It was a stunningly bad year for the company I love to hate, but I couldn’t decide which stories should make the number one and two slots so I flipped a coin. Read on and let me know what you think.
After paying almost $27 million to satisfy four attorney generals in the Northeast and Midwest who sued AOL for their anti-cancellation policies between 2003 and 2006, you’d think they’d change their evil ways, since they were sued for the same thing by 44 states back in 1998, and their reputation was starting to dim thanks to their growing infamy, but that wasn’t the case.
It was on the down-low that they kept the same rewards system and tactics in place so people were surprised to learn that Jon, a call rep for AOL, gleefully violated every agreement AOL has struck in the United States since 1998 with Vinnie Ferrari, who got his 15 minutes of fame exposing them for the shameful greed they still succumb to. Vinnie single-handedly made the story an overnight sensation when he posted it on his website (which he claims gets over 500,000 hits a week) and simultaneously submitted it to The Consumerist, SlashDot and Digg, which caused his website to go offline for three days because his servers couldn’t handle the traffic.
08-30-2006: AOL’s free 9.0 software fell into the bad graces of stopbadware.org, according to this report, which lists every complaint I had with it. Will these issues stop new users, even at the newbie level, from using it? Yes, if they have any sense at all. It stopped me. I have more planned on this topic soon.
Free domain names? Think again.
08-08-2006: Starting in September AOL is giving out free domain names with free storage space and up to 100 email addresses compatible with Outlook Express and other clients. The only catch is you won’t own the domain name; it’s AOL’s forever. I’ll update as details become clearer.
Last edited/updated 11-02-2006.
AOL has sucked since they started.
From censoring in chat rooms to charging too much for dial-up to forcing spyware and virus downloads when members install their bloated software, which wrecks smaller systems like my own, to letting legitimate email hit spam filters, to refusing to let customers cancel, to treating call reps like canned goods in drab, overstuffed pantries (called pods), then tossing them out for not being clever enough or just to reduce costs, to firing John over Vinnie Ferrari rather than retraining him, to their latest crime against humanity — the release of 650,000 user search queries to the public — AOL proves time and again they never value the heart of their business: the people who pay for and maintain it.