ETA: As of early 2011, AOL finally fixed the following error – the District of Columbia is now listed on their cancel form.
It’s not easy to cancel AOL – especially if they can’t even get your address right. Take tonight’s anonymous commenter, who lives in Washington DC, but can’t find Washington, DC on AOL’s online cancel form in the state drop-down portion of the form’s address field. I screen-capped the proof right here:
There is no way to cancel AOL with the online form if you live in Washington, DC!
One of my readers, koshinbay13, has a few questions about coding a website to work for AOL users. After reading about AOL’s caching proxy servers, he’s looking for PHP code to prevent an AOL user’s cookies from getting passed to the next AOL users who show up on his site.
I can’t answer his PHP questions, but I’ve posted a response below to answer the rest of his questions as best as I can. Best answer from any of *you* gets posted to my “how-to” section as a permanent post with your name and website credited if you like.
Don’t forget to let me know what you use instead of AOL in the comments!
The question, “What do you use instead of AOL?” has been put to me from time to time. I never answer it, wanting to appear unbiased, but I always promise to discuss it someday, then I never do. But what I use instead of AOL has to be one of the easiest posts I can write, so without ado…
“How do you connect to the Web without AOL?”
I don’t know. How does anyone do that?
Update, 6-8-2015: A longtime Anti-AOL reader, Paintman, informs me he finally won his fight against AOL. He got $1,600 back for service he was charged for even though he lives in an area that doesn’t get service from AOL. You can read his story (short and sweet) here.
So far readers have thanked me for helping them get back over $2,800 from AOL.
Reading my blog helped Sarah discover that even though AOL was still charging her for an account she canceled almost a year and a half ago, there was still hope she could get back the $400 AOL took from her bank account without her permission. In Sarah’s own words:
I bought a computer in February 2008. The computer came with a free trial offer to AOL. I signed up for the offer on a Friday. I decided to choose a different internet provider and canceled my account the same weekend. I never received a letter, email, or phone call from AOL until June of 2009, when my card expired and AOL could not process my payment. I had no idea they were even charging my account until I received the letter. I tried calling and after about 15 minutes of prompts finally got someone who’s English was obviously his second language.
Here’s a comment left by a visitor on my AOL Customer Service Phone Numbers and Contact Info page, who writes that by calling 703-265-1000 and leaving a voice mail message, he or she was “miraculously” able to cancel AOL:
After reading this web site I was finally able to cancel AOL and get them to cancel the continued billing for AOL. I’d had AOL for years but when my bank account was compromised and I got a new Visa number I was unwilling to give the number to a person in Romania who barely spoke English.
That’s right, hackers, this is a no-strings-attached free gift from AOL to you, their nifty hackers – hack into as many free AOL accounts as you want and some of them will be yours to keep, free-of-charge, FOREVER. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – get’m NOW before other hackers lift all the free AOL accounts for you!
The only catch? Continue reading…
Patty, the reader with the AOL proxy/ AOL Trojan scare a few months ago, wrote me again to say that she finally quit AOL. While I am – as anyone can imagine – happy for her (she’s with Earthlink now, which is a big step up), canceling AOL is, as always, fraught with peril, trepidation and fear of the unknown. Her updated saga, with the subject line Ex-AOL Proxy!:
Hello Marah! Thought you might like to hear the end of the story — I finally quit AOL! (which so far has been no big deal, but that’s kind of what scares me!) (time will tell!) First of all on Wed., 1-21-09, I followed your cancel.aol.com link, and filled out the form (making sure to check the box at the bottom!) — got an immediate “successful submission” response, and a box telling me to allow 3 business days for the cancellation to kick in. It also said I’d get an email, and that I’d still be an active member until my next billing date (2-1-09). (haven’t gotten that email yet . . . )
From: Daniel @
Dear MMarah (of Anti-AOL),
I am not an AOL subscriber…I managed to dodge that particular bullet. But I do have a complaint that might interest you.
I have a large non-profit website (about 850 web pages and roughly 3 million hits per month). I also send out a quarterly e-mail talking about updates to the website. On my last attempt, virtually all of the AOL addresses bounced. This was roughly 150 e-mail addresses out of 1,533 messages sent.
Now, my list is derived entirely from visitors to the website who first write me — at which point I add their addresses to the list on the basis that they’re interested in the website. I also have a strict policy that whenever anyone asks for their address to be removed, I do so immediately — no questions asked. The updates are a service; not a benefit to me.
Now…my questions are:
Thanks for the emails, everyone. I’m answering requests for help with AOL first and everything else when I can.
What follows is an email sent to me by an IT developer last week. There will be more emails on Anti-AOL soon so stay tuned.
I’d just like to comment on your site as something you rarely find. Must say I agree with all of the things you said…and grind my teeth at the same time. If you want you can add this as a post on your web site. Main message being: To all you AOL users; please, please don’t use AOL for online shopping. You have no idea what a nightmare it is to keep it working properly for AOL.
6-9-08 – Edited – and I don’t know how two copies of this post were published. I’m thinking it’s an extension in Firefox that copies text; it may have auto-filled a blank update screen, making me think I was editing an already-published post.
I got an incredible email tip today from a former AOL CSR pointing me to this post on The Red Tape Chronicles at MSNBC. It seems the reason you can’t cancel your AOL account is ‘perverse incentives’ that reps get to keep you from leaving. Not only was the post on the mark, it also inspired one former AOL service rep to reveal how Time Warner, AOL and DISH Network each employ the same sleazy tactics to keep you from canceling. Cookie-cutter customer service Catch-22s up ahead courtesy of ServiceRep$517….(comments on the post aren’t designed to link so I screencapped it).
“We lie, cheat and steal – or lose $300 per customer!”
I have been a customer service rep for 4 years. I have worked for Time Warner, AOL and DISH network. All of them worked the same way. We were TOLD at orientation to lie, cheat and steal. Do “whatever you have to do” to keep getting money from the customer. If they ask to cancel the service, lie to them. They flat out told us to lie. Right to our faces. Lie. For every customer that we tricked into upgrading vs. cancelling was worth $300 in bonus.