AOL Wants to Eat the Dead

A reader well versed in customer service shares with us this following anecdote about how much AOL cares about servicing your dead relatives. David writes:

    “I was sitting next to one of my clients this morning and told her about Consumerist.com, as it was up on my screen. She said “Oh, I’ve got one for you.” Her father passed away recently, and she had to cancel or close all of his various accounts. When she called to cancel his AOL account, they asked her why she was cancelling the account.
    “It was my father’s account, and he died.”
    “Is that the only reason?” was their reply.
    She was dumbfounded.
    They did cancel the account, incidentally.

    I do some work for a company that’s also very aggressive in customer retention (i.e. try to get you to NOT cancel) and I’ve reviewed their call center scripts, and when “reason” = “death,” they cancel immediately without trying to save the account. I’d love to see AOL’s scripts or their CSR training materials.”

Even more offensive is the CSR asking a yes or no question. Every low-level shoe sales associate knows to leave questions open-ended, especially when overcoming objections. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in these pumps” should be met with, “Which sort of deaths might being caught in these pumps be beneficial?” Now that’s salesmanship, Johnny.

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  1. ModerateSnark says:

    Maybe AOL’s call center script is based upon that old Twilight Zone episode where a telephone line over a graveyard gets blown down and the dead get phone service.

    The corpses in the graveyard didn’t need a phone, so I suppose they wouldn’t need a computer or modem either.

    Could happen.

  2. My stepmom used to tell telemarketers that my dad was dead in order to get them to stop calling. It was a surprisingly useful tactic, until Sears Credit sent us flowers and a fruit basket.

  3. Eric J says:

    When my mother passed away, they tried to get me to keep the account open in my name.

    I worked for AOL at the time.

  4. From working in a call centre, I can say customer deaths can be the most awkward of calls, but sometimes the most rewarding of calls. The scripted responses and questions you’re supposed to ask (“Is there anything else I can help with?” is one I now choose to ignore after a widow sadly replied “well, you could bring him back…”) don’t really cut it.

    Thankfully our managers realise this and are usually lenient on us in terms of grading when the random recording generator spits up a death call.

    These calls also put you into the odd position of impromptu counsellor. The security questions we need to ask can often bring up memories of the deceased which make callers quite emotional, leading to conversations and soft reassurances that lie outside my job but are just part of being a caring human being.

    The AOL rep’s response is a bit, well…uncaring to say the least.

  5. sanloublues says:

    Maybe the call centre zombie hadn’t encountered a cancellation due to death before and ineptly went on through the regular script for the next question. Or maybe the call center zombie thought the father was a zombie too.

  6. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    With AOL you have to be aggressive in cancellation. Just keep saying I’m going to cancel every time you hear a sales pitch. They’ll eventually comply.