There’s a strange problem being reported by multiple people on the internets: Verizon cannot (or refuses to) grasp the difference between 0.002 dollars per kilobyte and 0.002 cents per kilobyte—obviously a 100-fold difference. Their confusion is clear: they seem to believe that a fraction of a dollar is called a “cent.” When asked Do you recognize the difference between 0.002 dollars and 0.002 cents?, the customer service rep replied, No, they’re the same thing.
For those of us who have ever converted megapancakes per second to picoyummies (conversion factor: 1018 y*s/p), this seems pretty idiotic (and soooo frustrating). (And it seems that the Verizon customer service people need to be trained to be a little more respectful and helpful, and to listen to their customers.) Plus, this may be a societal problem of the reluctance to think in abstracts (e.g. units). But I also have to be sorta the bad guy and point out that—while not their job to teach the Verizon idiots how to do very simple math and finance—these people who spoke to several customer service reps and managers need to take a little responsibility for failing to communicate effectively.
Of course I understood what the wronged customers were saying, but I’m well educated in math (just as they seem to be). I would have used the same tactics, analogies, and examples that they did. And I would have failed to convey the problem, too. Especially without the help of a blackboard, time, or patience (on either end), clarifying the difference between 0.002 dollars and 0.002 cents might be an impossible task. But I’m still disappointed that the well educated customers failed—and failed again and again using nearly identical tactics.
So maybe the bad Verizon math scandal is a wake-up call for both sides—the educators and the desperately-needing-to-be-educated-even-just-a-little—that, if at first you don’t succeed, try again a different way.