Cents or dollars? For Verizon, they are the same

Posted on December 18, 2006

I have had Verizon service for almost two years. I guess I would classify myself as being a little less than satisfied with the product. I had to switch phones four times, and I've spoken with the company's reps more than 10 times regarding my service. While nothing was ever completely solved, the reps always attempted to help me, which gave me a little satisfaction in knowing they were at least trying.

But after the recent Verizon debacle regarding an erroneous rate charge, I have to consider questioning what is occurring at the phone super giant.

In case you haven't heard, a customer recently posted a conversation he had with numerous customer service reps within the company. They had initially quoted him a rate of ".002 cents per kilobyte" for data transfer in Canada. When his billed showed up, though, he was charged $0.002 per kilobyte, or, in other words ".002 dollars per kilobyte.

For some reason, none of the reps seemed to grasp the fact that .002 cents and .002 dollars are totally different things. It's remarkable to listen to the full 27 minutes, and the reps seem clueless about the whole ordeal.

I suspect that when a Verizon rep looks at the rate sheet, the text says the rate they are quoting. But in actuality, the rate is computed in a different fashion. Since the reps don't necessarily see the bill computed in front of them, they most likely assume it's correct. The scary thing, however, is that this wasn't even questioned when the guy spoke to them.

Furthermore, it appears that Verizon is still quoting customers the rate is .002 cents, which is clearly inaccurate. That's not good. In this situation, the company needs to come out and say there was a mistake, it will be corrected and there will be no more confusion. Who knows if it will happen or not.

Another underlying issue is the state of mathematics in general in the United States. Have we progressed to a point where we don't even question the totals that appear on a calculator? That is not good. It's easy to make errors. It's easy for companies to make errors. And ultimately, it's easy for companies to make errors that hurt the consumer.

Pay attention to those bills out there and make sure you're not paying a different rate than you should be. I just hope my Verizon phone works, let alone that I pay the correct amount.