Sunday, December 24, 2006

Contest Results


I've been thinking quite a bit about how to make the call about both contests, its been really hard on both fronts.

T-Shirt Contest

In the end the tally came to (for the top 3):

5 27 37
1 5 10 5
2 6 3 1
3 3 4 1
Total Votes 14 17 7
Wighted Votes 30 40 18

First of all, I like all 3 of the top voted designs, but as previously expressed I really like #5, but I also think #27 and also #37 are very good. I've been stewing about how to deal with the situation since #27 did get more votes than #5 in terms of votes. Also, as we know, #27 and #37 have some issues in terms of trademark, that have to be addressed - Tony (#27) has provided some updated designs, which I like, but that absolutely noone has given any feedback on.

Like I said, this has been very difficult and I hope that everyone who voted, understands the difficulty - I've decided to give the prize to BOTH top entries - VL for #5, and Tony for #27. Congratulations to both of you - and thank you for your great designs!

I would like to give Beau's #37 what amounts to an honorable mention for his design. Also, should the trademark issue get addressed, and at least a few people express an interest, I will have #37 offered as well.

Beau if you would provide a similar modification ("revizon" I think would work well in your case too), and we can get some feedback on it, it would be great to offer all 3 designs as T-Shirts (as long as my T-Shirt maker will do that for us).

Also, in light of the dwindling interest in this blog :(, I'd like to set the price for the shirts as low as possible so that people might be more likely to buy them. I haven't gotten any feedback on this at all, so I'm making the call that seems to make the most sense. I don't think we would have raised much money for charity. Perhaps the visibility this issue has raised in terms of math education, has done some good in its own right.

Remix Contest

In this case the votes still stand at 0 to 0 - not a single vote. I assume this is again due to the dwindling interest and the holidays. That said, I think I have a solution that will work.

I think both submissions are great, and obviously took a lot of time and effort. Therefore I am again going to award BOTH entries the prize!

Congratulations Davman and Beau!

Coincidentally, today my total ad revenue stands at $289.57 - which is a mere $2.41 higher than 4 x $71.79 (I find that pretty funny). So all 4 of you will be receiving the full prize! (please contact me with your preferred payment method - physical address for a check or paypal email).

Thank you everyone for participating! I will try to get the 2 T-Shirt designs into the hands of the printers ASAP. The earliest I will have news about this is probably Tuesday because of the holiday. I will post the info as soon as I have it.

I wish you all a very Happy Holiday!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Last Call for Votes - Deadline 9:00 PM Eastern

Ok, its about time we rapped this baby up.

Current Results for the T-Shirt Contest

Here are the current votes for the T-Shirt Contest - as long as I've done my counting right - it was a challenge with some changed votes, and some ambiguous ones.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
2 2
4 1


1 1 2


2 1
1 1 5 1 2 1 2



2 3


2 3

2 2 1 1 1 1 1 4

2 6 10 2 24 8 4 3 4 1 7 1 11 0 0 1 2 4 0 7 5 11 1 1 4 5 40 0 0 0

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58





2 1 2




3 1

1 1

1 2

3 4 3 1 2 1 18 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 9 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 3 0 3 0

I have weighted the scores such that a #1 vote = 3 points, a #2 vote = 2 and a #3 vote = 1. I also don't think the weightings really affect the outcome, as 027 is clearly in the lead, and 005 has 4 & 5 votes, while 037 has 5 & 1 votes (for #1 and #2 respectively). So no matter how you slice it I think that 005 clearly has the lead over 037... Anyway...

Clearly the current breakdown is, 027, then 005, then 037.

Please post your votes if you havent already, and for 027 and 037, please submit ideas (everyone) or modified designs (from the original designers only please), that address the verizon logo, and one sided T-Shirt issues.

At this point, and I hope without hurting anyone's feelings, I'd like to cast my vote for 005, and explain why. Remember, we can go with more than one design - I think we will wind up doing that.

1) simple
2) cool - I'd wear it without feeling nerdy - (insert laughs here)
3) does not mention verizon
4) recognizable by anyone thats heard the audio
5) it says a lot without saying a lot

Current Results for the Remix Contest

I have receive 0 - that is not a single - vote for the Remix competition. Please cast a vote, or at least post a comment that you can't decide :).

Thank you all for following along. The traffic on this site has dwindled quite a bit from the big bang the first weekend - the rest of you are real die-hards - Thank's so much for participating!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Remix Contest Entries

I extended the deadline for the remix contest because I was alerted that it was too much to ask for a remix in such a short timeframe, but then the guy who made that comment was just doing a drive by and never returned. The good news is we managed to get 1 more remix from the friendly folks over at

So here are the, count 'em, 2 remix entries, and the first one is an old favorite:

1. Davman's Verizon-Cant-Do-Math-Money-Remix
Note: Dave made this baby in a tiny timeframe and IMO did a great job.

2. Beau and Brett's March of the Super Dumb Parrots Mix
Note: There are a few parts in this remix where it sounds like an echo - I've been informed this is actually created using unique samples from the original call - thats a lot of "point zero zero twos!"

Please check them out and submit your votes and comments.

Thanks guys! Nice work!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Preliminary T-Shirt Contest Results

Thanks to all who submitted designs and voted. There are a bunch of great designs, and some good feedback in the comments. Nice work everybody!

OK, to the top 3 in terms of votes:

027: 10, 3, 3
005: 3, 3, 1
037: 4, 0, 1

I have a couple of comments:

1) this is before my vote :)
2) both 027 and 037 use the Verizon logo sans the "V" swooshy thing.
3) 027 as it stands is a 2 sided design - which drives the cost up - unless we move the back design to the front as well.
4) 005 uses a "2" that looks stylistically similar, but is not the same as the verizon "z" - very clever design.
5) I'm disappointed noone liked 020 (it only got 1 #2, and 1 #3) :(

Anyway, I'll accept votes for one more day, and take them into consideration as well.

That said, I'd like people to think about the fact that IMO (based on speaking with lawyers late monday) we cannot use designs 027 or 037 as they stand because the verizon logo is pretty much intact. Perhaps modifications of those can be produced. I think 005 is safe as it does not even contain the name verizon.

I would like to remind everyone of rule #2: "must not infringe any trademarks." I should have not even allowed these entries, but did thinking that they would inspire other ideas and comments. Also at the time I had not yet consulted lawyers and thought there could be a chance we could safely use them.

I'd like to hear all your thoughts in light of this information.

Thanks very much! I can't wait to get the final product...

Monday, December 18, 2006

T-Shirt Contest Entries

Hello everyone, and thanks for your entries.

I have received a total of 36 entries for the contest. I'd like to remind everyone that comedy and design are subjective, and ask that people only make positive comments or constructive criticisms.

There are a few things to know about the the way I am hosting the entries:
1. I am hosting this on a free web account, so there are ads - most of the time they are not visible, but sometimes they popup in front - in that case just hit your refresh/reload button.
2. I wrote the photo album viewer myself and its not that polished.
3. the little numbered buttons in the upper right resize the thumbnails dynamically.
4. click on an image to load its higher res version, when it turns green you can click it again to see a larger popup display.
5. if you hover over a thumbnail, you will see its # and credits
6. the images sometimes size strangely wide as their heights are held consistent.

Please vote by posting a comment in the format:

My Votes:
1. #
2. #
3. #

Where obviously the number sign is replaced with the actual number. You don't have to place votes for 3, and feel free to elaborate, for example "I like # but I think the slogan should be ..."

I will compile the results manually. And potentially make the call based on my own preference - hopefully there is a clear winner.

Finally, find the entries here.

Also, I'll be happy to take late entries, just realize they won't get as much visibility.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm Time's Man of the Year!!! - And so are You!

I'd like to congratulate Time for a very timely (forgive the pun) and relevant choice for person of the year. I've never really been a fan, but I think someone over there is definitely on the ball.

Time's Person of the Year

The coincidence in timing of the creation of this blog and Time's choice for "Person of the Year" is pretty amazing.

I started this blog on 12-7-2006 (10 days ago), with simple aspirations - to expose a very funny and mildly disturbing incident to people, with hopes that others would bring forward similar stories and we'd all hopefully gain something from it.

Today the original YouTube posting of the audio of my call has reached the #1 Top Rated for the month for the News and Blogs category with over 360,000 views, 1,700 comments and it has been favorited over 1,100 times.

The orignal posting has been viewed over 92,000 times.

This blog has been visited over 220,000 times.

A Google search for verizonmath returns 32,000 hits.

My money has been refunded, verizon's problem has been acknowledged, their policy has supposedly been changed and documented (that remains to be seen), and now many more people are aware of the problem - which will prevent this problem from happening in the future. Also, another great side effect has been that educators are now aware of a deficiency in the teaching of decimals.

Before I go on, I'd just like to ask that anyone with the time and inclination, please put some pressure on Verizon (as you did in my case) to help motivate them to bring Peter's situation the attention it needs to be addressed - I can't belive this has still not been dealt with.

I want to thank everyone who has participated in this discussion and congratulate them for having been part of a new and growing trend. Every individual now has the capacity to bring to light a wrong, expose it to millions of people, and to help make it right.

I think the power of the individual in this new climate will help improve our businesses by ultimately requiring them to provide better customer service, saving people time and therefore improving productivity, and could even help bring peripheral or fundamental problems to light - in this case the sad state of Math education.

Also, it's interesting to realize that this specific process is just one of many that is now possible, where the collective ideas of people around the globe are now able to come together for productive exchange, and produce outputs and outcomes never before possible.

It's a very exciting time!

Thank you all again for all of your supportive comments and feedback. They were very motivational.

Friday, December 15, 2006

T-Shirt Design and Remix Competitions

Announcing the VerizonMath T-Shirt Design and Remix Competitions!

It occured to me that many of my fellow bloggers might be interested in a T-Shirt marking this event, that could spark conversations (albeit nerdy ones), and help us to recognize one another outside of the blogosphere.

For that reason I have planned this contest seeking the most creative and funny interpretations of the events of the last week.

I have a feeling that while this blog seems to have tapering interest since the initial bubble, we may have not seen the last of this issue.

You can be one of two elite groups of enlightened consumers:
1) those of us who have the inside scoop on fuzzy math, and
2) the 2 (or more) people whose creativity and sense of humor capture the essence of this situation - the winners of the T-Shirt contest.

I am contributing the bulk of my ad revenue for the 2 prizes, and see below for the discussion of potentially splitting the profits with the winner(s) and some other blogger determined cause or charity.

T-Shirt Design Contest:


1. $71.79 +
2. 1/3 of profit from T-Shirt sales of their design* (if we decide to markup the price) +
3. Prime advertising location in the upper right of this blog for at least one month - for their website or blog.

Rules: All entries:
1. must be tasteful and funny - and preferably stylish.
2. must not infringe on any trademarks.
3. must not contain any foul language.
4. must not contain any telephone numbers
5. must be received by Monday 12/18/2006 12:00pm ET (noon).
6. must be provided in proportions close to 2000 x 2000 pixels for proper printing (png, bmp, jpg)
7. may be signed by the designer

Remix Contest:

1. $71.79 +
2. Prime advertising location in the upper right of this blog for at least one month - for their website or blog. (below the winner for the T-Shirt Contest)
3. Bragging rights

Rules: All entries:
1. must follow all laws regulating music sampling with respect to any outside samples.
2. must be approximately 3 minutes long - give or take.
3. must not contain any foul language
4. must not contain any telephone numbers
5. must be received by Monday 12/18/2006 12:00pm ET (noon).
6. may contain submitter's information embedded.

Original call available here.

I will choose the winning entries with input from blog comments strongly considered.

I am open to suggestions about what the other 2/3 of the T-Shirt profits (if any) would be used for. Of course I'd love to keep all that cash myself and start a wireless phone company, but I'm sure others have better ideas. (*) Also, we could forego any markup whatsoever but then the prize is not quite as rewarding.

Also, should there be runners up, we could have these turned into T-Shirts as well. While there will be no prize money left for these folks (unless this blog starts generating tons of ad revenue), if we decide to mark up the shirts, the 1/3 profit part of the prize would apply to those runners up.

Please submit all entries to verizonmath at I will post entries as they come in, in a follow up post.

I'd like to seed the T-Shirt contest with my entry (small version) (no I won't declare myself winner - unless of course there are no other entries :).

And of course the Remix Competition has already been seeded by DavMan Verizon-Cant-Do-Math-Money-Remix-By-Davman

Thursday, December 14, 2006

12-14-2006 - Verizon still quoting .002 cents!

This just in, posted by isaac.

I put the call out for people to verify if Verizon was actually following through, and here we have the first of the results.

Amazing call, I can't explain how it made me laugh. You have to listen if only for the humor value.

When you go to YouTube, please rate the "video" to get it more visibility.

VerizonWireless Billing Problem

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Will Verizon live up to its Worry Free Guarantee®?

I just received an email from Peter - one of the other people who has been through the exact same situation with Verizon. Verizon has still not contacted him.

I have initiated 3 forms of communication to Verizon to help Peter get his situation resolved:

1. I requested in our Open Letter to Verizon Wireless Management that Verizon address at a very minimum the known cases where they have made this mistake. It is clear that someone at Verizon has clearly been tasked with monitoring this blog.

2. I supplied Peter's contact information to "Ana Diaz" via email reply. I also emailed "her" again, to request receipt of my email, but I have not received any response.

3. Last night I received a call from Michelle at Verizon, calling on behalf of Andrea, who wanted to make sure I knew my account had been credited the $71.79. I supplied Michelle with Peter's name and telephone number, and she assured me that she would contact someone within her organization who could access his account, and "follow through" by conveying to them the details of my situation to help them resolve his. I can post a transcript of this call if necessary.

So far this is an unacceptable response - no response. It confirms that Verizon is more interested in making this go away than making it right. It seems like they are willing to make the same short sighted mistake with Peter's case as they did with mine, and I'm sure they will pay a huge price for it.

At this point we are around the 10th communication to Verizon to get this resolved. Also, his case should now be much better understood as proved by Verizon's apoloogy, and vow to educate its employees to the issue. We expect Verizon to live up to its trademarked Worry Free Guarantee®:

"If you ever have a problem, it becomes our problem the first time you call."

If Peter's situation remains unresolved, I may have to entertain the many requests I've had from major media outlets and bloggers, to bring this situation to the attention of more consumers.

At this point I suggest Verizon also supply a statement on what they will be doing to identify and rectify this mistake as it applies to other customers who have been affected. It is clear that Verizon is not currently doing anything about it, as they have not even taken care of the single case I supplied to them.

Here are the details of Peter's situation:

Peter's initial correspondence with Verizon

Peter's Audio is Here and at YouTube here Verizon still cant count where it is steadily gaining views - over 20,000 in a few days. Remember, that was recorded after Verizon recognized their mistake in my case.

Eyes at Verizon - I suggest you address this now, before the mass outrage this time.

According to google, there are 13,500 links to this blog, and growing.

You get to choose whether they see "Verizon Addresses All Concerns!" or something like "Will Verizon live up to its Worry Free Guarantee®?" when they click those links.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Open Letter to Verizon Wireless Management

We seem to have gotten my particular problem solved - Thank you. I wish for all of us that process was easier. Hopefully there is no next time.

Initially that was the only problem I was concerned with, but it appears you have current and potential customers who expect something more as evidenced by the interest in this blog, and the comments on hundreds of other blogs, YouTube etc.

As this has played out I have unintentionally become the spokesman for these issues.

My advice to you is to make a public statement about this incident, and assure your customers and potential customers that you are addressing the problems.

Based on the feedback I have received on the many discussion boards on this topic all over the Internet, I think you need to address the following 3 issues:

1. Customer Service

Here is an excerpt from the Customer Satisfaction section of your website:

"Verizon Wireless is committed to delivering outstanding customer satisfaction. We offer quality products and services on the nation's most reliable network, and deliver the industry's best customer service - online, over the phone and in-person."

In my calls to Verizon - prior to the explosion caused by all this, and in the sentiments of people who posted here about their own experiences, it appears that the CSR is not really tasked with "satisfying" the customer so much as they are tasked with dealing with them, or making them go away. In my call specifically, there were a number of problems, but I will focus on just one - the redirection to the web feedback form. Many CSRs have posted on this blog and have specifically commented that they would never do that. I have never had that happen to me before. This was a first, and it hardly demonstrates "the industry's best customer service." I think this was not specifically the fault of the floor manager, but more a fault of the framework in which she has to work.

Perhaps the reps are not rewarded based on customer satisfaction, but on other metrics such as call times, or minimum charge reversals. If that is the case, I suggest that policy is short sighted, and you might want to research methods that would be more effective overall.

This response was not created wholly by a funny recording of a call. I couldn't get this many people to revisit this blog day after day if all they were interested in was a laugh. I suggest to you that this is the collective backlash to less than acceptable customer service.

Addition: 12-12-2006 12:24 PM Eastern - From bruce a.

Let's take a look at a portion of VZW's promise to you as a customer (and note the federal trademark declaring VZW's ownership of the claim itself):

Worry Free Guarantee®

"If you ever have a problem, it becomes our problem the first time you call."

2. Accuracy in Advertising

I understand there are competitive pressures and industry norms that steer marketing plans and policies. However, I contend that the best business requires ensuring customer expectations are met, and in order to achieve that, your customer must truly understand your pricing. In this case, and as I understand in other cases, possibly including text and picture messaging and rated data (vs. unlimited), you quote your prices using 2 obscure units - partial cents, and KB (kilobytes).

As we now know, beyond a doubt, many people are not great with fractions, decimals and clearly not the third decimal digit with respect to currency. This makes partial cents themselves a difficult unit to "think" in.

Along the same lines, KB is, in my opinion, the most obscure of the 3 most widely recognized units of measure for data. The others being MB (megabytes) and GB (gigabytes). People know MB as it relates to their digital pictures (~.5meg - 2meg) and music files (approx 1MB/minute). People know GB as it relates to their hard drive size. KB, for most people, is an abstract unit that doesn't really relate effectively to anything they do. An email might be 2KB, or 200KB, or anywhere in between, or even more. A 3 minute song file is roughly 3000KB. Again its hard to "think" in KB.

GB of course is much too large to be practical in this case. I think the logical choice is MB.

If you were to quote your rates in $/MB, in this case, the rate would have been $2.05/MB. I think most people would agree, this is a much more clear and understandable rate than $.002/KB - not to mention its much easier to quote correctly.

I know if I download a song, that's roughly 3 minutes long, its roughly 3MB * roughly $2/MB = approximately $6.

This is easy math. No surprises, no upset customers. Possibly no customers at all at that rate, but I contend its better to have fewer, happy customers, than a bunch of angry ones. And that IS in fact your rate - there's no getting away from it unless you lower it.

Using the current rate structure I would have to first multiply the song size by roughly 1000. This is problematic because you have to know the number of KB in a MB - I contend 80 - 90% of your customers don't know that.

Then you must multiply that result by .002 (essentially division) to arrive at the approximately $6.

My method: most people can do in their heads. Your method: probably difficult for many people even with a calculator.

Now if that's what you're looking for, uninformed customers, you have achieved it with those units. But arguably that is what has caused the outrage about this situation, and in my opinion, that is bad business.

3. Attempting to resolve prior incidents where customers were given incorrect quotes

For the short life of this blog there have been a few people who have mentioned that they have experienced this exact situation. I have the name and contact information of one (I will email it to Ana), and prior posts in this blog contain information about a few others.

Perhaps you can search your customer service notes to locate other customers who've had this same experience.

I think a plan towards that goal would not only be the ethical thing to do, it would be repaid with customer loyalty and retention.

We are probably all familiar with that Verizon commercial with the employees of your network facing the competitor's network, where the competitor's network is comprised of cardboard cutouts. I think you need to reinforce to your current and prospective costumers that there is substance and depth behind your company to match that portrayal; reinforce that it is more than just a facade.

Finally, in case anyone was wondering, I am not the slightest bit anti-corporate. I understand that business and competition are the foundations of what make our system work. I sincerely hope this experience helps improve your business, and helps you continue to provide a valuable service to your customers. In my opinion, whether or not this whole experience ultimately moves you toward that goal or away from it is based solely on how you address these concerns.

But then again what do I know, I am just a guy - just 1 guy. Take it or leave it.

Response from Verizon - Getting Closer

This just in.

Apparently someone is listening, or in this case reading. Or maybe not, this is apparently a response to a complaint I filed through While I cannot necessarily attribute this response 100% to them (this blog probably affected this response), it might have provided a higher level of rep than the normal route. Thank you

I have finally received acknowledgement that they made the mistake - Thank you for finally admitting it - I hope it doesn't take the average customer the collective laughter of hundreds of thousands of people in the future.

Please note the second bolded part of the email. There are a number of qualifications here that I think need to be addressed.

First, as it applies to Canadian roaming rates - rememer there are 2 rates - 1 for unlimited customers like me, 1 for everyone else. If I'm not mistaken they are $.002 and $.005 respectively. Obviously the same rules apply to the later.

Second, as we saw in Peter's case, the same problem applies to other rates, such as text and picture messaging rates. I'm sure there are also other roaming rates - Mexico maybe? I'm not sure.

Third, they need to ensure that they not just update CSR materials, but also phone sales materials - I'm not positive, but I would guess those are separate groups.

Dear Mr. Vaccaro,

The Executive Relations Team responds to consumer issues that are brought to our executives' attention. I am in receipt of your email via regarding your data charges while roaming in Canada . Thank you for letting us know that we inadvertently incorrectly quoted a rate to you. We have issued a credit to your account of $71.79. In order to prevent any future inaccuracies, we are supplementing the reference material used by our representatives to better highlight that the Canadian roaming rate is .002 dollars-per-kilobyte, which is equal to .2 cents per kilobyte. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.


Ana Diaz
Verizon Wireless

West Area Supervisor, Executive Relations

Background - Peter's initial correspondence with Verizon

Peter had posted this as a comment, but I wanted to promote it to the front page and provide some context. To clarify, this is the correspondence prior to making the call in the previous post. I should have posted this earlier - it would have at least been a bit less confusing :).

I've bolded some of the most interesting parts.

Also, you will see that Eva is apologizing for a 10 day delay in getting back to him.

FIRST EMAIL sent 11/30

From: Peter

Last week I called to inquire about the data rate per kb for internet usage. I was quoted ".015 cents per kilobyte". Upon paying my bill I noticed that the rate was much higher- in fact $.015/kb. I called back to complain but was shocked to here "the rate is .015cents per kilobyte" and "... .015 cents is $.015".

At this point I was dumbfounded by her ignorance and hung up. Calling back I was shocked to experience this scenario a third time so promptly asked for a manager. He reiterated that ".015 cents per kilobyte is equivalent to .015 dollars per kilobyte". I then spent 30 minutes trying to explain to him how these were two very different values to no avail.

While these 4 employees gross deficiency in elementary mathematics is appalling, the fact that Verizon employees these people who are so inept as to misstate a rate by a factor of 100 is disgusting and probably legally unwise. You at this point have one customer that is very angry and frustrated due to this misrepresentation that resulted in a bill literally 100 times larger than expected.

I would suggest that all phone representatives be corrected on their erroneous math as the third representative put me on hold and stated "all the people here say .015 cents is 1.5cents" before retrieving a manager; hence the problem runs beyond the four I spoke with. Initially, I wanted a refund but after experiencing this abyss of ignorance I feel my fees will be better served towards teaching remedial math towards these employees and will be satisfied with an apology.

SECOND EMAIL sent 12/09

From: Peter

since you have not acknowledged my previous complaint of being charged 100 times more than quoted numerous times over the phone for data usage and everyone is speak with is too incompetent to realize the issue I have reported you to the FCC. I will continue pursuing this in each and every avenue at my disposal until you appease me.


From: Verizon Wireless Customer Service MW
Date: Dec 10, 2006 3:02 PM
Subject: Re: Bill Charges
To: peter xxxxxx

Dear Peter,

Thank you for contacting Verizon Wireless through our website. I am sorry for the delay in responding to your inquiry. This delay was a result of technical difficulties, which have since been resolved.

My name is Eva, and I am eager to address your concerns for the kilobyte charges.

On behalf of Verizon Wireless, please allow me to apologize for the frustration this matter has caused you. Verizon Wireless has a strong customer commitment to delivering the best from our service and staff. I am disappointed that you feel the service you received did not reflect this commitment.

Upon further review of your account, I found that even though our explanation may have been confusing, you were provided correct information regarding the charge for kilobyte usage. We bill the usage at $0.015 per kilobyte. This means $0.015 of a dollar, not $0.015 of a cent.

The verbal information given at the store was also correct. Your original e-mail indicated you were told "$0.015 cents per kilobyte." If it was the charge you understood it to be, it would be verbally given as 0.015ths of a cent. The charges were presented and billed correctly and I am sorry, no a credits are due at this time.


You are a valued customer and we hope we can restore your confidence in Verizon Wireless. Thank you for using Verizon Wireless products and services.


Verizon Wireless
Customer Service

"We never stop working for you!"

More audio - Unbelievable!

This is really amazing. You have to listen until the end, but they are still claiming that there is no difference between dollars and cents.

Peter's Audio Here

Nice work Peter, and thanks for the link.

I think a few more things are starting to become clear from this.

1. They try very hard not to acknowledge this problem.
2. They realize now that they might have their call posted, and are trying to gain some sympathy - she goes out of her way to explain that she will be working Christmas Eve - and mentions very nicely that she will follow up with him. In my case, I got a referal to the web feedback form - quite a change.
3. They are walking a thin line - IMO they know that if they say this the wrong way, they might have thousands of people calling for refunds.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

NOT an Isolated Incident & Should Verizon Concede these Mistakes?

It seems there is a similar case that happened 2 weeks ago. The similarites are amazing. Unfortunately no audio :). And unbeleivably, this has just been brought to my attention.

Incident #2 Here

In the prior post, some great ideas were posted, including the observation that Verizon did not admit to making any mistakes whatsoever. I somehow missed that. In light of this other incident, it becomes clear that Verizon really needs to address this problem instead of just trying to make it go away.

Between the two incidents, there have been 10 customer service reps that either quoted rates in cents or didn't recognize the difference, 6 in mine (5 on the phone, and 1 by implication - Nikki), and 4 in this second case.

I'd like to again open this post to ideas about how to proceed. Some great ideas were contributed in the previous post.

I'll then formulate the response to the Verizon email.


Response from Verizon - 100% Refund - .002% Concession

Hi everyone. Look what just rolled into my inbox.

There are a few things in the email that I don't quite understand, that make me think this was a very carefully, even overly crafted document.

First, notice the awkward wording of "a previous representative has credited for." Credited what? How about "credited your account for?"

Also, whats all this about a "previous representative" altogether? The previous represetative AFAIK was Nikki, and I had no other correspondence with anyone between Nikki and this email. Perhaps they mean within the walls of their organization, not sure why I would care about that though.

Also notice how very carefully they "reiterated" (if you can even call it that since its the first time a Verizon representative has used this term) their actual rate, ".002 dollars per KB." I hope their marketing and support materials will be updated to reflect that clear and unambiguous term (both visually and verbally.)

Thank you all very much for your support, kind words, and the pressure you put on Verizon. I personally think they dealt with this on a Sunday because they had no choice - they were probably getting hammered with calls from customers (and non customers) wondering what their actual policies were, and if they applied to their accounts.

As I stated before it wasn't about the money, it was about the idea of scamming your customers. Are you satisfied? IMO, I think Verizon would be smart to make some sort of public statement about their rates, and their customer service policies.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Dear George Vaccaro,

Thank you for your reply. Again, I apologize for the miscommunications regarding this issue and for your frustration and inconvenience as a result.

In review of your account a previous representative has credited for the data charges in question for $71.79. You may take this amount off of your current amount due. In the future please keep in mind that it is .002 dollars per KB while in Canada.

It has been a pleasure assisting you today, and we appreciate your business. Have a wonderful week!


Verizon Wireless
Customer Service

"We never stop working for you!"

If you have received this e-mail in error or are not the intended recipient, please notify us immediately by replying to this e-mail and deleting it and all copies and backups thereof. If you are the intended recipient and are a Verizon Wireless customer, this response is subject to the terms of your Customer Agreement.

Original Message Follows:


As I described in my original message to you, when I called before entering Canada I spoke to a rep who quoted me a rate of ".002 cents per KB." I thought that seemed like a great rate and confirmed it with her - she confirmed. I even went so far as to have her note it in the account.

Then, knowing that rate, I used your service in Canada accordingly. I now understand that the rate is actually ".002 dollars per KB" despite the fact that all your reps still claim its ".002 cents per KB." Also, had your company a policy of quoting rates per megabyte, which would result in a much more easily interpretable rate $2.05/MB this whole situation could have been avoided.

The main problem I've had in explaining this to your customer service reps is the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents. To demonstrate that to you I have provided a link to google that will help you see what my bill should be using the rate that was quoted to me:

As you can see, the charge for my usage at .002 cents/KB is $.71786 - or $.72 rounding up to the nearest cent - 72 cents. That is what I was quoted and that is what I am therefore willing to pay.

If you have any problems understanding this, please leverage someone from your accounting department to help you understand it, as I'm sure they know the difference between dollars and cents.

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, on my blog here:

You can also see there that most people understand the difference between dollars and cents, and you therefore might want to offer your reps some training on the issue.

Thanks very much,
George Vaccaro

Yahoo Answers

Someone asked Yahoo Questions to chime in:

And here is the answer.


Some of you may have noticed that I wired up Google Adsense.

I know that some of you might see that as going commercial with this whole thing. I just want to assure you that once I reach my goal of $71.07 ($71.79 - 71.79c), I will be donating .999999% of all proceeds to a fund for the education of call center reps*. The rest will be used to cover costs and for my own evil purposes.

Also, in case anyone was wondering, I don't think that all call center reps are stupid, that would be a gross generalization. In fact, for 2 years I did phone support myself (24/7 - no kidding).

Addendum: In all seriousness, and in the spirit that motivated me to create this blog in the first place, please do NOT commit click fraud.

*neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur? Proceeds may be redirected to a charity, other organization, or even Mr. Vaccaro himself, at the sole discretion of George Vaccaro.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Transcript (ala JT)

Transcription generously, and I DO mean generously provided by JT who gives a shout out to pubatch, rill, and kino on IRC.

Transcription not guaranteed to be 100% perfect - it was 27 minutes long and donated after all...

[Start of Call]

[on hold with Verizon Wireless customer service]

Trent (Verizon): Hi.. Hey, George?

George: Yes.

T: Hey I'm really sorry about that wait there. Hey, I got Mike on the line. He's my supervisor over here and uh, he'll take care of you from here on out, okay?

G: Thanks.

T: Alright.

Mike (Verizon): Thanks Trent. Good evening George, how are you doing this evening?

G: Great, except that I've been trying to resolve this for two calls and over 45 minutes now.

M: Okay, well lets see what we got here, I'm definitely sorry that uh, that you've had to call in that many times. Let's see, ummm, looks like you're questioning some kilobyte usage that was done while in Canada?

G: Well, let me just start out with a basic question.

M: Okay.

G: Do you recognize that there's a difference between “point zero zero two dollars” and “point zero zero two cents”?


M: Point zero zero two dollars?

G: Do you recognize that there is actually...

M: ...and point zero zero two cents.

G: Yes, do you you recognize there's a difference between those 2 numbers?


M: No.

G: Okay, is there a difference between 2 dollars and 2 cents?

M: Well, yeah, sir..

G: Well okay, is it.. is there a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents?

M: .002 dollars and .002 cents.

G: Yes, is there a difference between..

M: Sir, sir, they're.. they're both the same if you, if you look at 'em on paper-wise

G: No.. they're not, actually. It.. is .5 dollars the same as .5 cents?

M: Is .5 dollars..?

G: Is half a dollar..

M: That would be.. That would be 50 cents.

G: A half a dollar.. is it the same as a half of a cent?

M: No.

G: Right.

M: Okay.

G: So, clearly, two one-thousandths of a dollar, which is your rate for airtime as I now understand it, uh, your rate per kilobyte in Canada is two one-thousandths of a dollar. But two one-thousandths of a dollar is different than two one-thousandths of a *cent*. What I was quoted was .002 cents. That's two one-thousandths of a cent per kilobyte.

M: Mmhm. okay...?

G: I specifically asked the rep. I said, “Are you saying it's .002 dollars or .002 cents?” because I .. *I* recognize that there's a difference. Just like there's a difference between that half a dollar and half a cent.

M: Okay.

G: There's a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents. Your rate in Canada is .002 cents.

M: Correct.

G: Uh, it's point, point... Well okay, it's not true, it's .002 dollars. You're still quoting me .002 cents when in fact it's .002 dollars per kilobyte. So, if you want to charge me .002 cents, I'd be happy to pay the bill, the problem is I was charged .002 dollars per kilobyte.

M: Okay, so if you take.. okay.. do you have a calculator with you?

G: Yeah, I do.

G: Okay, take this uh, 71.79.

G: Yeah.

M: And divide that by uh, 35,893 you should come out with .002

G: Yes, and what units should it be? Dollars or cents?

M: Well that's per *kilobyte*.

G: Right. And is it dollars or cents per kilobyte?

M: Well, let me take a look here for ya.

[time passes...]

M: [looking up rates] We're.. we're in Canada..

[time passes...]

M: Hold on one second for me..

[time passes...]

M: [mumbles something about Canada]

[time passes...]

G: For the record, what I was quoted before I went to Canada, I called because I'm on an unlimited plan in the United States and I thought I might be paying more when I go to Canada.

M: Right.

G: What I was quoted was .002 cents. That seems to be what you believe is the rate is .002 cents. Unfortunately, your computer system charged me .002 dollars per kilobit, er, per kilobyte, so my point here is the confusion is on your side, and the first rep I spoke to, the second rep I spoke to, and including you, in calling “.002 dollars” “.002 cents”, that's a hundredfold difference just like one dollar is 100 times different than1 cent.

[time passes...]

M: Okay... looking at the pricing here for ya.

M: Okay.. for data.

M: National roaming access coverage in Canada is .002 per kilobyte cents.

G: Can you say that again?

M: It's .002 cents per kilobyte

G: .002 cents per kilobyte. So you just quoted me again; your price is .002 cents per kilobyte

M: Correct.

G: Okay, so now I'd like you to translate my 35,893 kilobytes into dollars if you would.

M: Okay, if you take .002

G: Cents, remember, cents.

M: Times 35,896. 71 dollars and 79...

G: No, that would be 71 cents because you started with a rate per *cent* and multiplied by the kilobytes, so that would be 71 cents. I'll tell you what the problem is here, is you, you're.. the original person I spoke to *before* I used my airtime...

M: Mmhmm.

G: Up to and including you, are quoting .002 dollars per kilobyte as if it's .002 cents per kilobyte and they're not the same, so I assumed that you guys knew how to do math. No offense here , but i assumed that you knew the difference between .002 cents and .002 dollars. And it sounds like there's still some confusion about that. .002 dollars is two one-thousandths of one dollar, or two tenths of one cent, which is very different than two one-thousandths of one cent. It's one hundred times different. [pause] I'll give you a brief example: If you're selling your car and I said I'm gonna give you twenty thousand for it, and I show up with 20,000 pennies, we're not speaking the same language. If you quote me .002 cents it's not the same as .002 dollars. So, when you just did the math .002 times 35,893, you came up with 71 cents. You didn't do the translation from cents to dollars, which would be... you'd have to.. uh, divide by a hundred, so then you get .71 dollars: 71 cents, So, I do understand, even though it seems like maybe *you* don't, that the rate is, I now understand: .002 *dollars* per kilobyte. But that was not what i was quoted, and that's not how I used my airtime because i thought it was... I thought it was cheaper than it actually turned out to be, because I was misquoted.

M: Mmhm.

G: I also had no context. The previous person i was speaking to said I should have had some context because i know what the united states rates - I *don't* know what the United States rates are, because I have an unlimited plan. I don't have to be concerned about the United States rates.

M: Mmhm.

G: So. It all comes down to me being misquoted, and it's hard.. it, would, it, it.. At the time, I, I said there could be some confusion here, so I asked the customer service rep, “Can you please write that down in the notes, that you quoted me .002 cents?”

M: Mmhm.

G: And she did.

M: Right, and I see that.. I see not only one, but I see several reps that have put it in here.

G: Right. So I.. I hope, it sounds like you may not actually see what the problem is yet, but ah..

M: Well, I've been working here 2 years sir, and I've been a supervisor for almost a year and a half.

G: Okay..

M: Okay? Umm, ya know, I'm going by what is.. what is documented here in the system.

G: Right.. so can you tell me then if, if the rate is as you quoted .002 cents per min.. per kilobyte, and I used 35,893.kilobytes, how much should I be charged?

M: By, by.. The way this is calculated? Seventy-one dollars and seventy-nine cents.

G: You did your math wrong, so what I'm saying is you did... bring up your calculator.

M: I.. I've got the calculator in front of me, sir. If i type in .002 and multiply that by 35 thousand, nine hundred...

G: But wait! but but.. Here's the key.. I know, but here's the key: What does the .002 represent? Cents or dollars?

M: It's cents, sir.

G: Okay, .002 cents...

M: So basically you're paying... you're paying two tenths of a penny [pause] per kilobyte. If you want to look at it that way.

G: Two tenths? hold on, hold on.. two tenths of a penny...

M: Mmhm.

G: ...would be .2 cents. You quoted me .002 cents. Do you see what I'm saying? [pause] Two tenths of one cent...

M: Mmhm.

G: ...would be point two cents. You quoted me .002 cents.

M: That's correct.

G: there's a difference between .2 cents and .002 cents. They're 100 times different. So which is the real rate?

M: .002 sir.

G: .002 what?

M: Cents per kilobyte!


G: So you just said it was .2 pennies and then you also said it was .002 cents. Those are 2 completely different numbers. They're 100-fold different. Quoting someone .002 cents per kilobyte is different than .002 dollars per kilobyte. I... I don't know what else more I can tell ya. The math... the math on the bill is right if it's .002 dollars per kilobyte. It was quoted .002 cents.

M: George, hold on one second for me okay?

G: Sure.

[on hold for 2 minutes, 35 seconds]

Andrea (Verizon): This is Andrea, the manager on the floor. How can i help you today?

G: Hi, uh, I think we've got a terminology and mathematics problem goin' on here and it's... It's very basic to me, but I think we're just having a problem because of the numbers involved.

A: Okay.

G: Just to summarize, I was quoted before I entered Canada... I was quoted .002 cents per kilobyte.

A: Okay.

G: And, just so you know, I have no context for how much you guys charge for data because I have a unlimited plan in the States so it's uh, I don't... Someone has... had mentioned to me I should have known that what it was because of what I pay in the states, but I pay... I get unlimited usage in the States, so I don't have any knowledge of that. .002 cents per minute is what's quoted for me... is what was quoted to me. My bill reflects .002 *dollars* per minute

A: What do you mean .002 dollars?

G: [big sigh] Okay, I think I have to do this again. Do you recognize that there's a difference between one dollar and one cent?

A: Definitely.

G: Do you recognize there's a difference between half a dollar and half a cent?

A: Definitely

G: Then, do you therefore recognize there's a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents

A: No.

G: No?

A: I mean there's... there's no .002 dollars.

G: Of course there it's.. it's two..

A: There's .002 cents is what you're quoted, and that's what I do show that you... you paid, or that ya know, you're paying for the kilobyte usage.

G: Okay. [sigh] I don't.. I don't know a better way to express this. .002 dollars is the same as .2 cents.

A: Okay. Well how would you... What would .002 dollars look to you?

G: It's point...

A: Obviously, a dollar is “one, decimal, zero, zero” right? So what would a “point zero zero two dollars” look like?

G: I don't know...

A: I've never heard of .002 dollars. .002 dollars, it's just not...

G: This is just... this is just math we're talking about... this is...

A: ...not a full cent.

G: That's right. And...

A: Okay.

G: That's right. And .002 cents is also not a full cent. My point here, is .002 dollars if you do the math, is .00002 cents. It's 1/100th difference. There's a hundred cents in a dollar.

A: But you were quoted .002 cents not .002 dollars.

G: That's correct, but what I was charged...

A: Okay, so take .002 cents as .002

G: Dollars?

A: No,cents... .002

G: [to friend] You gotta hear this.

G: .002...

A: Uh-huh.

G: ...cents, is two one-thousandths of one cent. I'm teaching math here.

A: [laughs] And I... I mean, I'm trying to get what you're saying here, but it's just not...

G: Here's the... Let me... Let me cut to the chase...

A: I'm sorry that you um, already talked to a few different people here..

G: ...Let me cut to the chase.. Well

A: ...and they've all explained to you that you're being billed .002 cents, and if you take...

G: I'm not being billed...

A: ...and put it on your calculator.. it shows you that..

G: No it doesn't, I can do...

A: We never said that you're gonna get billed .00002 cents.

G: That's right, you said I was gonna get billed .002 cents per kilobyte, and I'd be happy to pay that. Now, why don't you bring up your calculator?

A: .002 cents, yeah.

G: Take .002, and we're talkin' about cents, right?

A: Right, .002, and if we multiply that by the amount of kilobyte usage that you have...

G: 35,893.

A: ...35,893, that comes out to what you paid, $71.79.

G: Cents. You never did the conversion from cents to dollars.

A: Cuz we're talkin' about cents, we're gonna multiply the amount of cents by the amount of kilobytes that you used...

G: Okay, ya know, ok...

A: ...not dollars, nobody's mentioning anything about dollars.

G: Let me start over here. Let's... Let's just say, hypothetically, that your rate was one cent per kilobyte. Right?

A: One cent, that would be .01

G: Right. .01 in her calculator. Correct. So, if it was one cent per kilobyte, and I used one hundred kilobytes, what would my charge be? You would take .01...

A: Uh-huh.

G: ...times 100. And you come up with 1.

A: Right.

G: Right? for 1 dollar.

A: Right.

G: That's if it was 1 cent per kilobyte. You're telling me, you're telling me though that the rate is not 1 cent, it's .002 cents.

A: Right. [pause] that's less than one cent.

G: .002 cents, if... if you, if you... in, in pure mathematics, it's the only way I can express this, .002 cents is 2 one thousandths of one cent.

A: Okay.

G: Right?

A: So it's less than a cent right?

G: It's very much less than a cent.

A: Okay.

G: So, two one-thousandths of a cent. So lets start with two cents, just like we started with the one cent.

A: Okay, why are we doing two cents? We need to be doing .002 cents.

G: [big sigh]

A: My, I guess my point is, is that we quoted you .002 cents.

G: That's right.

A: If you write it down is decimal point zero zero two...

G: No, it's not, this... this is what I'm saying...

A: all we have to do with the calculator is decimal point zero zero two and multiply it by how many kilobytes that you had...

G: This is where... This is where you're wrong, I, I don't know how to make this any clearer. Let's try this. Write down 1 cent. How do you write down 1 cent?

A: Point zero one.

G: How do you write down half a cent?

A: Uhhh, that would be point zero zero five of a cent.

G: Okay.

A: [laughing] I don't know, I'm not a mathematician. All I'm telling you is I can tell you that with the calculator...

G: Yep.

A: ...and we take the .002 as everybody has told you that you've called in and spoke to...

G: Yes, but...

A: ...and as our system bill accordingly, is correct.

G: But you said .002 *cents*. Why don't you just write it down on a piece of paper. You have .002 *cents* not dollars. .002 *cents*...

A: Right

G: ...times my 35,893. It's a number, but it's still in *cents*. If you quoted me .002 *dollars*, everything is correct. If you quoted me .002 dollars, which represents two tenths of one cent - per kilobyte, then everything is fine. But I wasn't quoted two tenths of one cent, I was quoted two one-thousandths of one cent. I was quoted .002 cents. It's a terminology problem. You guys are quoting .002 dollars as if it's cents, simply because there's a decimal point involved.

A: We're not quoting .002 dollars, we're quoting .002 *cents*

G: Ah, God.. Honestly.

A: I mean the computer is calculating the, the figure here...

G: I know it is, it's... it's a terminology issue...

A: ...and we are calculating the figure here, and we're all coming up with the same thing - except for you.

G: .002 cents is different than .002 dollars. I'm being charged .002 dollars per kilobyte. .002 dollars is one tenth of one... I mean, two tenths of one cent.

A: Okay, well, I mean it's obviously a difference of opinion...

G: It's not opinion! This is.. this is..

A: ...the amount that you're billed for the data usage is entirely correct.

G: [exasperated] Ah, God.. Okay, well, you know what, I'm gonna post this recording on my blog, and...

A: And that's, if that's what you want to do, that's fine.

G: ...that's what I'm gonna do, and, and then you guys all at Verizon can learn math, and you'll learn how to quote it correctly. The rate as I understand it now, and according to my bill, which is now, I'm getting *after* the usage, is .002 *dollars* per kilobyte. Just so you know. if it was cents, you'd have to quote it as two tenths of one cent, or .2 cents.

A: Right.

G: It would be like - another example: Half of a meter is very different than half of a centimeter. Half of a centimeter is written ".5cm". Half of a meter is ".5m" They're two very different things. You can't just write .002m equals .002cm. They're one-hundredfold different. What I was quoted was a rate per cent, not per dollar. Uh, a rate in cents, not in dollars. If I was quoted .002 dollars, there would be no problem, but I was quoted .002 cents. I was quoted fractions of a cent.

A: Okay, well, the only thing I can say is it was just a misunderstanding between...

G: It was a misunderstanding, but I did the diligence to ask what the actual rate was, when she told me .002 cents, I said "Are you sure? Can you note it in my account?", and she did. As .002 cents. But the problem here is that you're not even acknowledging now that there's a difference between .002 when you're talking about dollars, and .002 cents. My assumption was it was .002 cents, because that's what you told me. But it's been calculated on my bill as .002 dollars, or two tenths of a cent per kilobyte, which is different than two one-thousandths of a cent per kilobyte.

A: Okay.

G: It's a hundredfold different. My, my bill according to what you quoted me should be 71 cents not 71 dollars.

A: Okay. Well, again, there's not... we're not going to be able to make any adjustments to the bill because it is correct, and I do apologize if it was... obviously miscommunication or misunderstanding in explaining that to you.

G: Okay, is there someone i can escalate this to? because...

A: No, I'm the floor manager, so...

G: Because this is not adequate. An example I gave to the previous rep would be, if I said to you "I'll give you twenty thousand for your car" and I showed up with twenty thousand pennies. It... it matters whether you say .002 dollars or .002 cents.

A: Okay.

G: Unfortunately, it seems like our educational system is making an ambiguity between .002 dollars and .002 cents, they're very different.

A: Okay.

G: So I was quoted a different rate than I was charged and you don't seem to want to take responsibility for that.

A: Okay, well, I mean, if you wanted to contact the corporate, you could do that on our website...

G: Can...

A: There's a link under support that you can send an email directly to the corporate office and request that they contact you.

G: I.. I'm on there right now can you just bear with me while I find it?

A: Sure.

G: Support...I don't see it here, where would I see it? Under “Contact Us?”

A: Om, just a second here. [typing]

A: OK, yeah go to the actually the “Contact Us.” Its going to give you a drop down box to choose whether you are a customer or not.

G: Um Hmm

A: Once you select the dropdown box its going give you a grid here that says “send an email.” You type in all of your information...

G: I don't see that. I'm already logged into my account, is that the problem?

A: Are you hitting “Contact Us” at the very top in blue?

G: Om...

A: It should still allow you to get there even if you are logged in.

G: “Contact Us.”

A: At the very top where it says “Home, Site Map.”

G: Yeah, so I click on that.


G: “Send us an email – What type of Verizon Customer?”

A: Yes, exactly.

G: “I receive a monthly statement”?

A: Hit “Yes” and then this is the email grid that you fill out.

G: OK great. And what was your name again?

A: Andrea.

G: Andrea, is there a way I can get back in touch with you if I need to?

A: I can just give you my direct line?

G: OK great.

A: It's 888 581 1070 extension xxxx.

G: Alright, thanks.

A: Thank you.

G: Bye bye.

A: Bye.

G: [Click] Buffoons.

[End Of Call]