Edited 12-13-2006 to include full contact info for Heidi Jongquist.
To refresh reader’s memories, I ran into 2 problems while checking links on my site a few months ago. The first problem was AOL deleted content from how-to cancel pages. I was so outraged I wound up posting the story on Digg.com, where, needless to say, it was a hit.
The reason behind their page deletions has never been explained and probably never will. The best answer I had was from a reader on Digg, who wrote in the comment section that AOL moves those pages around because it’s their site so they can do what they want to. But when it makes information subscribers need that much harder to find, then I think what they’re doing is wrong.
The second problem I ran into was no Keyword Cancel on AOL.com.
The first WA state agreement I referenced before filing a complaint against them for these problems was reached at the end of 1996 and was voluntary on AOL’s part. It didn’t include any monetary settlement. The second agreement with 44 states, including WA, grew out of a $2.6 million dollar settlement. Both agreements say AOL must keep how-to cancel information at Keyword Cancel and make it easy to find on their website. As it turns out, don’t try what I did at home. A rep for the AG office said last week that they don’t investigate complaints from out-of-state residents. Somehow, she apologized, my complaint “slipped through” and AOL was preparing a response for it by the time the AG office caught their mistake.
I don’t know why it took AOL so long to respond. They certainly didn’t have much to say. I have to give Heidi Jongquist points for politeness, succinctness, and the fact that she made damn sure her response to the AG was placed in an AOL envelope and mailed to me from there. She must have read one of my articles. Regardless of that, I’m pissed at how badly she handled my problem with AOL last year, when she got the last of my 2 free trial accounts canceled without me having to pay an early cancellation charge.
The only part of her response to my most recent complaint worth quoting is:
In the process of registering an account, members are given complete instructions regarding the necessary procedures for cancellation. These procedures are also available to members online at all times by going to Keyword: Billing or Keyword: Cancel. Members may also locate account, contact, and cancellation information at AOL.com by clicking on the “My Account” tab.
Does that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, too? I’m even considering taking on another free trial of AOL. Kidding.
05-12-2006: For the record, I re-read both agreements today. I never saw copies of any agreements except Washington’s, Ohio’s and New York’s, so I filed without noticing that the first agreement was with 35 states, including my home state. But it’s not like I’m going to file another complaint. It sounds like ways to find how-to cancel info are indeed plentiful — if you belong to the club.
Update 12-13-2006: This page has been the #1 Google result for both “Heidi Jongquist” or “Heidi Jonquist” (my misspelling) since last summer because there is NO contact info for her on the Web, or at least there wasn’t until I added it to comments below. AOL settled a big lawsuit with FL yesterday and put dear old Heidi in charge of complaint resolution, so I’m reprinting her full contact info here to save everyone the time and trouble of hunting her down. Use it to send her the FL State AG complaint form or file a complaint with her directly:
Attn: Heidi Jongquist, Program Director
Regulatory Order Compliance
PO Box 65571
Sterling, VA 20165-8806
Call her (you’ll probably get her answering machine or her secretary): 703-265-8971