Verizon Thinks Asia Is A Country

Slate’s Seth Stevenson shares this verbatim chat his girlfriend had with a Verizon rep:

A Verizon Wireless online pre-sales specialist has joined the chat. You are now chatting with chelsea.

chelsea: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. May I help you with your order today?

You: I am interested in the international BlackBerry and am looking for detailed information for rates on data and voice when making calls from different countries in Asia.

chelsea: Please hold on while I check that information.
chelsea: Unfortunately you will not be able to use the phone in Asia.
chelsea: I do apologize.

You: Hmm. OK. Actually [I] am nearly certain the international BlackBerry can be used everywhere but Japan.

chelsea: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.
chelsea: I will be right with you.
chelsea: I just tried to look for Asia in the countries list, and it was unavailable.

You: Yeah. Asia is more of a continent than a country (like Europe–not a country, France–a country). I’ll stop by a store I guess and try to figure it out.

chelsea: Ok.
chelsea: Thank you for visiting Verizon Wireless, I look forward to speaking with you again. Have a great day!

Your chat session has been ended by your Verizon Wireless online agent.

We wonder if Seth’s girlfriend really did have a great day.

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Edit Your Comment

  1. megscole64 says:

    OH … MY … GOD! In heaven above. What kind of idiot did they hire?!?! I’m seriously scared. I have Verizon too but have generally found their help to be pretty good (over the phone – haven’t tried online yet).

    *shudders* Very scary!

  2. Wally East says:

    Uh, just “ok” and goodbye? Not “let me check the country list again?”

  3. beyond says:

    An uneducated CSR. Shocking.

  4. Maude Buttons says:

    I’d make fun, but I was convinced Massachusetts was on the Great Lakes. It took George Clooney, Marky Mark, and the film The Perfect Storm to set me straight.

  5. Mynuette says:

    Actually, I believe the girlfriend was probably speaking with an automated CSR. They’ve become fairly common. All it does is look for key words in your question & guess what answer you’re looking for.

  6. DontKnowthe411 says:

    Stop. Ok this was bizarre but everyday I hear about news from Africa and people often say they are going to Africa. Africa is not a country. That mistake is made far more often and I believe that more people actually believe that Africa is a real country. Please. Geography needs greater emphasis in primary school.

  7. TechnoDestructo says:


    That’s beyond uneducated. That’s anti-educated.

  8. Falconfire says:

    guys its a bot, the only idiot here is the bot programmer. Very rarely do you ever speak with a real person when you use those online chat help features.

  9. Hanke says:

    Reminds me of when someone from New Mexico wanted olympics tickets…”please contact your own contry’s committee”

    New Mexico, U.S.A.

  10. mermaidshoes says:

    it’s even better because the customer specifically asks about *countries in* asia. haha!

  11. Buran says:

    @DontKnowthe411: What’s wrong with saying you’re going to a continent? Maybe they were visiting more than one country on that continent.

  12. nffcnnr says:

    Guys – “Chelsea” sounds like a bot. i had a similar chat using eBay’s customer service chat feature. Those are automated responses probably programmed according to key words you type in as your side of the coversation. While there may be a person somewhere at the other end, he/she is not typing those words.

  13. Buran says:

    @Maude Buttons: A lot of people can’t find the state they live in on a map. That’s even sadder.

  14. B says:

    I thought Asia was a crappy 80s hairmetal band. Why would you want to be able to call them?

  15. ThomFabian says:

    If its a bot, then its a horrible design.

    Why would it search a list of countries for the word “Asia”? was it the “different countries in Asia” part? If so, bad design.

  16. Don Roberto says:

    I do believe the rates are posted on the website. []

    Anyway, you don’t need an international blackberry in China or Korea, as I was able to use my v3c without a hitch at the airport in Seoul and in Chengdu, Nanchong, Chongqing, and Beijing.

  17. Wormfather says:

    Wow, I’m willing to bet that had this been Indian outsourcing that they would have known that Asia is a continent, at this point I’m forced to belive we’re dealing with home grown ignorance.

  18. oddasudda says:

    A very similar thing happened to me, actually. My girlfriend was studying in London, and I was visiting New Haven, Connecticut. I tried calling her from there on my Verizon cell phone, only to encounter repeated mysterious operator messages. I finally decided to call Verizon’s customer service department, and spoke to a representative who informed me that I did not have international calling “enabled,” and that it could be enabled for free. (I didn’t bother to ask why it wasn’t enabled already, if it’s free.) Hilarity ensued. This is the conversation, nearly verbatim.

    OPERATOR: Verizon Wireless, how may I help you?
    ME: I’m trying to make an international call, and my phone won’t let me.
    OPERATOR: We can enable that function at no cost. Where are you trying to call?
    ME: The UK.
    OPERATOR: It seems that calls to the UK currently are not available.
    ME: Really? That’s surprising.
    OPERATOR: Yes, I have a little program here, and it says that it’s not available.
    ME: All right. Is there any reason for that?
    OPERATOR: Wait, uh, I’m really bad at American history. Can you tell me, like, what country you’re trying to call?
    ME: England.
    OPERATOR: Oh, oh… no, there’s no England listed here.
    ME: Try the UK.
    OPERATOR: That’s not listed either. Are you trying to call a specific place?
    ME: London.
    OPERATOR: Oh! London. I know that. All right, London. L-O-N-D-A-N. Nope, that doesn’t turn up, either.
    ME: It’s L-O-N–
    OPERATOR: Sorry, that doesn’t turn up, either.
    ME: It’s L-O-N-D-O-N.
    OPERATOR: London. That’s in the United Kingdom.
    ME: Yes.
    OPERATOR: All right. We do have calls available to the United Kingdom.

  19. megscole64 says:

    @nffcnnr: Really? I had no idea such a thing even existed. But that really does make sense…I actually HOPE that is the case. I really don’t want to think someone is that dumb.

  20. yg17 says:

    Isn’t this the same company who didn’t know the difference between a dollar and a cent? Bot? Nah, I doubt it. Verizon just seems to have a thing for hiring morons

  21. DeeJayQueue says:

    Ok, so we already knew that they couldn’t do math (that whole $.02/$.002 thing). Now we know that they can’t do Geography. What’s next on the list, spelling? Social Studies? Gym? Recess? Lunch?

  22. Cowboys_fan says:

    When I was a csr, I had plenty of people ask me the calling rates to asia, europe, or africa. I would ask which country/ies and they would repeat ASIA, like I’m the idiot. So for every 1 agent, theres 10 customers who think the same way. Stupidity? Yes, but not uncommon.

  23. gibsonic says:

    *sigh* to the whining that consumerist has become.

  24. gibsonic says:


    hilarity indeed.

    do you have a british accent? american chicks get all hot and bothered by british accents…

  25. DontKnowthe411 says:

    @Buran: As someone with knowledge of where these people are going, they are rarely visiting more than one place on the continent. In fact, when people say they are going to Europe, they are far more likely to go to multiple places within Europe than within Africa.

  26. oddasudda says:

    @gibsonic: Nope, just a Boston one. It gets ’em hot and bothered just the same.

  27. ptkdude says:

    @oddasudda: International dialing is usually only added by request to deter fraud (i.e. prevent most stolen phones from being used to call numbers outside NANP), and so the company can verbally tell you and note that they told you what the rates would be. Also, not everyone qualifies for international dialing. It is generally based on your payment history.

    ** NANP is the North American Numbering Plan (i.e NPA-NXX-XXXX dialing pattern)

  28. queen_elvis says:

    Hey, if Las Vegas was already a state, why can’t Asia be a country?

  29. LionelEHutz says:

    You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never rely on Verizon customer service when anything is on the line!

  30. welsey says:

    @Maude Buttons: I thought Vermont was right next to Virginia until about a year ago. I even had a friend from Vermont, and when he’d say things about going over the border to Canada all the time I just assumed his family liked to do a lot of long road trips.

  31. Haplo9000 says:

    *sigh* Don’t people play Risk anymore?

  32. Buran says:

    @DontKnowthe411: In that case, they’re silly.

  33. tmweber says:

    @DontKnowthe411: I’m not saying anything about your specific case, but in general, people don’t have very specific knowledge about the countries in Africa, so it’s not unreasonable for a person who is traveling to an African country to not specify. For instance, a friend of mine is in the peace corps in Burkina Faso, but he’s referenced going to Africa before, when he was just talking about that one country. Now if you ask a person what country they’re going to and they repeat “Africa”, then I’m all aboard the ridicule train.

  34. formergr says:

    @DontKnowthe411: Really, because I went to Africa (the continent) earlier this year, and that’s where I told people I was going. Do you know why? Because “Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe” were a little too long to say. Also, a shocking number of people (on the occasion that I just mentioned one or two of those countries), had no idea what continent they were part of.

    I hope this csr was a bot, but I have a feeling unfortunately based on what others have posted in the thread about their experiences (Las Vegas, New Mexio, UK, etc) that it was a real person..

  35. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @nffcnnr: Why don’t you just tell me the name of the movie you want to see?

  36. Smashville says:

    You know how I know you’re gay?

    Because you call Asia.

  37. ShadowFalls says:

    How could this person not know that? Was she not sitting in India responding to his inquiry? I mean it is not like they are honest about their actual names, it always seems to be a “John” or a “Joe” or some other name with a person who has a thick accent. Just easier to hide it here.

    Regardless of who was on the other end, I think a guy called Carlos Mencia has a saying about that…

  38. karimagon says:


    Best. Comment. Ever.

  39. ahwannabe says:

    @B: Asia was not crappy, neither were they hairmetal. They were a prog-rock/arena band, but they were from the 80’s, yes.

  40. I_can_still_pitch says:

    @ahwannabe: they were pretty crappy, yes.

  41. jlrolin says:

    Is she smarter than a 5th grader? No.

  42. palaste says:

    All these comments about people thinking Asia is a country and not one mention about the people who think America is a country.

  43. Blueskylaw says: