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.
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 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:
ETA: As of early 2011, AOL finally fixed the following error – the District of Columbia is now listed on their cancel form.
It’s not easy to cancel AOL – especially if they can’t even get your address right. Take tonight’s anonymous commenter, who lives in Washington DC, but can’t find Washington, DC on AOL’s online cancel form in the state drop-down portion of the form’s address field. I screen-capped the proof right here:
There is no way to cancel AOL with the online form if you live in Washington, DC!
AOL UK users must visit this page and follow the instructions – 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. AOL has removed their cancel form for the United Kingdom sometime within the last few years. If you’re an AOL user in the US, you can still use the US cancel form linked to below.
Everything AOL offers (except dial-up and “Premium Services” in the US, and broadband service in the UK) is free as of August, 2006. That means you can cancel your AOL account, convert it to a free account, keep your AOL screen names and AOL email addresses, sign into aol.com, read and write email – all for free.
Ready? Check your account to make sure you cancel AOL at least 2-3 days before your next billing cycle. That way you won’t be billed for another month of service, since online cancellations can take up to 48-72 hours to process.
Whether you want to cancel your paid or unpaid AOL membership, you’re on the right page! Just follow these easy steps…
Here’s a comment left by a visitor on my AOL Customer Service Phone Numbers and Contact Info page, who writes that by calling 703-265-1000 and leaving a voice mail message, he or she was “miraculously” able to cancel AOL:
After reading this web site I was finally able to cancel AOL and get them to cancel the continued billing for AOL. I’d had AOL for years but when my bank account was compromised and I got a new Visa number I was unwilling to give the number to a person in Romania who barely spoke English.
Today Joe Manna responded to a comment of mine that I left on his blog a few weeks ago about a lawsuit AOL settled over advertisements in the footers of AOL email (some topics are much too “Yawn, whatever” for me to cover, sorry).
In case you missed it, last month AOL was court-ordered to pay damages to people who could not disable advertisements on their outbound email. The advertisements encouraged people to sign up for AOL. The court ordered AOL to pay damages in the form of a “small donation” to “charity”.
I hinted to Joe that both the lawsuit and settlement was ridiculous. How about a more serious issue that AOL should be sued for (again): all the customers who are routinely overcharged each month, and who get lied to by call reps who say their accounts are canceled, when in fact they are not? Where is the money for them?
AOL is losing money on itself, too. In the last five years its valuation (what people think it might be worth if sold to another entity) has dropped from the $20 billion Google pegged it at in 2005 to a mere $4 billion to $4.3 billion, according to several analysts.
If you cancel AOL but can’t get them to stop billing you, how does this affect you? It doesn’t. It can be hard to fight AOL for your money back, but it can be done. In the meantime, you can comfort yourself with thoughts of karmic retribution visited upon the company by itself, which has seen it’s value sliced, diced and basically diminished to nothing over the years by its own mismanagement.
AOL Is LYING
I’m not going to beat around the bush: AOL is run by liars, thieves and crooks. Take this lie slapped across a cancel page on aol.com:
“If you cancel you will no longer have an Internet connection, live technical support or security software.”
FACT: In the US, most of you will NOT lose your high-speed connection to the Internet if you cancel AOL.
There are a few exceptions:
Call AOL – AOL Phone Numbers, Online Links & Contact Info for US, UK & International Callers
Every few years I take an entire day out of my life to dial all of the AOL phone numbers you see on this list. AOL constantly shuffles phone numbers around and often disconnects or reroutes them, so this sort of “in-the-field” work is sadly very necessary. As of 1-18-2016, all of the phone numbers and website links you see here should work as advertised.
If any US or non-US AOL phone numbers no longer work or if dedicated phone lines for certain departments suddenly reroute to general numbers, or if you find more phone numbers and addresses for AOL that are not listed here, please let me know.