Verizon Customer Gets Full Refund

UPDATE: Verizon Still Can’t Count

Our beleaguered Verizon customer friend may have just got a full refund. Verizon had charged him $71 instead of $00.71, because Verizon can’t tell the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents.

Verizon apologized for the “miscommunication.” It also pointed out, “In the future please keep in mind that it is .002 dollars per KB while in Canada.”

Interesting. All the previous reps George spoke to insisted that the rate is .002 cents. Looks like his efforts just made Verizon change their policy. Not to mention they’ll have to change a few vacuum tubes in their fancy bill calculator machine. — BEN POPKEN

Response from Verizon – 100% Refund [VerizonMath]

Comments

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  1. weave says:

    I liked the one comment in that blog where it asks why they can’t just quote the rate per megabyte instead. Anyway, regardless, the rates are ridiculously high. I roamed in UK recently where I was charged $0.015 per kilobyte. I knew that was the rate and was careful, but just doing some light browsing on the phone and sending the occasional email resulted in me having $80 in extra charges.

    Now when you consider an “unlimited” plan in US (for verizon) is $60/month (with unofficial cap of 10 gigabytes) then the per kilobyte rate seems even more excessive.

    btw, nothing is more aggravating than syncing up your email while roaming and enjoying the pleasure of having to pay for the spam that clogs your inbox.

  2. evoflux says:

    Well it looks like the original blog has been taken down. Anyone have it in their cache?

  3. RumorsDaily says:

    Verizon’s email doesn’t even acknowledge that there was a problem on their end. This is a “please leave us alone” letter.

    Ben, this one’s on you: give them a call and get them to acknowledge that their staff was at fault for not understanding the difference in value between cents and dollars. They really should apologize to the guy for making him jump through all these hoops and acknowledge that the blame rests on their end.

  4. Mike_ says:

    Verizon caps their “unlimited” plan at 5GB per month, which some users have found is barely enough for email and casual web browsing. I would expect the no-plan rate to be more expensive, but consider this:

    5GB at 0.002¢ per KB = $104.86
    5GB at $0.002 per KB = $10,485.76

    Given the unlimited data plan is $79.99 per month, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for him to have taken their word for it when they said it was “0.002 cents per KB”, since charging $0.002 per KB is actually pretty absurd.

  5. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I love happy endings! George gets a refund, The Consumerist gets a great story, and the internet gets a classic piece of entertainment that will be making the rounds for years to come.

    About all that’s left is for Verizon customer service reps and managers to repeat every grade of elementary school math. Sure, it won’t happen, but we can dream, can’t we?

    (And yes, Verizon should issue George an apology for putting him through such extensive BS to clear up a simple billing error).

  6. Sockatume says:

    To be fair to the guy on the phone, he didn’t explain very clearly in the beginning and had to keep correcting myself. In my opinion it’s best to open those sorts of calls with a pre-written statement of exactly what the problem is. In this case, not “do you know the difference between 0.002$ and 0.002 cents” but “I was quoted the wrong price for your data service, therefore I am unwilling to pay this bill amount.”

  7. Steve_Holt says:

    To Sockatume: “had to keep correcting MYSELF?” I appreciate your point of view and completely agree with it, but are you a Verz rep? Just a slip perhaps? As I read/listened through the call, I found about three places where Mr. George could have shortened the call quite a bit. He only had a few short windows where he actually had the reps’ attention, and from my point of view, those opportunities were somewhat wasted. I would list them, but he got a refund. So who cares!! But please answer my first question…

  8. Michael says:

    I’d love to see the internal memo Verizon will be sending to all of its call center employees. I wonder how successful they’ll be in convincing their people that there really is a difference between 0.002 dollars and 0.002 cents.

  9. koath says:

    Which ways more a pound of lead or a pound of feathers?

    This call reminded me of that.

    Also he could have had them write out the entire mathematical formula for all the conversions and then have them cross out the units. Maybe that would have shown them their error.

    All that matters is that he got his money back.

  10. RumorsDaily says:

    It wouldn’t have shown them their error. They were simply misreading $.002 as .002cents. They properly understood what the number was supposed to mean and what it meant on paper, they just didn’t understand how to verbally state that number.

  11. Ass_Cobra says:

    I

  12. Ass_Cobra says:

    I think that George should bill them his hourly rate for the math lesson. Honest to christ, if I heard “if I put it into my calculator I get the right number”, one more time, someone was going to end up with a calculator impacting their colon. What a fucking Muppet show.

  13. Johnie says:

    Seems like this wasn’t an isolated incident. On the new entries on the blog, there are audios of others having the same issue.

    Looks like Verizon needs to spend some money on training their CSRs.

  14. Triteon says:

    Stack these posts next to Vinny’s in the Hall of Fame. Great work, George!

  15. NewGuy says:

    Alright, I see your point about the “.002 cents,” and the problem is part on the company’s end, but most of the blame falls on the consumer for confusing the customer service reps. It is correct for them to say they charge you “.002 cents” but NOT “2 one-thousandths of a cent.” Company’s traditionally label any portion amount of money lower than 1.00 in cents, and above 1.00 in dollars. So $0.002 = 0.002 cents. That is what the company is claiming. It is not an issue of 2 one-thousandths of a cent vs. 2 one-thousandths of a dollar. I understand that the customer is confused, but it’s common sense that their rate, especially within any documentation is .002 cents. Using dollars vs. cents makes no difference–it’s a preference, and the company chose the traditional preference.

  16. Timbojones says:

    “Company’s traditionally label any portion amount of money lower than 1.00 in cents, and above 1.00 in dollars. So $0.002 = 0.002 cents.”

    Hmm… no?

    OK, my rate is $0.20 per minute. How much is that in cents? “20 cents” Not “.20 cents”.

    Similarly, companies ought to label “$0.002″ as “.2 cents” not “.002 cents”

  17. NewGuy says:

    Alright, at a first glance and using common sense, everybody knows that the company was implying when they claimed .002 cents. I even agree with the company’s claim, BUT after doing some research, the consumer is technically correct.

    http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/style/numbers.html

    They show that “Use figures for monetary amounts. Use cents with amounts of less than a dollar; use the dollar sign for amounts of a dollar or more.

    Back then you could send a letter for 4 cents.

    The fee amounts to about $1.50 per student.”

    This shows that there is no decimal place in-front of the numbers for the cents; therefore, $0.002 is, in fact, different from 0.002 cents.

    Also, a less valid source (at least in the media) is:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cent_(currency)

    “Cent amounts between 1 cent and 99 cents are often indicated by the one or two digits followed by the cent sign…

    In spreadsheets, the format $0.99 is common, since it makes it simpler to keep the decimal points aligned.”

    So, using common sense, we know what the company was trying to say, BUT there is definitely a technicality that results in their loss. So, I retract my previous statement and hope the guy gets his money back from a company’s mistaken technicality.

  18. Triteon says:

    I see what you mean but the main problem, NewGuy, is exactly what George said in one of his early posts– he did not know what the rate was, he called them to check, he clarified what the rep told him and took the response as the honest rate. As Mike_ showed above, a 0.002¢ rate actually does make more sense than $0.002 per KB.
    But the other problem is that George had to repeatedly try to explain to the reps the difference between a dollar and a penny.

  19. Nygdan says:

    Newguy, what are you not understanding?

    “So, using common sense, we know what the company was trying to say”

    Yes, we do, they are saying its .002 CENTS per kb. That does not, under any circumstances, mean .002 dollars.

    Why in the world did you feel the need to cite two websites? None of them say ‘standard useage to indicate .002 dollars is to write .002 cents”.

    “the consumer is technically correct. “
    He’s not just technically correct, he’s plainly and obviously correct.

    “It is correct for them to say they charge you “.002 cents” but NOT “2 one-thousandths of a cent.” “

    0.002 cents IS 2 one-thousandths.

    “Company’s traditionally label any portion amount of money lower than 1.00 in cents”

    Dear god man, that doesn’t mean that .002 cents “traditionally, in the business world” reads as .002 dollars. Its just saying that they traditionally prefer to write 99 cents as 99c, rather than $0.99. Its the same god darned number. But 0.002 cents is NOT the same, under any ‘tradition’, as 0.002 dollars. Its the same if you say it, its the same if you write it down.

    The problem with the call center is that the reps were looking at their computer screens and inputing values. Thats why none of them even thought twice about saying ‘it costs .002 per kilobyte’, they were just saying what they’d enter into the fields of their computer. THe computer, at least, KNOWS that the rate is in dollars, and it spits out the proper billing amount. But the reps don’t have any idea whats going on past their screens, and if its on their screens, its the gospel truth for them and there’s no questioning it.

    At this point, I have to ask, do you work for Verizon?

  20. midnitescthunder says:

    Maybe I can clear this up, or make it more confusing. How many kilobytes at .002 cents does it take to equal .01 cent (one penny)? If you take .01 and divide by .002, it equals 5 (.01/.002=5).Or you can add up each kilobyte at .002 cents, example .002+.002+.002+.002+.002=.01 cents. So this means 5 kilobytes costs 1 penny. Then divide 35,893 by 5, it equals 7178.6 This is the number of pennies. Move the decimal over 2 spots, and you have $71.78 Confused yet? Lets break it down farther. If 5 kilobytes= .01 cent, then how many kilobytes will equal one dollar? 100 pennies(one dollar) times 5 kilobytes=500 kilobytes per dollar. Again, take 35,893/500=71.78 Dollars. Verizon is Right!! You should have paid the dollars!!!

  21. midnitescthunder says:

    Maybe I can clear this up, or make it more confusing. How many kilobytes at .002 cents does it take to equal .01 cent (one penny)? If you take .01 and divide by .002, it equals 5 (.01/.002=5).Or you can add up each kilobyte at .002 cents, example .002+.002+.002+.002+.002=.01 cents. So this means 5 kilobytes costs 1 penny. Then divide 35,893 by 5, it equals 7178.6 This is the number of pennies. Move the decimal over 2 spots, and you have $71.78 Confused yet? Lets break it down farther. If 5 kilobytes= .01 cent, then how many kilobytes will equal one dollar? 100 pennies(one dollar) times 5 kilobytes=500 kilobytes per dollar. Again, take 35,893/500=71.78 Dollars. Verizon is Right!! You should have paid the dollars!!! The worst part is those of you who bashed our education system, because you were either too lazy to do the math yourself, or your not educated enough to do the “simple math” VERIZON IS CORRECT!!!!! -YOU OWE $71.78 DOLLARS

  22. midnitescthunder says:

    Maybe I can clear this up, or make it more confusing. How many kilobytes at .002 cents does it take to equal .01 cent (one penny)? If you take .01 and divide by .002, it equals 5 (.01/.002=5).Or you can add up each kilobyte at .002 cents, example .002+.002+.002+.002+.002=.01 cents. So this means 5 kilobytes costs 1 penny. Then divide 35,893 by 5, it equals 7178.6 This is the number of pennies. Move the decimal over 2 spots, and you have $71.78 Confused yet? Lets break it down farther. If 5 kilobytes= .01 cent, then how many kilobytes will equal one dollar? 100 pennies(one dollar) times 5 kilobytes=500 kilobytes per dollar. Again, take 35,893/500=71.78 Dollars. Verizon is Right!! You should have paid the dollars!!!

  23. midnitescthunder says:

    Maybe I can clear this up, or make it more confusing. How many kilobytes at .002 cents does it take to equal .01 cent (one penny)? If you take .01 and divide by .002, it equals 5 (.01/.002=5).Or you can add up each kilobyte at .002 cents, example .002+.002+.002+.002+.002=.01 cents. So this means 5 kilobytes costs 1 penny. Then divide 35,893 by 5, it equals 7178.6 This is the number of pennies. Move the decimal over 2 spots, and you have $71.78 Confused yet? Lets break it down farther. If 5 kilobytes= .01 cent, then how many kilobytes will equal one dollar? 100 pennies(one dollar) times 5 kilobytes=500 kilobytes per dollar. Again, take 35,893/500=71.78 Dollars. Verizon is Right!! You should have paid the dollars!!! POST THIS PLEASE

  24. Nygdan says:

    35893/500 is the same as 35893*.002, 71.786.

    500 * .002 CENTS equals 1 CENT.

    So 35893/500 equals 71.786 CENTS.

    5 * .002 CENTS equals .01 CENTS.

    .01 CENTS isn’t 1 CENT (this is what you are actually saying in the above post). Its 1/100th of a CENT. 500kb doesn’t equal a penny, it equals a hundreth of a penny.

    You are making the mistake everyone is making, you are talking about cents, seeing .01, and thinking about .01$.

    .01$ is a penny, 1/100th of a dollar.

    .01 CENTS is 1/100th of a cent. You need 100 .01 CENTS to get 1 CENT.

    Its all about the units baby. Thats why your math and science teachers would go through the effort of sorting them out. Some of the more confusing math or science questions come up when they just ask you to take care of the units alone. I had to look at your example 4 times before I saw what was going on (so it was helpful that you reposted it 4 times :) )

    Unless, of course, you posted the above as a joke, and it was blatantly obvious to everyone else, and only I had to think through it to figure it out and then post my figurin’.

    In which case, well, it was a good joke.

  25. GregMefford says:

    The root cause of the problem is that dimensional analysis (being able to figure out how to calculate what the units should be in a result) is typically taught in high school science class here in the United States.

    Since the people working for Verison’s customer service probably either did not attend high school or failed their high school science class, they would be completely unable to grasp this concept.

    I can understand how the CSR-monkies could get tripped up here, but when it escalated to the management, I was simply appalled to find that Verison employs managers who are unable to be led through a tutorial in dimensional analysis.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the comment saying that the customer should charge Version for several hours of one-on-one tutoring. The going rate for that is at least $20.00 per hour.

    And if you get them to agree to the terms before you teach them, you could even charge $2000.00 per hour. ;)

  26. Josh Randolph says:

    To Midnight:

    You said it wrong yourself right there.

    Maybe this would clear it up once and for all:

    .01 cents (not one penny, one hundredth of a penny).
    is equal to
    .001 dollar.

    .002 cents is equal to .00002 dollar. Thus, 1,024 kilobytes (or one gigabyte) is .02 dollars, or 2 cents.

    Take that, .02 dollars times the 35 gigabytes he used, and you get your .71 dollars (or 71 cents).

    Is this any clearer? Again, $.01 is not the same as .01 cents in any way, shape or form. 1/100 cents=.01 cent. 1/100 dollars= .01 dollars = 1 cent.

  27. Anonymous says:

    There are so many comments here that are terribly wrong.

    The information the CSR gave the customer was that the rate for bandwidth in Canada was 0.002c per kilobyte.

    That’s 0.002 >>CENTS

    We’re dealing with parts of a cent here, not parts of a dollar.

    He used approximately 36,000 kilobytes (or ~36 megabytes, not gigabytes as one post implies.) So let’s do the math on it.

    (0.002c * 36,000kB) = 72c

    This is a miscommunication with the CSR about units. Verizon is at fault and based on what they told the customer, his bill should have only incurred an addition $0.72 charge.

    There’s no possible way to defend Verizon in this light, they need to train their CSR’s more appropriately to prevent miscommunication.

  28. alexanderpas says:

    I make this very simple for all of you.

    $ 2 = 200 cents

    $ .2 = 20 cents

    $ .02 = 2 cents

    $ .002 = .2 cents

    $ .0002 = .02 cents

    $ .0002 = .002 cents