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.
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.
06-13-2006: You might’ve heard about the substandard treatment Vincenzo Ferrari received when he tried to cancel his AOL account. If not, read my article here. It has everything you need to know — his mp3, the interview with Matt Laeur and AOL’s apology.
AOL Now Features Built-in Spam
06-07-2006: AOL ran banner ads along the bottom of member’s inboxes for years. Now they’re placing ads on every piece of email, too, so members are threatening to cancel in droves (to judge by blogs and forum discussions). Techdirt has the latest scoop.
Listen to this story of a man who just wanted to cancel his AOL account but heard so many horror stories about it he decided to tape the call “just in case.” Vincenzo Ferrari’s worst fears were confirmed by the Retention Specialist he spoke to. Outraged, he wrote an article about it on his website with a link to the recording, then submitted it to digg.com and Consumerist.
Soon a reader submitted the link to Slashdot where it became the most popular post on the site for days.
In fact, the mp3 was so popular, within 24 hours Vincenzo’s site was slammed by over 551,000 visitors. Demand for it overwhelmed his servers so they crashed for the better part of 2 days. To help him out, dozens of people submitted alternate links to his mp3, including this author, but demand was so high there wasn’t a link that worked for any length of time for 3 days.