AOL is losing money on itself, too. In the last five years its valuation (what people think it might be worth if sold to another entity) has dropped from the $20 billion Google pegged it at in 2005 to a mere $4 billion to $4.3 billion, according to several analysts.
If you cancel AOL but can’t get them to stop billing you, how does this affect you? It doesn’t. It can be hard to fight AOL for your money back, but it can be done. In the meantime, you can comfort yourself with thoughts of karmic retribution visited upon the company by itself, which has seen it’s value sliced, diced and basically diminished to nothing over the years by its own mismanagement.
I’ve had quite a few emails and comments asking me where AOL’s call centers are located, if they’re outsourced, or if they’re all in India. It seems like they are, but today’s AP news clears that question up.
For the record, AOL closed their US call centers earlier this year after laying off 5,000 people to focus on selling advertising instead of helping you troubleshoot or cancel your AOL account. Wasn’t that nice of them?
Got an AOL Call Center story? Share it here.
If you think a Michael Arrington rumor holds any weight, you’ll guess (correctly) that AOL is becoming more screwed by the minute. In the followup post to his news that Netscape.com might be shut down, Michael claims aol.netscape.com might redirect to netscape.com instead, which in turn might become the AOL domain name wow.com to increase page views (supposedly as high as 3 million a month as it stands.)
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.
12-01-2006: No, that title doesn’t describe me (I’m broke). It describes a building. An impressive (125,000 sq. ft.) structure built in the Spanish style common to modern Florida construction, only 4 years old, with lots of eye-candy and other sweet stuff:
Fortune Magazine says Time Warner, their parent company, is in talks with Yahoo! to buy AOL. A source at TW denies it, but Yahoo! sources say it’s true. Yahoo! lost their chance last year after AOL inked a deal to give Google 5% of revenue in return for ads and search optimization that AOL lacks over dynamically linked pages and other shortcomings. They haven’t made the how-to-cancel page much easier to find, either.
No Ads on Wikipedia, For Now … AOL Sells Call Centers; Others to Close
10-28-2006: Jason Calacanis, who runs Netscape for AOL and thinks he can wave his Magic Money Wand and buy the world, and even buy your humble author (page no longer exists ), tried to buy Wikipedia last week. He claims by not letting AOL put leaderboards on Wiki pages, they’ll lose ad revenue to the tune of $100 million a year. “Jimbo” Wales rolled Jason’s offer around, even asking members what they’d do with that money. Then in a stunning about-face he told Jason “No,” and was applauded for not letting AOL’s sponsorship control Wikipedia.
10-14-2006: The Consumerist says AOL’s laying off 1,400 call reps “trained to trick you into not canceling your AOL account,” when they close their Albuquerque, NM, and Tucson, AZ centers and sell their Ogden, UT call center “in mid-December, just in time for Christmas.” Wow, not even an AOL-branded lump of coal for brainwashing us into thinking we must have it: “Free anti-virus software! Parental controls! Keywords! (give me a f***ing break) Ads, ads, more ads, AIM, chat rooms!” Oh wait, maybe they don’t say all that…The Consumerist is clucking unhappily that the Ogden center’s been sold to a company that will hang onto every AOL employee except John, but it’s quite common for AOL to outsource them. Contract workers can’t be much worse, I promise you.
07-27-2006: Steve Case, AOL’s well-known former CEO, apologized for his decision to merge AOL with Time Warner on PBS’s “The Charlie Rose Show” last week.
He told The Examiner (9-6-07: article has been deleted since this was written) “…you know, it goes back to the question, ‘Was it a good idea?’…I think it was…” Please…when is merging your company with one that aided and abetted securities fraud ever a good idea?
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: