You know what I’m talking about. The Tonight Show skit where Jay Leno walks the streets asking people simple questions to showcase the stupidity of seemingly regular folks?
There’s no way anybody anywhere can be that stupid, right? I mean, either these people are faking stupidity just so they can have their 15 seconds of fame (because obviously Jay isn’t going to show anyone getting the answers right) or they are simply having a brain fart… question after question after question.
Now imagine that you rent a car and are quoted a rate of $0.09 per mile. Great rate! You travel 100 miles expecting to be charged $9.00. But then you get the bill and it’s instead $900.00. So you call in the manager and ask the manager why you’re being charged $9 per mile instead of $0.09. The manager looks at you incredulously and says, “What’s the problem? Nine cents times 100 miles equals nine hundred dollars!”
Would never happen, right? Nobody’s stupid enough to make a 100-fold misquote on the rental rate, right?
But then I ran into a recording of a support call to Verizon Wireless regarding a billing error.
Let me give you a quick background on it. George (the one calling to complain) was traveling to Canada and wanted to know what rate he was going to be charged. He was quoted a price of “point zero zero two cents per kilobyte.” That is to say 0.002¢ or $0.00002. Astonished at the incredibly low rate, George asked the call rep to confirm that it was indeed “point zero zero two cents per kilobyte.” Upon confirmation, George asked the rep to make note of the quoted rate on his account.
Then the bill comes and George discovers that instead of being charged $0.00002 per kilobyte, he was charged $0.002 — 100 times the quoted rate. Shouldn’t be a problem getting it straightened out, being that there are notes on his account specifically stating that he was quoted a rate of $0.00002 per kilobyte. Well, not so easy. Listen to the call.
Okay, so after listening to the call, you might think, “No Stu. People like that are few and far between.”
Hold on now! Go back to that page and start reading the comments. Here are a few of my favorites:
Gee, I don’t know sprint38. Does the soda I buy out of the vending machine cost me a half dollar, or half OF a dollar? I can’t figure it out!
Then you have statman here who not only sucks at math, but is also… well, an idiot:
But koals28 takes the cake:
Um… what’s the metric system got to with any of this? And decimal points prove that going backwards is cents? Well koals28, you must be a decimal point going forward, because you don’t make any cents, er… sense.
You think it can’t get worse than that? Well, how about if you come out and say that he is actually right?
Gee, I don’t know song… uh, songsong. If you saw something that said it was $35, wouldn’t you expect to pay what it says? Same goes if it says 0.99 cents (which is $0.0099). I would expect to pay a penny… I’ll let the cashier keep the change.
The thing that makes this even sadder is that we deal with fractions of a cent every time we fill up our gas tanks. I have yet to see a gas station that doesn’t charge $X.XX9 per gallon, or $0.009 extra per gallon. I’ve never heard anybody express confusion over that!
So the point of this whole story is: Yes, there really are people that stupid out there.
But, there are intelligent people as well:
Cheer up nerdish! You’re probably the smartest guy in the building!