AOL’s Basic Dial-up Gets More Costly

When AOL first caught on you had to pay an expensive hourly rate for it, which could easily add up to as much as $800 a month for hard-core gamers and Internet addicts.

Years later as the amount of people getting online with AOL skyrocketed AOL did away with hourly billing and went to flat-rate pricing. That netted you a bill every month of $19.95 (which went up to $23.90 over the years) for dial-up, tech support, and possibly some other services, depending on what you wanted along with your noisy modem.

In August of 2006 AOL’s premium content, email and software became free for everyone to use, but their dial-up service didn’t. The dial-up rate actually jumped from $23.90 to $25.90 a month with the so-called “goodies” included.

The good news was you could now get a bare-bones version of AOL’s unlimited dial-up plan for just $9.95 a month. The bad news was AOL notified exactly no one of the new dial-up plan. You had to learn of it on your own, then call AOL and ask them for it (and hope the service rep you spoke to would be honest enough to give it to you). To this day most people still pay AOL in the $20-something range for a mere dial-up subscription.

In another twist on AOL’s confusing price plans, AOL’s rate for the “basic” no-frills dial-up service is going up on July 27th from $9.95 a month to $11.99 a month, but only if you want to keep using AOL’s so-called “tech support”. Why wouldn’t you?

How AOL’s tech support works is you call one of AOL’s general help numbers (AOL no longer has any tech support line, which I learned the other day when I called AOL about two hundred times to update my phone number list), then a support rep pretends to know what the hell you’re talking about and to offer you relevant advice. Except that according to this dude AOL tech support can’t offer you any “relevant” advice until the end of the phone call (page no longer exists), because they’re simply not allowed to.

First they read to you from a list of nearly useless steps called the “flow” before they’re allowed to give you the advice you need. Once they’re done with the “flow” they’re not allowed to spend more than a few seconds giving you the advice you called up for – or they’ll get fired for going over their maximum call time length! If you want to pay AOL $2 a month for that sort of useless “support” then go ahead and do it. It’s your money – and AOL wants you to spend it.

My advice: If I were in that position, I’d quit AOL, stop using dial-up, and switch to broadband cable – that’s the only way you’ll ever get to enjoy all of the amazing sites and services that the Web offers for free these days.

If you can’t quit using dial-up, at least try switching to another ISP. There’s hardly an ISP around these days except AOL that will charge you more than $9.95 a month for the same level of service and so-called “features”.

If you absolutely must have AOL for whatever reason (Grandma won’t give it up, you live in the mountains, whatever) then pay AOL the $9.95 a month and use the highly skilled online tech support forums as a free – and more competent and caring – replacement for AOL’s lousy tech support. You have nothing to lose by joining one and letting computer experts try to help you, and you’ll probably end up much happier with their advice.

13 thoughts on “AOL’s Basic Dial-up Gets More Costly

  1. Lol
    Hey MM! Well I guess I shouldn’t have been bashing AOL. Since HughesNet is as high as $80 per month and being that isn’t even worth it. I went to AOL Dial Up – for now. I was like, $11.95??? I thought it was $9.99, hell even a lot of people had/have AOL for as little as $5 (I used to). It’s not as slow (web browsing) as I thought, but of course I can’t download, or watch vids. Since the phone lines are shit, I connect to higher than 26400 Bellsouth’s dial up is $22.95, so whatever. lol
    Anyways, THEY ARE simply preposterous there. You could hear a man in the background just having a fuckin party! She was telling me alllll this stuff (like I was a newbie – EVEN AFTER I told her, I already had AOL and that I originally just wanted my MchWalte switched from FREE to Dial Up BASIC. She couldn’t do that, cuz it wasn’t in my name. I wanted to say, look bitch I used to work for AOL so I know how things go, just give the shit to me and I’ll hang up and leave you alone.) Ugh, It didn’t take 2 secs to the connected to them – wonder why, huh? LOL
    Therefore, I can’t test out many AOL products for ya like I was. I am gonna try and get VR and Desktop (I uninstalled both of them). VR has a TOD update in beta. Send me a list of things you would like me to check for ya at Michawalte6@aol.com, and I will as soon as I can, hopefully before AOL becomes history forever. lollol
    http://beta.aol.com/projects.php?project=90VR_T4290
    http://beta.aol.com/projects.php?project=nexus

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  2. Re: Lol: LOL
    Hmmm, I think I got it – wait – what the hell did you say?
    “Therefore, I can’t test out many AOL products for ya like I was.”
    Do you mean because it would take too long to download the installers?
    *light bulb flashes and I yell Eureka! – or Hoover! – or something like that*
    AOL better give you a damn hard time cancelling – and you better record the entire damn phone call for me – or I will NEVER forgive you! That means NEVER!
    OK. Just kidding.
    AOL at only 26k? Seriously? My slowest dialup connection (when I must use dialup – which is exceeedingly rare) is 49-52k – pretty damn good for phone lines that are probably older than I am (and I am a springy, spry and incredibly youthful…103).
    Anyway, thanks for letting me know … 🙂

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  3. Re: Lol: LOL
    Oh, and I fubared my XP installation yesterday with some kind of graphics card software from Hell; removing it also removed my Internet connection and most of my drivers. So I formatted and installed Vista. Vista is sucking like a Hoover, thanks for asking. I think I liked it better the last time I used it than I do now because last time I used Home Premium – this time I went with Ultimate – and my Fischer Price hardware can’t take it. So I’ll fubar this install with AOL then switch back to XP and mess that one up, too. If I dont format every two months I’m not having any fun…

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  4. Re: Lol: LOL
    Yeah, the last time I was here (what, last month? ), you asked if I could beta test some of AOL’s new crap. I uninstalled AOL Desktop, Computer Check-Up, and VR. I have only 9.1.
    I have 30% on VR, which was just last night – tee hee. I remember back in 04 when I first got AOL and started testing, I was on dial up (as was a LOT of others then also) – we let a test download all night. Things weren’t as slower then as now, which is understandable.
    Our phone lines must have a lot of noise, or just plain old. 30000 was the highest I ever got with it. I live in a rural, rural, RURAL area. Most people that live here are old – therefore not a lot (if just me) demand for it. Bellsouth (AT&T DSL that is). You can get it 10 miles down the road (close to the hwy and school) though lolol.
    I was going to have it recorded when I called, but scared my cell wouldn’t pick up at the computer (another problem, cell phones lolol). When I cancel, I sure will. I’m gonna be rude. Let me write down some things from here, so I can tell them “I know you’re paid to ____ and etc.. so just cut the shit and cancel the damn account… just cancel the account, CANCEL THE ACCOUNT! : – )

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  5. Re: Lol: LOL
    Well, just as a matter of walking you through the steps, this is how to record a customer service call:
    http://consumerist.com/consumer/how-to/how-to-record-customer-service-calls-244554.php
    Cheap and easy enough to do from land line or cell phone.
    I can’t believe you would want to be the guinea pig for this: I so resent paying AOL any money just to get a good “they-wouldn’t-let-me-cancel” phone call out of it that I can’t sign up. I’ve been able to afford it (AOL is as cheap as dirt) for years but I resent them too much to give them my credit card info and let them screw me. They’ve already tried to screw me once, you know, which is exactly why I started this blog! And I’m still too touchy about it to let them do it to me again.
    Besides, if you do it…what are the chances they keep some kind of list with my name and your name and other names that they just KNOW are going to give them a hard time, with a note on it, “be extra nice and cool to these people – just do whatever they ask?” That’s another thing that’s always stopped me. I am actually known by at least one of my names at their call centers for this series of posts; according to some Digg comments left on it that day, people at one of the England call centers were laughing too hard at what I wrote to cancel anyone’s accounts! The people leaving these comments on Digg were pissed and I don’t blame them. That’s how unprofessional and closely intertwined they are at AOL, which is another reason I dislike them as intensely as I do. It’s like one big, fat, incestuous family with them.

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  6. Non-Profit ISP
    One of the under-reported stories is just how many folks still rely on dial-up. I run a nonprofit ISP in the rural mountains of North Carolina,and though we offer broadband wireless, 60-70 percent of the folks who want our service can’t get it due to the line-of-sight limitations of the current unlicensed spectrum. As a result, they’re stuck with dial-up.
    However, the FCC has a rulemaking underway which would solve the rural broadband problem. The FCC could open up the vacant TV channels — the so-called “white spaces” — that come available next February when the TV broadcasters go digital. In many rural areas, the broadcasters will only be using about 30 percent of their spectrum allocation.This vacant spectrum is much more efficient, allowing our broadband signal to penetrate buildings and heavy foliage, and to bend around and over mountain ridges. Of course, the broadcasters want to warehouse this spectrum and monetize it down the road. So we have a fight on our hands.My organization, the Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN), is leading a national effort to organize rural advocacy orgs to push for unlicensed access to these vacant TV channels. Currently, most of rural America is not aware of this potential solution to the rural broadband problem.Meanwhile, any dial-up users who want to support this effort can do so by using our nationwide dial-up service called IndyLink.org. That way your Internet dollars can go to support a real solution to the rural broadband problem. As a 501(c)3 org., we also accept tax-deductible contributions to support our Digital Inclusion work.
    Wally Bowen
    Executive Director
    Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN)
    Asheville, N.C.
    http://www.main.nc.us

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  7. Re: Lol: LOL
    Lol, ohh I plan on calling my credit card company after I dump them, and tell them that it took a month to get AOL to cancel my account – therefore I’ll get credit (hopefully).
    Ok finally got AOL VR (4327.165) download [took all night]. It wasn’t corrupted giving the downloading circumstances. It installed fine. Now need to get all of the TODS to either build:
    • 4327.5005
    • 4327.5006
    • 4327.5007
    • 4327.5008
    Then I get AOLPhxEx.exe wasn’t found, when trying to update the first TOD (to get to one of those builds.) Piece of shit. Good GOD. They suck, SUCK, oh and suck some more. There are what 10 official beta testers, with 4 official beta staffers now?
    I’ll get Deskshit after it goes GMed (to save me from re-downloading it).
    I bookmarked that site also. 🙂

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  8. Re: Lol: LOL
    Oh crap, I didn’t realize I was using different background colors for the comment bars than I am for the rest of the style sheet. I sort of took the last two style sheets and – mated – them, but the hybridized result wasn’t supposed to look like I coded it without a monitor. That’s what I get for forgetting to double-check my work, and I’ll have to re-code it on top of that…arrrggh. Then no one believes me when I say I’m a ditz and with evidence like this all over the place I don’t see why not.
    I just took Vista off of here (well, right after I wrote that I installed it) and put XP back on, and it’s so perfect I don’t want to corrupt it with AOL. I’m thinking of using Virtual PC just to save the wear and tear on my OS. *here’s the part where anyone reading should do as I say and not as I do* I’m running XP with the default theme, no anti-virus, no anti-spyware, no software firewall (just XP’s), all my optional programs are installed on the extra hard drive, which is also where I’m keeping my music, movies and documents, and wow does this computer fly. I haven’t tweaked it, defragged or done anything to “make it run faster”- I don’t have to. It’s perfect.
    On the safety side I have Service Packs and updates, medium-high security settings for IE, which I only use to check website CSS in, XP firewall, Hijack This to check for anything weird, McAfee Site Advisor in both browsers, and ..that’s it. It’s like running around in shorts and a tank after wearing a heavy winter coat with a ton of clothes under it for years: very liberating!
    Oh, and I’ll have an update soon, too. An IT guy wrote me a letter about AOL…
    Oh, and editing this to say…
    I forgot to reply to your comment in the midst of fussing over my CSS and putting AOL on my computer again, didn’t I?
    All I care about it is:
    Are GM versions:
    1.) Impossible to uninstall?
    2.) Sucking RAM like it’s going out of style?
    3.) Linking to new folder paths in Program Files?
    Every time AOL changes folder paths I have to update at least two posts or I get angry “you said it was there but it wasn’t” emails from people claiming that if they don’t uninstall AOL their computers will explode…
    Oh, and thank you…

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  9. Re: Non-Profit ISP
    “I run a nonprofit ISP in the rural mountains of North Carolina,and though we offer broadband wireless, 60-70 percent of the folks who want our service can’t get it due to the line-of-sight limitations of the current unlicensed spectrum. As a result, they’re stuck with dial-up.”
    I’m sure this relates to my post somehow…I’m just not sure how. I’m positive you found my post through a keyword search for “dial-up”, “mountains” and “ISPs” – I mentioned people who live in the mountains and must use dial-up in my post.
    Thanks for taking the time to write; I’ll leave the comment up, but just as a reminder to everyone: keep your comments on this blog more relevant to AOL or I may delete them.

    Like

  10. Re: Lol: LOL
    Ahhhh OK! Once I get Desktop GM installed, I’ll play around with that.
    You know uninstalling AOL has NEVER been clean & simple, leaving hundreds, if not thousands of registry keys/and files behind.

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  11. Re: Lol: LOL
    Oh, and I forgot to mention, I also need to know if the Uninstaller provided by AOL works any differently than it did in older software versions. For instance, they refined the removal process somewhat in 9.1 and in Desktop as opposed to 9.0 VR, which was a way-complicated Uninstaller to trawl through all the different windows and choices. Just things like that. If nothing is any different then I don’t have to change my removal instructions and all is well :)…

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  12. Re: Lol: LOL
    I went from $9.95/month “unlimited dial-up and broadband” to $429.93 (less a $317.94) credit in one day! And I am a 12-year customer.
    When I called, I was told both: you have $9.95 unlimited dial-up and broadband, but you really don’t. Fortunately, I printed the “live chat” conversations because I’m going to contest this in writing (not online) with AOL after I advise my credit card company (since 1971) that I protest this.
    What a way to treat a loyal customer after all of these years over $100. Why would I go from $9.95/month to $427.93/month (before credit of $317.94)?
    But, they were nice.

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  13. Pingback: AOL’s Top 5 Blunders of 2008 « Anti-AOL -An InTooLate Production

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