So, I just heard the recording from Verizon’s bad math. This guy was going to Canada, so he called to see what the rate was for data. He was quoted .002 cents per kilobit. When he got his bill, he was charged .002 dollars per kilobit. He then spends long amounts of time trying to resolve this with multiple customer service people, who each say, yes, we quoted you .002 cents, which is correct. We then charged you \$71.79 for 35,893 kilobytes of usage.

I understand their screw up in my head, but I wrote it down to play it out to myself. The main problem with all of the representatives he spoke with assumed that .002 represented the decimal point that separates dollars and cents when describing our currency. However, the quote they provided did not. The quote described the decimal representation of a percentage of a cent. .002 cents is .2% of one penny. (Just as .2 is 20% and .02 is 2%.) If you do the math to figure the percentage difference between .002 cents and .002 dollars, it’s very clear. Doing first grade mulitplication, to figure .002 cents, write down \$0.01 times .002.

\$0.01
X .002
______
\$0.00002

You will get an answer of \$0.00002. This is .002 cents represented in dollar form.

Now to figure .002 dollars, write down \$1.00 times .002.

\$1.00
X .002
_______
\$0.00200

You will get an answer of \$0.00200. This is .002 dollars represented in dollar form.

So the problem was, Verizon quoted and its representatives quoted .002 cents per kilobit, then their system charged .002 dollars per kilobit. The end difference being \$71.79 for .002 dollars per kilobit or \$0.7179 for .002 cents per kilobit.

I don’t know if this explanation was any better than how he explained it, but it’s really sad that the people he spoke with couldn’t grasp the idea that there COULD be a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents. Sad, really. Here’s the audio.