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08 January 2007 Blog Home : January 2007 : Permalink

Verizon Maths: Dollars == Cents

Verizon's call center staff have a problem understanding the difference between $0.002 and 0.002¢. The result is this Verizonmath blog dedicate to highlighting the problem neatly explained in this transcript of a call. I'd say these are the critical excerpts but do read the entire blog and listen to the actual calls:

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: 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.

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