Verizon STILL Doesn't Know Dollars From Cents

According to reader Greg, Verizon reps are still confused about the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents.

I recently updated my phone and went with a treo 700w. I decided to go with the pay-as-you-go data plan since I don’t really plan on using the interwebs too much on the phone. So, when I was setting up data over the phone with the verizon woman, I asked her what the data rate was. She said “.015 cents/kb”. I said “Are you sure? Are you sure it’s not .015 dollars/kb? I read and interesting article about the discrepancy.” She said, yes yes we’ve all heard about it, I assure you this is correct” [or something like that]. So, I went about my way figuring this was going to be an issue soon. The bill comes, and sure enough it’s 100x more than expected.

Back in December another customer, George, took Verizon to task for quoting .002 cents and charging .002 dollars. It was a huge story and Verizon said they had it all figured out and were going to retrain their customer service staff. Apparently, those efforts failed. Verizon, you’re stupid. Teach your people basic math, or better yet, making it a hiring prerequisite. — BEN POPKEN

(Photo: stopnlook)


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  1. Nick says:


  2. gwong says:

    Ummm…. why don’t they just advertise it as 1.5 cents/kb? I don’t see how that would be confused with dollars.

  3. Stupid Verizon…maybe this is just their way of trying to get people on their data plans? Mess up the billing so much and refuse/take forever to fix it, driving people to the data plans just to avoid the headache…

  4. GearheadGeek says:

    One has to wonder how much money the keep from people who a) don’t notice or b) don’t bother to raise enough of a stink to get it credited. My cynical side says there’s some guy calculating the difference between the money they keep from this and the money they lose by pissing off customers enough to port their number away to another company. So many people are stuck in long contracts because they had to have the shiny new phone they probably just suck it up and pay. (Oh, wait, I’m stuck in a contract. But I NEEDED that new phone. Really I did.)

  5. GearheadGeek says:

    re: a way to get people on their data plans… I know that for Verizon, Sprint and Cingular they make it worth your while to have a data plan if you do ANY regular data transfers with the phone. I’m a geek, so it’s worth it to me, but at $.02/kb it doesn’t take long to rack up the equivalent of the minimum priced data plan. I think Sprint has the least horribly priced data plan of the 3 right now, and snappily fast connections if you sold your soul for the extended contract to get a nice new PowerVision phone. I NEEDED it, like I said above.

  6. snazz says:

    why wasnt greg smart enough to get written proof of what the verizon woman was telling him? especially since he knew of the disrepency beforehand and that the woman seem to contradict what greg knew to be the true verizon data cost.

    while it sucks that greg was given false information and overcharged, he states that he knew this would be a possibility but took no measure to protect himself against it.

  7. Stepehn Colbert says:

    do you think they’d actually send something out to him?

  8. Buran says:

    @snazz: He did. He asked for confirmation and got it. Then they proceed to charge him 100x what he was told he’d be charged.

  9. homerjay says:

    “Math is hard! Lets go shopping!”

  10. iamthewalrus says:

    @Buran: No, he didn’t. He asked for verbal confirmation, which is only good if he thinks that he misheard something or that the person on the other end of the phone accidentally said the wrong thing.

    It doesn’t protect against the problem that he knew existed: Verizon phone reps don’t know the difference between dollars and cents.

  11. snazz says:

    @Buran: he got verbal confirmation during salesperson/customer banter, i would hardly call that proof. i would have asked for something in writing that stated these costs, especially if i thought the salesperson was contradicting what i thought or knew to be true. i would not have accepted their verbal answer. or i would have made sure to peruse the contract i was signing which would state the charges.

    im not saying that he is at faut here, im just saying he should have better protected himself since he knew this information to be faulty or possibly faulty.

  12. IshmealMathers says:

    @GearheadGeek: I’m sure there is someone that calculates that. They are called actuaries. Hell my wife is studying for one in the insurance industry and they do cost assessments like that all the time.

  13. tadiera says:

    Underpaid trainers put out underpaid reps and in their laziness to pump call volume, they don’t bother paying attention to the information available to them.

  14. Buran says:

    @snazz: So who else are you going to get confirmation from, if not from a salesperson working for the company in question? That’s the purpose of having a sales staff.

  15. BillyShears says:

    @Buran: Your faith in these people to tell you the truth, or at least have a clear grasp of the facts is…charming.

    This stuff should always, always be in writing. That’s easily done from VZW’s website, though. Dude should’ve done that from the beginning.

  16. Hackoff says:

    Try to get written confirmation about something like that from Sprint, Verizon, Cingular, Comcast and see what you get!

    These companies aren’t stupid (mostly), which is why they are so rich and we keep giving them our hard earned money!

  17. superlayne says:

    He should have asked something like this:

    “…Ok. So it’s .015 cents/kb, right?”
    “…I just said that,”
    “So, If I use 100 kb, how much would it cost me?”
    “1.5 cents,”
    “..Ok. Great. Write that down. All of that,”

  18. Marce says:

    “Teach your people basic math, or better yet, making it a hiring prerequisite.”

    What happens when the correctly retrained employees have to explain it to the customers who never made it through basic math, though?

  19. ngth says:


    Why should the customer service reps have to explain it to those customers who didn’t make it through the basic math classes? If the people they hire already know it, then one wouldn’t have to deal with this issue in the first place!

  20. Buran says:

    @BillyShears: You’re missing the point. The guy asked for explicit confirmation and got it. And people seem to be defending the company’s then going on to charge this guy 100 times what he was quoted as OK because “he should have gotten it in writing”?

    I’ve given companies hell (politely) for less and gotten the issue fixed and gotten an apology.

  21. GregCo3000 says:

    When she said she knew about the problem, and assured me it wasn’t the case again, I figured they’d sorted things out. Are you really going to call me out for not asking for it in writing? Come on. I did ask her to note it all in our account profile (or whatever it is they have on their computers).

  22. hobnob says:

    I understand the difference between $0.015/kb and 0.015 cents per kb.
    I understand that most Verizon reps aren’t the greatest at math.
    I understand that a LOT of people aren’t the greatest at … life.

    I think that a lot of people need to DROP IT and realize that Verizon is selling you data at $0.015/kb and ignore what they tell you.

    Canadian stereotypes point out that most Americans are morons. Not 100% accurate. We have morons too. However the population in the USA is 10 times that of Canada so you just see more of them.

  23. superbmtsub says:

    You guys mean “0.15” instead of “0.015” right? I’m seeing that and “.002 dollars and .002 cents” a bit too much here.

  24. snazz says:

    @GregCo3000: you said in your letter “So, I went about my way figuring this was going to be an issue soon. ” … sounds like you werent satisfied with her answer, you figured she was incorrect and that you would pay for it later. if thats the case, why didnt you get something concrete to back up the sales persons confirmation? something you could take away that stated this rate she quoted you. thats what i was trying to point out. you left the store still unconvinced of the pricing discrepency, expecting trouble and didnt get any actual proof of her claims. that was stupid.

  25. 0x12is18 says:


    People shouldn’t drop it. A company is continuously making false advertisements that result in people being overcharged for data. No matter how you slice it, the business is at fault here, regardless of what the customer knows.

    Until Verizon hires people who made it past third-grade math, they are going to have to deal with this issue. But, I suppose that hiring idiots at minimum wage is cheaper in the long run than hiring smart people at above minimum wage.

  26. landsnark says:


    nwogoldberg99 is right. Verizon is making false advertisements. This is illegal and unethical, and it hurts our system if it is allowed to continue.

    Sure, before this problem had been pointed out to them in great detail, you could write this off as a typical corporate mess-up. Now that this problem has been made perfectly clear to them, it seems obvious that they are using the discrepancy between .015 cents/kb and .015 dollars/kb to deceive customers about the true price of their services.

    Okay, there’s a small chance they truly don’t understand the difference between dollars and cents – in this case, they are collectively just too stupid to be trusted with the task of dealing with customer’s money and financial records.

    Either way, customers need to give them hell until they rectify this problem.

  27. BillyShears says:

    @Buran: Nobody’s defending Verizon. Instead, we’re stating quite plainly that any promise of a refund/credit/certain price quoted to you verbally by damn near anyone, anywhere should be gotten in writing. Because if the business goes back on their word, you don’t get into a shouting match over what someone merely “said.” There’s no proof.

    The prices on a provider’s site, and certainly on your contract, are gospel. Anything simply “said” to you should be taken about as seriously as you can throw the person you’re talking to.

    But maybe I’m just more cynical than you.

  28. informer says:

    Man… for me, this has stopped even being about Verizon. I just have a hard time believing how retarded these call center reps are. I’ve lost all faith in America and its education system. I’m going to go cry myself to sleep now…

  29. ohonkysladdero says:

    It is annoying that people continue to buy into Verizon wireless’ schemes and so-called “offers.” They only offer a plethora of free phones, 4 free crappy phones is really not an enticing deal when it is attached to a 2 year plan, and “plans” that nickel and dime the customer.

    As for the CSRs (Customer Service Reps) they have employed, I have first hand experience with dealing with such people. Considering they are not paid a lot, don’t expect more than the treatment you receive from a fast food worker. The reps from the last crap company I worked for employed CSRs with little to no education. Common sense is not a job qualification nor is any formal education. Besides, do any of you really expect Verizon Wireless to hire quality employees when they insist on selling crap phones and piss poor plans.

    That is not to say other wireless carriers are better. A T-Mobile CSR opened an activated an additional line without my authorization….

  30. powermetal2000 says:

    I said “Are you sure? Are you sure it’s not .015 dollars/kb? I read and interesting article about the discrepancy.” She said, yes yes we’ve all heard about it, I assure you this is correct”

    So, he read “and” interesting article? Huh? Do people know how to use correct grammar anymore?