I’m like “an unhappy customer with cold french fries”?

It's not just the french fries...

So said Steve Rubel, during a recent talk with Jason Calacanis. I found a podcast on Jason Calacanis’ blog a few weeks ago in which him and Steve almost certainly discussed me, though they didn’t mention my name. In it Jason rehashes the comments (page no longer exists) we once exchanged about why I hate AOL. Except he lies or else has a bad memory, saying I “love” Netscape when in fact I hate it, and even claims I’ve “calmed down” about AOL completely thanks to our interaction. Nothing is further from the truth. (Area of detail is at 30:00 to 32:00, if you’re interested).

I replied to the podcast on his web page (see the first link above). I said I haven’t changed and corrected him about my feelings for Netscape, then mentioned another anti-AOL blogger who has calmed down recently, and rather inexplicably, since I can’t find comments from him on her blog.

I want to clear up a few things now that people are linking to that podcast…

I really hate AOL with a passion.

Any company that uses cleverly written manuals and brainwashed sales staff (aka “Retention Specialists”) to steal people’s hard-earned money and even hides the information you need to cancel does not and will not get my seal of approval. AOL will always be at the top of the list of companies that engage in such practices. Ask anyone knowledgeable who uses the Web. Ask my readers. They’ll tell you how hard it is to find phone numbers just to call AOL, how AOL keeps on billing you even if they can’t keep you as a customer, how hard old 9.0 software is to uninstall, how many things AOL will charge you for without your permission, and so on. None of that is right. And none of that has changed.

AOL has a long, nasty history that leads right up to their nasty reputation at present.

I’ve spent most of the time since Jason contacted me standing on my head to point out that since 1990, AOL has been horrible at customer service, consumer safety, software, and value for the price, and even explained how AOL’s insiders and top management have been crooks and shysters.

AOL has been involved in so many accounting fraud scandals and settled so many lawsuits for insider and consumer fraud to date, it would take a historian with nearly unlimited time and resources to piece the story together. I don’t have that kind of time, but if I ever get it, the first thing I’ll do is write: AOL’s Long History of Fraud, and Why You Should Care.

Rather than acknowledge their problems and attempt some reform, they deny anything is or ever was wrong.

They won’t be honest with themselves and their customers, and at least give their history of stealing and untrustworthiness a happier ending. I can’t support any company who’s unofficial philosophies are Take the money and run and Deny everything. Their way of handling customers and their own transactions are completely unacceptable to me.

So if you listened to Jason’s podcast and thought of me, just know that I haven’t changed my stance against AOL at all.

I forgot to mention when I wrote this months ago (I can’t believe it was months ago), that I don’t read Jason’s blog that much, so I didn’t know my “cold french fries” made his podcast until I read a summation of his clever but untrue story on Student PR (page no longer exists) almost a month later. It was an accident that I found the article, but that’s what I get for Googling my own site, I guess.

Update, 2-10-10: In one of his more self-serving moves, Jason has removed all comments from his podcast about me. I guess allowing myself and others to take a vigorously anti-AOL position on his blog proved too much of a risk for him, since he still likes to give an appearance of supporting AOL’s every move, despite his own well-known disagreements with AOL over the years (just linking you out to all of his disagreements with AOL brass would take another post to keep this one from getting too long, but you can always research those disagreements yourself in Google…or just take my word for it).