Monday, February 22, 2010

New York Times Blog Covers VerizonMath

My brother sent me a link today to an article on The New York Times Blog that references my experiences with Verizon. It's an interesting article, if you are a math nerd like some of us clearly are :).

In other news, there is hope for nerds to find love, I got hitched last weekend! Good luck fellow nerds, there are women out there who appreciate us :).

40 comments:

topper said...

Congratulations on your wedding!

bedrock said...

This story is new to me after reading the NY Times article. I haven't read all the posts but it's interesting that none that I've read have commented on the ethics of your quest. It seems that you've admitted from the beginning that you understood that the real cost was in dollars and not cents. Which is why you asked Verizon to make a note in the record. You knew you would dispute the cost later. Now you're trying to bail on the real cost of your service. There are ethical issues on both sides of this story.

George Vaccaro said...

@bedrock, do your research before you slander me. Your statement that I knew all along is categorically incorrect. I called to find out the rate, and the reps quoted me .002 cents/KB, just like the rest of the reps on the 27 minute long phone call.

Jordana said...

I'm listening to the recording now - it's unbelievable (yes, I'm a math geek), I feel your frustration.

I don't even want to get into whether the pricing should be based on US or Canadian currency. : )

Congrats on your marriage!

Zachary said...

Great blog and congratulations for getting married!

We are all familiar with items for sale in a store for $0.99. We easily equate that to 99 cents. However, $0.002 is something we don't come across very often at the local big box store. Using the analogy of $0.99 = 99 cents, I can see how someone could confuse $0.002 with 0.002 cents by removing the dollar sign and reading the number. "Its 0-0-2 cents."

Jordana said...

Just out of curiosity, they credited your account $71.79, does this mean you didn't even have to pay the $.72 you owed them?

I've now read all of your e-mails/letters to them and listened to the full recording - it's really fascinating - the obstinance (not to mention the ignorance). Your patience is immeasurable, I would have been yelling at them by minute 2, minute 2, not second 2.

KR said...

After reading the NYT article, my office mate & I just listened to the recording of your encounter with Verizon. Amazing!

You clearly stated that dollars aren't the same as cents (or sense in Verizon's case apparently).

Still wondering how it all got resolved. Did Verizon ever adjust your bill or were you stuck with their version of the math? And did they eventually correct the pricing quote to dollars instead of cents?

BTW, we were also amazed that you never lost your cool -- somehow you never cursed or became rude. That took some real patience! Truly amazing!

AlanZ said...

I read the NYT article and listened to the recording today while reading the transcript with my 7th grade daughter. She was dumbfounded that adults (at Verizon) could be so clueless. It was a wake up call to her about adults in world she's entering. Anyway, seems to me the apology that is due would be one from the school districts that promoted but could not educate "George", "Andrea", and other reps who don't know tenths from thousandths. Shouldn't it be a reasonable for an employer (Verizon) to assume that adult employees are competent in 4th grade math? It is sad that this is not a safe assumption for employers to make.

George Vaccaro said...

@AlanZ,

Please don't mix me up with the reps. It was "Trent" and "Andrea".

:)

Shane said...

Congrats George! :D

My girlfriend and I just listened to that whole phone call with the floor manager.. We couldn't believe our ears, haha :P

Paul Bryan Garcia said...

Hi,George congratulations!That's remarkable patience you mustered on there.I mean that should be easy,it's not rocket science.And it's frustrating that some skulls need to get bludgeoned with a math textbook.Anyway,what's important is you kept your cool in getting your message across.Had that happened to me I would have become thermonuclear with rage.But it's just me and let's not go there.Ha!Oh well,best wishes!

Xocai Answer said...

Congratulations! May you live a life time fill with love and happiness!

Kage said...

I haven't stopped by in a while. Congratulations on getting married.

I'm not quite a math nerd, but I do enjoy a good mathematical problem from time to time, and I do recall the proof regarding the 1 = 0.999... My sister showed it to me, and while the proof they showed in those comments does work, I find it simpler to just divide both sides by 9. 0.111... = 0.111...

@bedrock I don't know why people keep thinking George was trying to rip Verizon off. If he knew the proper and correct amount, he wouldn't have called and asked for it in the first place. One also can't be expected to just know that the person said 'cents', but that the real rate was in 'dollars'. If I called, and heard 'cents', I would assume that the correct rate would have been in 'cents', just as George did.

Mike said...

It really makes you wonder about people employed in places of responsibility both within our working sector and governments.

Also, it made me proud of living in Canada, where most of our citizens can actually distinguish the difference between dollars and sense and conversion factors.

This "No Child Left Behind" policy/mentality employed by your government is truly starting to show within your society. If you actually read the legislation, "No Child Left Behind", is actually a policy to lower the failure rate of students without improving their education. They do not get left behind as they pass their studies. I was flabbergasted to read this legislation and its name is purely a smokescreen.

Sorry for your experience with absolute idiocy and I hope the best for your country's education system which is due for further cuts this year.

Also,

Did you guys bomb Iraq because you were jealous of their much higher literacy rate and rate of higher education?

Greetings from North of the border, or as we are starting to call it. The IQ line.

George Vaccaro said...

@Mike,

I quote: "Also, it made me proud of living in Canada, where most of our citizens can actually distinguish the difference between dollars and sense and conversion factors."

I think you meant "cents". Thanks for playing.

Suki said...

I found your blog through an article in the NY times. Just by looking at 0.002c per kb, I could tell it's not the same as $0.002, without having to do any conversions. Always thought it was obvious to everyone that a cent is less (smaller) than a dollar.It's not just in math, some chem students have problems converting millilitres to litres and vice versa...

Suki said...

Oh... Congratulations on your wedding, may you have a happy and fulfilling life together!

El Dorko said...

In what universe is someone who knows the difference between a penny and a dollar a math geek????? I contend that anyone who does NOT know the difference between a penny and a dollar either is a complete idiot, or a victim of a woefully deficient educational system.

George Vaccaro said...

@Kage,

Nice to hear from you again :).

g

DarkKnightBob said...

What a bunch of retards. i'vehad to deal with this sooo many times.

玉苓 said...

haha~ funny! thank you for your share~ ........................................

Chad said...

haha, that was the funniest thing I have ever heard. I feel so bad you had to go through all that. And it kinda pisses me off that even after running through it multiple times, they didn't understand. I would have had a hard time staying on the phone with them that long.

Alison and Kyle said...

George, I love this your blog. I am an 8th grade Math teacher and have used the recording numerous times in my classroom. I only recently decided to research the outcome. I'm glad to hear that you didn't have to pay, but am still bothered by the lack of apology.
I am a math nerd and am very passionate about this issue of understanding the difference between dollars and cents. I often point out mistakes in pricing to managers of stores. I have yet to try to actually purchase something for the marked price. For instance, I entered a Walmart and was greeted by a pallet of a sports beverege. The sign read, "32 oz. Gat++++de .79 cents." I wanted so bad to pick one up, go through the line with a penny and tell them to keep the change.
I will try to upload some pictures of wrong pricing.

Kyle

Gaffi said...

I'd like to get this to you through email, but since I can't I'll just drop this here...

http://dailyshite.com/2010/03/maths-can-be-fun/

peter b nelson said...

Congratulations on your marriage.

peter b nelson said...

My 7th grade math teacher had a similar story... back in the 1970's, the local TV news ran a segment on some guy who left his car at the airport for weeks, getting a bill for hundreds of dollars. My math teacher, seeing the broadcast, spotted the prominent sign in front of the parking ramp labelled "0.50¢ / hour". He called the TV station and told them the fellow actually owed only a few dollars on his bill, as 0.50¢/hour is much less than 0.50$/hour. The TV station ran a follow-up, quoting him and giving him his 15 units of fame, but he never found out if the guy got his bill reduced. He used this story to teach us kids the importance of UNITS OF MEASUREMENT in any calculation.

PokCalaway0710 said...

nice to know you ~........................................

嘉容嘉容 said...

廢話不多,祝你順心~^^........................................

Mollyolly said...

i just listened to the entire phone conversation and half way through, i have to admit i got a little confused, but they were downright ignorant! are you affiliated with this check? ( http://xkcd.com/verizon/ ) i wanted to figure it out, but theres no infinity key.. =[

and ps bedrock, DUH he was going to pay in dollars, fractions of dollars!

t0811raceykee09 said...

百發百中不是一試就成的。 ..................................................

j said...

Hey, I have a lot of frustration with Verizon especially right now that they are charging me ETFs for porting numbers to Sprint when I specifically called and asked the rep if I would be charged and she said no.

I would like to start an anti verizon youtube channel. If we could document stories and put them up on youtube, maybe Verizon would change their ways.

淑娟 said...

Unable to give you a heart. so have a reply to push up your post. ........................................

奎峰 said...

人是受想像力所支配的。 ..................................................

Leasa said...

I don't think the mistake was that unforgiveable. All the comments proclaiming the ignorance and stupidity and lack of basic math skills are just uncalled for. It's an easy mistake for a layperson to make. And, when you have over 85k employees, all of whom are human beings, there are bound to be a few who are doing it wrong. What is alarming is how they sure did stick to their story! Ultimately, the lack of communication skills and complete failure to seek understanding are worse then putting a decimal in the wrong place. But I digress. What I wanted to say was that this was covered in my new hire training at Verizon Wireless this past February and I can understand why they're still talking about it. I just don't understand why anyone else is. Surely there are worse customer service horror stories. This one just seems to make people feel superior because I'm sure they have never miscalculated or used a word incorrectly or misunderstood a concept in all their lives. Seriously, let it go people. It's not the company that's getting it wrong. It's living, breathing, human beings just like yourselves. Let he who has never made a mistake in their own job throw the first stone.

Mollyolly said...

the reason this is unforgiveable is because, if you listen to the entire recording, all the people he spoke to were given a basic math lesson. the computer was the first to screw up, and sure maybe all the reps can screw up at first, but he was clear in his explanation in why he was right. AND then people have the nerve to say "yes youre right" "so im right?" "no youre not right". thats pretty screwed up.

Leasa said...

As I said "Ultimately, the lack of communication skills and complete failure to seek understanding are worse then putting a decimal in the wrong place." That has nothing to do with knowing basic math. That is simply bad customer service, which is going on all over the country every day and not being discussed four years later on the internet.

Chris said...

Hey George... did you have anything to do with this?
http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/mobile/10/04/verizon.fees.overcharge.fcc/index.html

ChrisK

George Vaccaro said...

@Chris,

Nope, but that is very interesting. Thanks for the link.

I think I might repost it - thanks again.

g

DeeChameleon said...

@Bedrock

I also think that he realized the price was outrageously cheap, thus why he wanted it confirmed. It's not like he knew that Verizon would be stupid enough to mix up cents and dollars. He was just being a smart consumer.

Plus he had several reps tell him the same thing over and over. What makes you think he knew the real rate and knowingly put himself under the stress of calling Verizon to get him money back?

Saving $71 bucks is not worth that 27 minute phone call. No person understanding basic math wants to go through that.

Aquaria said...

I've been going around and around with Verizon about their funny math myself. I have gotten my bill to drop from $800+ (For less than two weeks' service), to $500+ to 200+ to now $90.

I figure if I wait a little longer, I'll get them down to the $41.50 +tax I think I owe them. The way I figure it, if their service is $80 a month for 450 minutes, + $5/month for 250 text messages, and I have the phone only two weeks and don't use anywhere near 225 minutes talk or 125 text messages, then I don't owe them a full month. I owe them half a month--at most.

I keep arguing with them that it's stupid to charge me for a full month that I didn't come close to using even two weeks of their service. They will see the light, or not get a dime from me. I have crap credit, anyway, so I can hold out for them to quit fucking me over. No skin off my nose.

I'm only 4 months into the battle, and I keep getting them closer to what I want.

Wish me luck.