Update, 6-8-2015: A longtime Anti-AOL reader, Paintman, informs me he finally won his fight against AOL. He got $1,600 back for service he was charged for even though he lives in an area that doesn’t get service from AOL. You can read his story (short and sweet) here.
So far readers have thanked me for helping them get back over $2,800 from AOL.
Reading my blog helped Sarah discover that even though AOL was still charging her for an account she canceled almost a year and a half ago, there was still hope she could get back the $400 AOL took from her bank account without her permission. In Sarah’s own words:
I bought a computer in February 2008. The computer came with a free trial offer to AOL. I signed up for the offer on a Friday. I decided to choose a different internet provider and canceled my account the same weekend. I never received a letter, email, or phone call from AOL until June of 2009, when my card expired and AOL could not process my payment. I had no idea they were even charging my account until I received the letter. I tried calling and after about 15 minutes of prompts finally got someone who’s English was obviously his second language.
When I tried explaining my situation it was like he wasn’t even listening to me and was continually trying to sign me up for more services. He got me so upset I ended up hanging up on him. My husband called back demanding to speak with a manager. We ended up speaking with a another non-English speaking person who informed me that I could write a letter explaining what I wanted them to do along with copies of my bank statement showing what I had been charged. I did this, sent the letter, and never heard anything back.
In July I got a bill from AOL saying that I owed $51.80. I sent another letter explaining the situation again, and both letters have included my work and cell numbers where I can be reached. I have yet to hear from them. Now today I received another letter saying that it is now going to collections. AOL owes me between $300-400 dollars. I have accepted the fact that I will probably never see a cent of this money, however now I have something that I don’t even owe going on my credit report. What advice can you give me?
I explained to Sarah that she should file a complaint against AOL with the BBB and told her how doing so helped another reader get back over $800 from AOL. I also suggested she file complaints with the FL Attorney General (she lives in Florida and has given me permission to use her name) and with the FTC. I also suggested she file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Bureau. When AOL deducts money from your debit, credit card, or bank account without your permission, that’s online fraud – and that’s a crime in all 50 states.
That was in mid-September. She wrote me again a few days ago with the good news:
Thank you so much for your help with this matter. I wanted to let you know that AOL paid me back the $414.40 they owed me. I was really set to the idea of never seeing the money again. I was very surprised but when I filed a report with the BBB, within a month the money was back in my account. Thank you.
I want to keep publishing these emails to show my readers that if AOL won’t let you cancel, or if they won’t let you cancel without slapping you with erroneous, outrageous fees, or if they simply won’t stop billing you once your AOL account is canceled, the BBB is on your side.
It seems like once you contact the BBB, AOL will almost instantly bend over backwards to resolve your issue (you can scroll down this page on the BBB to see just how many cases AOL has either resolved or “tried to resolve” – that’s all of them).
The BBB even “tried to resolve” my issue with AOL years ago, which did not stop me from starting this blog.
It’s not the fastest or easiest way to get your money back, but it works, so I encourage you – if you’re getting taken advantage of by AOL – to get your money back by filing an online complaint with the BBB.