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Thursday, October 08, 2015

How Do You Prorate Zero?


For a couple of years, we've been on an AT&T Wireless plan that gives us 10gb of data per month for a flat fee. The other day, I saw an AT&T commercial offering 15gb for the same price, so I called to ask about it. I fully expected to be told that the offer was for new customers only, so I was surprised when the "customer service specialist" told me that I was eligible for the upgrade. Here's how the conversation continued:

Me: "At no extra charge? There's no catch?"
Him: "That's correct."
Me: "Let's do it."
Him: "Okay. Do you know what day your billing month begins?"
Me: "As a matter of fact, I know that the new month started yesterday."
Him: (in a worried tone) "Oh, I see. Hmm."
Me: "Is that a problem?"
Him: "No, it just means that you can either wait until the next billing month, or we can prorate you for this month."
Me: "You have to prorate me for something that's free? Won't you be dividing zero by a whole number and ending up with zero again?"
Him: (humorlessly) "That's correct. Do you still want to do this?"
Me: "Do I have to do anything, or is this simply a matter of you filling out some paperwork?"
Him: "No, you don't have to do anything. Would you like me to continue processing your request?"
Me: "Well, call me crazy, but if the burden's entirely on you, then go ahead."
Him: "Please hold."

I put my phone on speaker and put it down for another five minutes while he proceeded to fill out whatever he needed to fill out to give me the deal. Then he returned and told me it was all good and my 15gb of data plan would begin immediately.

I thanked him, but then I had to ask: "I've been an customer of multiple AT&T services and products for a couple of decades, but if I hadn't seen your TV commercial, was the company ever going to contact me -- by mail, e-mail, or text -- to let me know what this free offer was available so I could take advantage of it?" There was a pause before he replied, "No, sir. AT&T does not do that."

That might lead to more prorating.