The amount of ignorance on the Interwebs is…awe-inspiring. Take The Consumerist’s latest stab at AOL: AOL Has No Reason to Cancel Your Free Account. I’m all for taking a good stab at AOL, as long as it’s deserved, but in this case, it’s not.
The author of the email that brought forth The Consumerist’s wrath is misinformed, to say the least, which is AOL’s fault for not letting members know how to cancel free accounts, not his fault for being unable to find that information.
You can call the author of this blog many things, but please don’t call her “unaware”. Call her, rather, “Incapable of seizing the moment”. Why? Because TechCrunch broke a story that even wound up in the Washington Post about Chinese AOL coming up in Firefox as a possible attack site/forgery (that’s right, a phishing website) on Feb. 13th, but they were not the first to learn the perfectly jaw-dropping news. In fact, I was.
I was fixing dead links on this blog on Feb. 10th when I got to my AOL Hit List and clicked through to Chinese AOL out of sheer curiosity. At that point, I was met with the same warning page that you didn’t find screen shots of on TechCrunch until 3 days later.
My screen shot shows that I could’ve broken this story (without the help of Mike’s tipsters) 3 days before TC did. It would’ve done wondrous things for this blog’s stats. It’s no one’s fault but my own, but I admit I’m extremely sore now about passing on the story, and shocked at just how large it became.
Updated 11-24-16 to change recommended add-ons and browser tools to include McAfee’s Site Advisor instead of Web of Trust. Web of Trust is currently not available for use in most web browsers over data-selling and other issues that have recently come to light.
This may come as a surprise, but you’re not staying safe by using AOL. Every day you encounter possibly unsafe ads, phishers and Nigerian scams. AOL is not protecting you (or me) from such routine online dangers.
AOL Email is Unsafe
Clicking the Spam Button in AOL’s email doesn’t make scams or phishers go away – for every email you mark “Spam”, more spam arrives in its place. Anyone can get their bulk (and sometimes, spammy) email whitelisted by AOL because it’s not a matter of the sender having a good website or email for you to read; it’s a matter of them wanting to send out email in bulk. Whoever’s willing to do so can get whitelisted. And your GoodMail? Really not so good, if you’ll pardon my pun.
The most frequent questions I get are: “How do I find, save, and import my AOL email and Address Book?” I think the reason I keep getting such questions – in spite of my Email FAQS – is that this blog has lacked (until now) a quick overview of all your options.
I never needed to save or export AOL email when I was still a subscriber or even once I canceled AOL, so just thinking about answering these questions makes me nervous. That said, I’ll do my best to gather every possible answer here. This will probably be the last time I do this, so please, no more emails about AOL email….thanks. 🙂
Before you read this, it’s important to know that you don’t need AOL software or any software to get your AOL email. Once you cancel AOL and remove AOL from your computer, just sign in at http://aol.com/ to read and write your email. AOL mail is free and yours to keep, forever, even once you cancel AOL.
The web version of AOL mail does everything the desktop version does: it saves hard copies of email to your PC, it allows you to read and reply to your email using rich or plain text formats, and it stores an unlimited amount of your email.
Hmmmm, what could it mean?
If I ran AOL, I wouldn’t turn comments back on. Ever. While AOL subscribers, for the most part, leave great, informative comments on my blog, don’t get me started on how most of them carry on at AOL News. If AOL staff had a full brain between any of them, they’d either keep commenting turned off or re-enable commenting, but only in Russian or some other incomprehensible to most English-speaking people language.
The only way to delete your AOL screen name if you live in the US is to completely cancel your free or paid AOL account (information for AOL UK users is here – ETA, 1-18-2016: you must hit “Escape” on your keyboard as soon as this page loads or it will 301 redirect to help.aol.com, which gives no specifics). The easiest way to do that is to use AOL’s online cancel form.
The form was designed to convert paying AOL subscribers to free-of-charge accounts, but it can also be used to completely rid yourself of your AOL screen name.
It’s as simple as filling out your name, address, alternate email, phone number, then checking the box next to where it says, If you do not want your account to be converted to free, or if you want to cancel your free account, check here (screen cap).
To keep you from having to click through to my all-purpose post on using the online cancel form to completely cancel your AOL account, here it is: