Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mythbuster Adam Savage Has an $11,000 AT&TMath Moment

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but a few readers have brought this to my attention recently (thank you!).

It appears Mythbuster Adam Savage has run into the same sort of issue I had with Verizon, with his provider (and now mine) AT&T.

According to Adam's tweets, due to him very quickly getting a following on twitter (50,000 or so), he seems to have already resolved his issue. It sounded like the service he received from the AT&T reps was significantly better than in my case, consistent with my experiences with AT&T CS in general. FYI, no one pays me to say that, I just like to give credit where credit is due.

I wonder if he was quoted over the phone like I was. Actually I hope he was, otherwise he should have been able to do the math. That said, these companies really need to start quoting in $/MB as I had suggested in the aftermath of my debacle. They might also want to start negotiating and charging more reasonable roaming rates. It's hard to believe that while AT&T charges $60/month for "unlimited" data, (which translates to 5gb magically) in the US, it has to charge $75,000 (1,250 times as much!) for the same amount of data if you cross the border into Canada.

Surprisingly, on Verizon, that same 5gb of Canadian roaming data (in my case) would only have cost $10,000 - quite a bargain by comparison ;). Also interestingly, had I had my problem back in the day with AT&T instead of Verizon, my $71.79 vs 71.79c would have been $538 vs. $5.38 - yeesh. Remember, that was about 35 megs, or equivalent to 10ish mobile mp3/iTunes downloads.

Now of course not everyone with that plan uses the whole 5gb, a fact that I'm sure the actuaries at AT&T and Verizon have worked out. So if for example we us a more conservative assumption, like perhaps the average monthly usage is 400mb/month, that would still cost $6000 with AT&T and $800 with Verizon, as roaming data vs. domestic. Something still seems out of whack.

Follow Adam here:, and check out the comments here:

Also, this event has prompted me to setup a verizonmath twitter account. At this point I don't know how much twitting is in order, but maybe you'll see something new up there now and then.

As a side note, Adam, if you are reading this, I'd jump the first plane to SF if I ever had the opportunity to have a beer with you and/or the rest of the amazing MB crew and/or a couple of birds! One can dream :).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Failblog Verizonmath Youtube Video hits #45 of all time in Comedy

It looks like via my call (in condensed form) has reached over 1.8 million people, and ranks in the top 50 of all time in terms of user ratings. Not too shabby. :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Receive SMS updates about the Swine Flu

A reader has submitted a link to her sms based swine flu update service. According to the article, it will only cost you the same as your usual SMS messages cost.

Get SMS Updates about Swine Flu

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ex-Customer: Why I will never use Verizon again

Submitted by a verizonmath reader/ex-verizon customer:

My experience with Verizon is like the song, “Hotel California”….”you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…”

I am no longer a Verizon customer – having cancelled my service five years ago. Verizon seems to think that I owe them over $400 in unpaid bills – and it has taken their stellar billing department five years to figure out that they applied my payments to the wrong accounts. Mind you, my records indicate that they owe me money, so go figure.

My repeated attempts at resolving this situation since 2004 have proved fruitless. No one at Verizon can tell me how they arrived at the dollar amount owed, probably because all invoices attached to my account have been paid in full. I was assigned a Customer Service Rep in their Accounting Dept. who would not provide her last name, identification number, or phone extension. I even offered to drive to Providence, RI & meet with them to review the account – and they declined my offer. So I would have to call the 1-800 number and ask for this person in Customer Service, hold for 30-45 minutes at a time, then leave a message for her. She only returned one of my calls – and left me a voicemail without her phone number. Eventually, Verizon stopped sending me letters and one of their Customer Service Representatives told me my balance was $0. I thought they had finally got their accounting act together & found their billing errors.

Then in 2007, I started getting calls from multiple collection agencies. Each time I receive one of these lovely letters, I have to dispute the validity of the bill in writing, via certified mail/return receipt, and copy/include three years worth of invoices and proofs of payment (about 35+ pages of documents). I even provide them with a easy-to-read spreadsheet showing them the invoice amount, payment date, amount paid, check number, etc. None of this is enough to appease the collection agencies. According to them, proof of payment via bank copies of cashed checks was not enough proof. If that’s the only method I used to pay my invoices, how can I provide additional proof? That’s all there is! I quickly came to the conclusion that collection agencies aren’t there to help me resolve my situation, they just want the amount of money listed on the piece of paper, and they will resort to whatever nasty means necessary to collect it…wrong or right.

In 2008, I received a particularly nasty phone call from one of Verizon’s collection agencies, and finally did what I should have done years ago: I contacted the Attorney General’s Office. Initially, Verizon told them that I shouldn’t be receiving calls from collection agencies. A few months later, they admitted I didn’t owe any money. Since I was still being hounded by collection agencies, I requested that they send me something in writing stating this – so I could share it with the collection agencies in the future. Their response was that it was against their company policy to provide anything in writing. Finally, they relented, and sent me a letter stating my balance was $0 --- but they put the wrong account number on it, so it was absolutely useless. We requested they send us a revised letter, but never received it. My rep at the Attorney General’s Office left his position, so I had to start all over with a new rep there (who has been wonderful). He has contacted Verizon, and he has to start the whole freakin’ process ALL OVER AGAIN. Apparently, they couldn’t just open my file to review the history and the incorrect letter and make a simple account number change. Five years after the fact, their rock star billing department is finally figuring out that they put some of my payments against the wrong account.

Verizon lost my wireless business, online account and regular phone service – and I’ll never use them for cable either. This comes to about $150/month or $1,800/year – which certainly adds up over time. I don’t want to work with a company that puts me hold for 45 mins. every time I need to speak with a Customer Service Rep. I don’t want to pay a company a monthly fee when you can’t get a Billing Specialist who returns your calls --- or a person’s name, direct phone number or email address, for that matter.

These days, Comcast gets all my business, even though it costs a bit more --- and I couldn’t be happier with my service. I never have to hold more than a few minutes to reach a Comcast Customer Service Rep, they provide speedy on-site technical support and every person I speak to there is terrific. I've never had a billing problem, either. In addition, anytime my elderly mother’s phone service goes on the blink, they are at her house the next day!

After all they’ve put me through, I have not received an apology letter or a check refunding me for the overpayment I made to my account. Up until recently, I received several “Come back to Verizon” letters every month. I contacted Verizon several times & asked them to take me off their mailing list, to no avail. Welcome to the Hotel California... Then, I started returning them to the sender with “VERIZON SUCKS. TAKE ME OFF YOUR MAILING LIST” written in bold black marker on the marketing letter. That seemed to do the trick.

Verizon’s Billing Mistakes: $400+

The Amount of Business I Cost Them By Sharing My Experience Online: Priceless

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Petition for Accountability and True Responsibility

A friend over at Paper Economy has come up with a brilliant idea. If responsible Americans are going to be footing the tab in terms of either tax dollars or deflated savings, how about the recipients of the bailouts having to give what they can too?

Please visit this story here and please digg the story here to make sure this get's the attention it should.