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Verizon Can't Do Math

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the makes-a-strong-case-for-indian-call-centers dept.

Math 639

Blogger George Vaccaro recently had a problem with his Verizon based on an unfortunate miscommunication of currency. The crux of the matter was that he was quoted .002 cents per kilobyte for data during a trip to Canada but was charged .002 dollars. Normally this would have been an easy fix, however several humorous calls later the Verizon reps still were unable to discern between the difference between the two rates. You really have to hear it to believe it. Kudos George, you have the patience of a saint.

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knowing verizon... (4, Informative)

steak (145650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171620)

they did it on purpose; i used to work on one of their dsl tech support contracts and it was a nightmare to say the least.

class action lawsuit in the works? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171776)

What I want to know is whether this is intentional on behalf of Verizon. There's speculation on Dude Who Got Screwed's blog that the reps are trained to quote the wrong rate and that now everyone will be checking their Verizon bills, hence their offer to settle for half the amount.

I wouldn't put it past them. They sent the guy an email with the offer that said, "Please respond to this email if you would like to accept this offer."

Now that I think of it, I think I'll be sending out a new round of "Let's go out together!" emails with the aforementioned phrase attached.

Re:class action lawsuit in the works? (2, Funny)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171864)

Now that I think of it, I think I'll be sending out a new round of "Let's go out together!" emails with the aforementioned phrase attached.

It wouldn't work -- they could just ignore you. You'd have to get them on the hook for something else first.

Oh, by the way: by reading this post, you hereby agree to pay me (pinky to mouth) one billion dollars.

You've read it; you can't un-read it!

Re:class action lawsuit in the works? (5, Funny)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171892)

This is Slashdot. If I didn't RTFA, what makes you think I read your post.

And yes, I just reply to random threads with this post.

Re:class action lawsuit in the works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17172160)

I think that at least one moderator didn't read the post you replied to either.

Re:class action lawsuit in the works? (3, Interesting)

Arker (91948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172144)

These guys work in an environment where *every word* they say on the phone is scripted and approved by management. So of course it's deliberate.

Verizon makes this mistake all the time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171940)

Those idiots have quoted exactly the same rate to me in the past: "0.002 cents/kB." I had heard previous reports of them making the same mistake, and thankfully did not believe the quote.

Correcting the Verizon salesboy proved, as you might guess, futile.

Morons (5, Interesting)

kilonad (157396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171626)

Looks like decimal numbers just don't make any cents to their customer service reps.

On a more serious note, it also looks like they can't read or spell, since the rep read "$0.002/KB Sent" as "0.002 cents/KB," as evidenced in the call.

Re:Morons (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171988)

Had a similar situation with a major commercial bank a few years ago when I electronically transfered euros. This was payed with U.S. dollars. This was when a dollar was worth more than a euro.

When I received my statement, I was charged more dollars than euros. And so started hours of phone calls working my way up the bank's food chain.

I said $1 = 1.16 (euros - as Slashdot doesn't accept the euro symbol), so we therefore we can set up a proportion, cross multiple and solve for x. That was way too confusing, but thought almost everyone at least knew this by the 7th grade. A sample matrix got people confused.

When I spoke to the vice-president for international currency transaction, she was also confused and like many said their computer didn't make mistakes. I of course said it was not the computer, but the operator.

I said, remember when you took elementry algebra, you hated it, but your instructor said one day you would need to know it? She laughed and said she remembered. I said, now is that day. No longer laughing, she said they must do math differently in Europe. I was transfered to one of the banks currency traders.

The currency trader nearly laughed his head off. He corrected the transaction and noted this is why he makes the big dollars.

Ah, the dumbing of America. It's truly sad.

Re:Morons (4, Informative)

thynk (653762) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172022)

listening to that tape was downright painful, brought up my own very nasty battles with verizon a few years back. In a two year period, I had over $800 in over billings reversed but only by keeping accurate logs and countless hours. You know you're getting a rep at a place when the customer retention department refuses to talk to you. I used to think that phone companies were trained in terrorist camps, now I know better. They run them. This is why I'm with Cingular now.

Unless Verizon has changed since I was with them, he'll get the money back if he fights for it, but it won't be easy.

Importance of math (1)

unboring (697886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172040)

This is the perfect example of why we need math to be taught in elementary and high schools. Anyone who questions the value of arithmetic in everyday life needs to hear this. [kidding] Oh, and this is also a good argument for outsourcing the call center to India. Indians are good at math ;) [/kidding]

Abbott and Costello... (1)

mattis_f (517228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172054)

You're right on target. This is exactly where the whole confusion comes from - it's like an Abbott and Costello routine. The verizon rep is (well, half the time at least) saying "sent", as in, 0.002 / kb sent, while George is consistently saying "cent". So the rep gets confused on and off, but he doesn't really understand why - there's logic to what George is saying, he realizes that, but at the same time, his computer screen seems right too ... and neither one of them seems to realize what the misunderstanding is.

Halfway through, I couldn't take it any more.

But did he know? (0)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171628)

The only real issue is: did Mr. Vaccaro know - or have good reason to believe - that there was a mistake made when the rate of 0.002 cents/kb was quoted to him? To accept a contract knowing that it is based on a mistake is dishonest. It's morally on par with keeping the extra money when a clerk accidently hands you too much change.
I'm curious what he would have done if Verizon had quoted him the correct rate, and if he had been the one to make a mistake, perhaps by accidentally making the check to Verizon for 100 times too much. What would he say then if Verizon kept the entire amount?

If he didn't know, then the only story is that lots of stupid people work for the sales departments at cell phone companies. And that is not news.

Re:But did he know? (5, Informative)

Brianech (791070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171672)

Did you listen to the tape? If some one keeps quoting you 0.002 CENTS/KB what more can you do? Its up to verizon to train their staff to understand their own rates. Yes it seems like a mistake. But its on verizon. This guy did the smart thing and had the staff memeber write down that they had quoted him right. Also if you actually listen to the call you'll know that he said he had no comparison to base this off of, because he is on the unlimited plan. So yes he thought it was cheap, but thats no excuse for FIVE (TWO that we heard actually quote the price) quote the wrong price repeatedly. You simply can't defend Verizon and say this guy set out to swindle them.

Re:But did he know? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171956)

It isn't as much math as a play on the way we pronounce money. .002 cents isn't the same as $0.002.

But 20 cents is expressed as $0.20 and it would be correct int saying if you had $0.20 in change being returned to you, the cashier gave you 20 cents change.

So, I don't know what it is called but it is one of those things that gets interchanged around enough that it was finally done wrong. I think were the problem might be is were you get partial number or numbers that aren't equal to a hole cent.

Re:But did he know? (2, Insightful)

TimboJones (192691) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172060)

But 20 cents is expressed as $0.20 and it would be correct int saying if you had $0.20 in change being returned to you, the cashier gave you 20 cents change.

That's right, you would say that you got "20 cents" in change. You would not say "point 20 cents" or "point 2 cents".

Similarly, given $0.002, you ought to say "point 2 cents" or "point zero zero 2 dollars" - never "point zero zero 2 cents" as Verizon reps did repeatedly.

Re:But did he know? (2, Insightful)

lenroc (632180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172094)

It isn't as much math as a play on the way we pronounce money. .002 cents isn't the same as $0.002. But 20 cents is expressed as $0.20 and it would be correct int saying if you had $0.20 in change being returned to you, the cashier gave you 20 cents change. So, I don't know what it is called but it is one of those things that gets interchanged around enough that it was finally done wrong. I think were the problem might be is were you get partial number or numbers that aren't equal to a hole cent.

Whoever modded this up might work at Verizon.

What you said is all valid, but you said it as though it illustrates the problem. It doesn't.

Yes, $0.20 is the same as 20 cents. That's not disputed. The problem is that Verizon quoted (repeatedly) "0.002 cents", but charged "$0.002". "0.002 cents" can be rewritten as "$0.00002".

I would love to find out how this ends.

I am also considering sending a note to Verizon to find out whether they now know the difference. (Online contact form [verizon.com] , mailing address varies by state, find yours here [verizon.com] .)

Side note: Why doesn't the cent sign (" ") appear on /.? (I pasted one in between the quote marks on this line. But even using the escape code I found here [ascii.cl] doesn't work...

Re:But did he know? (5, Insightful)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172138)

But 20 cents is expressed as $0.20 and it would be correct int saying if you had $0.20 in change being returned to you, the cashier gave you 20 cents change.

That's because "cent" literally means "one-hundred". As in "per cent" (1% of a unit == 1/100th of that unit), or "centimetre" (1/100th of a metre). Thus, "cent" is already a fractional unit -- it's very name connotes that it is a 1/100th fraction of a larger unit (in this case, a dollar).

20 one-hundredths of a dollar (or 20 "cents") is thus correctly $0.20. There is no error is usage here -- the unit itself denotes the fractional part when written as a whole number of "cents".

It's no different than the fact that when we talk about a 2 000 000 000 Hz processor, we usually call it a "2GHz processor". The zeros didn't just disappear -- "G" represents "Giga", which is the prefix representing the large value of 10 to the 9th power.

As such, the error in this case is purely with the fact that the Verizon reps the gentleman spoke to have no idea what they're talking about, and get confused by a decimal point. They probably don't know how to cancel out the units in a multiplication: 0.002 cents/KB * 35893KB causes the KB on both sides to cancel out, leaving us with 0.002 * 35893 cents (== 71.78 cents). There is nothing to be confused with here -- you can't just multiply two numbers and then make up what unit you want it to represent because it's some unit you're comfortable with. I can't say that I'm charging someone 0.002 cents per KB for 35893KB, and then charge them 71.78 rutabegas. Or 71.78 emus. Or 71.78 Libraries of Congress.

Really, there is no excuse for this. Verizon should hire a grade 8 math teacher, and give their customer service staff a "how to use decimals and cancel units" math training day. I'll even volunteer to do it (although I'm over qualified). I'll even offer them a huge deal -- I'll just charge them 0.002 Gigacents an hour for my services.

Yaz.

Re:But did he know? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171686)

My understanding from the audio is that he originally had a rep double check to make sure the rate was .002 cents instead of .002 dollars. He even had the rep make a special note of this on his file. He also says he had an unlimited plan before, so he didn't know what the reates were supposed to be like. Regardless, I don't think it's his fault because Verizon is admitting they quoted him .002 cents, they just don't do the math correctly!

Re:But did he know? (1)

MrLint (519792) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171694)

Well ya know if you sign an contract without reading it you are stuck with the terms unless you can invalidate the contract. Its not like Verizon does a hand full of one off contracts a year. I don't have any sympathy for them, they get bit by their screw up, well stop being evil.

On a note for 'dishonesty' Recall that verizon is the same company that lobbied to have a federal fee removed and then as soon as that was done it added its own fee of the same amount back on to pad its wallet. And guess what, none of the customers got a chance to re-negoitate their service contracts with verizon. Hows that for dishonest.

Re:But did he know? (0)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171784)

actually any customer could have done so by taking VZ to court.

Re:But did he know? (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171896)

>> actually any customer could have done so by taking VZ to court.

oh yeah, all in a days, work, maybe one could fit that in between slashdot pots, real work, and all the other important shit we have to do in a day. Yey.

Re:But did he know? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171980)

What, It sounds perfectly logical to me. Take a multi-million if not billion dolar company to court over $10 or so dollars a month, have it drag on for 2 years and still not recoup the amount it cost to file the case in court. Then we all are IANAL, but we could just ask slashdot for legal advice and got it our selves to avoid the hundreds if not thousands of dollars a lawer is going to want just to watch you lose in the long run.

So see, it does tie into slashdot a little so it wouldn't be too much of a hassle.

Re:But did he know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171922)

If you're talking about cell phone service then the customer has the right to cancel their plan with no early termination fees when the provider adds fees which aren't in the original contract.

So yes, the customer would have the option of leaving Verizon if they weren't satisfied with no penalty and go with another provider.

Re:But did he know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171706)

"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"

If the phone company asks me five times if I want to pay 100 times more for something it's not their fault.

Re:But did he know? (2, Insightful)

Gregg Alan (8487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171720)

He was suspicious and had the initial customer service rep make a note in his account stating that the rate is .002 cents per KB. You did read his blog and/or listen to the audio, right?

And if you'd listened to the audio you would know that they refuse to accept the price being .002 dollars... they correct him that it's .002 cents.

The only way he'll get this fixed (his bill adjusted to the price he was quoted) is to get Verizon's attention in the press. Or something.

Can you do math now?

Re:But did he know? (3, Insightful)

ebers (816511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171724)

> It's morally on par with keeping the extra money when a clerk accidently hands you too much change.

No it isn't! When the clerk hands me too much change, the clerk gets screwed because their till comes out wrong and the store thinks they are skimming. This is morally equivilent to buying an item that you think may have been priced too low through a bureaucratic error. If you hesitate to do that, then think back to the last time that you heard of a company refunding money (voluntarily, not through a class-action suit) to customers because they accidently overcharged customers due to a bureaucratic error.

Re:But did he know? (1)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171842)

No it isn't! When the clerk hands me too much change, the clerk gets screwed

It is still ethically wrong to knowingly keep the extra change. If you didn't count a few coins before dropping them in your pocket, that's one thing. But if you get back extra bills and count them and see that it's wrong, you're ethically obligated to inform the clerk and square up before leaving the store.

Since when do two wrongs make a right?

Besides, don't you check to make sure that your change is real currency and at least approximately the correct amount, before you walk away from the register? If the clerk gives you a large counterfeit bill, and you don't notice, you are SOL.

Re:But did he know? (1)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171952)

You know you just agreed with the guy you were arguing with, right? He explained that keeping extra change isn't a valid analogy because it's the clerk that takes the hit, not the store.

Re:But did he know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17172036)

But if you get back extra bills and count them and see that it's wrong, you're ethically obligated to inform the clerk and square up before leaving the store.

Why are we ethically obligated to pay (with our time) for their mistake?

Even if we were, what if the amount in excess pay is worth less than the time spent correcting the problem? Returning that money will involve the clerk, may involve a manager, and will slow down the customers behind you, increasing their dissatisfaction. Unless they handed you a $50 bill, the ethical thing is probably just to limit the economic impact of the original mistake by keeping the money. You can always give it to charity if your conscience won't let you keep it for yourself.

Since when do two wrongs make a right?

Well, you're defining it as a wrong. If someone robs your house are you ethically obligated to inform them they left their wallet behind?

We are talking about money - two transactions maintain a balance. If a company screws you out of a buck and then screws themselves out of a buck (by overpaying you), you are even. If they wanted you to act 'ethically' (actually we're probably talking about social responsibility rather than ethics) they should have built a better relationship with you - perhaps by not screwing you out of a buck in the first place. Why should you do them the favor of correcting their mistake if they're screwing you?

If the clerk gives you a large counterfeit bill, and you don't notice, you are SOL.

If the clerk gives you a large counterfeit bill and you don't notice, chances are pretty good you will be able to spend it in that store - especially since you didn't notice either, so neither of you will ever know.

Yes it is? (1)

bstadil (7110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171852)

To make sure the shop doesn't cheat you in the long run, you absolutely need to take the extra money when a mistake is made. (Assuming equal propensity for making mistakes) Second. Most supermarkets and high volume shops have an appalling record on price shown on sales items and what is used when the items are scanned. For supermarkets like Tom Thumb it is like 1 in 5 there is a problem with. They use to have a system so the would double the value of any errors but the stopped this as it became too expensive. Kid you not.

Re:But did he know? (1)

elmCitySlim (957476) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171950)

I can remember the last time that happened. Its just the difference between your local hardware store run by the grandson of the guy who started it...and Home Depot

Re:But did he know? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172008)

I think it is more of a gimmick to charge extra anyways, but on sunday nights/monday morning, most of the grocery stores change thier items on sale and if you tell them it was cheaper on the thing marking it's place on the shelf, they give it to you at the lower price.

My personal belief is the sale still run into monday morning but they switch the prices in the registers first then let the stock boys change the shelves when stocking them. In essence though, It is the store giving money back because of some "bureaucratic error".

How would you know it's wrong? (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172098)

How would someone know if a price is wrong, anyway? I don't know about you, but I don't go make a whole study of an industry to determine if a low price is indeed feasible, economically sustainable, etc. Plus, there are promotional prices, occasionally predatory pricing, someone dumping a product to clear their stock, etc. Even for telcos, how would I know? Maybe they just installed a fatter cable and they can afford to give the bandwidth away, for all I know. If someone displays a price, I'm going to assume that that's actually the price they want to sell the damn thing or service for.

As for stupid people working for the sales departments, I'd say then it's the company's problem, isn't it? If you hire some guy to sell, say, used cars, and he sells a car for $4000 instead of $40,000, then you'd at least fire him, no? Maybe even start making sure you start hiring smarter people, or at least training them, no?

Year after year of quotting the wrong prices and TOS and then switching on the customers is hardly excusable any more. Because that's what the telcos everywhere seem to have already made a tradition of. I'm sorry, but after all this time I'm no longer buying the crap "teh oops, it was out sales rep that forgot to tell you about the hidden charges / right price / kick in the nuts that's not even in the fine print / etc" excuse.

Honestly, while I won't condone being dishonest as a customer either, I see it as equally dishonest to lure the customer with a low price, then demand that he pays a huge extra. Or at the very least baiting someone with one price and switching to another _looks_ so much like a genuine dishonest tactic (on the part of the provider or of the sales rep or whatever) that you just have to wonder if it's real stupidity. Or, you know, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then maybe it isn't fish. The choice of a provider over another was based on that low price. If you knew the real price from the start, maybe you'd have picked another provider, or maybe used the service differently, or whatever. There's a non-zero probability there, and the incentive too, that it wasn't an error there, but a genuine scam.

Re:But did he know? (3, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172112)

The thing is, he's tried, repeatedly, to get them to quote what they actually charge. They refuse, and this appears to be a trained response. They quote one rate, then charge 100 times that rate, and refuse to admit there's a difference.

If someone else tried to do that to them, they wouldn't stand for it for a moment, and you know it.

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance (1)

ebers (816511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171652)

Appearantly Verizon is trying ignorance.

Sad...

updates (5, Informative)

oedneil (871555) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171674)

According to his blog [blogspot.com] , Verizon has contacted him and said they'd waive half of the data charges. They still don't get it.

Re:updates (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17172084)

I had a similar experience with Orange lately, they broke our ADSL for 20 days when they reassigned us a fixed IP (which took 6 months of calling and fighting for to get)

We called to verify the rates if we plugged our mobile (also Orange) in and used it as a modem. We were told(several times during the month) 50 cents per 10Mb or connection (additional 50 per additional 10Mb) 2 weeks later (thankfully we only used our phones a few times) they called my wife to say her bill was over 300 euros and until she paid it her phone was frozen. Turns out she had used up around 30mb of data (checking email mainly) which we discovered that they were billing us at 1cent per Kb (10 euros per Mb for the mathematically challenged)

My data consumption was also similar and by the end of the month we called and had them double check, to which both of us received a refund of 300+ euros each after a lot of calling and arguing with "customer support"

In the end, they gave us the rate of the best data package deal, which is 24 euros for unlimited data transfer or something along those lines. Still wrong, but a hell of difference.

Re:updates (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172088)

From the letter on that blog post:
Please reply to this email if you would like to accept this offer.

So if he replies to contest the offer, does that mean that he automatically accepts it?!?

- RG>

Re:updates (5, Insightful)

BootNinja (743040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172142)

having worked in the industry, I can tell you, it's not that they realized they were wrong and are trying to make amends. On the contrary, they still believe they are 100% in the right, and are only offering a credit because they are afraid he will cancel his service. I can guarantee you there is a catch. Probably a 2 yr contract renewal that he is automatically approving if he takes the offer. It's called a loyalty credit or retention credit, and they are giving the credit because he is extending his contract, not because they overcharged him.

Rep know he's being recorded (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171688)

Was the rep made aware that he was being recorded like we are when we call most type of support department, weather it being bill or technical or whatever?

Re:Rep know he's being recorded (1)

kilonad (157396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171710)

AFAIK, they're *always* being recorded by Verizon (for legal reasons), so it should be moot. Then again, IANAL.

Re:Rep know he's being recorded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171718)

Verizon records *all* the CS calls, and states this fact when you connect with the rep. Both parties knew they were being recorded - it does not matter WHO is doing the recording.

Re:Rep know he's being recorded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171730)

I'm not sure on this, but if they tell *you* the call is being recorded, doesn't that imply that *they* know the call is being recorded? Once they know they are on record, it doesn't matter how many people record it. I think.

Re:Rep know he's being recorded (1)

Brain_Recall (868040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171740)

At the end he did mention that he was recording the conversation.

But, most likely, at the beginning of the call an automated voice lets the caller know that "this call may be recorded for quality assurance" or some other such phrase. That happens to work both ways, so he is entirely legal in recording this conversation (and is usually a very smart idea, in case someone decides to disagree with anything they said before).

Re:Rep know he's being recorded (1)

dr99 (693958) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171742)

That brings up a point I always wanted to know.
If I call a company and their IVR system says the call may be monitored, can I now record that call without telling the other person...

Re:Rep know he's being recorded (4, Informative)

Brianech (791070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171748)

He told the supervisor at the end of the call he had recorded this, and told the supervisor he was going to put it "on his blog" and the supervisor replied "go ahead." So this guy actually had the blessing of the supervisor to post this! Then again she thinks at the time she is in the right... Good luck to her with that

Re:Rep know he's being recorded (1)

insecuritiez (606865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171846)

I had to listen to the first 20 minutes of this 22 minute recording before I understood how 3 different Verizon reps on the phone could all make the exact same mistake. If it took me 20 minutes before I could see it wrong and it took them at least 22 minutes before they could see it right, that must make them 440 times stupider than me. Damn math is a bitch.

Re:Rep know he's being recorded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171894)

In some states only one party need to know that the call is being recorded for it to be legal.
So if you are recoding your own call you would know about it.
And for states where both partys need to know their call is being recorded, I pretty sure every CSR at verizon or any other call center is aware that their calls are recorded, even if that awareness is of recodings within their organization. I don't think where the physical recording, or who does it matters.

Re:Rep know he's being recorded (1)

Soko (17987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172062)

You assume Verizon reps are "aware". Please revise your question.

(Yea, even though I am Canadian, I have ventured through the valley of Verizon tech support. Thy LART and thy Ether killer, they comfort me...)

Soko

Type it into google (4, Informative)

mulhollandj (807571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171758)

.002 cents times 35893

Re:Type it into google (5, Informative)

warmbowski (1011503) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171976)

To be more specific, type this into google:

.002 cents per KB times 35893 KB

Re:Type it into google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171996)

I don't get it. What's the point?

Re:Type it into google (1)

lenroc (632180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172122)

To be more specific, type this into google: .002 cents per KB times 35893 KB

I don't get it. What's the point?

WTFM (watch the fine movie...)

The point is that the customer was quoted "0.002 cents/KB", used 35893KB, and was charged $71.79. So the effective rate was "$0.002/KB", or "0.2 cents/KB", or 100x more than he was quoted.

Re:Type it into google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17172146)

I DID watch (listen to) the movie, thanks. Believe me, I am QUITE clear on the discrepancy.

But, how did Google get involved? I thought everyone else in the world found it quite obvious... Google provides the correct answer, as does elementary school math... was the point simply to show that Google can function as a calculator?

Re:Type it into google (2, Insightful)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172150)

The point is to keep your units explicit. Good habit to be in, makes calculations either nice and clean or obviously flawed.

-:sigma.SB

Inumeracy (1)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171782)

Welcome to the new world. Listening to this was downright painful.

Re:Inumeracy (1)

EonBlueApocalypse (1029220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172010)

I couldn't help but cringe just listening to that. How do you resolve something like this when it comes down to even those in charge not understanding fairly simple concepts? sigh...

People are uneducated (4, Informative)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171796)

The other day I had to help someone in payroll understand that 0.5 ("point five") hours really is equal to 0.50 ("point fifty") hours.

Don't they teach this stuff in 5th grade anymore?

Re:People are uneducated (2, Funny)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171804)

Someone in payroll?! Jeez, tell us where you work so we know to avoid that place!

Re:People are uneducated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171858)

Payroll staff aren't accountants, they're just data entry monkeys.

Re:People are uneducated (2, Funny)

Petronius.Scribe (1020097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171944)

No, it's actually a good thing. Just tell them that you were recently given a point fifty dollar per hour pay increase, but you only got point five, so you need the extra point forty-five. Then repeat until you run out of payroll innumerates.

Re:People are uneducated (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171834)

I know a lot of people (including my mother) who have to use the % button on a calculator if they want to work out percentages. They can't convert decimals to percentages or vice versa.

This is despite repeated attempts to explain it to them. (After a certain point it gets a little embarrassing - when people can't grasp a simple concept like moving a decimal place to the right or left to convert between decimals and percentages, you start to wonder how they managed to dress themselves or talk in complete sentences).

Very sad :\

Re:People are uneducated (5, Funny)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171902)

I know the feeling. I had to explain to a customer's accounts payable rep that .75 was actually 3/4 of a hour or 45 minutes so 2.75 hours was actually 2 hours 45 minutes.

To be fair, I think being married to the owner was the prime qualifications on getting the job. So the call complaining about there only being 60 minutes in a hour and why do i think there are 75 was more humorous then anything. I almost laughed out loud when she suggested I was making numbers up. I almost told her it was code and only her boss could understand it. She better show him first.

Re:People are uneducated (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171994)

Boy, you have it EASY! Try explaining why the punch clock puts down 0.75 instead of "45 min." on their card, THEN it gets interesting.

Works For Them (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171814)

Verizon can do math. When they make a mistake that costs them money because they thought 1 cent > 1 dollar, then I'll believe it's math, and not robbery, that's at work.

Goddamn stupid morons.. (2, Funny)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171826)

This is what happens to those who flunked out of.. grade 4 math.

Re:Goddamn stupid morons.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171866)

The problem is that the morons are slowly, insidiously taking over the world....

Re:Goddamn stupid morons.. (2, Insightful)

Eideteker (641508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171938)

Oh, please. When have the morons NOT been in charge?

Lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171844)

The problem is the fucking retard reps looks at the following:

$0.002/min and translate that into their heads as .002 cents.

Verizon should be embarrassed that they hire such moronic individuals. The can't do basic math and are illiterate to boot.

Fedaykin

Solution if Verizon has Internet access (1, Redundant)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171860)

In your Internet browser (probably an icon with a big blue E in your case) type "www.google.com" (without the quotes) into your address bar (the area near the top of the screen with a funny string starting "http://"). Next type ".002 cents * 35893 in dollars" (without the quotes) press enter and look at the answer.

(In reality, this would not work as you would never be able to get someone this dim to understand what the address bar was, even with patient explanation.)

There is sometimes a legitimate use for lawyers in the US. This is one of them. Verizon must be forced to train their service staff sufficiently that others do not get burnt by this kind of problem.

Re:Solution if Verizon has Internet access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171984)

Verizon must be forced to train their service staff
They must be training their staff extensively to get the results they do. Nobody off the street could be as rude, obstructionist, and dishonest as the people I got Every Single Time before I learned to stop caling Verizon.

Re:Solution if Verizon has Internet access (1)

BootNinja (743040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172170)

This wouldn't work for a far simpler reason. The CSRs are blocked from having any internet access at all in most call centers.

I dont want to go to bed now (1)

elmCitySlim (957476) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171870)

I'm going to have nightmares. This Peter from Office Space ("Corporate Account [jibberish] speaking, Just a moment").

I bet that customer service rep was a fat redhead too.

youtube (1)

PopeOptimusPrime (875888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171914)

Come on people, we don't need a video on this thing. As a user on limited bandwidth, this is the type of bloat I expect from Microsoft.

Re:youtube (1)

skam240 (789197) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171948)

it was a cheap and easy way for the person to post this material (not to mention the huge exposure potential on youtube). if you know of an audio only vesion of youtube please let me know, because i dont know about it.

Re:youtube (2, Informative)

ewithrow (409712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172020)

The original audio is on putfile: http://media.putfile.com/Verizon-Bad-Math [putfile.com]

I believe the audio on PutFile is longer (27 minutes verse the YouTube's 22 minute version).

Also, Andrea (the call rep) leaves her contact information at the end. Maybe someone here can explain this simple concept to her? Her phone number is 1-888-581-1070 (Ext. 2234)

If you call the number currently it says "The mailbox for Andrea is full"...

Re:youtube (3, Funny)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172156)

Interestingly, the YouTube video is 11.8 MB and the PutFile audio is 14.8 MB. So YouTube IS actually saving you bandwidth. Neither, however, can do anything to save your faith in humanity.

Damn (5, Funny)

morissm (22885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171932)

And I thought I sucked at math when I couldn't remember how eigenvectors work the other day...

Thank you Verizon for lowering the bar for me.

Re:Damn (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172162)

*looks up eigenvectors on wiki*

WTF (1)

Eun-HjZjiNeD (1001079) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171936)

Does Verizon pull the lowest scoring math results to be hired to deal with the bills?

This makes no sense that it someone can't see the difference between 0.002 cents and 0.002 dollars.

WHAT THE HELL IS THEIR MALFUNCTION?

And small pieces... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17171958)

of the proverbial fecal matter begin to make contact with the fan blades.
VZW PR managers should soon be seen holding their noses.

This is why small claims court exists.... (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171972)

It is very simple, well, seemingly so. I would bring an elementary school math teacher and a professional engineer along with a nice big chart/slideshow that shows the conversion from cents to dollars step by step and that .002 cents = .00002 dollars with the whole to convert cents to dollars rule of moving the decimal point two places to the left from an elementary school math book scanned in on the chart/slideshow. And if there is confusion as to that, then have the elementary school math teacher start teaching the lesson on converting cents to dollars and the lesson on how fractions of a cent can be used to calculate a fraction of a dollar. And finally have the professional engineer who is certified by the state (thus needs to understand fraction and decimal place mathematics) certify the correct conversion of the number (or a finance professor from a local college who might be interested in studying the lack of knowledge and understanding many people have when it comes to money).

Re:This is why small claims court exists.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17172030)

Yeah but when you get into small claims court you'll get somebody like Judge Judy, who's going to interrupt your little slideshow and say "what kind of dumbass think they're going to get 35mb for 70 cents?" and then find for the defendant.

How to bypass the problem (3, Insightful)

cy_a253 (713262) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171974)

He should have started out the call by asking simply if they charge 0.002 dollars or 0.00002 dollars per kilobyte. Just never use the word "cent" in your side of the conversation.

That wouldn't solve the problem (1)

CGameProgrammer (650971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172100)

He knows it was meant to be $.002, after the fact, but he was quoted 0.002 cents before making the calls so that's what he should pay. He was trying to explain dollars and cents to the guy.

A bit clearer.... (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17171986)

As everyone has stated, he's gone well beyond the call of duty here. At some point I would just tell them that I dispute the charges and I'd see them in small claims court if they didn't understand basic math (I'm sure that their lawyers would straighten it out before it got to the court room!).

But here's a way to make it maybe a bit clearer over the phone (or in text):

If you are selling apples at 5 dollars/pound, and I buy 10 pounds, then we can look at that like this:

5 dollars/pound * 10 pounds. The "pounds" units cancel out (that's the important part to get across) and you are left with 5 * 10 _dollars_.

With this guy, forget the dollars. Start with cents:
We have 0.002 cents/KB. Then we have a usage of 35893 KB.

0.002 cents/KB * 35893 KB. Just like above, the KB cancel out and we are left with 0.002 * 35893 cents. That's CENTS, not DOLLARS.

And how much is that?
Well do the math, and we get 71.19 cents.

How many cents in a dollar? 100.
So that's ($0.71).
Ugh. I have to hand it to the guy for being so unbelievably patient with the reps.

Here's a link to have google do the calculation (complete with units!): Have Google calculate it for Verizon [google.com]

Re:A bit clearer.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17172108)

no, this isn't clear.

the best way to explain it, speaking on the phone to someone from verizon, would be like so:

if the charge were 2 cents per kilobyte, the bill would be 2*35983=71966 CENTS
if the charge were .2 cents per kilobyte, the bill would be .2*35983=7196.6 CENTS
if the charge were .02....
if the charge were .002 cents per kilobyte, the bill would be .002*35983=71.96 CENTS!!

Re:A bit clearer.... (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172186)

5 dollars/pound * 10 pounds. The "pounds" units cancel out (that's the important part to get across) and you are left with 5 * 10 _dollars_.

How are you possibly going to get that across to someone who doesn't know the difference between a penny and a dollar? These ninny-hammers aren't ready for algebra.

"We're not speaking the same language..." (1, Insightful)

Thornae (53316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172002)

I just love the continuing bemused, dumbstruck silences from the Verizon guy. Every time George tries to explain math, you can almost hear the rep's brain overload...

I thought I'd had some bad 'phone service experiences, but this just takes the cake.

"Contact Us" link broken (2, Informative)

uncleO (769165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172024)

I wanted to write Verizon Wireless directly to thank them for providing us with such excruciating entertainment.

Funny thing...The link now leads to a page to purchase new Verizon products instead.

Does anyone at Verizon begin to understand the nature of this public relations fiasco yet?

Get it in writing (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172038)

Sadly, if you don't get it in writing, you can't really prove anything. Even a recording of the original call might help, but if their rates are posted anywhere in writing (or on his contract) he's basically never going to get the allegedly quoted price.

It is hilarious, though, that the CSRs don't know the difference between dollars and cents.

Re:Get it in writing (1)

lordkuri (514498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172134)

Well, normally that's true, but this recording has 2 reps, a supervisor and a manager repeatedly telling him "yes, I see the note on your account" and "yes, .002 cents per kilobyte is the correct amount" several times.

If this went to any halfway competant judge, Verizon would probably get chewed out at the least, sanctions at the worst if they tried to pull the "he can't prove it!" card.

And you're surprised? (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172042)

Serves them right for hiring ex US government accountants. These are the same abaccus toting chimps that used to "balance" the military's budget. Come on it's just two bloody decimal places what's the big deal?

Write a letter (not an email) (5, Informative)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172050)

It's nice that he recorded the conversations. What he needs to do next is write a letter (not an email) and mail it to them explaining the problem, specifying a date that he expects it to be resolved by, and state that he requests a confirmation letter be sent to very that the bill has been corrected. Document everything. Write down dates, times, phone numbers called, and names. If that doesn't work, follow up with a second letter stating that you feel they are not acting in good faith, give a second date for them to comply, and add at the bottom that the letter is being CC'd to the Public Utilities Commission. Then forward a copy of the two letters to the local PUC with a a cover letter explaining the problem and asking that they investigate. Phone companies HATE the PUC and they will jump when you mention them.

Every time I've had an issue with the phone company this always resolves it. I've only had to write to the PUC about a company twice. Usually mentioning the PUC to the company will wake them up without you having to write a letter.

Your primary mistake... (2, Funny)

hikerhat (678157) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172052)

You were transferred to supervisors. You should request to be transferred to someone who got an A in high school math. Odds are good there are one or two underachievers hiding in the call center, but there is no way in hell a person like that would get promoted to (or want to be promoted to) supervisor. On the next call, just say "Please go from cube to cube and ask each employee what their best high school math grade was. When someone says 'A' rather than 'huh?' or 'freshman', or anything else: transfer me to them."

I can't believe this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17172082)

This piece is priceless. (no pun intended) I just can't believe ... how both reps (I'm listening at 26 minute point) are so out of touch with basic math. Is this representative of US school system? I sure hope it's not, and I can see that there are lots of smart people from US and who can do 100 times better math than me, but c'mon! These people are worse than anyone who has gone through elementary school in Europe (or pretty much anywhere where schools still teach math and basic conversions).

This tape is at the same time very funny and extremely frustrating. I'm happy he made it available on the net. I hope it gets picked up by mainstream media.

Verizon's accounting department... (5, Funny)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172136)

...should teach these people a lesson and pay them their salary in cents!

- RG>

BLeh (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172140)

I listened to the audio clip and I think there are two factors coming into play. First is that the Verizon reps have absolute faith in the accuracy of their computers. This is leading them to think that the computer's always right without considering the possibility that the programming of the machine was incorrect. The second is that they have probably seen this equation written two different ways. "$.002" and ".002 cents." (as opposed to $.002 and $.00002...) They're seeing that the .002 bit is the same, but they're not mentally connecting the $ with "divide by 100". For these reasons, they're not mentally breaking this down as a simple math calculation. Sadly, it is a very human mistake. Unfortunately, I think this will forever keep the Verizon reps' heads wedged firmly in their posteriors.

If I were in George's shoes, here's what my reply would be:


Dear Verizon,

Before we agree to cutting the bill in half, please do me this one little favor. Go find somebody in your office, somebody who is NOT in sales and has not been bombarded with pricing sheets etc (preferably a programmer.. maybe your web guy or something... actually, a non-employee of Verizon would be nice.), and pose this to him:

You have downloaded 36,000 KB of data. You are being charged .002 cents per KB. How much would that cost?

Please do not ever say the word 'dollar', and please do not show him any dollar signs ($). Don't even give him context of the question. Just ask him this and jot down his answer, then send it back to me.


I really don't know if that'd do any good. Assuming they held their end of that bargain, there's still the problem if actually convincing them. But I'd at least give it a shot. Otherwise, I'm not really sure how to get them to realize this issue. I've got half a mind to send them an email right now with links to the story and the audio file with an explanation that his resolution of this issue is pivotal to my ever choosing them as a service. I'm just worried this company's too big and disconnected to get the message across. It's a pity... I'm on the market for a new cell phone provider right now, I'm not making an idle threat.

Re:BLeh (1)

rackrent (160690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17172180)

He would have been better off explaining the amount of $71.94 (or whatever) in the number of pennies, e.g. 7,194 cents. Had he used the term "pennies" instead of cents that might have made more sense (pun intended) to the Verizon people.

I do admire his patience, though.
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