I’ll keep the change, thanks.

What follows is pure editorial and I don’t mean to sound like sour grapes but I’ve gotta say it. There would be no Verizon buying AOL today without AOL’s remaining 2 million subscribers – because without those subscribers AOL would no longer exist. That’s right: if 2 million people had cancelled AOL in a more timely fashion you wouldn’t be reading this. Verizon probably would’ve bought Yahoo! because there’d be no AOL left to buy, and I’d be very happy because the sale to Verizon is shaping up to be a disaster.

But nooooo, AOL’s infamous retention schemes, among other problems, have resulted in them getting what they wanted, which was a way to finance their new ventures into selling ads and owning content producers such as TechCrunch, Huffington Post and Engadget – which resulted in me not getting what I wanted, which was for every last paying member of AOL to cancel their accounts.

This is the blog of someone who, 10 years ago, could not cancel a free trial of AOL so she started a blog about it. At the time, AOL had about 15 million subscribers. That is a lot. Thanks in part to blunders such as this can’t cancel fiasco, along with the fact that high speed broadband, DSL and phones and tablets with 3G, 4G and wifi connections actually do exist these days and can be rather affordable, AOL has shed about 13 million more people. For this I’m thankful. But not thankful enough, because 2 million of you have stuck around long enough to enable the disaster of Verizon buying AOL and I can’t get over why anyone would give AOL money if they didn’t absolutely have to. And almost none of you absolutely have to.

To get the “absolutely have to” part out of the way, yes, I understand that for a tiny percentage of subscribers, you have no choice. You live out in Appalachia or out on the prairie – or else you’re of the mindset that you’ve only ever used AOL and you kind of like it and you definitely don’t want to switch now. At least you’ve got something that works where you are, that you fully understand how to use. Great.

But for the rest of you, you probably have not been doing one of a few things, like checking your credit or debit card statements for unauthorized charges from AOL long after you thought you cancelled your dial-up service. Or else you’ve chosen not to cancel AOL, knowing they still bill you every month, because you think you need AOL to get online – but you really don’t, not if you already have a broadband or DSL connection coming into your home or business. And do you seriously think you need AOL for “back-up Internet”? Brilliant marketing ploy from a dying Internet giant, perhaps, but no, seriously, you don’t.

So Cancel AOL Already!!! OMG!!!

The remaining 2 million subscribers are – again – the only reason AOL makes money. If it was only a matter of AOL servicing remote areas or how everyone’s 90 year old grandma has used AOL since 1992 and can’t stop now, AOL would’ve gone out of business a long time ago. The 2 million remaining subscribers are the only thing keeping AOL afloat. And with AOL being sold to Verizon, these subscribers are financing a possible consumer privacy disaster, a serious threat to net neutrality, and a likely throttling of true editorial freedom. Maybe, if you’re a paying subscriber, you could think about what your money is financing before you pay AOL again.

Two million subscribers back in AOL’s heyday of having upwards of 25 million or more was – once upon a time – an acknowledged rounding error where the total amount of subscribers could be higher or lower by about that many people. No one knew for sure. But now that 2 million subscribers is all they’ve got, that’s one rounding error I’ll gladly keep the change on, thanks.

So folks, let’s get started…

Here’s a list of internet providers that are not AOL which provide dial-up. Here’s a list of providers that offer DSL. Here’s a list of broadband providers. Your task right now? Sign up with a provider that services your area, that you like the sound of and that you know you can easily afford. Once you’ve got that out of the way…here’s how to cancel AOL. Got that all done? Here’s how to get AOL’s stuff off of your computer.

Verizon AOL Portal up since Aug. 2013

In perhaps a small presage to the Verizon/AOL deal, Verizon has been running an AOL web portal for smartphone users since May 2013 (the first archive.org record of it was made on Aug.26th 2013; the cached page welcomes users “to the new Verizon Portal by AOL”).

Curious as to how this happened, I found an AOL press release which explains very little:

AOL To Offer Exclusive Mobile Web Portal To Verizon’s Smartphone Customers

(NEW YORK) May 6, 2013 – AOL (NYSE: AOL) announced today a content distribution partnership that will bring the AOL.com portal to Verizon Wireless smartphones and certain tablets running the Android, Windows Mobile and RIM operating systems. It is the first time that AOL will be the exclusive provider of the VZW Home mobile web portal on smartphones and tablets for the nation’s largest wireless carrier.

Beginning this summer, existing and new Verizon Wireless customers will have the AOL portal bookmarked on their smart phones and tablets’ web browsers. The multi-device experience will feature the recently refreshed AOL homepage — with breaking news, weather and maps — as well as live streaming events and popular videos. Personalization features will allow users to customize news sources, categories and other tools to their needs.[…]

Everyone talks about how the allegedly false rumors of Verizon wanting to buy AOL were quickly hushed-up but in the long run quite true, but no one mentions they’ve partnered before to bring this co-branded portal about (which, strangely enough, uses Bing as its default search engine. This is strange because AOL normally uses a co-branded version of Google for search, but Bing seems to have some sort of an agreement with Verizon which might preclude AOL using their own search appliance).

Also little known to the teeming masses, Verizon’s FiOS once had a co-branded AOL home page which Verizon discontinued on Oct. 15, 2011, according to a Verizon Support page.

AOL Sale Might Not Go Through: Shop the Company/Lack of Fiduciary Duty

In other news around the AOL sale, there’s a very real chance it might not go through. While everyone (including myself) talks as though it’s a done deal (and Tim Armstrong has been said to be hoping to get it over with about a month from now) there are problems with how it was conducted. AOL did not shop itself around, accepting the first interested suitor to come along. (As I said on another blog, this could have been your local Stop ‘N Shop for all the difference it makes; AOL was not looking for “synergy” so much as “some money”, and Timmy stands to gain a lot of it from this sale – $180 million in stock options alone, to be exact).

Another problem as seen by several attorneys, including a former Attorney General of Louisiana, is that AOL has potentially valued itself, at $50 per share, a bit too low. There are quite a few attorneys investigating that possibility.

Update, 6-5-15: Perhaps realizing that “not shopping itself around” could stop Verizon’s acquisition of AOL, AOL has done a regulatory filing which claims the company recently had three other suitors – but suspiciously enough, the filing does not name them, referring to them only as Company A, Company B, and Company C, and none of the suitors seemed interested in a full-on acquisition of AOL, instead pondering buying AOL assets in more piecemeal fashion. Which still might not be sufficient to fulfill regulatory requirements that AOL – the entire company – be shopped around before selling itself to Verizon.

I had a dream the other day that I updated this thing…(then Verizon bought AOL)

…with a how-to. It was a great how-to. I can’t remember what I was how-to-ing about but it went over very well, and I remember re-reading it and thinking wow, that is great. Maybe I should write more crap like this.

Then, of course, I woke up.

I started thinking, what the heck would I update Anti-AOL with now? Wrote my how-tos. That’s been done.

So I went online today and was reading something else entirely (no, you guys really don’t want to know what it was) when I caught a headline that read: “Verizon Buys AOL“. And I went, “Wait: WHUT???”

Then I recalled my dream.

So here’s your update. It’s not quite what I dreamt about, but, oh well.

Being Marah Marie, Girl Reporter, I would like to know (and might very well contact Verizon to inquire – which yes, will result in another update, may the Lord have mercy upon us all) if this deal involves any upcoming changes in service or software for AOL’s 2.2 million remaining subscribers (a more meticulous breakdown of the numbers can be found in AOL’s May 8th earnings report), but other than that there’s not much here to get excited about…AOL will get to keep their Anti-AOL-infamous NY headquarters, Timmy will get to keep his job and …yeah, folks, that’s about it. *sigh*

Any thoughts on the Verizon deal?