Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Verizon Math Strikes Again!

Just wow! This is clearly worse than my situation, similarly comical but just sad and really bad business:

Verizon Math Strikes Again: Promises 2 Years Of Free Data Access To Chromebook Users; Delivers Just 1

My favorite comment:

"Personanongrata, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 1:29pm
Verizon's New Math

Verizon's new math formula and solution:

Google's 3 year service offer minus Verizon's 2 year service offer equals 1 year of service.

That was easy."

Monday, March 3, 2014 Service Transfer Process Problems

I recently moved from one address to another and attempted to transfer my Optimum cable service. What follows is a transcript from my online chat session with a CS rep. The rep was very helpful but the underlying process is clearly completely broken. What should have taken a few minutes prior to my move turned into a 2 hour install and a long winded chat with a CS rep.

Hopefully someone in management will catch wind of this and overhaul this process as it just doesn't work. As I mentioned to the CS rep, if this is daunting, confusing and time wasting for a technical person imagine how a non-techie and someone who naively uses their included email service would fare.

 Basil S.: Hi, my name is Basil S. and I will be assisting you today.
 George Vaccaro: Hi Basil
 Basil S.: Hello! George, I'm sorry you're having an issue with the speeds, but I'll definitely help you with this.
 Basil S.: George, can you please verify your house address?
 George Vaccaro: I'm not getting Boost speeds, can you check my account is provisioned properly?
 George Vaccaro: ***Removed***
 Basil S.: Thank you, Please allow me just a moment to pull up your account information. 
 Basil S.: I see it in your account but the modem is not updated with the speeds yet.
 Basil S.: Please allow me a few moments while I work on resolving this issue for you. 
 George Vaccaro: ok thanks
 Basil S.: I need to reset your modem at my end. This may interrupt our Chat for just a few moments but once the modem comes back online, we will automatically reconnect. Would that be okay? 
 George Vaccaro: yes, thanks
 Communication with the RightNow Chat service has been lost.  Please wait while attempts are made to restore the connection.
 Disconnection in 45000 seconds.
 Connection resumed.
 Basil S.: Please let me know once you're connected back, George.
 George Vaccaro: im here
 Basil S.: Great!
 Basil S.: Please check your speeds now.
 George Vaccaro: should i check the speed yet?
 George Vaccaro: ok
 Basil S.: Please let me know if there are any issues.
 George Vaccaro: 41 down, 10 up
 George Vaccaro: that's better, still not 100% but I knew boost wasn't active
 George Vaccaro: ok, so i have another few issues
 Basil S.: Sure! please let me know.
 George Vaccaro: 1, can you check that I've been credited for the return of the cable boxes from my prior address?
 Basil S.: Let me check that for you.
 George Vaccaro: thanks
 George Vaccaro: the cable guy brought a new modem despite the fact that I had one, so he took the old one back, and also took the regular digital cable box and the 2nd one which had DVR.
 Basil S.: Your current balance on that account is $8.47. I do not see the boxes credited back to the account yet but at the same time I do not see the charge for unreturned boxes.
 George Vaccaro: ok, do you suggest I check back at some point?
 Basil S.: They should be updated in 7 - 10 days.
 George Vaccaro: ok, great
 George Vaccaro: so the last thing is that he also brought a new optimum router and I can't seem to configure it.  It's also acting a bit strange - I can't connect from my phone with ip address to my notebook with ip address  They are both connected to the private SSID (not the optimumwifi one) so I should be able to connect between them, and was able to yesterday, but it seems sporadic.
 Basil S.: The settings of the router is located in the Optimum website. Please select INTERNET and then choose router.
 Basil S.: But before you go ahead, you do not have any ID's on the account yet.
 George Vaccaro: hmm
 George Vaccaro: I'm logged in with the one from my account, prior to my move.  I guess that won't work or didn't come over?
 Basil S.: You may want to create an ID first and then you should be able to access the router, George.
 George Vaccaro: I'm worried that perhaps that is a separate account and I may still be being billed as well.
 Basil S.: Your old account is disconnected.
 George Vaccaro: ok
 Basil S.: You cannot be billied further.
 George Vaccaro: but I'm still logged in wit it
 George Vaccaro: no way to associate the new address with the old account so I can use the same id?
 Basil S.: The ID may stay active for a period of 135 days.
 Basil S.: I can move the ID over, but you may no longer have access to the previous account through that ID.
 George Vaccaro: do you think I will still need access to the previous account?
 Basil S.: Not unless you want to take a look at the previous billing statements.
 George Vaccaro: hmm, no way to move those over too?  I imagine I may need them come tax time.
 Basil S.: I guess, but you can have it moved afterwards.
 George Vaccaro: I'm trying to find the statements now but can't seem to locate them
 Basil S.: You may be able to find them under Pay bill.
 George Vaccaro: it says I don't have access to that section
 George Vaccaro: do you know what my "primary optimum id" is?
 Basil S.: Let me check that for you.
 Basil S.: May I please have the Optimum ID that you are trying to sign in with? 
 George Vaccaro: i know this isn't your job, but I have to say the whole move process has been a lot less than smooth.  If you have a feedback mechanism for management I'd love to send my thoughts over.  This shouldn't be that hard to do.
 George Vaccaro: ***Removed*** - I'm signed in with that
 George Vaccaro: but it must not be the primary id
 Basil S.: That is your only ID on the account, George.
 George Vaccaro: so the system must be confused since it's telling me I don't have access
 Basil S.: Are you able to access the emails?
 George Vaccaro: any way you can just email me my 2013 statements?  Then we can move over the id.
 George Vaccaro: I never used the email service for this sort of reason
 Basil S.: I wouldn't be able to email the past statements, George. I can send via mail. And you can only get the past 6 month's statements at a time.
 Basil S.: I'm so sorry,
 George Vaccaro: online would i be able to get 12 months?
 George Vaccaro: 14...
 Basil S.: You can get the past 18 months via mail.
 George Vaccaro: oh i see
 George Vaccaro: well let's do that, but will it come to my new address?
 George Vaccaro: let me just step back a second.  Is this the normal move process or was something not setup properly?
 Basil S.: It would go to your old address. But it should be forwarded to the new address from there
 George Vaccaro: i see.
 Basil S.: Your past statements would not be moved over to your new account, if that's what you were referring to.
 George Vaccaro: how about my id?
 Basil S.: I can definitely move over your ID after some verification steps.
 George Vaccaro: paperless statements and auto pay?
 Basil S.: You can have access to paperless statements and auto pay after the ID is moved over.
 George Vaccaro: but do i need to set it up again or the old settings will transfer?
 Basil S.: You would have to set it up again, as the address and account numbers have chagned, George.
 George Vaccaro: I think you see what I'm getting at here.  A change of address should not be this complicated.
 George Vaccaro: A new address, and a new router endpoint id.  Should be as easy as that.
 George Vaccaro: I have written systems that do provisioning and remote device cataloging etc.  This process is just plain bad.  I know it's not you job to do that, but someone in management needs to rethink this process.
 Basil S.: I can transfer over the ID, without a hassle, George. I don't think it's a complicated process.
 George Vaccaro: I had to contact about boost which should have been setup automatically, not to mention the tech originally told me he couldn't take my equipment and then did magically, then he said it might not get credited properly to my account, and now I have to move my id over, lose access to old statements and re-setup all my billing settings.
 Basil S.: I see what you're saying, the whole process was not very smooth for you.
 George Vaccaro: if you can send me the complete set of 2013 statements that would be great, but if I'm going to lose that capacity I'll just setup another id, which seems crazy.
 George Vaccaro: I don't think it's just me btw.  Any move would run into these issues.
 Basil S.: Does all your mail get redirected to your new address, George?
 George Vaccaro: btw, if i were using the id for email I couldn't do that option right?
 George Vaccaro: not yet
 George Vaccaro: I can go pick it up though
 Basil S.: You can have the emails moved over.
 George Vaccaro: It sounds like you're describing some more work for me though, not something that is automatic.
 Basil S.: No, if there were email, they would be moved over along with the ID.
 George Vaccaro: but if I don't move the ID, which I may not do since I will lose access to my statements then they won't be moved over right?
 Communication with the RightNow Chat service has been lost.  Please wait while attempts are made to restore the connection.
 Disconnection in 45000 seconds.
 Connection resumed.
 Basil S.: Yes, if you don't request the ID to be moved, it wouldn't be.
 George Vaccaro: yeesh
 George Vaccaro: and I'm in technology.  I can't imagine my Mom dealing with this.  Crazy.
 George Vaccaro: OK, let's just setup another ID and I'll waste my time setting everything up again.
 George Vaccaro: I'm sorry to vent to you.  Again, I know you didn't design the process.
 Basil S.: Thank you for understanding. In order to create the ID, you would have to go to our website, 
 George Vaccaro: do I need my account number?  I'm not sure I know it yet.
 Basil S.: Here is your account number ***Removed***
 Basil S.: Please type in the account number, instead of copy pasting it.
 George Vaccaro: wow, that's interesting
 George Vaccaro: and convenient
 Basil S.: Do you want me to mail your past statements, George?
 George Vaccaro: well, if I can get my old ID to work I'd rather get electronic ones.  Is there any hope of that?
 Basil S.: I'm sending an update to your ID as of now. Please let me know if you can get in.
 George Vaccaro: Still says I'm unauthorized
 Communication with the RightNow Chat service has been lost.  Please wait while attempts are made to restore the connection.
 Disconnection in 45000 seconds.
 Connection resumed.
 Communication with the RightNow Chat service has been lost.  Please wait while attempts are made to restore the connection.
 Disconnection in 45000 seconds.
 Connection resumed.
 George Vaccaro: Basil, I still says I'm unauthorized.
 Basil S.: I'm sorry about that George. I see that the ID has access only to email.
 George Vaccaro: but yet there is no other id on the account?
 Basil S.: That's correct, the disconnection has taken out the access to the statements.
 George Vaccaro: I see.  New information.  OK, can you send me the 2013 statements by mail then?  You had mentioned something about a limit of 6?
 Basil S.: I can send all the 12 statements. 
 George Vaccaro: That would be great, thanks.
 Basil S.: Let me do this for you, please hold.
 George Vaccaro: Thanks.
 Basil S.: Yes, George, I've sent the 2013 statements.
 George Vaccaro: thank you.
 Basil S.: However this is going to your old address.
 George Vaccaro: That's fine.  I'll stop by and pick them up.
 George Vaccaro: The principle bothers me, but that's another story..
 Basil S.: I see that you've set up an ID on your current account.
 George Vaccaro: OK, so last issue, hopefully.
 Basil S.: Please go ahead!
 George Vaccaro: Yes, and I'm in the router settings.  I see all my connected wifi devices yet I can't ping from
 George Vaccaro: the settings in there are incredibly limited unless I'm missing something.  For example I don't see how to allow an inbound port to access a device on the LAN.
 George Vaccaro: I see the advanced settings now.
 Basil S.: Are you able to see DMZ port and port management?
 Basil S.: Sounds good.
 George Vaccaro: So that helps that, but I don't see what might be causing my 2 devices from seeing each other.
 George Vaccaro: I was looking for something like "Wireless Client Isolation" which is designed to keep 2 devices from "seeing each other" on the network, but I don't see anything like that.
 Basil S.: Do you see the devices connected on the network?
 George Vaccaro: yes, both of them
 Basil S.: Let me check this for you.
 George Vaccaro: Thank you.
 Basil S.: How are you trying to ping these 2 devices George?
 George Vaccaro: just from a terminal
 George Vaccaro: it was working last night
 Basil S.: From the terminal to the android device?
 George Vaccaro: yes
 George Vaccaro: from the linux desktop i pinged the android device.
 George Vaccaro: both deices can access the internet via the lan.
 Basil S.: Is the android set to accept connections?
 George Vaccaro: I went to from both and get the same public IP, so the android is on the lan.
 George Vaccaro: well, the ping test is just one of the types of things that's failing.
 George Vaccaro: I usually rsync from it to my linux box and that's not working either "no route to host", same response as ping.
 George Vaccaro: they don't see each other on the network.
 Basil S.: I don't see any inhibitions from here George.
 George Vaccaro: i have a tangential question.  Do I have to use the Optimum router?  Can I use my old netgear instead?  That would at least allow me to eliminate the Optimum router as a variable.
 Basil S.: You can use any router. The router we gave was just part of your package.
 George Vaccaro: ok, if it turns out to be the/a problem can I give it back for a credit, or was it free?
 Basil S.: It's actually free. You're not paying anything extra for it.
 George Vaccaro: ok, can I sell it then?
 Basil S.: No, you can't, just like your modem, it has to be returned.
 George Vaccaro: ok, I'll try the old router and see what happens.  Thanks for your help Basil.  Like I mentioned, if there is any way to get some feedback up the chain I'd be happy to provide details and suggestions as this process has to be especially frustrating for non-technical customers.
 George Vaccaro: not to mention it ties up people like you when all of this should have just worked without needing a CS contact.
 Basil S.: There is a survey at the end of the chat, part of it is my contribution too.
 George Vaccaro: Btw, do I need your help setting up automatic payments?
 Basil S.: No, you can set it up like your previous account.
 George Vaccaro: OK.  I hope the survey lets me bash the process and give you high marks. 
 George Vaccaro: That was the problem with the installer phone survey I recently answered.
 Basil S.: Thank, I'm sure you can do that.
 Basil S.: Is there anything else that I can assist you with today, George? 
 George Vaccaro: I had to give the whole thing high marks as not to bash the poor installer on his 7th install finishing at 9:30 at night.
 George Vaccaro: No, thanks for all of your help.
 George Vaccaro: Thanks Basil.
 Basil S.: You're welcome. It was a pleasure assisting you today, George. Have a great evening!
 Basil S. has disconnected.

Friday, July 8, 2011

TEDxAFS - Justin Solonynka, Big Numbers, and VerizonMath

Justin Solonynka a 7th and 8th grade teacher at Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, PA recently gave a presentation on big numbers for their independently organized TED event TEDxAFS.

Justin used a couple of VerizonMath clips to help express the importance of math on our daily lives. He goes on to give a great presentation about probability and some entertaining ways to help make math more approachable and interesting to students. I even learned something very interesting that I had never realized, but I won't mention it as not to spoil it. It was the part about the Milky Way.

Thank you Justin for including my clips in your talk, mentioning this blog, and for making strides to help reduce innumeracy.

Watch it here:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

World Science Festival Discusses VerizonMath - Continued

The WSF Website has recently been updated with their discussion on The Illusion of Certainty: Risk, Probability and Chance, which includes a few clips from my now infamous Verizon call.

It was very interesting to see and hear the panellists' and audience's reaction to the clips. I imagine this was the largest gathering yet of folks that could truly appreciate it, all in one place.

Thank you Leonard Mlodinow for choosing to include this in your discussion. By the way, as I watched this I made kind of the same anxious expression you did while waiting for the audience to hear the "punch line". :)

Speaking of probability, I never could have imagined back in 2006 when I originally recorded this CS fiasco that it would wind up being used in such an interesting context, incredible.

Here it is for your nerdy enjoyment:

If you don't want to listen to the whole talk (though it's much less painful than my full recording), the panellists start to discuss it at about 29:00.

Friday, June 3, 2011

World Science Festival discusses VerizonMath

Tonight during a session called "The Illusion of Certainty" clips from my call with the call center reps at Verizon will be referenced. It should be interesting how they work it into the talk.

To watch live visit The World Science Festival website or watch below.

Edit: Broadcast has been delayed. I will update when a new date/link is available.

Watch live streaming video from worldsciencefestival at

Monday, October 4, 2010

Verizon to issue Tens of Millions in refunds for erroneous data charges.

As reported on Verizon will be issuing tens of millions of dollars in refunds to customers that were erroneously charged for data usage that they did not initiate.

This has nothing to do with the VerizonMath data rate quoting issue that I was involved with, but is very interesting nonetheless.

I've often wondered about the implications of software glitches, and this one is a doozy. It's probably been hurting Verizon's bottom line for some time even just in customer complaints, customer service calls and customer dissatisfaction (assuming individuals were not able to get the charges reversed). It is tangentially related to my situation in that the CS feedback should really be a priority that is investigated and reacted to early, such that these types of problems are handled when the costs are low (nip in the bud) rather than the typical brush it under the rug and hope it will go away mentality. I can't help but think that if this problem had been caught when the refunds would have amounted to a few million that Verizon's net costs would have been significantly less. Administering millions of refunds has to be a costly process. I wonder if they will issue the refunds including interest.

PS: thanks to Chris for bringing this to my attention.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Gregory Brothers

If you haven't yet heard/seen the magic of The Gregory Brothers, you should really check out their youtube channel and their more serious music "Meet the Gregory Brothers" available from online music retailers (google it for a free preview at amazon etc.).

Their auto-tune the news creations are absolutely brilliant, very catchy and hysterically funny. I have reserved a location on my featured "ads" area in the upper right to hopefully drive some traffic and enlighten people to their amazing creations.