Tom Spring of PC World did a year-end roundup of the hardest online services to cancel. Which company do you think took money from him after he canceled all three of his accounts before the trials were over, then denied culpability based on “service reps errors”?
Hand it to AOL for pure shamelessness. Not even four huge, headline-making lawsuits (they settled with New York in 2005 for $1.25 million, with Ohio in 2004 for $25 million, with Illinois in January 2006 for $25 million, and with Florida in December 2006 for $1.5 million) can stop them from snatching hard-earned money right out of your hand.
AOL makes you give them your credit card number when you sign up for their service so they can bill you for it at least one month in advance. In order to get a refund, you have to ask for one when you cancel.
06-13-2006: You might’ve heard about the substandard treatment Vincenzo Ferrari received when he tried to cancel his AOL account. If not, read my article here. It has everything you need to know — his mp3, the interview with Matt Laeur and AOL’s apology.
AOL Now Features Built-in Spam
06-07-2006: AOL ran banner ads along the bottom of member’s inboxes for years. Now they’re placing ads on every piece of email, too, so members are threatening to cancel in droves (to judge by blogs and forum discussions). Techdirt has the latest scoop.
Listen to this story of a man who just wanted to cancel his AOL account but heard so many horror stories about it he decided to tape the call “just in case.” Vincenzo Ferrari’s worst fears were confirmed by the Retention Specialist he spoke to. Outraged, he wrote an article about it on his website with a link to the recording, then submitted it to digg.com and Consumerist.
Soon a reader submitted the link to Slashdot where it became the most popular post on the site for days.
In fact, the mp3 was so popular, within 24 hours Vincenzo’s site was slammed by over 551,000 visitors. Demand for it overwhelmed his servers so they crashed for the better part of 2 days. To help him out, dozens of people submitted alternate links to his mp3, including this author, but demand was so high there wasn’t a link that worked for any length of time for 3 days.