Thanks Heidi, but I still hate AOL.

Complaint answered

Edited 12-13-2006 to include full contact info for Heidi Jongquist.

To refresh reader’s memories, I ran into 2 problems while checking links on my site a few months ago. The first problem was AOL deleted content from how-to cancel pages. I was so outraged I wound up posting the story on Digg.com, where, needless to say, it was a hit.

The reason behind their page deletions has never been explained and probably never will. The best answer I had was from a reader on Digg, who wrote in the comment section that AOL moves those pages around because it’s their site so they can do what they want to. But when it makes information subscribers need that much harder to find, then I think what they’re doing is wrong.

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Timeline for “There’s ONE page AOL.com hopes you’ll ever find.”

  • Early March 8, 2006: I publish the URL to AOL’s Cancel My Account page on Dave Taylor’s site and in a forum at the ISP Guide.
  • March 10: AOL deletes the “Cancel My Account” page from this URL.
  • March 10: I find another URL for the page and post it to my site.
  • March 11: AOL deletes the “Cancel My Account” page from this URL.
  • March 11-13: I search AOL.com, Google and major search engines without luck for another URL to the “Cancel My Account” page.
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My letter to the WA State Attorney General.

9-6-07: Several links on this page don’t work but there’s nothing I can do about it.

Note to readers: AOL is denying subscribers easy access to their Cancel My Account page, in a pattern that clearly emerged when I published links to that page on websites beside my own: that’s why I wrote the following (this is a copy of the letter that I wrote to the Washington State Attorney General).

I am writing this as the author of the site, Marah’s AOL Log, at http://marahs-aol-log.livejournal.com/. I began my site in Dec. 2005 after a hard time canceling AOL as a way to vent my frustration with America Online. I enjoyed researching AOL for my site so much I soon expanded it into a full-fledged “one stop site” for how to cancel, uninstall, or complain about America Online. As part of my Site Map I began providing a direct link to a page on AOL.com called “Cancel My Account” starting this February, which provided all the phone and fax numbers and addresses to call or write to cancel America Online.

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There’s ONE page AOL.com hopes you’ll never find.

Before March 8, 2006, nothing about having this journal was exciting. I’d change my CSS, update links and rewrite articles just to keep myself awake while I read it. I’d stare at my site counter and wonder if it looked unprofessional. I started thinking that since I own a journal with the title How to Cancel, Uninstall or Complain About AOL I should link to something on AOL about how to cancel. I spent another week berating myself for my stupidity: my journal had no link like that for three months. By the end of February or the beginning of March I’d found AOL.com’s Cancel My Account page, and added the link to my Site Map.

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No more mirror of AOL’s “Cancel My Account” page.

No more mirror

Update, 11-4-07: As of July 2007 AOL accounts absolutely can be canceled online (click this link to learn how) so there’s no need for the information you once found on this page.

I would’ve kept my “Mirror of AOL’s Cancel My Account Page” up forever since I basically won the right to copy it after making a big deal out of AOL deleting that page every time I linked to it on Marah’s AOL log, the first version of the journal you see here. AOL would also delete that page from their servers every time I left a link for it on popular message boards. AOL thought somehow that would stop people from canceling.

That plan might have worked, at least to a limited extent, but my exposure of the scheme brought that idea crashing to a halt. Then Vinnie Ferrari made how hard it is to cancel AOL a national pastime to discuss around the water cooler, and finally, the current Governor of my state, Charlie Crist, acting as Attorney General of Florida, forced AOL into an agreement in which they must allow their customers to cancel AOL by simply filling out and submitting a quick online form.

This page has had its day, so I’m retiring it now to the obscurity it deserves.