Today Joe Manna responded to a comment of mine that I left on his blog a few weeks ago about a lawsuit AOL settled over advertisements in the footers of AOL email (some topics are much too “Yawn, whatever” for me to cover, sorry).
In case you missed it, last month AOL was court-ordered to pay damages to people who could not disable advertisements on their outbound email. The advertisements encouraged people to sign up for AOL. The court ordered AOL to pay damages in the form of a “small donation” to “charity”.
I hinted to Joe that both the lawsuit and settlement was ridiculous. How about a more serious issue that AOL should be sued for (again): all the customers who are routinely overcharged each month, and who get lied to by call reps who say their accounts are canceled, when in fact they are not? Where is the money for them?
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.
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.
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.
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.