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NetZero Bad at Math

October 9th, 2006 by Bob Bly

For a company with a number in its name, NetZero is sure bad at math.

A recent TV commercial proclaims that switching from AOL to NetZero will save you “almost $200.”

The commercial explains that NetZero costs $9.95 a month — “half of what AOL charges.”

That means NetZero saves me about ten bucks a month, or $120 a year.

Now, on what planet is $120 “almost two hundred dollars”?

NetZero should have said they’d save you “more than a hundred dollars.”

But I’d only say “close to two hundred dollars” if the savings were $190 to $199.99.

Does it matter?

Yes. I felt NetZero was lying to me in their commercial.

If a company lies in its commercial, how much are you really going to trust them with something important, like your Internet access?


This entry was posted on Monday, October 9th, 2006 at 2:37 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

39 responses about “NetZero Bad at Math”

  1. Michael A. Stelzner said:

    Hey Bob;

    What is half of zero?

    I understand AOL is going FREE. Can’t beat that.

    LA Times, Sep. 14th. “AOL said a surprising rise in new users after it began to offer free services could help the once-mighty Internet unit of Time Warner Inc. resume growth as early as the fourth quarter.”

    Hmm. If NetZero can beat that, sign me up!


  2. Lisa Taylor Huff said:

    Michael, Before you get too excited about AOL’s “freebie” version (I think it’s called OpenRide), all that is is new software to connect you to AOL’s system in a different way, but it still requires that you have an EXISTING broadband connection in order to use it, which means you have to pay for THAT some other way. So their “free ride” isn’t so free after all, either.

    I want to chant at these companies: “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”

  3. Bob Bly said:

    Michael: I called AOL today (and that’s a whole other post). And Lisa is correct: only the software is free — and they’ve ALWAYS given away their software on disk or CD. You still have to pay for the connection.

  4. Michael Stelzner said:

    Hey Bob;

    From a CNET article.

    “Long-struggling AOL plans to make e-mail, instant messaging and other services available at no cost to users with broadband Internet access.”

    People like me have been paying to keep my AOL account alive so I can use instant messaging. Now it seems I do not need to keep paying them. I just need to cancel now.


  5. Sean Woodruff said:

    Mike, as far as I know, AOL IM has always been free and works with any broadband connection. I hve been using it for years and have never been an AOL customer. Good luck in getting it canceled. Have you heard the recording of the guy trying to cancel his account?

    The “bad at math” part of this is really worse than it may seem. It causes the markets, people like you and me, to start tuning out marketing messages. On a whole I think it neuters our attention mechanisms. In other words, once we don’t believe something that has grabbed our attention, I think we will unconsciously hold back future attention. The more that happens, the harder it becomes for legitimate marketers to spread a message.

  6. Chris Williamson said:

    It’s kind of like a Real Estate Broker who advertises “Beverly Hills AREA,” which basically lets you know that in reality it’s not in Beverly Hills.

  7. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    Unfortunately, honesty in advertising is a matter of perspective.

    Recently, I went shopping for a new email service for my newsletter. One company’s website offered a “FREE Test Drive”, so I filled out the online request form and waited.

    I was duped. There was no test drive. Instead, I received a long email from the company president encouraging me to purchase the service and, if I was unsatisfied, I could ask for a refund.

    I replied to the “President” and asked him this simple question. “In my opinion, you were deceptive in your offer of a free test drive. Why should I now believe that you will honor a money-back guarantee?”

    He never answered.

  8. Michael A. Stelzner said:

    Hey Steve – Let me guess. You got the cold shoulder from someone named Cooler email? That is odd as I was able to take a test drive back in the day. – Mike

  9. Bob Bly said:

    Steve: the company should have advertised the test drive as “risk-free” not “free.”

  10. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    Bob: You’re right. “Risk-free test drive” would have been more accurate. And honest.

    Michael: No, it wasn’t Cooler Email.

  11. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob, Those commercials have been bothering me too. Aren’t they aimed at people still on dial-up? I thought they were saying NetZero charges you half of AOL because AOL used to cost $29.95 (or whatever) in order to get AOL email and their “gated” content. The cost also included unlimited connection time.

    At any rate, I find the commercial very confusing.

    Also, AOL may not be charging fees to get into their village, but from everything I’ve been reading, if you’re an AOL customer, you have to call and specifically ask for the free service. Otherwise, they keep charging you.

  12. Jim Logan said:

    The whole thing stinks. This is no better than the direct marketer that disguises their envelops to look like tax year statements and official government documents…only to open them and find they’re solicitations to refinance an existing loan.

    When you don’t have a real product, solution, or benefit to offer…I guess you offer a trick or gimmick to increase response rates.

    Bob said it best in this post – “If a company lies in its commercial, how much are you really going to trust them with something important, like your Internet access?”

    The answer is “you won’t.”

  13. Bob Bly said:

    Jim: I agree with your conclusion, but not your example. I have a client that offers mortgage refinancing at competitive rates to individuals whose FICO scores would not allow them to refinance elsewhere. This service solves a HUGE problem for the client: it enables them to lower their monthly mortgage payment while taking tens of thousands of dollars in cash out of the equity built up in the home to pay off other debt.

  14. Jonathan Kantor said:

    $120 became “almost $200″, when it became commonplace to refer to 9.99 as ” about nine dollars”. Just add the cost of inflation over the past 10 years, and $120 becomes $200.

  15. Nalin said:

    NetZero is a fraud company. I had subsribed them for internet for
    3 months for a dial-up connection.
    Initially I subscribed for $4.95 per month for 10 hours. I later called them up and asked to change the subscription to the unlimited plan for $9.95. The guy over the phone confirmed its been done.

    I woke up to a rude shock at the month end when they charged my credit card for $103. It turned out that my plan was not changed and they billed me for hours in excess of 10 hours at an exorbitant rate.

    So please stay away from these guys…

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    Netzero and AOL both offer very low quality internet experience. I think both are full of it. Everyone gives their own gaurantees, and everyone makes their own marketing strategies. So why just put the blame on Netzero, when AOL scams you the most!??

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