during some recent random searching on VerizonMath (I know, get a life) I found this.

It appears that while Verizon has cleaned up their quoting practices for b2b, they have not done the same on the consumer front.

51 comments:

Lawrence said...

At least it's all consistently quoted in $

ktripp said...

Next time tell the customer service rep to use google instead of their calculator- it doesn't screw up units when you tell it which ones to use.

itbedave said...

I feel your pain man! If Verizon (comparitively) didn't offer the best overall coverage and service of the big cell companies - I would have quit them 7 years ago! Amazingly enough - I am still with them.

7 years ago - we moved from Indiana to Ohio for new jobs. We cancelled our service in Indiana because they told us we could not simply transfer our existing account to Ohio for some reason. So we setup new service in Ohio - no problem, right? Well, not at least for 4 months. That's when we were notified that our Indiana account was 4 months past due on billing, even though we had cancelled it, had not used it, paid the remaining balance due at cancellation, and were getting and paying regular bills from our new Ohio accounts.

The 2 Verizons apparently couldn't communicate. Because Ohio had no problem with us and service continued fine. Indiana closed our accounts and sent them off for collections - which in any other case would normally be proceeded by shutting down your service on their network. But it wasn't.

So, while I spent the next YEAR calling and talking to idiots and ended up ONLY getting the attention we deserved after writing a letter to coporate - we still had our Verizon service on our new phones in Ohio. And yes, they were purchased at a REAL Verizon store - not just an authorized agent.

They are idiots - and it starts at the top. Because it takes idiots to right customer service manuals like that, more idiots to train people to follow those procedures, and even bigger idiots to follow it to the "T."

I WISH I had been able to record calls and BLOG like this back then. I would have done the same thing!

So KUDOS! It's hard work I know to document all of this - but hopefully your pain will get some major notice in the media and government and knock these idiots upside the head!

And now, I intend to send you a personal check for $.72. ;)

islandWill said...

Congratulations! It seems the Transportation Safety Admin. (TSA) is now teaching its people VerizonMath. On a travel/stolen-luggage segment of ABC's 20/20 for Dec. 14, when trying to put the issue of employee honesty in perspective, a TSA spokesman emphatically pointed-out that the dismissal of 273 or so employees out of a workforce of 100,000 represented "less than three thousandths of one percent" of the workforce.

UnregisteredNickname said...

I don't know where else to put this, so I'm going to put it here.

You people are wrong. .002 cents is the same as .002 dollars. Cents are not whole numbers BY DEFINITION. Cent is short for percent. 1 cent is one percent of a DOLLAR. .01 cent is .01 percent of a DOLLAR. .000000000001 cent is .000000000001 percent of a DOLLAR. There is no room for discussion here. All of our money is based on the dollar. Not the penny, not the quarter, not the 10 dollar bill. All of our currency is, in the end, some manifestation of a DOLLAR. So when you show me .002 cents or $0.002 or (cents)0.002, it all means the same thing.

You go to a store, and get a piece of candy. The price tag says, ".25". You go to the cashier and ask how much is this, and he replies a quarter. You would be laughed out of the store if you replied, "A quarter of what?" We ALL know a quarter of what. It's how money works.

The "fuzzy math" being used here is being used by you, sir. You can call them names, and repeat yourself 9000 times and start your own blog and do whatever you want. Playing semantics with the use or misuse of the words "cents" is bullshit of Republican proportions.

Furthermore, I would LOVE to see the contract you signed that states that 0.002 cents per kilobyte refers to .002 percent of a penny. It doesn't. I already know this because I understand how money works. You do not get to pick your own coin and decide that's the basis for all transactions. US currency is based on the dollar, and there is no denying that.

itbedave said...

Ok UnregisteredNickname - you are in error. Using your own words:

"1 cent is one percent of a DOLLAR. .01 cent is .01 percent of a DOLLAR."

Not exactly. 1 cent IS one percent of a DOLLAR, but .01 DOES NOT equal .01 percent of a dollar, which is 100 cents. .01 x 1 cent - .01 - or 1/100th of a cent. .01x100=1, or 1 cent.

There is a DEFINITE difference between 100th of a cent and 100th of a dollar.

Portions of cents are used all the time on bills and other charges BTW. Check your local gas station or utility bills. There are lots of cases of fractional cents being used.

When you figure out the equation that causes 1 cent to = 100 cents (aka 1 dollar) - let us know. Until then, I'll stick to real math.

Cheers.

UnregisteredNickname said...

You can rationalize it all you want. Our base currency is the dollar. When I speak in "cents", I am speaking in percents of our base currency. This is why currency works so well, because (supposedly) everyone knows that a dollar is a dollar, and everything else is a fraction of or a multiplication of the dollar.

When I (or Verizon, PG&E, AT&T, Coldstone Creamery or the US Government) say "cents", I (we) mean percents of a dollar. I (nor Verizon, PG&E, AT&T, Coldstone Creamery or the US Government) should not have to spell it out for Joe American that I do not mean percents of a penny, or percents of a quarter, or percents of a goat.

I've listened to the audio, and read the transcript. I am unable to find where they ever stated that "cents" means anything than "percent of a dollar".

Has this been brought to court? Has anyone consulted a lawyer? Because if Verizon is truely out to trick you into thinking "cents" means anything except "percent of a dollar" then there may be a case. Personally, I doubt a case can be made.

Oh, and that dipshit scan of the check where the guy wrote 0.002 + e to the pie squared crap..it still means dollars, because it says dollars AT THE END OF THE LINE. So all I have to do is solve for E, and I get whatever the answer is IN DOLLARS.

Kage said...

Here's how to calculate using percents Unregistered. You get the original number, multiply by the percent, then divide by 100. So, if .002 cents is .002% of a dollar, then the formula is $1.00 x .002 / 100 = $0.002 / 100 = $0.00002. So, $0.00002/kb * 35893kb = $0.71786 or 71.786 cents (or percent if you will) which rounds to 72 cents, or $0.72. That is the correct amount that should have been charged. This of course assuming what you said is correct about cents being short hand for percent, which I don't really think to be the case.

UnregisteredNickname said...

Why are you dividing by 100 at the end of the formula? You get percentages simply by taking the whole number and multiplying by the percentage.

For example: 50% of 100 is 50.

100 * .50 = 50.

100 / 2 (which will get me half, which is 50%) = 50.

50 cents is short for 50% of a dollar. 50 pennies, each of which representing 1 cent, equal 50 cents which is equal to 50% of a dollar.

The issue at hand is not that of math, which I will concede has been correct on both sides of this argument, but a question of meaning. Cents does not mean "penny". A penny is not a whole number, and never has been. A cent is 1 percent of a dollar, and is represented by the penny. Various other coins represent other percentages of the dollar, such as the quarter: 25 cents = 25%of a dollar = 1/4th of a dollar = a quarter of a dollar.

50 cents = 50% of a dollar.
24 cents = 24% of a dollar.
1 cent = 1% of a dollar
and 100 cents = 100% of a dollar.

So when I say .002 cents, at what point did cents stop meaning percent of a dollar?

Kage said...

"100 * .50 = 50."
So, you're taking the 50, and dividing by 100, but not showing the step at which you did that.
100 * 50 / 100 = 100 * .50 = 50

Try it this way, find 18% of 100.
100 * 18 / 100 = 1800 / 100 = 18.
The math is correct, and if you need more proofs, I'll be happy to provide them.

"So when I say .002 cents, at what point did cents stop meaning percent of a dollar?"

Well, since you went from 50% to .50, it's safe to go from .002% of a dollar to $0.00002 which would be your .002%.

I don't know where you're getting your "cent is a percent" from, I'm just saying I'm not so certain that is the case. The math, even from a percent angle, still comes out as the same number. Either way of calculating, the amount he should have been charged is still $0.72, or 72 cents.

UnregisteredNickname said...

"I don't know where you're getting your "cent is a percent" from, I'm just saying I'm not so certain that is the case."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cent_(currency)

"In many national currencies, the cent is a monetary unit that equals 1/100 of the basic monetary unit."

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cent

a bronze coin of the U.S., the 100th part of a U.S. dollar: made of steel during part of 1943

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cent

1 : a monetary unit equal to 1⁄100 of a basic unit of value

" "So when I say .002 cents, at what point did cents stop meaning percent of a dollar?"

Well, since you went from 50% to .50, it's safe to go from .002% of a dollar to $0.00002 which would be your .002%."

First of all, 0.50 is 50%. I did not make any leap of mathematics to come to that. It just is.

Secondly, Verison did not say .002%, I did. They said .002 cents, which as I have proven up top, means "percent of a dollar." Therefore:

Total cost = Unit * cost per unit.

Unit = Kilobyte (1)
Cost per unit = .002 cents

Total Units = 35893

35893 * .002 = 71.786 (we'll round down to 71.78)

Since the whole number we are working with is the dollar and NOT the penny, any number to the left of the decimal point is a dollar. Therefore, the total cost is 71 dollars and 78 cents (percent of a dollar). If the whole number we were working with was a penny, then you would be correct and the charge would be 71 cents.

If your arguement had been, "Who's currency are we talking about? The US or Canada?", then you would have a valid argument. If your argument had been, "Did you mean KiloBYTE or KiloBIT (which are both valid measurements of bandwidth)?", then you would have an argument.

Since this entire argument has been about which portion of our currency belongs on the left side of the decimal point, you have no legal or moral leg to stand on. Our basic unit of currency is the dollar, and it always has been. Everytime we talk about currency, we are talking about a fraction of or a multiplication of the dollar. There is no negotiation in this. It is because it is.

Kage said...

Check your math again. cents/kb * kb = (cents kb) / kb. The 2 kb cancel out, leaving only cents. This results in an answer in cents. The 71.78 is the number of cents, thus rounding it's 72 cents. This method of determining the end unit is known as dimensional analysis. You may want to read up on how to do dimensional analysis. I learned it during my physics class as often this type of multiplication or division occured, and dimensional analysis was the method by which the ending unit was determined.

As for your references, those say hundredths of a unit of currency, not percent of the unit of currency, granted they come out to be the same thing, but nothing there suggests that cent was meant to intend percent.

You went from 50% to .50. How does one reach the second number? Simple, divide by 100. 50 / 100 = 0.50. This is the step I mentioned. You didn't so much skip it, as simply do the step, but not show how you completed the step. So, how do you go from 0.002% to the number that the percentage represents? Divide by 100. 0.002 / 100 = 0.00002. The price per kb is $0.00002.

1 cent is $0.01. One fifth of a cent is $0.002, after all, that's $0.01/5. So, how is .002 cents, that is 2 thousandths of a cent equal to one fifth of a cent? It isn't. The 2 numbers given by the Verizon people weren't the same. $0.002 != 0.002 cents.

UnregisteredNickname said...

Dimensional analysis? Are you kidding me? This isn't physics, it's currency. You are seriously complicating this far more than it needs to be.

I buy 1 KB, I pay 0.002 cents for it. There is no reason for rocket science, because this isn't rocket science. If I buy 5 KB, then I pay 0.01 cents (5KB * 0.002). If I buy 500 KB, I pay 1.00 (500KB * 0.002). If I buy 35893 KB, I pay 71.78. The whole number (the number to the left of the decimal) is a dollar. It is always a dollar. It will be a dollar for as long as the United States says that the basic unit of currency is the dollar. There are no other options.

I get what is being said. Verizon said 0.002 cents. That is being interpreted as 2/1000th of one cent. But that means that the value of a penny needs to be represented as 1.00 cent, and that is an incorrect way to show that denomination. The only way this works is if we all agree that when I place a tag on a piece of merchandise that states "1.00", then I am saying 1 dollar. The symbols on either side of the number are not relevent from a mathematical standpoint. To the left of the decimal, we have dollars. To the right, we have cents. That is all there is to it.

Kage said...

Unless of course they specifically state that it's cents. If the symbol next to the 1.00 is cents, then the price is 1 cent. Regardless of the denomination favored in the US. If some one wants to charge 100 rupees, you need to convert it to US currency. If some one wants to charge in cents, you convert to dollars. What's implied is meaningless when something completely different is so clearly stated. They said .002 cents, that means they should bill using that number in mind. Yes, they intended $0.002, but they instead quoted 0.002 cents, and that's what matters. If I promise a rate in cents, then I should be billing a rate based on cents, and convert to dollars afterwards. The dimensional analysis was given to show why the idea that when you multiply cents/kb by kb, you get an answer that's still in cents. Dimensional analysis proves it. Thus the rate that resulted, while intended to be $71.78, according tot he quote he was given, it was 72 cents, so that's what he should have to pay. If a company misrepresents something, they need to make good on what they promised, or give a refund for what was purchased. Otherwise you open up companies to promise "I'll sell this for a dollar" who than bill you for $1,000.00. It prevents fraud, and while I don't think this was intended to be fraud, the only morally right thing to do when you quote some one a price or rate, is to stand by that price or rate.

UnregisteredNickname said...

Finally, we agree on something.

"They said .002 cents, that means they should bill using that number in mind. Yes, they intended $0.002, but they instead quoted 0.002 cents, and that's what matters."

That is what I have been saying since I first ran across this arguement. This has never been an arguement about math, and it is incredibly unfair to accuse Verizon (and its innocent employees, which is another reason I am pissed about this) of poor math skills. This is, and has always been, an arguement over semantics. What Verizon said against what Verizon meant.

Please believe me when I say that no one likes "sticking it to the man" any more than I do, but there are better ways to do that than deliberatly misconstruing meanings in order to prove some imagined nefarious intent. Verizon is not using "VerizonMath", they are using good old fashioned math. They are not stupid. The only thing they are guilty of is not taking into account the depths some people will go to get their way.

These arguements are of the same ilk that make it necessary for skylight manufacturers to put signs on their products warning people not to walk on them, or hairdryer factories warning people not to try to use the hairdryer in the shower. One would think that common sense would prevail, but sadly we live in a world where common sense is in short supply.

Verizon said cents, and a cent is (and always will be, and no amount of theoretical math is going to change this) 1/100th of a dollar. The dollar is (and always will be) the only whole number we work with in the US currency system. In Germany, it is the Deutschmark. In Britain, it is the Pound. An overwhelimg majority of countries in the world base their currancy on one single unit and everything else is a fraction of or a multiplication of that unit. This is how it works, and this is how it is going to continue to work.

"Otherwise you open up companies to promise "I'll sell this for a dollar" who than bill you for $1,000.00."

No, we don't. This is exactly why we have a standard unit of currancy. A dollar is a dollar. 1.00. Symbol or no symbol, that says 1 dollar. 1,000.00 is one thousand dollars. I know this, not because I have a PhD in Physics, or because I have studied with Tibetan Monks, but because I understand that everything to the left of the decimal is a whole number, and the only whole number is the dollar.

I have asked this question in the past, and I am going to pose it again: Has this ever been to court? Has anyone been successful in proving, under law, that Verizon is wrong? Has this even been brought to a lawyer? I am betting the answer is no. I know that Verizon eventually folded and gave the guy his money, but I assure you it was for no other reason than to placate him because $70 is much cheaper than fighting this out in court. Verizon would have won, I have no doubt, but it would have been an empty victory.

Kage said...

I fail to see misquoting a price as being comparable to the reasons for some of the seemingly stupid labels that exist on merchandise due to the stupidity of people who would try to stop a chainsaw blade with their hands. (Yes, there is a chainsaw label that warns not to stop the blade with your hand) The big thing here, is that the price was misquoted, and if Verizon realizes that the price was misquoted, they should stick to what they quoted. If you are quoted a price, can prove the price you are quoted, why would he lose a legal battle? He'd be able to prove that Verizon promised him one rate, and charged him another. That's all it takes to win such a law suit.

You brought up common sense, and I fail to see where it applies. If I'm quoted a price in cents, am I supposed to psychically know they really mean dollars? He even triple checked the price with the customer service rep to make sure the deal was as great as suggested, before he started using the service in Canada.

Yes, everything left of a decimal is a whole number, and everything to the right is a fraction of that. I do understand that concept, but what you fail to take into consideration is that what is a whole number under one unit, can be a fraction of a number in another. Thus if talking about cents, cents can be whole numbers, while talking about dollars, cents aren't whole numbers. While the US dollar is the main denomination of currency used in the US, the cent is also a denomination. It may be measured by the dollar, but it's still a denomination. Thus if they quote in cents, they should be held accountable to the quote they gave. If I'm told a price in cents while at a store, then find it rung up in dollars at the register, I'm going to put it back, as that wasn't the given price and wasn't what I agreed to. George didn't have the fortune of finding out the correct price just getting the service, thus he had to fight to get the bill to the rate he was supposed to receive.

Now, the reason that most of us say they are bad with math, isn't that they couldn't do the math, but rather, they failed to see the problem when it was explained to them over and over again, simplified, broken down, everything he could think of to make it clear. At this point it seems you do see the difference between $0.002 and 0.002 cents, but they couldn't, when having it explained repeatedly, which means they can't do basic conversions when the decimal is too far to the left. This makes it clear that at least one area of their mathematics needs work. I can't vouch for other areas, but that part certainly needs some help.

UnregisteredNickname said...

“I fail to see misquoting a price as being comparable to the reasons for some of the seemingly stupid labels that exist on merchandise due to the stupidity of people who would try to stop a chainsaw blade with their hands.”

Yes, I have seen the “Don’t stop a chainsaw with your hands” warning label. It is there because someone thought that would be a good idea, and then sued because no one warned that person that the chainsaw has a similar effect on human flesh that it does on wood. My point is that the assumption of dollars being whole numbers and cents being fractions is the basis of all currency that uses decimalization as it base representation. The truth of the matter is the symbols on either side of the number, either $ or ¢, are irrelevant from a mathematical standpoint, as they are not actual mathematical symbols. They are symbols simply intended to show that we are speaking about currency rather than apples. This is why calculators do not have a $ or ¢ symbol on them. It is assumed that dollars are on the left and cents are on the right of the decimal. This is an issue because if companies had to go around explaining how decimalization works and what they mean every single time they quoted a price, they would practically open themselves to any interpretation anyone wanted to argue.

Therefore, a standard has to be established. That standard is 1.00 means 1 dollar. 1.10 means 1 dollar and 10 cents. We do not get to choose which denomination gets to go on which side of the decimal point. Otherwise, as you stated earlier, you would be inviting fraud by allowing companies to say, “The price is $1.00.” and then coming back later and saying, “Oh, we though you understood. The whole number on the left side of the decimal we intended to convey was the 10 dollar bill. We are terribly sorry for any inconvenience.” If that were to happen, you can rest assured I would be on the front line with the rest of you. The way I see it, it is happening now, except this time it is the customer who is perpetrating the fraud by deciding which whole number we get to work with.

“If I'm quoted a price in cents, am I supposed to psychically know they really mean dollars?”

For the same reason that I psychically know that when I cross the border from California to Nevada, I am still supposed to drive on the right hand side of the road. There are no signs. I have never read the Nevada Driver’s Manual. My driver’s license was completed in California, and all my knowledge in driving is based on California laws. The reason I know we drive on the right hand side of the road in Nevada (and Maryland, and Texas, and Mississippi) is because a standard has been set. If I decide to drive on the left hand side in Nevada, and I get into an accident, I will not be able to scream that no one told me that I was supposed to be on the right hand side and that there was inadequate signage to explain that to me.

"Now, the reason that most of us say they are bad with math, isn't that they couldn't do the math, but rather, they failed to see the problem when it was explained to them over and over again, simplified, broken down, everything he could think of to make it clear."

That is all well and good, except that this is not a math question, it is a semantic question. The reason they could not understand what George was saying (and I can only assume the recording I heard was George vs. Verizon) was because what George was saying was incorrect. To the rep, this probably did not make any sense because of the thousands of calls he gets per day, this was the only person to ever argue whether a cent was a whole number or not. His floor supervisor, who job is to handle these sorts of calls (and therefore has probably heard quite a few angry and also wrong people) also could not understand what George was trying to say. If she had been more dismissive, and acted like she was reading off a script that gave her instructions on how to handle people who call with this complaint, I would probably be a little more skeptical about their motives. However, she was as surprised as the rep about the silly and convoluted logic this particular customer was trying to use. They could not understand why they were wrong, because they were not wrong. This is also why George had to go up the ladder as high as he did to get his refund. Each person he spoke to could also not understand why they were wrong, because they were simply not wrong. The only reason he got any compensation at all was because he complained enough, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. This is not a victory for mathematics; it is a victory for tenacity.

Kage said...

While it's true that the ¢ and $ aren't mathematical symbols, it's important to realize that they represent units of measurement. When some one quotes cents, it's in the measurement of ¢. Whether or not the ¢ was intended to mean a fraction of the actual unit of currency, or whether it was intended as a seperate unit that was simply calculated by comparing it's value to the other unit of currency, is irrelevant. They quoted in ¢ and should be held accountable to ¢. George wasn't trying to defraud the company by making them charge him based on a misrepresentation of what they quoted him. He was trying to get the price they actually quoted him as his bill instead of an amount 99 times higher. Expecting a company to stand by the price that company quoted isn't exactly fraud.

As for explaining what they mean each time they quote a price, they already are, they say whether it's dollars or cents, and that is the explanation. If I said "5 cents per" you'd expect to pay 25¢ if you bought 5, and 50¢ if you bought 10. Not $25 and $50 respectively. This is why the word "cents" is so important here. Also, I'd never settle for a company to quote me a price with out stating the unit of currency for the price, I'd expect the explanation of "dollars" or "cents" as that then makes it clear what I can expect to be charged.

A standard is established. $1.00 means 1 dollar, and 1¢ means 1 cent. What you are suggesting isn't far from the abolishing of "cents", and simply saying "hundredth's of a dollar". Your claim that the customer decided which whole number to work with is proven incorrect by the very recording that we've all listened to. They specifically said "cents" there for the unit being used was established. Yes, I understand that the employees thought $0.002 should be expressed in cents, and it could have been, had they done the conversion first. 0.2¢ Or would you claim this number actually means 20 cents, as expressed in $0.20?

As for the crossing borders, this doesn't really apply. If you're going to travel, you should know the local laws before you go there. And that one is a basic one as it's the same across the US. How about going to another country? Will they still drive on the right hand side of the road? Best to find out first. Which is exactly what George tried to do, he was unsure of what the change would be when the standard rules wouldn't apply, called in, and got a price. Then was charged something different. If I had been a rep, and didn't have direct orders to do so, and was able to verify that he was quoted 0.002¢ instead of $0.002, I'd just credit him the difference right then as I'd be able to clearly see he'd been quoted the wrong price, and that a problem needed to be resolved. I do this kind of thing at Bank of America. If I can be sure some one said something incorrect, and I'm in a position to fix it, I fix it. Then I comment the account that I did it due to bank error. I would expect the people at Verizon to fix their errors too.

How is what George was saying incorrect? He said he'd been quoted a rate in cents, and that they charged him in dollars. He even said he now understood the rate that he was being charged at to be in dollars, but wanted them to fix the mistake as they had quoted him a price 1/100th the amount he was charged. The representatives couldn't figure out why the conversion was incorrect, not because George was wrong, he was correct, but because they couldn't understand the basic idea that when quoting in cents, you multiply that first number ($0.002) by 100 to get what it is in cents. (¢) Now a cent is a whole number when talking in cents. If I'm discussing cents, such as 25¢, it's a 25, not a 0.25. If I'm discussing in dollars, then it's $0.25. And he wasn't arguing whether cents were whole numbers, so much as arguing he was promised a rate in cents, then got charged that rate in dollars, with out first converting to dollars.

You just said they weren't wrong, yet, the first verizon rep recorded went on to say 0.002¢ was the same as both 0.2¢ and $0.002. This is very much wrong. Even Verizon recognized that, the e-mail they sent when they did the refund said they accidentally misquoted the price, and Verizon even said they were supplementing the training material needed to teach associates the difference between the numbers so that this wouldn't happen again. They didn't directly admit fault (understandable, the person sending the e-mail didn't quote an incorrect price, and probably didn't realize associates were quoting incorrectly) they did admit that the associates quoting those prices were wrong in the quote.

Yes, I agree he got it because he harrassed them long enough, and others started to harrass them too. This doesn't mean that they weren't wrong. Plenty of companies have done this kind of thing, and tried to simply ignore it. Not necessarily with quoting cents and charging dollars, but misrepresenting something, and not wanting to do anything about the mistake, and finally giving in to prevent the bad pr as well as simply satisfying the person who is hounding them. The reasons for giving the refund when the company is wrong, isn't necessarily because they were wrong, it can easily be because it was necessary from a business standpoint. A business standpoint will often take into account the cost of the call, so if some one is persistent enough, some one might credit the account simply because the person is going to waste a great deal of money paying the employees to deal with this person, instead of people coming with new problems. So not always a bad pr thing, but can be simply because it's cheaper in the long run.

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

I believe I am not being as clear as I think I am. I also believe we have strayed a bit from the issue at hand, which I believe is the definition of the word “cent” and how it relates to decimalization and the US currency system. I am going to try this from a different angle and see if I can get a different result.

Before that, I need to know something. One major part of this disagreement is that George’s original complaint was that the Verizon rep stated (verbally) that the price was 0.002 cents. As far as I know, we have no real documentation that conversation took place, and while I am not denying that it did (nor would I be calling George a liar), I would be curious to hear how that conversation went. Furthermore, I would also like to know if there is any official documentation indicating that the price per kilobyte in Canada that Verizon charges is written as 0.002 cents (or ¢). If such documentation can be produced, I will gladly concede victory to George and his many allies, even though the definition of the word “cent” does in fact mean “1/100th of a basic unit of currency” and the basic unit of currency in the United States is the dollar.

That being said, I pose this question. If I ask 100 adults (and let’s assume for argument sake that all 100 have at least a high school level education) to read me a series of numbers that I say represent money, what would their answers be?

The questions will be posed in such a way so that the only task the subject will need to complete is to read and verbalize what I have written onto an index card. I will verbalize the question as, “How much money is this?”

The first card will read: 25.00

The second card will read: 0.25

I submit that the majority of (if not all) the adults would read those as, respectively, “twenty-five dollars” and “twenty-five cents”. This is because the way money is taught at the public school level is numbers to the left of the decimal are dollars, and to the right are cents. This is a standard rule of decimalization.

I will then show them two more index cards while posing the same question, “How much money is this?”

The first card will read: $25.00

The second card will read $0.25

I submit again that the majority (if not all) of the adults will respond, respectively, “twenty-five dollars” and “twenty-five cents”. Again, this is a basic tenet of decimalization. The number on the left represents dollars, and the number on the right represents cents.

Here is where it is going to get tricky. Same question (How much money is this?), new cards:

The first card will read: 25.00¢

The second card will read: 0.25¢

This is not as easy as the other two questions, simply because it is contrary to what is taught in school as well as the established standards of decimalization and US currency. Literally, it says “twenty-five cents” and “zero point two five cents”, and that is the correct way to read that. However, it is incorrect in the face of the standard way we write and speak about money. If I was in fifth grade, and my teacher asked me to write twenty-five cents in the form of a decimal, 25.00¢ would be incorrect. It may read correctly, but it is not the standard and accepted way to show that denomination and I would be marked wrong.

Now, before you begin picking apart my statements, let me qualify this by saying that I have not actually asked 100 people that question, and therefore my survey is nothing more than hypothetical brainstorming. It is, however, not entirely outside the realm of possibility that those answers are sound. For the sake of argument, let us continue with those statements.

In the absence of any actual documentation from Verizon, we can only conclude that the only time (or times) George was quoted “point zero zero two cents” was done so verbally. I submit that, should I actually be able to go back in time and view the same computer screen the original Verizon rep was reading from, showed “$0.002”. Because the human tongue cannot actually make the sounds “$” or “¢”, our poor representative had little choice but to convert those numbers into sounds that can be uttered by mere mortals. For the same reasons that we verbalize “$0.25” as “twenty-five cents”, our rep had no reason to believe that reading “$0.002” would not be pronounced as “zero point zero zero two cents”. That George could not see the computer screen and what was actually written, unfortunate as that may be, does not excuse interpreting “zero point zero zero two cents” as meaning anything other than $0.002. To say anything different is a deliberate fallacy on the part of the customer.

Funny story: I was at the corner store near my house today, as I am every morning before work. As the cashier rang up my purchase, I noticed something that I found quite odd. The cash register, which was fairly modern, had a digital readout showing my total as “14.01”. No $, no ¢. It occurred to me to hand the lady one dime and one nickel and tell her to keep the change. I chuckled to myself, because I knew exactly what would happen if I were to actually try that. If I were not laughed at, or arrested for shoplifting, I would be able to use my admittedly limited math skills to calculate my air speed velocity with the variables being the distance between the counter and the door and the estimated amount of force applied to my ass by the cashier’s foot.

Kage said...

Agreed on many points, including what would be seen as 25.00 and 00.25, with and without the dollar signs. And while the 25.00¢ and 0.25¢ might seem different, I would expect the people reading it to say 25 cents and point two five cents respectively. No argument there.

As for what is standardized, that really isn't the issue here. It doesn't matter if .002 is standardized to mean $0.002, or if the rep misread $0.002. The point here that matters is that he was actually quoted 0.002¢. There is no way to "interpret" was was said, other than the english definition, which is 2 thousandths of a cent. I understand where you are coming from, the rep probably did see $0.002. I'm not arguing that point. Verizon's intended price was $0.002/kb. No argument there either. I also agree that the representative attempted to convert the price into cents and got it wrong. I also accept that. Yes, George was only told those prices verbally, but we tend to interpret them as they are said. That's the only way to interpret them. Now, if they'd said 0.002 and hadn't clarified a currency denomination, then I can see how it would be an "interpretation" rather than simply a statement of the amount. Accepting what a person says is the proper price, to be the proper price, isn't a "deliberate fallacy" as the customer in this scenario believed that when he asked for a rate, he'd get the correct rate. There was no way for him to see what the price was on the screen, as you mentioned, and no way for him to know that he was being quoted an incorrect price. For one thing, he had no knowledge of the general pricing for kilobyte usage at all, he was used to it being covered under his plan, and another thing might have been the belief that this plan covered most of the cost while in Canada.

I see where you're coming from, but I disagree on a few points. I don't think George could have known that the price quoted was incorrect, and I feel that a company should be held accountable for rates or prices it quotes, even if the rep quoted it wrong.

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

Awesome, I am so glad we're beginning to see eye to eye on at least some of our points. Honestly, this has been one of the most intelligent conversations I have ever had on the Internet. I'm sure you understand that, even though we disagree, I still respect your opinion and obvious intelligence.

My only rebuttal at this point would be whether or not George could have understood what the rep meant when he said "point zero zero two cents". I understand that, when speaking aloud, $0.002 comes across as "point zero zero two cents". And I also understand, quite clearly, that "point zero zero two cents" can be interpreted as .002 percent of one penny (cent) very easily and with little effort. My point with my last post was to show that when I show Joe American an index card with $0.25 written on it, he is going to reply "25 cents". I admit that this may not be true in every single case, but I am a gambling man and would gladly place odds on at least 66.6% of people asked will respond that way. I will also bet that more people will say that they cannot read than will say "zero point two five dollars".

So to say that the Verizon rep was incorrectly quoting (and honestly, I have read some much meaner words on this site) the rate $0.002 because he did not say "zero point zero zero two dollars" is really unfair, because nobody reads $0.002 that way, for the same reason that no one speaks aloud $0.25 as "zero point two five dollars".

This is also why it's important that some kind of documentation be produced that actually says "0.002 cents per kilobyte". If Verizon actually has that written down, then I will gladly concede defeat, and in addition I will personally turn this very same argument around on Verizon.

That argument is this: "We have a standard by which we write and speak about currency. 0.002 cents is the incorrect way to write that you mean $0.002. The standard is reffered to as "decimalization" and has been implemented in the United States since 1792. When you stray from that standard, you open yourself up for confusion and unhappy customers, not to mention lawsuits and possible fraud charges. Furthermore, decimalization also dictates which unit of currency is considered a whole unit and which units are considered sub-units. When speaking of money, you must always adhere to this standard or be forced to eat those words (and possibly money)later."

Which brings us to:

"I don't think George could have known that the price quoted was incorrect"

This is the statement I most disagree with, and probably the number one reason I truly dislike these accusations against Verizon. I can tell, both in his recorded conversations with the Verizon reps, as well as his blog entries here, that George is far from unintelligent. I think he is very, very clever. So clever, in fact, that I believe that he knew going into the original (and conveniantly unrecorded) telephone call EXACTLY what that rep meant, and deliberatly made the rep repeat "cents" and mark it in his file multiple times so that he could come back and say that the rate was misquoted. I find it shameful that it has come to spreading false and misleading information across the Internet in order to save $70.00. Sadly, only George knows the truth about that first phone call, and I will never be able to prove any of what I have just stated.

I have, however, proven that $0.002 is read aloud as "point zero zero two cents". I have also provided references that explain the true meaning of the word "cents" and if necessary, I can provide a solid definition of the concept of "decimalzation". That alone must cast at least a bit of a shadow over the logic George has employed during this event.

George: I haven't heard from you. Am I wrong? Truthfully, I must applaud your courage. The only real disappointment is that you wasted such a clever con on such a trivial amount of money. You can do better than that. I believe in you.

Kage said...

I don't believe that this was any type of con. He heard a price, was surprised by it, made very very sure the price was correct, and not simply misread or misunderstood, then asked the price put in the comments to ensure that he would get the rate. I don't see this as any sort of deception, so much as making sure that if some one else made a mistake, he could prove that person wrong, and get the rate he was promised.

As you yourself stated, it's pretty much a waste of time to go to all this effort for $71.02. If this had been some sort of con, I doubt it would have been pursued with this much effort. It doesn't make sense, it simply wouldn't be worth it solely for the sake of the money. The amount of effort spent by some one you admit is quite intelligent, doesn't make sense if it's simply for the money. It took a lot more time and aggravation than was worth the rather small cost. (comparatively)It does how ever make a lot more sense when you consider it from the perspective of getting incorrectly charged and determined to prove yourself correct and wanting to, for the sake of principle, get them to acknowledge their own mistake and fix it. A person will do a lot more on a matter of principle because the purpose for the actions isn't the material gain, but rather the gain from correcting a wrong. A person fighting for principle will do much more than some one fighting for the money. A person solely after the money will eventually see the difficulty, and give up, because it's clearly not worth it. There were comments from a Verizon employee who found this site and he said he didn't understand initially why there was, in training, a big notice not to ever quote the price in cents to customers. In this manner, George succeeded, he got Verizon to both see and fix the mistake.

If George were after a con, to quote your own words he "can do better than that."

As for how it's read, the person talking to the rep won't be able to read the screen, and not everyone thinks of the possibility that the rep would be seeing that number with a dollar sign. I didn't at first until I saw it mentioned in the comments by some one else, and suddenly the way the employees were doing the math made sense, though there was still that error they failed to see in how they were saying the rate. This was a clear and obvious mistake once pointed out, and I just wish the reps had at least seen this and admitted to that much. I understand policy might be to not give a refund when an employee gives a price incorrectly, but at least they should have acknowledged the mistake. How ever, if a company had such a policy of not fixing such a mistake, I'd probably not stick around with them as I can't trust what they tell me to be what will happen.

It would be nice to see George add his own 2¢, but I'm not sure if he checks the comments on this part of his blog anymore, as at this point he's probably only looking at the latest few blogs, if not solely the latest. Though, I could be wrong, and if you are seeing this George, feel free to pipe up and tell us your view on this.

UnregisteredNickname said...

Sadly, my accusations against George can never be proven or sufficiently disproven. In a legal sense or even in mediation, it's a simple case of my word against his with the benefit of the doubt always favoring the defendant (George in this case).

In the event that George should stumble across this discussion, I already know what he is going to say, simply because it's what I would say if I were in his shoes.

"I was quoted in cents. I was surprised to hear cents, and I made sure that the rep was quoting me correctly, and that he understood that I understood that the price was 0.002 cents and that represented 2/1000th of one penny. The rep responded that I was correct, and I asked him to note that on my account so that in the event that I was charged 2/1000th of a dollar, I could make sure that I recieved the price I was quoted."

To me, that sounds like a rather farfetched conversation, but alas, without any actual evidence of the actual conversation, we really have no choice but to accept George at his word.

And it is a waste of time. In the end, $71.02 is a small amount of money to bicker over. Perhaps George wasn't performing a confidence game exactly, but I still believe he knew exactly what was being said to him in the first place and was deliberately playing a game of semantics in order to, if not rip off Verizon, at least feel like he put one over on "the man".

"A person will do a lot more on a matter of principle because the purpose for the actions isn't the material gain, but rather the gain from correcting a wrong."

That is exactly how I feel. This isn't even my problem, and I will receive no material gain from this endeavor. I do, however, feel that George was wrong, and I also feel that the tone of this site is seriously unfair. I have read through the comments on this site, and the general tone is:

"ha ha verizon is so stupid they dont even know how to do math they should go back to school even i understand and im not good at math they should get a brain and they are also stupid LOL ha ha you suck and also for the people who think verizon is right you are also stupid and ha ha so you suck and need to go back to school and also maybe quit being stupid and you are so stupid LOL"

I'm actually being nice up there. Some of the posts were just plain incomprehensible.

"There were comments from a Verizon employee who found this site and he said he didn't understand initially why there was, in training, a big notice not to ever quote the price in cents to customers"

I am still reading through the old comments, so I probably haven't gotten to this one yet. I will eventually, but if you could point me to it, I would love to read it in context.

"As for how it's read, the person talking to the rep won't be able to read the screen, and not everyone thinks of the possibility that the rep would be seeing that number with a dollar sign."

I do understand this, but it leads back to two separate points. One: Just as it is not unreasonable to read $0.25 as "twenty-five cents", it is not unreasonable to read $0.002 as "point zero zero cents". Therefore, I feel that it is not unreasonable to the receiver to understand that, for example, when I say "twenty-five cents", I may be reading a number that actually looks like "$0.25". From there, I do not think it is unreasonable when I say "point zero zero two cents" that the receiver understand that the proper way to express that in text would be "$0.002". The only real difference (and this is where I could see some confusion, if I squint a little) is that $0.25 means twenty five cents and is a much more common amount of money to verbalize, and that trying to verbalize $0.002 is probably a little more troublesome because of its unorthodox value. This, in my eyes, does not excuse ignorance of decimalization and leads me into…

Point two: The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the word "cent" is "a monetary unit equal to 1⁄100 of a basic unit of value" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cent).

According to Wikipedia, Decimal currency "is the term used to describe any currency for which the ratio between the basic unit of currency and its sub-unit is a power of 10. In practice, this usually means that 100 sub-units make up 1 of the basic units, but currencies divided into 1000 sub-units also exist, especially in Arab countries.

For example: 100 cents make one dollar in various countries." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimalisation)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary also defines the word Dollar as "any of various basic monetary units (as in the United States and Canada)" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Dollar) The key word here is basic.

And finally back to Wikipedia:

"The United States dollar (sign: $; code: USD) is the unit of currency of the United States and was defined by the Coinage Act of 1792 to be between 371 and 416 grains (27.0 g) of silver (depending on purity)." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_dollar)

The key part of the last definition is the use of the word "the". It specifically does not say "a unit of currency" (which would imply one of many), but rather "the unit of currency" which can only imply that it stands alone.

So, to put it all together:
“Cent” means 1/100th of a basic unit of currency.
The basic unit of currency in the United States in the dollar.
And therefore, the words (spoken or written) “point zero zero two cents (0.002¢)” can only be interpreted as .002/100th of a basic unit of currency. And since the basic unit of currency in the United States, as we have established, is the Dollar, the only way to interpret “.002/100th of a basic unit of currency” is .002/100th of a dollar. That, however, is a whole lot of words, and was very inconvenient to write and speak aloud, so I’m just going to say “0.002 cents”.

Kage said...

I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree at this point as I'm still not convinced that George was in the wrong, and no amount of discussion is swaying either of us. As for where to find that comment by the Verizon employee, http://verizonmath.blogspot.com/2007/08/original-recording-of-verizon-customer.html

Do a search for the phrase "do not quote" and you'll immediately be brought to that comment.

Kage said...

I found the comment, and will quote it here so you don't have to go there, and can stick to reading through at your own pace.

Mailbox said...
Another Verizon Wireless rep here.

I joined Verizon after your situation and I can tell you, during training, they made it VERY clear to us there is a huge difference between 0.002 cents and 0.002 dollars, even going so far as to say in one document "DO NOT QUOTE THE CUSTOMER .002 CENTS" so apparently you and anyone else that encountered this were finally recognized. I remember that sticking out in training wondering what caused them to put that in their training docs, and now I see why..

Seeing this is definitely embarrassing, but knowing how stubborn my coworkers and supervisors can be, its not surprising. The most rewarding part of my day is taking a call from someone thats been screwed around by previous reps and being able to buck the trend of just "going from what the remarks say" and actually being able to help them.

UnregisteredNickname said...

Thanks for finding the comment for me. I appreciate it.

"I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree at this point as I'm still not convinced that George was in the wrong, and no amount of discussion is swaying either of us."

If the question is "Was George wrong to assume that the statement "zero point zero zero two cents" means the whole number that belongs on the left side of the decimal point was supposed to be a penny?", then no, I cannot agree to disagree.

I have provided facts, and given references to back those facts up. I have shown, conclusively, the accepted definition of "cent". I have explained, and shown references, the concept of decimalazation. I have proven, with multiple references, that the only basic unit of US currency is the dollar, and that all other denominations are sub-units of the dollar. And while I could not show actual proof, I believe I have made a pretty good case for the accepted reading of the number $0.002 as "zero point zero zero two cents".

On the other hand, the only proof that has been provided to support George's case has been math that is flawed from its inception because it assumes that a penny is a whole unit of US currency, and I have proven (with actual facts) that is simply wrong.

Furthermore, there has not been a single reference provided that proves a cent is anything but a sub-unit of the dollar, or that it is ever appropriate to assume that one cent is ever to be considered a whole unit of currency. When that proof is provided (with appropriate references), I will concede.

Until then, George is wrong. You are wrong. I do not want to sound mean, and I am very happy that this has not degenerated into the kind of blather I usually come across in the Internet, but that does not change the fact that you have only provided statements that are at best unsubstantiated.

Your math, however accurate, is flawed by a basic misunderstanding of the concept of decimalization as it relates to currency.

So, while I understand that "agree to disagree" is really a kind way of saying that you are wrong but are unwilling to admit it, I also understand that it means that you do not want to talk about this anymore. Honestly, me neither.

But please do not insult my intelligence by pretending that I have not provided a sane and logical argument and dismissing it with such a lame statement.

Kage said...

Simply saying that I feel that this discussion is going no where and wanting to end it, doesn't mean I feel I'm wrong, but am unwilling to admit it.

By your logic, zero point zero two cents really means 2 cents, because to the left of the decimal is the whole number (the dollar) and to the right is the fraction (the cents). I'm not arguing decimalization, I'm just saying when you work with a particular unit, you don't switch units unless you do the conversion, and while the intended meaning was in terms of dollars, the rate quoted was cents, therefore the math should have been done in cents, then converted to dollars for billing. Having done a lot of math where conversion of units is a basic part, again referencing dimensional analysis, I can see that the math employed by Verizon was incorrect when compared to the rate they gave. I can also see that when it was pointed out, even given the number point two cents for comparison, and they still failed to grasp that concept. I don't feel George was wrong, I am just at the point where I see that no amount of discussion will change your mind, which means at this point it's no longer productive discussion.

As for whether cents is a whole unit in terms of currency in general, that is irrelevant, as when talking about cents, cents become the whole unit. That's how math in a specific unit works. When talking about cents, 1 is one cent, where when talking dollars, 0.01 is one cent. The standard unit of currency is measured by dollars, I'm not arguing that, but when the unit used was cents, that makes cents the correct whole unit unless converted to another unit. I am of the opinion that a company should stand by what they quote as a price or rate, and what they quoted was not what they charged.

You seem to think that a person should automatically know just because it was a decimal that it was in terms of dollars, regardless of what the rep says. But then you have to wonder what a person means by "25 cents", do they really mean "25 dollars"? Of course not, they means $0.25. The number of decimals may have confused the workers in terms of conversion, but a customer isn't going to automatically know that. George thought he was getting one rate, he got another. He understood the math behind the conversions, and realized the price was wrong, and called back. He only recorded the call after he realized he was getting no where with the employees. He didn't expect this to be such a problem. There was no reason to, he thought the rate was in cents, and expected to be charged in cents.

While we disagree on whether George should have known what the real rate is, I am done with this topic, and wanted to end it, rather than continue a discussion that gets us no where. Neither of us is going to agree, so it becomes pointless to continue the discussion. It's not that I realized I'm wrong and don't want to admit it, I still believe that George was in the right here, I just realize all productive discussion is pretty much done.

Pun-JMC said...

Kage - I really hope you're still alive and well after that well-spirited battle. I can only hope that you didn't off yourself, as I fear that if I were in your place I surely would have placed my .009 meter handgun to my head and pulled the trigger. As Ron White said himself, “You can’t fix stupid”!

UnregisteredNickname – You, sir, are an epic fail of infinite proportions. But I got to hand it to you; despite your fatally flawed understanding of the relationship between currency and whole numbers, fractions or what would generally be known as basic (perhaps 6th Grade level) math, you did a really great job of explaining your point(s)! It was actually very refreshing to see an obviously flaming liberal refrain from berating another person with foul language or resort to name-calling. So, again, KUDOS for skillfully attempting to relay your understanding of how percentages work in relation to the U.S.'s currency system to the rest of the world. But, you're still painfully wrong. I was getting cross-brained reading your comments, and of course – laughing hysterically, so thank you for that too…!

Kage said...

I'm not gone, been away from the site for a few days, but still around. As for what Unregistered was saying, I wouldn't say he was stupid or anything of the like. His was a very well put together and intelligent argument, and it's nice to have this kind of argument from time to time. I quit, not from frustration, but rather from seeing the futility of further effort in continuing the argument. Thanks for the support though.

George Vaccaro said...

@UnregisteredNickname,

I've been very respectful of my commenters, but I am about to make an exception especially for you.

You sir/madam are a moron.

How do you "say" $.02? Do you say "point zero two cents?" No, you say "2 cents" or alternatively but less common "point zero two dollars". Sub units? Are centimeters sub units of meters? I suppose then that .02 meters is then the same as .02 centimeters. You are blinded by your own stupidity - I hope for your own sake you can eventually overcome it.

Consult a math teacher or an elementary school student, and then have the conviction to come back and report your findings.

Kage, I feel your pain. There are few that stupid, but they are out there - very scary.

George Vaccaro said...

@UnregisteredNickname,

FYI, I was quoted .002c/kb. Since that is clearly a non-obvious rate I asked the rep to do the conversion with me on the phone to megabytes, which came to roughly 2c/mb - she confirmed that (in hindsight in an apathetic "yeah, uh huh" sort of way).

Had Verizon tried to be clear with their customers about their rates, they then would have quoted the rate as $2.05/mb as they do now. They chose to quote obscure monetary units (fractional cents per kb) instead of a more reasonable $2.05/mb, both units being clearer (whole dollars and whole cents per mb - a much more understandable unit of data to most people).

They chose to quote a rate that every single one of their reps on my call, and most of their reps (see other youtube posts) did not know how to accurately verbalize.

The fact is, .002 cents means only one thing - it is not ambiguous, there can be no difference of opinion, it is a simple, single amount of currency. Any suggestion otherwise is ridiculous.

The reps did not know how to quote $.002 properly and the company has revised their training policies to help educate them and prevent this mistake (on their part) in the future. I suggest you spend your time as they have, correcting your mistake and move on with your life with a better understanding of money, units, conversion and humility.

pajkossy said...

I remember being corrected in grade school for writing 0.01 cent to mean $0.01. I remember it quite distincly. The difference is real, words have meanings, and those meanings are decided upon by consensus and education/socialization. The meanings of words are not for individuals to decide, and this is at least in part why the study of semantics, etymology, and the like are valued and continued by people.

If we do not have a common language with which to communicate, then communication fails and we become savages.

This is part of why this whole fiasco with Verizon is fascinating. They appear to have drunk the same koolaid that so much of corporate America has of late which leads them to think that they dictate the rules of the social contract rather than having to adhere to rules set by the aforementioned consensus, education, and socialization processes.

And they have a REALLY hard time understanding why anyone would have a problem with that (see also AIG et al).

UnregisteredNickname said...

"I've been very respectful of my commenters, but I am about to make an exception especially for you.

You sir/madam are a moron."

Thank you so much for making an exception for me. It really warms my heart to know that I have touched you in such a special way that you feel the need to treat me to such an intelligent and clearly well thought out reply. I'm thinking you wore out at least three thesauruses before finally deciding on moron.

"How do you "say" $.02? Do you say "point zero two cents?" No, you say "2 cents" or alternatively but less common "point zero two dollars"."

When I read $.02, I say 2 cents. It is not unexpected to say 2 cents when one reads $.02. From there, it is not unreasonable for me to hear 2 cents and write down $.02. Why? Well, I gave quite a few references to explain why I do that.

Now, as you have so pleasantly pointed out, I am a moron. So when I and my ilk at Verizon read $.002, I might have a hard time verbalizing that. That is an odd price to quote, and it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Morons like me might say (incorrectly, but not for the reasons you think) "point zero zero two cents". Since they are speaking my native language (which is, according to you, Moron), I will be able to deduce what they are trying to say to me, which is $.002.

You, however, are at a disadvantage. You are not a moron, and therefore do not have the mental incapacity to make the small leap of logic required to figure out what us more advanced morons are trying to say. Just today, I bought a bottle of water that had a price tag that stated "$179". Thanks to my limited intelligence, I was able to deduce that they did not actually mean one hundred and seventy nine dollars, but in fact one dollar and seventy-nine cents. I handed the mentally challenged cashier two dollar bills, and somehow he was able to divine that the change was supposed to be 21 pennies. Actually, he was so stupid that he actually handed me 2 dimes and one penny. What a buffoon!

As you may have guessed, I am being facetious (look it up). The point is that I was able to figure out what was being shown to me and make a logical conclusion. Obviously, if the water had actually been $179, I would have put it back. In the exact opposite situation, I would have understood that if the price had been erroneously marked .25¢, I would make the logical conclusion that the vendor did not actually mean 1/25th of one cent. And in the opposite outcome of the previous story, the vendor would laugh at me if I attempted to ask for change for my penny.

Since these are the sorts of errors that occur around me just about every day, I think it is fair to say that you have probably come across them in your daily life. Now, in my head, I can imagine you approaching various customer service representatives and explaining to them the difference between .02¢ and $.02, the whole time rolling your eyes and perhaps rubbing the meaty part of your palm into your forehead to express your frustration over having to live in a world populated by people inferior to you. I also believe you have eaten far more spit sandwiches at restaurants then you might think.

I knew exactly what the Verizon rep meant when I heard the recording. I also knew right away that you were deliberately being thick when you began arguing with both the rep and his manager. Now, if you truly did not understand what was being said to you when you were originally quoted your rate, then you may want to look up the definition of moron and see if it applies to your daily life.

Because if you are not a moron, then you did understand what was being said to you, and you were purposely being dense in order to prove your superiority over anonymous employees of a corporation that doesn't give a shit if you live or die. And that only serves to make you an asshole.

One more thing, real quick:

"FYI, I was quoted .002c/kb."

Still waiting to see that in writing, and I have stated that if that one little piece of paper ever crossed my eyes, I would gladly concede.

George Vaccaro said...

@UnregisteredNickname,

"Because if you are not a moron, then you did understand what was being said to you, and you were purposely being dense in order to prove your superiority over anonymous employees of a corporation that doesn't give a shit if you live or die. And that only serves to make you an asshole."

While you try to wrap up your post in sarcasm this is truly the heart of your premise and problem. Your example uses a product of well known approximate value. Notice any problems with that comparison? How the hell would you or anyone else have any idea what roaming mobile data would cost in Canada?

As I have explained in other posts to other morons such as yourself, I used the best information I had to try to compensate for customer service staff that was not trained on basic units conversion despite all of their rates including some sort of fractional cents per kb. I had been paying something like $40 for unlimited data, which according to people online was not actually unlimited (wrap your head around that one), but in fact was limited to 5gb/month, which for you units challenged folks, works out to roughly $0.000000008/kb (don't say cents).

Now, knowing that, how would anyone have any idea how to put ".002 cents" into the kind of context like you just did with soda? Now lets say I'm on the phone and I wanted to get some sense of context and I'm talking to a rep for the company that decided on this rate, how would you do this? You'd do what I did, talk the conversion to better more common units out with them over the phone as best you can. I did, and I came to $.02/mb, and the rep agreed it sounded right (the most she was capable of). Mind you, that is still many orders of magnitude more expensive than what I was paying for data in the states.

I asked the rep to note her quote in my call logs, and according to all the other reps I spoke to, she did in fact do that.

You commented "Still waiting to see that in writing, and I have stated that if that one little piece of paper ever crossed my eyes, I would gladly concede."

I would assume at this point that the rep made the same mistake that all the others did, and when she wrote in my notes simply wrote "$.002/kb" considering that now this actual rate is well known, and not the ".002 cents" she was verbalizing.

Now in lieu of that in writing, what I did get was an apology from the company, a full refund, and acknowledgment that it was a problem on their side, and that they were taking steps to remedy the confusion their rate system was causing their employees and customers. Of course you will likely not acknowledge that this means anything, because you are a moron.

So to close that topic, Verizon quotes their rate wrong (every rep I spoke to and as documented by my call), then I use their plan based on that quote. Who's responsible, me or them? Most would say the people who made the mistake, which is clearly Verizon, yet you keep trying to pin it on me.

To answer your spit sandwich comment, I'm sure I've had my fair share as they're likely impossible to avoid entirely in one's life, but it wouldn't have been for being rude. I am always overly respectful to people, just as I was on this call, half of which you didn't get to hear, since I had to get a half hour in to believe that our educational system failed so many people so badly. I made an exception especially for you only after reading your preposterous, presumptuous and negative comments on this post.

Now to actually respond personally. I notice that you did not mention your clear errors in logic and mathematics and instead chose to change course into my intent - I find that redirection very interesting. Have you actually seen the error in your ways, but would rather point at others instead of eating a bit of crow?

You also seem not to have answered my question regarding centimeters and meters. Why not? Perhaps it's because you don't even know what I'm talking about.

Another question for you. Say two space shuttle engineers are on the phone discussing the size certain bolt should be. Do you think the just leave the units out and assume that the engineer on the other end would know whether it was centimeters, millimeters or micrometers etc.? Maybe they just throw random units in because it doesn't matter, right?

I also notice that you assert and assume I am rude and a scammer, despite the fact that I spent an hour of my time patiently trying to find someone at Verizon that could at least understand basic monetary units (the ones they were quoting in their rates). Notice, not a profane word on the entire call. I have been told in the hundreds of times that I have the patience of a saint because of this call.

How respectful are you? I think you are projecting - you are likely the pompous putz that gets spit sandwiches frequently, probably why it is on the foreground of your mind.

Rather than to see any point of the multiple people who have donated their time to help you better your understanding of something useful, you accuse them, belittle them, change course and do everything possible to avoid acknowledging the truth of their statements and the failure in yours.

I'm starting to see a pattern here. You are just like the people I spoke to at Verizon - you are not actually one of those folks are you? That would explain quite a lot.

So to moron I now add cynical, bitter, in denial, ungracious, waste of time and discussion board troll. You are likely a sad little person, and I am truly sorry for you about that. You blame others rather than see and correct your own failures, and you will go to great lengths in the wrong direction in order to keep from seeing that correctly.

You are welcome for your mathematics lesson, and I wish you luck overcoming your personal challenges. Take a good look at them and maybe one day you'll at least be able to get out of your own way.

Oh and FYI, I couldn't give a rat's ass if you conceded anything. Would an acknowledgment from someone who is clearly retarded actually mean anything positive anyway?

I know what happened, I was there.

The others on this post were trying to help you, and in my little way I am too. Open your eyes and become a productive and positive member of society with the rest of us. Alternatively you can live in denial in your little cynical moron troll world where units don't matter, quotes don't need to be honored (I assume unless you are the one that gets screwed), everyone is an asshole and out to get you and you live on delicious special sauce sandwiches.

Good luck with that.

Best regards,
g

George Vaccaro said...

@UnregisteredNickname,

BTW, the correct way to say $.002 using the word "cents" is "point 2 cents", just for your future reference.

Hambly said...

In response to the early comment about cent always referring to a dollar, you are completely correct.

Forget the whole dollar/money talk and just take the hard definition of a cent.

Assuming 1 = a whole unit

1 cent = 1% of the unit = 0.01 units

Always. That is the definition of a cent, that is the definition of percentages. We are not using any specific unit here. One cent can refer to whole unit and it will always be 0.01 units.

Similarly:
0.5 cent = 0.5% = 0.005
0.002 cent = 0.002% = 0.00002

So now we turn that unit into the dollar. The holy unit that all US monetary usage surrounds itself around. This is something everyone will agree on. All US currency refers to ONE DOLLAR.

0.002 cent (with reference to the unit of "one dollar") = 0.002% of a dollar = 0.00002 dollars.

You now have successfully converted cents of a unit to whole units, and in the case the whole unit is the dollar, you have converted 0.002 cents into 0.00002 dollars.

The sacred definition of a cent has been conserved. The dollar has remained as the central unit of currency that the cent refers to.

Verizon admitted to an obvious mistake in the end (just not on the recorded phone call, which I have to say was both frustrating and amazingly entertaining at the same time).

Anyone who thinks that they are actually correct in saying that 0.002 cents = $0.002 is pretty much nutso.

Seki said...

1.5c ≠ $1.5

I am with Virgin Mobile here in Australia. My excess data usage charge, before they adjusted the rate, was 1.5c per kb. That means 1 and a half cents, not 1 dollar and 50 cents, otherwise it would have been written as $1.5.

I went over my limit by about 30,000kb back in Nov/Dec 2008, which equated to around $450 (as was listed clearly on my bill).

Simple math: 30,000kb x 1.5c = 45,000c = $450.

In the case of somehow, in some alternate reality, we interpret 1.5c to be the same as $1.50, my bill would have been $45,000.

I'm glad it wasn't.

Stephen said...

I've been (more or less happily) legally bound to Verizon for 7 years. But then, I've never had a serious issue like you have. And it's how they handle the really serious issues that defines the company.

Bottom line: customer service everywhere is suffering from the insidious replacement of brains by flowcharts. I wonder what kind of retention bonus the guy who came up with that idea was paid.

I guess companies find it cheaper to provide fake customer service than real.

anaglyph said...

@UnregisteredNickname:

Whether or not you believe that George says he was was quoted correctly/incorrectly is kind of irrelevant; if you listen to George's recording it is quite plain (to anyone who has even the vaguest apprehension of maths) that the Verizon personnel he spoke to on that call have no clue whether they are talking about dollars or cents when they read .002 on their screen. All assumptions aside, people in the billing department of a major communications company don't understand what he's getting at!!!! THAT is a significant problem here, wouldn't you think?

@George:

>>[Quoting @UnregisteredNickname]: "I notice that you did not mention your clear errors in logic and mathematics and instead chose to change course into my intent"

Which, of course, is a classic dodge of someone who realises they are losing a logical argument: the ad hominem feint (quickly followed by 'moving the goalposts'). For the record, I am truly in awe of your self-control through your discussion with Verizon (and with @UnregisteredNickname for that matter). I'd have lost it with them sometime around the second rep. I'm sitting here with a group of my friends (in Australia) and your recording has given us the best laugh we've had in ages (along with many, many scoffs of total disbelief).

We salute you!

George Vaccaro said...

@anaglyph,

Thanks for you comment. It truly is unbelievable the lengths people will go to somehow not see the forest through the trees with respect to the recording. On the positive side, those folks are few and far between..

As for UnregisteredNickname, I think he's taken all he can take. One more slam and he'll spit the dummy (my favorite Autralian expression). :)

I'm glad you and your friends are getting as many laughs out of this as I have.

Thanks for the post.
g

Kage said...

Spit the dummy? I haven't heard that term before.

It was interesting to hear you went through the conversion with the first person you spoke with, which just further confirms they were quoting you an incorrect rate. Myself personally, I knew Verizon was one of the large cell phone companies, but after listening to the spliced version of your recording on "Verizon fails at Math" followed by this, I know now to avoid them, just in case I might one day need to call them up for some kind of customer service. As a result, I'll be using AT&T. I don't really need most of the features, so I'm going with a more basic package, so it won't cost me much. Seeing what you've said about AT&T, and knowing my Mom has had no trouble with them yet, I'm fairly confident I'll get a company worth working with.

Good luck, and hope you don't get any other companies whose phone reps have such a hard time understanding such simple concepts.

anaglyph said...

Jeez, guys. How the heck do you survive without the term 'spit the dummy'?

@Kage: In case it isn't obvious it's sort of a combination of 'to lose it' and 'to throw a tantrum'. Feel free to casually drop it in conversation at your next Team Meeting.

:-)

nka said...

OMG bro, did you ever get the bill adjusted? I'm sorry that you have had trouble with these moronic reps. However, your recording had me rolling on the floor.

George Vaccaro said...

@anaglyph thanks for providing the meaning to Kage. The source of the expression by the way comes from Australians calling a Binky, aka pacifier a "Dummy". So when they say "he spit the dummy" its like a baby spitting out his pacifier, presumably on the way to a melt down. I find something about the expression incredibly funny. :)

anaglyph said...

@George: Oh - yeah I forgot that you call them 'pacifiers'. Here, a pacifier is more likely to be a big stick like a baseball bat....

FWIW, I'm having a battle with one of our own telcos at the moment (Telstra) and after having a monumental 50 minute call with the accounts department over a $700 bill last month (completely their error) I've just this minute opened my new bill to see that I'm $0.01 OVERDUE!

Sweet Baby Cheeses.

Just out of interest, was it legal for you to record the conversation with Verizon? Here, that would be totally illegal, as tempting as it is.

(If you don't want to answer that question publicly, I understand).

George Vaccaro said...

#anaglyph,

sorry to hear about your issues with Telstra. That is kinda funny about the overdue amount though :).

In the states the legality of recording calls, as I understand it, depends on the state you are in, and the consent level. In some states you only need single party consent (your own), others require both parties to consent to the recording. I was in a state with single party consent.

I'm surprised that you don't have a similar allowance in Oz if both parties consent.

Another thing you can try in these types of situations is the threat of recording, that can work wonders. For example tell them that your lawyer has advised you to record the call and ask for their consent. There can't be a law against pretending to record a call :). Generally you will get a much better response if they think there might be legal action and especially if their words might become evidence.

anaglyph said...

@George: The issues with Telstra are amusing, if somewhat frustrating. And ongoing. My last bill was just an egregious error - most are insignificant pennies that they... er mistakenly... charge my account. I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say that they seem to make an awful lot of very small errors, and continue to post billions of dollars profit every year. Not that that should be read as an accusation, you understand.

As far as the $0.01 bill is concerned, it comes about because of the dispute over $700 worth of calls that should have been covered under my plan. The 50 minutes I spent on the phone about it largely consisted of me patiently (yes, I was patient, although I didn't feel it) asking them to explain the bill, me saying that I thought it should all come under my plan, and the various 'customer service' people telling me why they were right and I was wrong. Until it became plain that I was right and they were wrong. I'd LOVE to have recorded the call - it was a masterpiece of humorous audio, much like yours.

't any rate. They verbally gave me a figure to pay, and it seems that it actually differs from the 'real' (whatever that actually means) amount by 1c. You can probably imagine the kind of phone call I intend to make tomorrow.

Which is why I asked about the recording. It seems that here, both parties must consent to the recording, and ALL parties that are added to the call must consent. So you have to tell everyone you speak to that you're recording them. Of course, the telcos are totally covered because they play a recording before you speak to anyone that says 'This call may be recorded for training purposes'.

I'm inclined to say tomorrow that 'This call may be recorded for the purposes of humour and/or humiliation'. Maybe I will.

Stay tuned!

Pyroguy said...

Ok, if anyone is still wondering about how things are done correctly, this image should explain all. This is dimensional analysis. You can use dimensional analysis to solve for an isolated variable, given all other variables are known. Usually it is used with much longer physics or mathematical formulas, but it still applies with only a few terms.

The idea is you are using the identity of multiplication to convert units (multiplying anything by one yields an equivalent number).

It is what physicists and anyone in the industrial production industry (especially metal and petroleum) use on a daily basis to calculate amounts. Certainly not voodoo mathematics.

See the image here.

Bergman said...

If you can say "Please sign me up for a two year contract" to the person you're on the phone with, and have it happen on that basis alone (no papers to sign arrive in the mail, for example) then you are dealing with an actual agent of the corporation, not merely a customer service drone.

Absolutely anything an agent claims to be part of the deal, becomes the deal under contract law. Proving it in court is often another matter entirely. If you do have the proof though, you're golden.

It simply does not matter if what the agent promises is against policy, or even outright impossible. That's the contract. The company can break the contract, or honor it, but they cannot change the verbally agreed upon terms without another agreement of some sort.

In George's case, if he did in fact deal with an agent rather than a CS drone, then .002 cents per kilobyte is the contracted rate. Since his account has a note on it to that effect, and he has a recording of many people at Verizon verifying that to be the truth, he could have sued for the difference in price (either in small claims court or the big leagues) and won easily. Even if what he dealt with originally was a drone, not an agent, he could still make a pretty good case for the quoted rate being the actual rate.

As a side note to a previous poster, while the strict definition of cents IS percentage of a whole unit, if it's impossible to split a cent into smaller percentages than 1% of a dollar, then gas station prices of (for example) $2.599 per gallon would be invalid.