From: Daniel @
Dear MMarah (of Anti-AOL),
I am not an AOL subscriber…I managed to dodge that particular bullet. But I do have a complaint that might interest you.
I have a large non-profit website (about 850 web pages and roughly 3 million hits per month). I also send out a quarterly e-mail talking about updates to the website. On my last attempt, virtually all of the AOL addresses bounced. This was roughly 150 e-mail addresses out of 1,533 messages sent.
Now, my list is derived entirely from visitors to the website who first write me — at which point I add their addresses to the list on the basis that they’re interested in the website. I also have a strict policy that whenever anyone asks for their address to be removed, I do so immediately — no questions asked. The updates are a service; not a benefit to me.
Now…my questions are:
- Is there any remote chance that I could complain to AOL and they might do something?
There’s a chance, but you will probably have to join AOL’s Whitelist for Non-Profits in order to remove the block. Most webmasters must pay money to send normal email to AOL’s subscriber’s because starting in January of 2006, AOL joined with Goodmail to start charging webmasters for the “privilege” of having email passed on to AOL subscribers without worry of it bouncing. You can direct your complaint about email that has already bounced to The Postmaster at AOL.com. The phone number for the Postmaster is 1-888-212-5537.
- Can you use this example to include in the obvious attempt by AOL to deny its subscribers access to sites they choose? (If so, feel free to do so.)
Yes, I certainly can. I will publish all complaints that I get as long as I have the webmaster’s permission.
- What do you think about my placing on every web page a note that I can not respond to feedback from AOL users for the simple reason that AOL will not allow my reply and update messages to get through?
I think if that’s what you want to do then that’s fine. I prefer the idea of inserting a simple contact form on your website with instructions that you will not be able to respond to AOL users because AOL is blocking their email – unless they include an alternate email address. Encourage them to sign up for free email addresses at Yahoo! or other well-known, reliable email providers. If you apply for non-profit credentials with AOL, mention that too, and ask AOL users to please be patient while you await accreditation.
- Any more ideas? O:-)
Yes. I’m hoping AOL will go out of business soon or else get sold to more competent owners – I’ll keep my fingers crossed!
- Also, just how many sites are there out there complaining about AOL and their total lack of responsiveness?
You’re hardly alone. The EFF created Dearaol.com because they were outraged by AOL’s partnership with Goodmail in 2006, and many webmasters have complained of email to AOL users bouncing since then. Though it may surprise you, many members of AOL complain about it, too, because they cannot receive the very email subscriptions that they signed up for – AOL blocks it. AOL has a long history of blocking websites and email that goes back years before they partnered with Goodmail, so no one should be surprised that this tyrannical behavior from AOL goes on to this day.
An AOL user can block email from any business or sender by simply clicking a button in AOL’s software to mark the email as spam (here’s how to do it). AOL does not check to see whether it’s spam or not; you will simply never receive email from that sender again. If enough people click that button, your email will be blocked from reaching any AOL user forever. That’s when you have to join the Whitelist. See how hard AOL makes it to operate without them owning you somehow?
Thanks for your email, Daniel!