Beg and Plead in AOHell

Despite having to deal with a complete and total (and now fired!) cock, Vincent Ferrari still managed to get his AOL account canceled in under 7 minutes. Vincent’s special his account was picked up by the blogosphere, then the MSM. But he’s also special because, as people have written us time and time again, a 7 minute cancellation phone call is actually an example of stellar, speedy service from the likes of AOL. Some customers, a bit meeker than Vincent, literally have to resort to begging.

Joseph wrote us, quoting an exchange he had two years ago with AOL when trying to cancel his account. He ended up posting it on a EscapeAOL.com for posterity. After being told to call back when he had more time to be jerked around by AOL’s CSR answer to the Marquis de Sade, Joseph had to beg to be canceled. What should for any company be a two minute procedure to end a business relationship instead turned into an hour long ordeal.

How’d it all end? At some point, it became clear that he was enjoying my discomfort, and was prolonging the conversation intentionally. I asked again to speak with a supervisor, or even another worker in his department. He refused. I asked for his name, and he would only tell me that his first name was Mark. I asked for an employee number or some other way to identify him to an AOL employee, and he told me that he didn’t have to give me that information. I finally just asked him to tell me, bottom line, if he was going to cancel my account or not. He told me that if I would just “cooperate” and stop making things so difficult for him, he would. That was the last straw, for me. I put him on speaker phone, and told him that the conversation was being recorded. He then hung up on me. Without cancelling my account.

Joseph’s email after the jump:

I’d like to draw your attention to a similar AOL story that I posted online at this site nearly two years ago.

Me: I’m calling to cancel my account.
AOL Nazi: I’m very sorry to hear that. May I inquire as to why?
Me: Well, I have a cable modem & I don’t want to pay extra for a connection that I don’t need.
AN: Why did you sign up for the free trial?
Me: Because it was free.
AN: I see that you’ve used AOL a lot in the past few months. What do you use AOL for?
Me (pleasantly firm): You know, I’m sorry — I held for a long time before I got to you, and I’m at work right now. I know that your job requires trying to convince me to stay with AOL, but that’s not going to happen. I’m pressed for time right now, and I’d really like to just cancel my account.
AN: Oh, I see — you’re busy right now. I can let you go, and you can call back when you have some time.
Me: No, I’d really just like to cancel my account.
AN: OK, but it’s a 5-minute process. Can you tell me your primary use for AOL?
Me (still pleasantly firm): I provided you with all the information that you need to cancel my account. Please do so.
AN: And I offered to let you go if you do not have time to go through this process with me.
Me: Are you telling me that I am required to answer your questions and listen to your sales pitch before you will cancel my account?
AN: No, I’m telling you that I have a job to do. I’m not going to just sit here quietly while I wait for my system to update your account. I show that you signed into AOL for a total of 48 hours in the last month, and I’d like to know why.
Me: I’m not going to answer that question. You don’t need to know that in order to cancel my account.
AN: Ok, then … please call back when you have more time. Thank you.
Me (panicked): No — don’t hang up!! I have the time right now. I’ll stay on the line with you until I get a cancellation number. I’m just not going to answer any questions about my internet usage.
AN: And I told you that I’m trying to do my job.

This went on, and on, and on for approximately 1/2 hour. He absolutely refused to comply with my request to cancel without attempting to solicit the information necessary to pitch me. I’d resist, then give in and answer his question after he’d threaten me with a hang up (by this time, I already had nearly an hour of time invested, and didn’t want to go through the ordeal yet again). When I asked to speak with a supervisor, he told me that one wasn’t available. As soon as I answered a question, he’d glom onto it and try to use it as a selling point for me to keep AOL. I’d remind him that I wanted to cancel my account. He would sullenly announce that he was just trying to do his job. At some point, I’d lost my cool and my voice was shaking with anger. Coworkers who overheard what was going on stood outside my cubicle, offering quiet encouragement. We repeated the above pattern for a nightmarishly surreal half hour. I kept trying to direct the conversation back to cancelling my account. He kept directing the conversation towards reasons that I should stay with AOL. At some point, it became clear that he was enjoying my discomfort, and was prolonging the conversation intentionally. I asked again to speak with a supervisor, or even another worker in his department. He refused. I asked for his name, and he would only tell me that his first name was Mark. I asked for an employee number or some other way to identify him to an AOL employee, and he told me that he didn’t have to give me that information. I finally just asked him to tell me, bottom line, if he was going to cancel my account or not. He told me that if I would just “cooperate” and stop making things so difficult for him, he would. That was the last straw, for me. I put him on speaker phone, and told him that the conversation was being recorded. He then hung up on me. Without cancelling my account.

Comments

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  1. Clare says:

    You know, you don’t have to necessarily lie when you answer their questions, but…you don’t necessarily have to tell the truth, either. Answer everything with “other.” Give them something to throw off their metrics: “What do you use AOL for?” “I use it to look for recipes for cooking bear meat/Hungarian foot porn/vintage surgical instruments.” “Why did you sign up for AOL?” “I thought the disc was shiny.”

  2. Vinny says:

    Ben,

    It actually took 21 minutes total. The only part of the convo you’ve heard is the 4:57 of me talking with the infamous Jonathan.

  3. ExVee says:

    But really, once you tell the CSR that you want your account cancelled, does it really matter what happens afterward? This assumes you’re set up to make recordings over the phone, but as long as there’s evidence you’ve told them to cancel your account, then regardless of whether they say they’ll do it aren’t you technically free of further charges? My family has been free of AOL for over five years, and so I don’t exactly remember the membership agreement, but I seriously don’t think they can legally force you to keep your account if you won’t sit through their retention array. If they could, all kinds of companies would surely have ridiculous cancellation requirements and other hoops to jump through in order to make them stop taking your money. Unless I’m horribly mistaken and uninformed, you’re not under any obligation to play their game in order to free yourself of the service. If the charges for another month show up, introduce them to your friend Mr. Chargeback. Their job is not your responsibility.

  4. Karmakin says:

    This sounds to me like pretty good confirmation that the fired AOL rep was only doing what he was scripted to do. Considering that this guys line of attack was exactly the same as the other one.

    “AN: No, I’m telling you that I have a job to do. I’m not going to just sit here quietly while I wait for my system to update your account. I show that you signed into AOL for a total of 48 hours in the last month, and I’d like to know why.”

    Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

  5. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    I had to help a friend cancel about a half year ago. When the CSR answered, I stated that thephone conversation was being recorded for training purposes. Then I started responding like one of those automated recordings:
    CSR:hole “Why are you cancelling? What do you use AOL for? You used AOL for 73 hours…”

    ME: OK! Let me make sure I understood what you said. You said, “I will be happy to cancel your account.” Is that correct?

    CSR: You’re not listening to me. I need more information before I cancel your account. Why do you want to cancel.

    ME: Yes, I want to cancel my account.

    CSR: Why do you want to cancel.

    ME: I’m sorry, I didn’t understand your reply.

    CSR: Hello? Hello?

    It went on like this for a while, the CSR getting more and more pissed. I finally said

    ME: Thank you for your help! I stated that I wanted to cancel this account. This phone call has been recorded. If any charges continue to accrue from this date, they will be charged back to AOL. Thank you, and have a pleasant day!

    Hung up. Account wasn’t charged, was cancelled.

  6. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    Here’s an easy tip for canceling your AOL account. When they ask why you are canceling your account tell them:

    “It’s just not safe to stalk children online these days. Like it’s not bad enough you gotta worry about the FBI and the police, but now you got friggin Shaq posing as a pre-teen Thai hooker…. It’s just not fun anymore.”

    Then sit back and let them try to convince a child predator to keep his internet account.

  7. ModerateSnark says:

    H4Z: NSA?