There are lots of stories going around about AOL lately. Let’s clear some of them up.
- Myth #1: AOL no longer sells dial-up access.
False. AOL still sells dial-up and BYOA (Bring-Your-Own-Access). The good news is, AOL is down to 4 million subscribers from an all-time high of 25 million subscribers in 2005, with more subscribers fleeing each month.
- Myth #2: AOL does nothing but provide dial-up and BYOA access.
False. AOL does much more. AOL recently thought it was an ad company, but now thinks it’s a media company. Access is something AOL doesn’t “focus” on anymore, because most of AOL’s customer service and tech support calls are handled by employees in India, and the infrastructure for dial-up practically runs itself.
- Myth #3: AOL still blankets the US with CDs.
False. AOL does limited distribution of CDs by bundling them with Dex phone books or by sending them to certain bloggers, but other than that, the days of waiting breathlessly for your next coaster are over.
- Myth #4: The name “AOL” is now written out as “Aol.”.
False. The new “Aol.” moniker is a prime example of “branding”, like how I changed my blog’s name a few years ago, to improve my, um, “brand”. I’d prefer if you call my blog “Anti-AOL” now, but if you still call it “Marah’s AOL Log”, that’s OK, too. It wasn’t a legal name change, and neither was AOL’s. You can write its name out however you want. I prefer “AOHell” and “Aolol”, myself.
- Myth #5: “Aol.” is a meaningless brand meant to catch your eye and nothing more.
Well, yeah. But, no, not technically speaking. False. Supposedly, when you choose Aol., you choose the best brand for your lifestyle. (I know…the whole idea makes me sick, too.) So you don’t visit a blog on AOL; you visit “blog.Aol.” Adding the “Aol.” appendage makes you seem smarter and cooler (or, if you’re old school, l33t3r) than the rest of us.
- Myth #6: “Aol.” is pronounced…differently, so how do you pronounce it?
False. You pronounce it the same way.
- Myth #7: It is still impossible, damn it, to cancel your AOL account.
False. You can cancel your paid or free AOL account simply by filling out the online cancel form, unless you live in Washington, DC (AOL programmers forgot to let the District of Columbia in on the magic).
- Myth #8: I can cancel your AOL account for you, if you just leave me a comment anywhere on this blog saying something snotty like, “Do away with my service”.
Hello people, let’s get real: I can’t do that, OK? But the good news is, I think these people can.
The most frequent questions I get are: “How do I find, save, and import my AOL email and Address Book?” I think the reason I keep getting such questions – in spite of my Email FAQS – is that this blog has lacked (until now) a quick overview of all your options.
I never needed to save or export AOL email when I was still a subscriber or even once I canceled AOL, so just thinking about answering these questions makes me nervous. That said, I’ll do my best to gather every possible answer here. This will probably be the last time I do this, so please, no more emails about AOL email….thanks. 🙂
Before you read this, it’s important to know that you don’t need AOL software or any software to get your AOL email. Once you cancel AOL and remove AOL from your computer, just sign in at http://aol.com/ to read and write your email. AOL mail is free and yours to keep, forever, even once you cancel AOL.
The web version of AOL mail does everything the desktop version does: it saves hard copies of email to your PC, it allows you to read and reply to your email using rich or plain text formats, and it stores an unlimited amount of your email.
The only way to delete your AOL screen name if you live in the US is to completely cancel your free or paid AOL account (information for AOL UK users is here – ETA, 1-18-2016: you must hit “Escape” on your keyboard as soon as this page loads or it will 301 redirect to help.aol.com, which gives no specifics). The easiest way to do that is to use AOL’s online cancel form.
The form was designed to convert paying AOL subscribers to free-of-charge accounts, but it can also be used to completely rid yourself of your AOL screen name.
It’s as simple as filling out your name, address, alternate email, phone number, then checking the box next to where it says, If you do not want your account to be converted to free, or if you want to cancel your free account, check here (screen cap).
To keep you from having to click through to my all-purpose post on using the online cancel form to completely cancel your AOL account, here it is:
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.
One question I get fairly often is, “How do I disable the AOL Dialer?” or “How do I remove the AOL Dialer?” How the question is worded matters: disabling the AOL Dialer is not the same thing as removing it. If you remove it, you might not be able to use AOL dial-up to get online.
To connect you to the Web through dial-up, AOL makes proprietary software, called the AOL Dialer, which connects your computer to AOL. It’s up in the air whether you can bypass the dialer by setting up your dial-up connection manually. AOL gives instructions for doing so, but for many AOL users (myself included, back in the day) using a manual setup without the AOL Dialer doesn’t always work, even if your dial-up modem is working fine.
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.
Before you read this, it’s important to know that you don’t need AOL software anymore to get your AOL email. Once you cancel AOL and remove AOL from your computer, just sign in at http://aol.com/ to read your mail online.
The online version of AOL mail does everything the offline version does: it saves hard copies of email to your PC, it allows you to read and reply to email using rich or plain text formats, and it stores an unlimited amount of email.
If you would like to use the AOL program on your computer despite this warning, read on…
Today “NP” asked me via email:
I’m beginning to see the light! But I need someone to answer a question for me before I let loose of my three-year connection to AOL (I basically just use it to get online). Somehow, I sense you’re that person. (no pressure!)
I’m[…]kind of new to this technical stuff, but observing “inbound events” logged by my McAfee firewall (“FREE” from AOL!) (but at what price?!), put me in my investigative mode. Hopefully you can explain to me what’s going on.
There are a few reasons why you won’t find an icon for AOL under Add/Remove programs on XP or Vista….
- AOL did not install properly.
- The AOL Uninstaller can’t find its own files when you ask it to (sounds unbelievable, but see next item).
- The Add/Remove icon was removed by a partial or aborted uninstall done manually or with a program such as CCleaner or jv16 PowerTools.
- AOL “hung” when you tried to remove it, thanks to an internal process that could not shut down.