Preparing for my upcoming Canada trip, I initiated an online chat with a Sprint rep to find out the roaming voice and data rates. Sending an average-length email would, according to the agent, cost somewhere between a few cents and a few hundred dollars. Transcript below the jump.

Me: Hi, I will be going to Canada this week, and wanted to know what the voice and data rates are with and without the Canada package.

Lakisha: Hi, my name is Lakisha. Thank you for your chat request. Please wait while I review your information.

Lakisha: I will be more than happy to assist you today.

Lakisha: While roaming in Canada with your Sprint device all calls will be billed $0.59/minute, data service is $0.002/KB. Sprint does offer a Canada Roaming plan for $2.99 per month; this plan reduces the voice rate to only $0.20/minute.

Me: But not the data?

Lakisha: Correct.

Me: And data is 2/10 of one cent per KB, is that right?

Lakisha: Data is $2.00 per kb.

Me: $0.002/KB is very different from $2.00/kb – could you please confirm the rate

Lakisha: $0.002/KB is the same as $2 per kb

Me: $0.002 is 2/1000th, right? Which is very different from 2.

Lakisha: The data rate if you were to use it will be $2 per kb.

Me: Above, you wrote $0.002/KB.

Lakisha: Which is the same.

Me: You’re kidding, right? So, a 5KB email is $100 or 10 cents?

Lakisha: It will not be 10 cents because you will pay $2 per kb.

Me: Can you please review the transcript above. The first thing you said is $0.002/KB.

Lakisha: I do understand

Lakisha: The data rate within Canada will be $0.002kb which is compatible to $2 per kb.

Lakisha: Would you be activating the Canada reduce rate plan today?

Me: 1 cent = $0.01 ! There’s a difference between using 1000KB and being billed $2 and $2000

Lakisha: You can always call our toll number which is 8882267212

Lakisha: Thanks again for choosing Sprint Worldwide chat. Have a great day.

Lakisha: has disconnected.

So, $1=$0.001 (=1/10 of one cent), and 1 kb = 1 kilobit = 1 KB = 1 kilobyte (=8 kilobits). Using Lakisha’s “is compatible to” operator (you’ll learn about it in higher-level math classes), a 5 KB email costs 1 cent, which is compatible to $80.

Before you go mocking Sprint, note Verizon isn’t much better.

6 Responses to “I blame the public schools”

  1. You’re familiar with KB (kilobyte=1000 bytes); while kb (kilobit=1000 bits). Try typing “1 kilobyte in kilobits” into Google!

    • I bought a TruConnect Mifi decive and I hate it. Admittedly, I was unaware of how much data netflix would use but I watched 2 movies and paid $60. I took the hit because it was my fault, but a few days later I turned it back on just to check my email and bank account (which I was advised would leave me in the safe zone as far as regular usage goes) on my my ipad and was charged another $30 for 20 minutes of usage. I’m returning the decive asap; I thought AT&T’s hotspot plans were expensive! I’ll be going back to that. Not to mention the customer service rep I spoke with was intolerably lacking customer service’ skills. Boo TruConnect Mifi.

  2. I was going to say…”while kb is depracated, according to Wikipedia”

  3. @Frank: Try typing “1 kilobyte in kilobits” into Google!.

    Wow, thanks for the Google suggestion – neat search engine – will have to try it soon. /sarcasm

    I note in the post that 1 kilobyte=8 kilobits, of course. Doesn’t quite explain the pricing, though.

  4. wow ,you are saying right , i follow them.

  5. “I note in the post that 1 kilobyte=8 kilobits, of course. Doesn’t quite explain the pricing, though.”

    Not always, depending on communication protocols there can be up to ten bits per byte. Serial communications sometimes add 1 start bit and 1 stop bit to each byte, bringing the total to ten bits.
    Of course if there is a start and stop bit, that’s overhead that Sprint is adding to the data in order to keep sender and receiver synchronized- a customer should not be billed for network control.
    However- the rep you were talking to is very inconsistent. At times she uses proper capitalization, sometimes she does not. “Lakisha: $0.002/KB is the same as $2 per kb” is an example of when she has it completely backwards.

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