AOL Asks You To Resubscribe To Confirm Your Cancellation

Last week, Chat Noir tried to cancel his AOL account. He succeeded! Unfortunately, they tried to sucker him in with a further ploy: they told him he could check out his ‘totally free’ email account anytime, but later, a robotic voice clearly told him doing so would be taken as assent to resubscribe.

It was already pretty shady, but then pretty Jenna W. wrote us with a new wrinkle on AOL’s dastardly scheme. The AOL CSR cancelled Jenna’s account, told her about her ‘free’ email, then specifically sent the cancellation receipt to that email account. But doesn’t signing in to that email account resubscribe you? Clever and insidious.

As a reader noted, AOL does have a free email system for old users, called aim.com. It sounds like CSRs are mentioning this but then purposely trying to confuse customers into subscribing by not distinguishing the free email system with the old email system. If we can’t unsubscribe without a twenty minute phone call, why the fuck can’t we resubscribe without a 20 minute phone call? For our convenience, natch.

Jenna’s email after the jump.

I cancelled my AOL account over the weekend. The CSR was polite enough, although he got quite defensive when I said I wanted to make sure the account was actually cancelled, rather than just put on a suspended billing list for a while.

He told me that after I cancelled, I could still sign on via AOL’s Web interface to check mail on that account. He then said that he would be sending an e-mail cancellation notice to that address, and
*specifically* urged me to sign on to make sure I got the notice. I told him that I didn’t want the e-mail address to remain active, because I wanted to make sure that my less-attentive friends who sent
mail to that address got a bounce. He seemed sort of nonplussed, but admitted that the address wouldn’t actually be activated until I signed on for the first time. He also said that I’d get a paper copy
of the cancellation notice snail-mailed within a couple of weeks.

Then he transferred me to the boilerplate-bot, which told me that if I signed on to check my “free” e-mail I would be reactivating my AOL account and authorizing monthly billing.

So they tell you that it’s free, urge you to sign in to make sure you’ve been “cancelled,” and if you don’t listen carefully to the disclaimer at the end of the call you wind up back in AOL’s clutches. Verily, these are some wacky guys.

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  1. AOL – the Hotel California of Internet Providers. you may check out, but you can never leave (and why isn’t a clean and sober joe walsh doing ads for them?)