Sunday, December 10, 2006

Response from Verizon - 100% Refund - .002% Concession

Hi everyone. Look what just rolled into my inbox.

There are a few things in the email that I don't quite understand, that make me think this was a very carefully, even overly crafted document.

First, notice the awkward wording of "a previous representative has credited for." Credited what? How about "credited your account for?"

Also, whats all this about a "previous representative" altogether? The previous represetative AFAIK was Nikki, and I had no other correspondence with anyone between Nikki and this email. Perhaps they mean within the walls of their organization, not sure why I would care about that though.

Also notice how very carefully they "reiterated" (if you can even call it that since its the first time a Verizon representative has used this term) their actual rate, ".002 dollars per KB." I hope their marketing and support materials will be updated to reflect that clear and unambiguous term (both visually and verbally.)

Thank you all very much for your support, kind words, and the pressure you put on Verizon. I personally think they dealt with this on a Sunday because they had no choice - they were probably getting hammered with calls from customers (and non customers) wondering what their actual policies were, and if they applied to their accounts.

As I stated before it wasn't about the money, it was about the idea of scamming your customers. Are you satisfied? IMO, I think Verizon would be smart to make some sort of public statement about their rates, and their customer service policies.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Dear George Vaccaro,

Thank you for your reply. Again, I apologize for the miscommunications regarding this issue and for your frustration and inconvenience as a result.

In review of your account a previous representative has credited for the data charges in question for $71.79. You may take this amount off of your current amount due. In the future please keep in mind that it is .002 dollars per KB while in Canada.

It has been a pleasure assisting you today, and we appreciate your business. Have a wonderful week!


Verizon Wireless
Customer Service

"We never stop working for you!"

If you have received this e-mail in error or are not the intended recipient, please notify us immediately by replying to this e-mail and deleting it and all copies and backups thereof. If you are the intended recipient and are a Verizon Wireless customer, this response is subject to the terms of your Customer Agreement.

Original Message Follows:


As I described in my original message to you, when I called before entering Canada I spoke to a rep who quoted me a rate of ".002 cents per KB." I thought that seemed like a great rate and confirmed it with her - she confirmed. I even went so far as to have her note it in the account.

Then, knowing that rate, I used your service in Canada accordingly. I now understand that the rate is actually ".002 dollars per KB" despite the fact that all your reps still claim its ".002 cents per KB." Also, had your company a policy of quoting rates per megabyte, which would result in a much more easily interpretable rate $2.05/MB this whole situation could have been avoided.

The main problem I've had in explaining this to your customer service reps is the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents. To demonstrate that to you I have provided a link to google that will help you see what my bill should be using the rate that was quoted to me:

As you can see, the charge for my usage at .002 cents/KB is $.71786 - or $.72 rounding up to the nearest cent - 72 cents. That is what I was quoted and that is what I am therefore willing to pay.

If you have any problems understanding this, please leverage someone from your accounting department to help you understand it, as I'm sure they know the difference between dollars and cents.

Finally, if you'd rather not acknowledge this mistake, I'd like to at least offer you some advice. All 5 of your customer service reps quoted me the same rate ".002 cents per KB." You can find an audio recording of 2 of those 5 quoting this rate repeatedly to me when I called yesterday, on my blog here:

You can also see there that most people understand the difference between dollars and cents, and you therefore might want to offer your reps some training on the issue.

Thanks very much,
George Vaccaro


Dave said...

Hah! A Success! Congratulations.

Dave said...

The only other thing to say is that they STILL dont acknowledge there is a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents. LOL.

Eric Tully said...

Are you sure that this message really came from Verizon?

Eliot Gable said...

Congrats! I actually went to Verizon's website and posted that I would never buy their services after listening to the recording you made. I also submitted the story to ABC and NBC News as a Consumer Alert. I don't know if they actually ran the story or not.

George Vaccaro said...


Very true! I wonder if they will? Probably need to wait for the execs on Monday for that sort of decision. :)

Thanks for your help.

George Vaccaro said...

@eric tully

Good question, I had to check. The headers look good, and the previous attached emails contained personal information that I had stripped out for the post - only Verizon would have that. Thanks though - smart thinking - it didn't even occur to me.

Simen said...

Check the Recieved-headers in the mail. It may be fake.

George Vaccaro said...

@eliot gable

Thanks Eliot. I'm sure things like that really put the pressure on them.

Kelly Hawk said...

I can't decide if that letter is overly crafted or just very (very) badly written...

At any rate, I'm glad you're not paying the overcharge. But I think Verizon PR will be paying for this for a long time, and rightfully so.

Is this why YouTube seems to have 'lost' your clip off the "most viewed" page?

Good job fighting for consumer (and eduational) rights.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. This is far from over though. The Verizon conversation is much more interesting than the AOL cancellation one, because it's easy to understand rudeness. But such pure and honest stupidity? I wouldn't have believed it possible.

I think Verizon will have their hands full dealing with this one for quite a while.

Josh said...

great job, george. i'm thrilled they actually listened and refunded you :)

keep up the good fight!

Unknown said...

Personally I'd write them back and request confirmation that they will be correcting the existing problem in the call centers. 6 different people quoted you .002c per KB, which is incorrect. As you said, it's not about the money, it's about the principle.

Unknown said...

Great news George.

I hope they will also be making a change to how they quote their rates in the future.

I'm a little sad now though. I can no longer direct my collective rage at a faceless corporation for a specific reason. I can still be generally discontented and rebellious though. :)

George Vaccaro said...


I was wondering that myself, but I think YouTube restarts those counters on a daily basis. The only thing thats weird is that the counters havent budged in at least hours - kinda strange, but I never really paid much attention before. So maybe thats just normal.

Thanks for the wiki - Everyone should check it out. Its hysterical.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D1mitri said...

Congrats on your refund!

Still, it was pretty stupid on their part... but at least they can now see what one customer can do :) !

Unknown said...

Good stuff.

Now, does this set a precedence for all the other customers who may have been misquoted by those buffoons? Too bad I doubt there will be many customers that have proofs comparable to the audio recording and file notes.

Unknown said...

where is my refund??

Dear Peter xxxxx;

Thank you for contacting Verizon Wireless through our website. I am sorry for the delay in responding to your inquiry. This delay was a result of technical difficulties, which have since been resolved.

My name is Eva, and I am eager to address your concerns for the kilobyte charges.

On behalf of Verizon Wireless, please allow me to apologize for the frustration this matter has caused you. Verizon Wireless has a strong customer commitment to delivering the best from our service and staff. I am disappointed that you feel the service you received did not reflect this commitment.

Upon further review of your account, I found that even though our explanation may have been confusing, you were provided correct information regarding the charge for kilobyte usage. We bill the usage at $0.015 per kilobyte. This means $0.015 of a dollar, not $0.015 of a cent.

The verbal information given at the store was also correct. Your original e-mail indicated you were told "$0.015 cents per kilobyte." If it was the charge you understood it to be, it would be verbally given as 0.015ths of a cent. The charges were presented and billed correctly and I am sorry, no a credits are due at this time.

Finally, the last four digits of the Social Security Number (SSN) provided in your e-mail do not correspond with what is listed on your account. If you have additional questions, I will be required to ensure that your account has been verified before I can discuss any account-specific information or process any service changes.

To ensure secure transmission of your information, please do not reply directly to this e-mail. Instead, because our website is a much more secure method for you to transmit sensitive data, please send a new e-mail through our website and include the last four (4) digits of your Social Security Number along with your inquiry.

You are a valued customer and we hope we can restore your confidence in Verizon Wireless. Thank you for using Verizon Wireless products and services.


Verizon Wireless
Customer Service

George Vaccaro said...

@phil and josh

I fell kind of the same way, only maybe less so.

I do think they should clear up these ambiguities. It just felt a little weird immediately transfering into the next fight mode. If popular concensus agrees, I'd be happy to respond that way. That's why I'm asking for people's thoughts.

Unknown said...

"In review of your account a previous representative has credited for the data charges in question for $71.79."

Is it just me or is anyone else having trouble understanding this sentence? It doesn't make grammatical "cents" to me.

Unknown said...

yay! great job george!
maybe you should ask for the letter in writing - snail mail style - and ask for a verizon rep to call you on your cell and confirm...maybe ask to speak to the two managers who you spoke to: mike and andrea to call and confirm their wrongness...hey for shits and giggles say you want trent on the line too! lol

George Vaccaro said...

@peter - when did this happen to you?

Kelly Hawk said...

@ George

The wiki has been completely rewritten and it sucks now. It's been dumbed down significantly.

Oh well. I tried.

Congrats again.

George Vaccaro said...

@dan - great ideas - I'm not sure I'd be able to get those specific people to respond, but a verbal confirmation in general would be great.

FluffyAnaiya said...

"I can no longer direct my collective rage at a faceless corporation for a specific reason."

Sure you can. They're only crediting George because of the 'Verizonmath phenomenon' that has spread across the internet like wildfire. They just want to try to cover their faceless arses! I doubt they would have taken this course of action had George's story not been the big blog news of the week and one of the biggest things to hit YouTube ever.

Unknown said...

From Peter's email:

"The verbal information given at the store was also correct. Your original e-mail indicated you were told "$0.015 cents per kilobyte." If it was the charge you understood it to be, it would be verbally given as 0.015ths of a cent. The charges were presented and billed correctly and I am sorry, no a credits are due at this time."

NO, NO, NO! The charge would NOT be verbally given as "0.015ths of a cent"! They still don't seem to get it... for shame Verizon!

NeillO said...

A perhaps harmless coincidence, but interesting none the less:

Google Trends of Verizon and Math

They are almost exactly inversely proportional... I feel as if I may have stumbled upon something here...

Anonymous said...

I really don't think you have to fight them anymore. The mainstream media will pick this up on Monday and Verizon will get the point.

Unknown said...

This is B.S. Seriously. They need to acknowledge their mistakes by MULTIPLE customer service representatives. I am sure the audio will keep circulating and Verizon will not be able to avoid the negative publicity.

Unknown said...

Congrats, I think you have won a bigger battle than the 71 dollars.

I am sure there will be a memo coming down all the way to the bottom levels of thier customer support lines.

I hope everyone involved saw thier mistake. I hope, I really hope they see that sometimes the customer IS right, and not fight them so hard. Nine times out of ten people are honest, and they don't waste an hour and a half of thier lives trying to clear up an issue for no reason.

Big corperations hate admitting they were wrong. To bad Verizon still has not.

Kijuki Magazaki said...

Why do I sense something fishy.

Unknown said...

Ooops... maybe that was meant correctly, saying they _would have_ said "of a cent", when the email is trying to say they _would not have_ said that... which is the problem these guys are having.

George Vaccaro said...


what the crap? I should have backed it up - that's bizarre.

Unknown said...


this same thing happened two weeks ago to me

^gotta cut and past the two lines due to margines- sorey

Dave L said...

Hooray! Congrats, George.

George Vaccaro said...


Where have you been all weekend? Did you post here before just now?

Jim Martz said...


Whoa, thats weird, they're like direct inverses of each other!

Chandler A. said...

CONGRATS! Do you think you could post a downloadable version of the audio so I can put it on my ipod under the stupid people folder? Haha. But seriously, that is great. Good job! Your a pretty smart dude to just look at that and realize everything that you did. I mean, think about you are like the only person to realize that out of MILLIONS of people.. Not even super freaky scientists with the brain size of a cow caught that one!

Unknown said...

yes ive posted it in multiple threads

no way to contact you-lol

Unknown said...


That blows. You should quote some of George's stuff for precedent and try to get a refund again. Seriously, someone needs to slap these people. 0.015 cents is not 1.5 cents!

George Vaccaro said...

@chandler a

Go here

I think sometimes you have to click through a bunch of links, but then there is a download link.

Let me know if you have problems.

Thanks very much!

Unknown said...


"This means $0.015 of a dollar, not $0.015 of a cent."

They still don't get it. It's an peculiar quirk of English I guess that somehow the dollar sign is the only unit that's ever used in the prefix position, and they can't put two units on a currency value like that.

"$0.015 of a cent" is the same as saying "0.015 dollar cents", or as google helpfully handles, "0.00015 dollar^2."

Anyone who took the first day of a high school chemistry or physics class ought to be able to do dimensional analysis at this level and realize VZW is speaking gibberish.

George Vaccaro said...


email me at verizonmath at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

That is absolutely briliant!!

I imagine the problem is actually some 'creative' the marketing department that thought it would make for better marketing if it said 0.002 and cents (clearly considering the two to be independent decisions!)

v. pleased to hear that they decided to drop the charge.

How much did they offer to compensate you for the time and hassle of correcting their mistake? Let's pick a number, say $5.15/hour (I think that's the US minimum wage, but better not mention that)

So they probably agree that $5.15 is 515 cents... Lets look at your 45 minute phone call... Hmmm...

45 * 515 = 23175

Perhaps they'd agree to $23175 dollars compensation? You could be on to a winner here :-P

I hope the call handlers not-so-dumb-ass friends finf the YouTube thing and berate them for it!

Unknown said...


Looking at your email again, I was right: they are completely wrong. Eva says the charges were 'presented and billed correctly.' They were not presented correctly! This looks like a huge problem across their entire customer service department. Someone needs to send them back to grade school. As Joe says, "$.015 of a cent" is a terrible construct! Keep fighting! We need these people to fix their terminology so people with some amount of math skills aren't up sh!t's creek!

Unknown said...


Make sure you get that fixed!

Unknown said...

The 'concession' I expected. Note they didn't adjust your bill to the right amount, they did a full refund. Still not admitting anything wrong on their part, just, from all appearances, saying a full refund was worth the customer satisfaction and not dealing with the hassle. As a business, 'the principle of the thing' isn't worth the bottom line, but efforts to avoid high-profile embarrassment while admitting no wrong-doing is vital.

As to peter's note, I have to laugh at the terminology they use of "$0.015 of a cent". That makes no sense, that's like saying 0.015 kilometers of a meter. Use of the $ and the word cent together, makes my head want to explode. Also, saying "0.015ths of a cent" is a correct and valid representation of $0.015 is very plainly stupid.

If they quietly fixed all their marketing and training going forward and more quickly given a full refund to the probably very few people who noticed the problem, they would have avoided the attention. Now it is mostly too late, and particularly if a mainstream media outlet picks up the story, it could even lead to a costly class-action if a savvy lawyer got a hold of Verizon marketing/contract material misworded the way they seem to be doing it, depending on the scope of the wording vs their customer base.

George Vaccaro said...


Good points. Remember, I have not responded to Verizon. I for example, can threaten to cancel altogether, leverage my blog etc, if they do not publicly acknowledge the mistake.

Keep the ideas coming. - Thanks

Chandler A. said...


Thanks for the link.. It is now on the ipod. I'm so glad that you recorded this. haha

Unknown said...

This is Verizon's own doing. They tried to be deceptive by trying to hide an absolutely ridiculously high rate of over $2 a megabyte as a much lower sounding $0.002/kb. For reference, a song from iTunes usually clocks in at 3-4 megs, and that's $0.99! Verizon's trying to say their costs to deliver that song over an EVDO connection is worth 6 times as much as the creative content in the bits themselves and Apple's delivery costs! It's highway robbery, and they were trying to hide it.

The fact that the only people they confused are their own customer service reps is just justice.

Aaron & Venessa said...

If I were in your position, I would tell Verizon that I will not renew my contract with them unless they can provide concrete, specific answers to the following questions:

1. At least 6 representatives were unable to understand the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents. What steps are being taken to ensure that they will be able to tell the difference in the future?
2. Are prospective Verizon employees screened for basic arithmetic skills?
3. How is the Canadian data rate recorded in the CSRs' documents? Is it $.002, .002 dollars, .002 cents, $.002 cents, or something else?
4. Given the number of CSRs who incorrectly quoted a rate of .002 cents per kilobyte, it seems inevitable that other Verizon customers have been quoted incorrect rates. What are you doing to identify those customers, and what will you do to rectify those incorrect quotes?
5. During the course of the conversation with Verizon customer service, it seemed like the CSRs were more interested in getting the customer to go away than they were in helping him. Have you come to the same conclusion? If so, how do you intend to correct the problem?
6. Thus far, no representative has admitted error on the part of Verizon. Was Verizon's quote of .002 cents per kilobyte an error on Verizon's part, or not? If not, what was it?

They'll want to keep your business, of course, and if you ask them, they'll probably give you vague assurances about it's not going to happen again. My view is that if they can't tell you what specific action they're going to take to fix the problems evident from this incident, their assurances have no basis on which you can be confident.

Unknown said...


Wow, deja vu!

Unknown said...

email sent

George Vaccaro said...

@Aaron & Venessa - perfect! Exactly the type of thing I was looking for.

Kelly Hawk said...


The original wiki post in its un-dumbed format is here:

It pleases my good friend Stephen Colbert to no end to know that things on Wikipedia get dumbed down.
By 'good friend' I mean 'that guy that I watch on TV'.

keep the momentum going on this. Seriously.

Patrick Zeinert said...

Just sent this text to

Verizon customer service asserts that .002 dollars is the same as .002 cents. Man was billed $71.79 for what the quoted price dictated should be $.7179. More than one person has surfaced claiming a .002 cent quote and being charged $.002.

George Vaccaro said...


I just linked your blog from the Coverage post.

Anonymous said...

Do you see anything at all on verizonmath when you go to Wikipedia? When I follow the link can still see an article that doesn't look dumbed down, but it's not searchable or editable and it's recorded as having been deleted by an admin today.

Kelly Hawk said...


I think the wiki staff perhaps decided that verizonmath isn't a real word and deleted the entry altogether.

Hopefully Merriam-Webster will feel differently and award it "word of the year" next year.

Tony said...

Great success, I like it!!

David said...


Please do us all a favor and don't back down at this point. They need to admit they totally screwed up here, and that they have a big problem with their billing staff not understanding basic mathematics. They've put you through too much for you to settle for a simple refund, in my opinion.

Kelly Hawk said...

Apparently the wiki page was deleted because it is an "attack page":

Attack pages. Pages that serve no purpose but to disparage their subject or some other entity (e.g., "John Q. Doe is an imbecile"). This includes a biography of a living person that is negative in tone and unsourced, where there is no NPOV version in the history to revert to.

Interesting that there was deemed to be NO other purpose to the page than making verizon look bad.

How about speading understanding that would have brought accountability to a flawed product?

How about generally educating people about the importance of learning and understanding math?


Conspiracy theories are flowing over on YouTube - no one can figure why George's video isn't on the "most watched" list...

Dalrynn said...

OMG! I laughed, I cried, I checked my bill. As an accountant and a Verizon customer I don't know if I find this comical or horrifying!

Ray said...

Make sure that in accepting this refund, you're not automatically renewing your contract for another two years. But by now, probably the last thing in the world that VZW wants is to have you renew your contract.

If you really want to prove your point that it's all about honesty and ethics, I'd say to send them the 71 cents anyway. Then take the high road, declare the matter resolved, don't rub their noses in it anymore, and if questioned by reporters, etc., just say that you are happy that this was resolved in a reasonable manner. That's just my 0.02 worth.

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

For people having issues understanding the terminology of this statement: "In review of your account a previous representative has credited for the data charges in question for $71.79."

That's "accounting speak". When you "credit" an account, you place a record on the account indicating a negative amount (services rendered, whatever, and for that fact, money is owed to the account to right it to $0.00). When you "debit" an account, you place a positive record on the account indicating that something was paid into the account to bring it above the due amount.

Grammatically, it is accurate, just written by an accountant.

Unknown said...

looks like the sneaky verizon bastards are trying to cover their tracks!business!columnists

Daniel said...

You sir are my hero of 2006. Well done, I am a Verizon customer, and I found this information quite laughable. Keep up the good fight; anyone with the most basic comprehension for math should be able to figure out the difference between $.002 per KB and .002¢ per KB. Just as there is a difference between $2 and 2¢.

I just figure they pick people from the bottom of the barrel for these jobs, as in most fast food restaurants(they always get the order wrong).

This Blog is made of 'LOL' and 'WIN'!


Surreal said...

Time to layeth the smacketh down!

Otto said...

Well done for keeping control over yourself the whole time very admirably even though we can tell that everytime that guy said anything you just wanted to go AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH.

good work.

Q said...

I'm starting to think that the real issue isn't verizon math skills. I'm suspecting that verizon trains their employees to read "$0.002" as "point zero zero two cents" which, in my opinion, is misadvertizing and a clear intent to mislead the customer. It isn't an issue of being bad at math any more, as every single rep misreads it the same way, both in your case and in peter's.

I think for this very same reason you won't get a verizon rep to admit to being wrong, because it will put verizon in a very bad legal position. A class action lawsuit against them *bad*.

@peter - Maybe you should fill out this general complaint form to the FCC.
If you mention that there's a pattern of mis-quoting the price per kilobyte, it could be very bad for verizon. The FCC takes these things very seriously. It might be a lengthy process though.

Also, I'd like to bring attention to Nikki's reply. The email is very well crafted. It starts off with "I understand your frustration". Standard tactic to get you more receptive to their offer. The email accepts absolutely no blame and calls it a 'miscommunication'. Because hey, they see $0.002 and read it as "point zero zero two cents", and you understand it to mean $0.00002, so obviously it must've been a miscommunication! Hey, these things happen, you know!
So she says she'll refund you $36.00 *due to a miscommunication*.
And the last part: "Please reply to this email if you would like to accept this offer."
In other words, it's a trap. Any reply to that email would be accepting the deal and more importantly, accepting that it was just a miscommunication.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on getting your refund. However, I have one question with the $2.05/MB rate you suggested they use instead.

.002 cents *(1,024,000kb) = 2,048 cents

2048 cents / 100 = 20.48 dollars

So wouldn't it be $20.48/MB?

Unknown said...


There's 1,024 kb in a mb.

1,024 kb/mb * $0.002 / kb = $2.048 / mb

Aaron T. said...


Your calculations are all kinds of messed up. First off, as has been clarified, the actual rate is 0.002 dollars (= 0.2 cents) per kilobyte. Second, there are 1000 kilobytes in a megabyte (or 1024 kibibytes in a mebibyte, to use the binary prefixes), not 1,024,000,000.

0.002 dollars/kibibyte * 1024 kibibytes/mebibyte = 2.048 dollars/mebibyte

Unknown said...

Ahhh, I don't know what I was thinking saying that there are 1,024,000 kilobytes in a megabyte. 1,024,000 bytes are in a megabyte. I stand corrected.

BRtews said...

How did you make an audio recording of your call to verizon? this would be handy information to know when talking to any customer service rep!

Big Big News said...

Not to boast, but I put in a call to someone at Verizon for you to settle the issue. Glad to see it was handled promptly. Also, and of perhaps more interest to you... Verizon reps will now be pulled into a meeting to review the correct usage of decimals.


Unknown said...


Rynet said...

@ Welcome to Every Interview
that's good to hear but I think a public apology would be sufficent in this case also. This is clearly corporate america praying on the less inteligent consumer base to charge more than they say they do, this is indicated pretty obviously by the fact that all reps stuck by the rate he was quoted not by what the rep tells him now. It's clear they are just trying to cover it up by refunding him the full ammount instead of an adjusted ammount.

Jon said...

It really belonged on Uncyclopedia:

David said...

Actually, clint, there are 1,048,576 (1,024 x 1,024) bytes in a megabyte. Or 1,000,000, depending on which definition you use.

MaricqSciGeek said...

Just a note, there are actually 1024 bytes in a kilobytes and 1024 kilobytes in a megabyte and so on. That means that there are 1024^2 bytes in a megabyte or 1048576 bytes/mb. This happens to be important as burnable DVDs, computers, and other technological devices have their storage quotes in giga bytes and not in gigabytes. The space between the modifier and the unit actually makes a difference, but can't be seen at all in the abbreviation GB (or MB, TB, etc). This means that a 1 tera byte hard drive (which is an option for newer computers) is 1,000,000,000,000 bytes dividing this by 1024^4 shows that you only get roughly .91 terabytes. Using this loophole companies make their offers seem better than what they rally are. That is why my 250gb hard drive cam with 210gb free space. 250 giga bytes * .93 gigabytes/giga byte = 232.5gb - 8.5 gb backup drive = 224gb - 14gb operating system software = 210gb.

Good job with this! I personally don't know how to record calls and am not sure I am able to on my phone, but that would certainly be useful info. Keep with the issue. This isn't even about Verizon anymore. I think that if enough people with similar experiences start going public with them, it may change customer support as a whole, since not many corporations will be eager to get the publicity that Verizon got. I've had many similar experiences, both with companies (even though I am good at dealing with them and often relieve other members of my family from their difficult conversations) and with the law/government. Someone at the secretary of state changed my address to the wrong one. Consequently I didn't receive a notice telling me I should appear at something and had my license suspended for failure to appear. Not knowing about this, I was arrested and taken to jail for driving on a suspended license. This snowballed and caused a chain reaction with other charges, automatic suspensions, not hours but days of wading through bureaucracy, lots of headaches, fines, and time that I didn't have. From when it began to when it ended it lasted over 8 months and I managed to go all that time without getting a hold of a human without a chip in their brain to resolve the issue. My mother finally did after our appeal was refused, and now (I hope) it is all over. So keep with this, not to make Verizon look bad (they've got enough already) but hopefully to make customer service better as a whole. Maybe one day all CS employees will think for themselves and listen to the customer. As a note to all the CS employees out there, I am sure that it is simply a few bad eggs that have created this reputation and am not saying that ALL CS reps are like this. Again, thanks and good luck!

Unknown said...

I am absolutely amazed at how patient you are. I was getting extremely irritated listening to those retards...

Irving Washington said...

Zugi said...

Congratulations on getting your refund! (Check your account balance online if you want to verify that the message is real.)

Thanks to their response, I'll probably keep my Verizon service... I've found other companies to be downright rude to me on the phone, I can accept a little polite incompetence, especially if they make it right in the end.

Welcome to Every Interview said...

Not to boast, but I put in a call to someone at Verizon for you to settle the issue. Glad to see it was handled promptly. Also, and of perhaps more interest to you... Verizon reps will now be pulled into a meeting to review the correct usage of decimals.


I think the Verizon sockpuppets have arrived...

Jacques Beau Vert said...

This story has amazed all morning - I'm sending your youtube clip to everyone I know.

I'm really floored - I just don't know what to say. How can so many levels of supervision all be so woefully incompetent???

Look, math is very weak point for me - but even *I* get this.

Jacques Beau Vert said...

PS - I live in Canada, and I've sent your youtube clip to 2 acquaintances who are a segment producer and a reporter at two of Canada's national broadcasters.

Daniel Rudmin said...

I emailed it to all my family in the US. Is Verizon by any chance corperately related to Bell Canada? Because this is the exact kind of shit they would pull.

Bell told me when I got my phone that I could change the number for free if I moved to a different area. Well when I move, they change the number for free, but then charge $15 to reprogram the phone to accept the new number. Assholes. I called customer service and the woman basically said, yep, we lied to you, nope we're not going to give you your $15 back.

Hans said...

Oh, bloody hell!

You, George, are a truly remarkable person. If that was me on the phone, then by the time that first retard had finished speaking, I would have personally gone down there, slapped him hard, and done the math in front of his ignorant face.

Well done on adressing the issue though =)

Unknown said...

One thing that every CSR has to deal with is call time. They get rewarded for short call times or "resolving the issues quickly". They are always watching the clock when talking to you. Some will disconnect and pretend it was an accident so that their call times will be short.
A tool I use when talking to them is to let them know that I am willing to stay on the phone ALL DAY, I have no one waiting for me. I am going to sit here until I get my issue resolved even if that means talking to myself.
It makes them look bad to their bosses and one of two things will happen. Either they will escalate you (someone else's problem) or they will get to listening and try to fix your issue.
Doesn't always work, but it always makes my husband laugh when he hears my threats.

Unknown said...

Congrats George!

As for the wiki - the same thing happened with Evan Guttman's "Stolen Sidekick" if anyone remembers that one. The article kept getting removed because it wasn't considered a notable event or something.
Maybe I'll try to add a link to the Internet Vigilantism article.

George Vaccaro said...


Thanks, and thanks again for the transcript! Great job!

Skip said...


,,,,,,even more disturbing, not only is it a Mathematics problem, it's an English problem as well.

I am sure if you used their paycheck for an example it would have been much clearer.

Shameful, but Kudos to you!

Unknown said...

I can definitely see where there was confusion, on BOTH parts, as far as the problem being discussed here. I see it as a terminology problem on the CSR's part, and not necessarily a Math problem.

Example 1: How would you say '$.02' if you read it on a statement, and then spoke it out loud? My assumption, because it is the way I was taught to say it in grade school, is 'two cents'. Call this the 'U.S. Currency' terminology.

Example 2: The other (and probably never used) way to say '$.02' would be 'point zero two dollars'. Call this the 'Real Math' terminology.

The problem with the Verizon reps is that they are taking both the Currency and Math terminologies and using them both at once, and saying $.002 as 'point zero zero two cents'. Call this the 'Verizon' terminology.

The correct way to say $.002 would be either 'two tenths of a cent' (which the first rep actually said correctly one time before screwing up again) in U.S. Currency, or 'point zero zero two dollars' in Real Math.

By the Verizon rep repeatedly saying 'point zero zero two cents', we in our minds could see one of two things: '$.00002', or '.002c'. However, if we were reading a statement we would have seen the correct rate '$.002'. That is the breakdown in terminology, and that is the missing piece in George's original conversation with Verizon, when asking about rates in Canada.

I'm assuming from the audio that George was talking to a rep on the phone when he originally asked about the rate, and was given the 'point zero zero two cents' quote when asked about the Canadian roaming charges. There probably wouldn't have been any confusion if George had been reading the rate visually as '$.002' as opposed to hearing it.

In closing, I'm glad George was compensated for this misunderstanding. However, this sounds like a training issue, and not some plot by Verizon to steal money from their customers. It is important to acknowledge that CSR's typically aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, and can get pretty confuzzled if you ask them questions that they aren't trained well enough to answer. The vast majority of people this side of a CPA or a banker are not accustomed to the terminology used in dealing with fractions of a penny, and that is the root of this issue.

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

This is no miscommunication or "error". Think about it! This is something that has been communicated for a long time. *EVERYONE* involved with numbers, like *MANAGERS* and *ACCOUNTANTS* *MUST* see the error. So Verizon's people *MUST* have seen it too. And they still do advertise with the misleading .002c, just because it is misleading! Come on now, you can't tell me that in such big a company, no one would have made the remark: "Hey, our ad is not correct".
They are just trying to get you into the idea you're getting cheap data rates. And if they would admit that, they have a huge problem. I cannot wait to see this going to the FCC. This is corporate America ripping off poor customers!

Unknown said...

Have you brought this to the attention of your state utility regulation agency? If the Verizon representatives are quoting from a tariff that reads "$0.002/kilobyte" and saying, ".002 cents per kilobyte" then you have a legitimate complaint that you have handled with the correct people. However, if the tarrif reads ".002 cents per kilobyte", which it could, there are many Verizon customers who are owed a refund and the state agency normally has a keen interest in such mistakes.

Great Cthulu said...

this was unbelieveable. you have the patience of a saint.

a thought.

while listening i thought of this.

ask them to take your bill

71.79 DOLLARS!
36895 divided by your usage
.002 and then ask what that number label should be?
knowing their retardedness, it might be obvious to the rest of us that the number is more than clearly cents. but i wouldhave loved to hear them say it was dollars!

CMW said...

Verizon said:
"Finally, the last four digits of the Social Security Number (SSN) provided in your e-mail do not correspond with what is listed on your account. If you have additional questions, I will be required to ensure that your account has been verified before I can discuss any account-specific information or process any service changes."

Uh-oh. I worked for one of these companies for a couple of years until my conscience got to me. This verification they speak of is a delaying tactic, one that they use to weed out people who can't or won't fax in a bunch of documents.

You can count on a 2-week delay (at least) when your documents are "lost," ie sent to the first fax number they gave you which just happened to be wrong. The problem will not be noted until you call about it, and then they will have to start the verification process over because you called about it.

Good luck. They'll quote you 6-8 weeks, but you're looking at 12-15. That's right, they can't do calendar math either.

KJ said...

OK, so there's going to be a big CSR training meeting at Verizon coming up... There's going to be powerpoint, there's going to be scripts, all sorts of material to explain it. And when it's over, and the trainers are gone, and it's just the CSRs in the room, they're all going to look at each other and say, "What the hell were they talking about? $0.002 is 0.002 cents, right? What's the diff?

Unknown said...

George - I had a similar situation with ATT/Cingular immediately after the merger. I won't bore you with the circumstances, but the moral of the story was that the tech service rep I was on the phone with admitted to me that the service could be interrupted by someone moving a frying pan in a nearby apartment. After a very carefully worded letter to ATT/Cingular and CC'ing it to the FCC and Better Business Bureau I got two free months from ATT/Cingular. I would write a nicely but firmly worded letter to Verizon and copy FCC and the Better Business Bureau. You might get more out of them!

Dhaval Patel said...

Congrats George,

This is really great.

One thing I want to say. I may not be right or I don't know if it's possible. You should file some claim or some legal action against verizon wireless. Peter has the similar issue which is not resolved yet. (Peter may be the right person)

To me both incidents indicates that there are many more (I don't know how many) out there which do not know that they are being or they have been ripped off because of some corporate marketing policy or customer service rep.'s ignorance or who knows what. We should definitely fight against these issues. It may be small matter for you or Peter but when you multiply your problems by 100s, it makes a big difference.

This also remind me a recent video posted on youtube about computer repair services from geeksquad and other store. This story tells that how much we are being ripped off by those stores. (

Just a thought.

Amy said...

Here was your problem.. You kept talking MATH to these guys..

".002 dollars" and ".002 cents" and then talking 1000th of a cent.. blah blah..

What you SHOULD have done was say ".002 of a DOLLAR is .002, .002 cents is written .00002, do you see the difference, and why you are wrong in what you are saying to me?"

Anyway.. that's my .002 cents...

sped105 said...

I don't know if anyone has posted this yet (I've read a LOT of this blog) but I think it could help somewhere in this issue for someone.

keyboard shortcut for cent on Windows Pc is;

Alt + 0162 = ¢


sped105 said...

Mac Option+4

hand2mouse said...

Ouch. Your recording made me sick to my stomach (due the way it reflects the state of intellectual function around us).

I predict that you'll get nowhere negotiating for them to state the specific corrective actions they plan to take (an earlier suggestion). They'll respond with "it's none of your business" (spun as "proprietary" or "internal" or -- a favorite -- "protecting our employees' privacy.")

And really, there's no practical way to make such a promise to you and be accountable. Can anyone imagine a company giving a customer (who will clearly post results on the web) access to their internal communications and training? Won't happen.

Unknown said...

"We never stop working for you!" ...

... "unless faced with elementary school math problems, then you're pretty much screwed."

Maybe they should just go with:
"You'll WISH you were talking to a brick wall!"

Unknown said...

I am glad that you got 100% refund!

Unknown said...


Well done! I just heard your original conversation and you are spectacularly patient.

Gratz on getting the refund...



J said...

I have a feeling they caved-in and gave you the $71 refund just to close the book on this issue without actually understanding the problem. It probably makes more "mathemetical" sense for them to do that.

Do you really think Verizon sent all their reps to math classes? I think not! This WILL happen again.

Mark said...

When I listened to that recording I had to stop half way through...I was laughing so hard I had to go pee!

Now all I want to do is sit here and listen to Abbott & Costello's "Who's On First" routine!

Congratulations X .002!

Unknown said...

peter quoted:

"If it was the charge you understood it to be, it would be verbally given as 0.015ths of a cent."

Wouldn't "0.015ths of a cent" actually be 1 cent divided by 0.015, i.e. 66.66666666(...) cents...?

Erin H. said...

This is the most hilarious thing! Even worse, I worked for Verizon Wireless for about two years myself, and I ALWAYS quoted people at .002 dollars per KB! I feel like such an idiot now.

Black Listed Rovers said...

file a class action lawsuit for all customers that used internet service from the time they instituted that rate or when they bagna offering that service until the date of your phone call regarding your bill. basically they would be required to turn over financial documents of a certain time period where a judge may rule that it is reasonable that reps misquoted on lets say 75% of all customers using that rate. that could me millions and millions of dollars.

Black Listed Rovers said...

bagna = began. sorry just got off work at verizon and we use a different typing schematic

CodeBlock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

You're all missing THE STORY here... here in the US. It's NOT IN CANADA with this guy's story. READ: Verizon is charging 1.5 cents per kilobyte, standard, in the us, if you have no data plan but use your PDA phone. Not .2 cents as this thread is all about... I'm starting to wonder if Mr. I-went-to-Canada isn't an insider for Verizon trying to muddle the issue. If your bill has 3 megabytes on it, you're paying around $50.00! i.e. $17 per megabyte... highway robbery isn't the right word for it. Ass-raping ALMOST does it justice. this should be in the Wall Street Journal tomorrow as white-collar crime... but what do you think the odds are of that. Bend over, America. Verizon hates you.

JimmyG said...

If I were you or if this happens to anyone else in the future, I would have asked to be transfered to engineering. I don't know if they would let you talk to an actual engineer, but keep pushing them until they do. Ask the engineer to perform dimensional analysis of the problem. Or ask them for a fax/email address where you can draw out the fractions associated with dimensional analysis (wiki it if you don't know what it is) and then go over it with them like that.

I don't know how else to convince them

Aaron Xavier said...

I must say, if I were in your possition they would be facing a lawsuit.

I feel sorry for all the users that had to go through this, however you should have spend the time consulting with a very good lawyer.

Your "time" is your "money" being spent or in this case being wasted.

fpsrandy said...

Here it looks like canada has a free data rate now. A much cheaper solution than sending their employees to grade 2.
Or maybe they are no longer offering data while roaming in canada.

fpsrandy said...

You will have to copy the two line separately due to the lack of margin wrap

CyborgNYC said...

Brilliant! I'm so sick of Verizon overcharging and taking every opportunity to tack on extra minutes etc. I finally asked them to remove my internet access on my phone so this wouldn't happen again. they also removed around $7.90 worth of charges.

I don't understand why monthly 'data access' adds an additional $40 to your bill? I think Sprint is cheaper.

If you buy a Treo in the store you MUST get the data package, if you buy one on eBay, you can get service without the data (email/web) package.

DCnOR said...


Here's my story trying to get Verizon Video installed.

If you ever have an issue with Verizon FIOS/Video, here's their INTERNAL customer retention line: 800-483-7720 ..they love it when you call!! ...and guess what, no waiting.
To Tonja King, Verizon FIOS Tech Support Desk, on Feb 6:

In summary you now owe me per mistakes/ promises, etc:
• Billing is continually overcharging me (incorrect STB @ 13/mo, NO credits applied below).
• No free movie package was added per promise my Tonja
• None of the following have been received as promised:
o 2 month’s bill credited (My bill is ~$110/mo (triple play package) = ~$220 value) (per Summer and Tonja)
o $25 credit (per Jennifer, Orders Desk)
o $10 credit/mo for the duration of the agreement (2yrs) (Per Glen, Jeopardy desk)
o $4.99 (free STB) for duration of the agreement (2yrs) (Per Glen, Jeopardy desk)
o $100 gift card. (Per Glen, Jeopardy desk)

Here is the history of my experience. Please fwd this to your upper management. I imagine this is happening more than you know. In summary, I have spent 3 days waiting for an installer that never showed up, made 20 phone calls, in some cases waiting on hold for >2hrs, been treated rudely by more than one Verizon employee, had ~4 call-backs promised, but not kept and I am now not happy with the end product (Video signal is worse than DISH).

Nov 17th: I pre-ordered Video after receiving a mailer offering it to me. I was assured we would be on the preferred list to get this installed early.
Dec12th: We got a call from a scheduler that we would get this installed Dec28
Dec17: I called FIOS line, 888-553-1555, to confirm time and Claudet said that she did not see Dec 28th scheduled and only saw a Jan 6th date. (I was on hold for 1hr for this call, and in the end told that there was no way she could contact the scheduler to get an explanation)
Dec28th We waited for an installer that never showed up.
Jan2: Called FIOS line again (on hold for >1hr). Rep wanted to help and contacted the scheduler who said that they would have someone call me back in 48hrs (No one ever called me back)
Jan 6th We waited for an installer that never showed up.
Jan 7th Called FIOS line again: Marlie said that this order looked screwed up. She said it was “on-hold” for BIFI adapter until Jan6th. She said she would escalate my issue and have someone call me next day as I received no call back since Jan2. Marlie said she would create a ticket for the orders control group. She saw a Jan17 install date, but it was not “into the system”
Jan 8th Called FIOS line again: Miles said he would call Order control group and have someone call be back by 5pm (No one ever called me back)
Jan 9th I talked to Fred, then Tom (FIOS desk supervisor) who got orders group desk on the phone with me “Jennifer”. She saw that the order was screwed up and ensured me it would be fixed. She said that she would schedule it for Jan23
-PROMISED a $25 credit from Jennifer-
Jan 23 We waited for an installer that never showed up. I called FIIOS line and talked to “Summer” (supervisor in Dallas), employee# V892003. She was very sorry, explained the order was till screwed up and that she would call me back the next day.
-PROMISED credit to next months bill-
Jan 24 Summer never called back. I called FIOS line supervisor Tonja King. She also said the order was still screwed up and was to call me back Monday.
-PROMISED credit to second months bill-
Jan 29th Tonja emailed me back saying that she would work something out and let me know. We scheduled install for Feb 6, but she was to find an earlier time for me. No earlier time found, so we stuck with the Feb6th
Feb6th Corey, installer arrived and was a little rude and too inflexible with his installation plan. I asked him to avoid a hole in the exterior house wall at the front door. He was not flexible to install this way and wanted to charge me $. Then he proceeded to essentially call me a liar over another part of the install. I asked this installer to leave.
Feb6th Glen at Jeopardy desk called to win my business back. He promised The Installation manager would send over his “BEST guy” and resolve this for me.
-PROMISED $10 off per mo for 1yr, Promised 1 free STB for 1 yr, and a $100 gift card-
Feb 6th Tonja called me on her own to follow-up. She noticed the order did not have the correct Home Video MMedia DVR listed and the Home Media Package. She worked with Orders group to fix this, but we still have outstanding issues with this order to clear up.
-PROMISED 1 free mo Movie package-
Feb 6th: I looked on Billing website to see if credits were showing up. Web sited showed that Billing was attempting to charge me for Video as of Jan 23rd, although as we all know I have not had video installed. I had another call come to me at the time and asked the billing operator to please hold. She said she could wait 2 min, but then she hung up on me @ 1min! I called again and spend 30 min in total to explain, understand and to resolve this.
Feb 6th Aaron, another installer, showed up @ ~3pm. He was helpful to resolve my initial install concern, but would not finish the install per my instructions (He utilized the cable on the roof). He needed to charge me and was concerned about signal loss. I called Jason Watson, (install supervisor). NOTE: Aaron was NOT close to being the BEST guy, per Glens promise, Also the third TV is not working. Also the Home Media DVR does not work on other TV’s as advertized to me. Also Aaron did not give me the copy of the DVR agreement form.
Jason Watson promised to send another guy out to install new cabling, test video signal and ensure this works properly. Scheduled for Saturday, Feb 9th.
the saga continues:
Video was finally installed, but Billing is messed up and overcharging me. Tonja King(manager) said she would followthru to ensure all my credits and promises are followed up. The following week she told me she was reassigned and that another manager (Ryan Scalley) would help me. He gave me lip service that all would be resolved and then he disappeared (his email does not work any longer -quit? fired?). That was Feb21, it is now April 17 and I have begun to hound the Customer retention line for resolution. they keep asking me "how did you get this number" --well maybe this will finally get me the attention I deserve.

Unknown said...

Alright, let's be clear here. This isn't simple a general "math" problem but more specifically a units of measure problem.

We learn about coversions in math class, but most math classes unfortuantely rely on remembering formulas and not reasoning and deduction skills. In fact, the concept of dimensional analysis (the concept of keeping track of your units and canceling them out accordingly so that when you're done you have a sanity check that your method of conversion is valid because you wound up with the right unit of measure in the end) was introduced in chemistry for me, not math. I might also add that my chemistry teacher got in trouble for failing too many people in his chemistry class. This is a vital reasoning tool, and it is reserved for people in scientific fields!

Now, the original mistake is sad but an understandable one, and largely comes from a symbolic representation vs linguistic representation mismatch. When we write a value, we almost alway do it in terms of dollars. I will sell you a sandwich for $5.99. However, if you ask me how much I owe you, I am very likely to say "5 dollars and 99 cents please." I will definitely not say "5 point 9 9 dollars." Now we get into weird fractions of a cent, and most people are not so good at verbal conversions on the fly, but we know that things on the right side of the decimal are cents- and you have a common verbal error. It's just speaking out of habit without thinking which we're all guilty of.

Now, the fact that after making this mistake, it appears to be impossible to explain where the error lies- that's scary and a testament to the fact that our society doesn't feel reasoning skills need to be taught to anyone before college level education.

@Mark W- I almost choked on my tea when I saw your child's teacher's attempt at a conversion. How could she possibly answer the question "how long?" with "x liters" and keep a straight face is beyond me.

Unknown said...

What this story means to me is that persistent patience in the face of authoritative ignorance is a powerful tool that can unmask that authority to show the pathos of that ignorance. These are people, after all that are repeating the lines they have been given. They don't really want to understand as it would cost them money if they 'fessed up. In the corporate culture that Verizon has established, the employees are afraid to show the autonomy that would deviate from the company line.

cdb said...

Your phone call recording was quite a thriller, I found myself jittering with excitement to find out whether you would get through their thick skulls. I'm glad you got your due.

Nathan said...

On a slightly related note, who gave all these companies the idea that they win people's favor by flattering them or wasting their time? I don't give a rat's ass if I'm a "valued customer" like everyone else they ever email. I care if I'm charged the correct amount for the correct service. Why does each email need four paragraphs of touchy-feely filler distraction?

Unknown said...

Brilliant!! You are my hero!

Daniel said...

If he would have only given the $20,000 versus 20,000 pennies in the beginning, before the woman was fed up with him, she might have understood. His explanations would start out on track, then change mid sentence.

At any rate, Verizon had an error in their terminology. If I had been the first manager to speak with him, I would have admitted the terminology was wrong, give him a refund to shut him up, and then make sure Verizon knew to change it. I do not deal with Verizon anyway because they rob you blind when things are working normally without special cases like this.

My final point is, what idiot would think a company like Verizon would give out roaming data for $0.0002/kB anyway? We're talking Verizon here in case you forgot.

George Vaccaro said...


Hmm, did you listen to the call? Every single rep on the call quoted .002c/KB which is $.0002/KB.

What idiot would hear this quoted tens of times by multiple reps and then call someone an idiot for believing them?

Also, I was paying $20 for up to 5GB of data in the USA which comes to roughly $0.000004/KB so paying 50 times that for roaming data seemed more than within the realm of possibility.

Thanks for your insightful comment.

Stormtrooper said...

@George Vaccaro

Late to the party here, listened to the call. I was frustrated with their idiocy but I was also frustrated with you sir. Not because you were dumb or anything, but for realizing THEY were dumb, and not simplifying your language so they could grasp it easier. Yes you did some simplifications and when you had the floor manager do the math for .01 cents and then you went on about .002 cents after that I was screamingat my computer "NO, drive THAT point into her head right now! IF .01 x 100 CENT is 1 doller than how is the LESSER .002 cents equaling 71 dollars!!! It's LESS than that 1 cent is!!!" So I was frustrated with them being goobers, and you over complicating your explanation to people that clearly needed baby talk.

Xaxton Revolution said...

Congrats on your victory over stupidity.