Imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox this morning to see a bright, shiny AOL CD lying on top of my new Embarq phone book. The phone book was shrink-wrapped to prevent the contents, which included an AARP life insurance offer, from spilling to the ground.
After taking a few photos of the CD, I grew curious as to why it was bundled with my phone book. I thought AOL stopped burying the country in free CDs years ago. So began my gum-shoeing, which isn’t quite finished.
AOL stopped sending discs out to everyone in mid-2006…everyone, that is, except me. It’s probably a test to see who I am: “She’s the only person we’ll send this disc to; if she writes about it like she did the other one…bingo.”
Well, I always thought AOL knew who I was, anyway.
They don’t use the all-time-greatest-hits hard plastic case anymore; now it’s in a tiny, neutrally-tinted, yawn-inducing clear plastic sleeve. There’s no version number on the outside, either. It’s a surprise! You must open it to find out! This was just as exciting as peaking under the tree on Christmas Eve. So I popped the disc into my computer (the disc doesn’t have the version number on it, either! It really is a surprise) and AOL’s underwhelming software began walking me through one sign-up window after another.
I wrote this on December 13, 2005 as the follow-up to Why America Online can bite me, which I wrote on December 11, 2005, long after I canceled my last AOL account. The letter from the BBB that’s reprinted here is in response to my complaint that AOL wanted to charge me $50 for an “early cancellation.”
I got another free trial from AOL in the mail today, and an email from the BBB about AOL tonight. AOL sent so many discs they had to pack them in a box. I haven’t unwrapped this cool “Alumni Gift” yet but I’ll look at the discs soon just for fun. I wish I had a spare computer to wreck with their latest offerings just to remind myself how much AOL sucks. The “gift”-box is a monstrous 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ by 3/4″. Apparently it’s their Greatest Hits collection. There’s three big lies written across the front of it: