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.
Republished on 12-17-07 because I want this fresh on people’s minds again.
Also see How to File a Complaint Against AOL.
Billy wrote me a month ago that he canceled his free trial of AOL back in 2003, but they kept billing him every month for the next 3 years. In fact, when he wrote me, they were still billing him. AOL’s taken nearly
$1000 $900* from him since he canceled his free trial, but he didn’t know it until recently.
When I wrote him back I gave him a bit of a scouring for not checking his credit card statement for 3 years but I also told him to call AOL (rather than write to them, as he’d done previously without success). I told him to make them look up his usage to prove he canceled 3 years ago, gave him a link to a site that explains how to dispute credit card charges, and I gave him links to every attorney general’s office in the nation and links to the BBB and FTC, explained what they do, and told him “good luck” – because I doubted after 3 years that anyone could do much.
I didn’t hear from him again so I wasn’t sure if he was unhappy with my advice. After a few weeks I lost his email like I lose almost everyone else’s but I figured it wasn’t going to go well for him, anyway. Then out of nowhere Billy wrote me again that he got over $800 back from AOL:
After filing a complaint [with the] BBB, FTC, [and the] Texas Attorney General, I received refund[s for] $51.80 and $25.90 and $742.50, for a total of $820.20. I had to haggle to receive the $742.50, but in the end, I did get the credit back (through the BBB). Thank you.
Thank YOU, Billy, for making my day.
*“Billy” told me the amount of money AOL took from him was in the $850-900 range after I published his story.
Almost any complaint against AOL can be resolved if you keep good records and are persistent enough. Stay on top of it. Keep calling AOL and telling them you are writing honest online reviews about them until you know the issue is resolved. Important: Keep a paper trail with notes about what was said during phone calls, hang onto cancellation confirmation letters and/or bills received after you cancel and, if possible and legally permissible in your state, tape calls to AOL. If you can’t legally tape your calls or simply don’t feel comfortable doing so your next best bet may be to live-blog or quickly recap and post your conversations with AOL to your Twitter and/or Facebook page.
If, after taking all of those steps, your issue is still not resolved, your next step should be to file complaints with the BBB, your State Attorney General’s Office, and the FTC.
Your paper trail should include:
- Time and date of your calls to AOL.
- Master Account AOL screen names you’re canceling.
- Names, email addresses, clock numbers and/or shift numbers of AOL reps and supervisors you spoke to and brief notes about what was said.
- Your cancellation confirmation number. If you don’t have one but you did try to cancel you can still file a complaint.
- Any reason AOL reps and/or supervisors gave you for refusing to cancel your account.
You should also have on hand: