You’ve probably seen this check to Verizon in an email before. It was written by the comic xkcd in response to George Vacarro’s discovery that Verizon can’t tell the difference between 0.002 cents and $0.002. The whole story is at that link, but this recording of the call says it all (it’s 27 minutes long, even though the player says over an hour). Very much worth the listen. Mind boggling!
I was reading about how text messages are a ripoff, and I noticed that the AT&T excerpt says, “.20 cents per text message.” That’s for the iPhone. For the rest right now it’s even cheaper at .15 cents per text! Really? Why am I paying $5 a month for 200 messages when I can get them for $0.30?
Here is the conversation that ensued with AT&T customer service. I asked—Jessica J. did not work at Verizon before. Amazing…AT&T are idiots too!
Thank you for your patience! An AT&T sales representative will be with you shortly.
You are now chatting with Jessica J., an AT&T sales representative.
Jessica J.: Welcome to AT&T online Sales support. How may I assist you with placing your order today?
A.J.: Hi. I was wondering what the price for text messaging is if I do not get a text plan.
Jessica J.: The standard rate for a text message is .15 cents a message sent or received.
A.J.: The automated “chat” said .15 cents. Is that true???
A.J.: 0.15 cents per message.
Jessica J.: We also have different packages available also
Jessica J.: Messaging 200 is $5.00 and includes 200 Text, Video, Picture or Instant Messages.
Jessica J.: Messaging 1500 is $15.00 and includes 1500 Text, Video, Picture or Instant Messages.
Jessica J.: For $20.00 a month, you have the freedom to message any way, to any one - text, picture, video and IM - without worrying what each message costs. That means every message counts the same. You can send and receive any combination of messages.
A.J.: I currently have a plan and I have the 200 messages for $5 package.
A.J.: Can I drop that package and get 0.15 cents per message?
Jessica J.: Do you feel that the 200 is enough?
A.J.: If, without a package, text messages are 0.15 cents each, then I would rather do that.
A.J.: Will I get the same rate even though I am an existing customer?
Jessica J.: Yes How many messages do you send a month?
A.J.: About 200.
Jessica J.: It will save you money you keep the plan
A.J.: Not at 0.15 cents per message.
A.J.: That comes to 30 cents for 200 messages.
A.J.: I would rather pay 30 cents a month than 5 dollars a month.
Jessica J.: Actually the price would be $30.00 a month without the messaging plan
A.J.: You said 0.15 cents per message, right?
A.J.: 0.15 cents multiplied by 200 is 30 cents.
Jessica J.: Correct
A.J.: So it would be 30 cents a month if I sent 200 messages right?
Jessica J.: It would be $30.00 you are saving $25.00 a month on the messaging
A.J.: May I ask if you have ever worked for Verizon?
Jessica J.: No I have not worked for them
A.J.: Oh, sorry, something reminded me of someone that worked for Verizon. Anyway…
A.J.: I am having trouble understanding, if each message is 0.15 cents, how does it cost $30 for 200 messages?
A.J.: Are you sure you do not mean that each message is 0.15 dollars?
Jessica J.: One message equals .15 cents so you multiply .15 by 200 and you get 30.00
A.J.: 30.00 CENTS
A.J.: think about it
Jessica J.: give me one second
[this wait lasted a good 3 minutes]
Jessica J.: A.J. what I would recommend is you keep the $5.00 messaging package because if you decide to remove the package you will be charged .15 cents a message sent or received which you send about 200 messages a month then your bill would be $30.00 a month
A.J.: I still don’t understand.
A.J.: Are you sure you don’t mean that each message is 15 cents. As in 0.15 DOLLARS. $0.15???
Jessica J.: That is correct
A.J.: Please tell me again how much each text message costs.
Jessica J.: The cost for each individual message is $0.15 cents a message
A.J.: Wait… $0.15?
A.J.: or 0.15 cents?
A.J.: or both? 0.15 dollarcents?
Jessica J.: Both the amount equals the same
Jessica J.: If you make 200 messages at 15 cents per messages it comes out to be $30. With out plan for 200 messages it will only be $5 a month. This will help you save money.
A.J.: How much does a soda cost? 50 cents right?
Jessica J.: Correct
A.J.: If I send you a soda, will you send me $50?
Jessica J.: If you want you do not have to keep a messaging plan. If you wanted to get ride of that plan all you would have to do is call customer service and take it off your account.
A.J.: Ok, so according to the last thing you wrote, each text message is 15 cents. Not 0.15 cents. Is that correct?
Jessica J.: That is correct.
A.J.: Thank you for the clarification. I will keep my current package.
A.J.: Please advise your supervisor to update your materials.
Jessica J.: I apologize for all the confusion today. Is there anything else I can assist you with /
Jessica J.: ?
A.J.: 0.15 cents per message is a lot cheaper than $0.15 per message.
A.J.: Nope, thanks. Have a good afternoon.
Jessica J.: Thank you for choosing AT&T. Have a great day.