Pinheads At AOL’s Tech Support

Think emails critical of AOL are the only ones that are being caught in AOL’s spam guard “software glitch?” Think again. We found this account from an ISP about trying to deal with AOL’s incompetent customer service and tech support.

The problem? His ISP’s users habitually forward email to their AOL account. This is done automatically. However, if it arrives at their email address and they mark it as spam, all email from the ISP is blacklisted on a system wide level indefinitely.

Does that sound absurdly overreaching? That’s because it is. Unfortunately, the tech support is even worse. Check out this quote about AOL’s tech support line:

One of the most maddening things is there call center. The people there are completely untrained and uninterested in helping you out. We’ve had people give us conflicting advice on how to solve our issue and even conflicting statements about what was wrong to begin with. We were spamming…no, we were sending too much mail….no we really were spamming…no, you were sending too much email after you sent a piece of spam. It’s ridiculous.

Even more maddening is that their “supervisors” know even less than their technicians. I’m not sure what their place is or what they do, but they’re even more incompetent than the vast majority of the technicians, and they readily admit it to. The first thing one of the supervisors said once we got on the phone was “I just want to let you know the person you spoke to knows much more about how the system works than I do.” And that was before he even said hello!

Ultimately, this particular individual has called AOL over 50 times, been handed thirty different solutions and still can’t get AOL to resolve the issue. Maybe he should have the EFF issue a press release — they seem to respond to those in twenty minutes.

AOL’s Postmaster Department []
Previously: AOL’s DearAOL Censorship


Edit Your Comment

  1. mark duffy says:

    I can’t believe you exploited poor Coney Island freak Zip the Pinhead for this post. For Shame.

  2. Paul D says:

    That’s Shlitzee. Zippy is a comic character.

  3. mark duffy says:

    ok. but the comic character was based (at least appearance-wise) on Zip, a real Coney Island freak. Look it up.

  4. matto says:

    I used to manage email service for UC Berkeley, and there really is no good solution for forwarders. And yes, it is a very serious problem, probably responsible for a good portion of AOL’s inbound spam.

    The real issue is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to discriminate between a legitimate site where users are simply forwarding mail, and an evil, spam-spewing site, blasting spam at AOL user’s accounts.

    If the ISP in question had sane policies that were acceptable in this day and age, they wouldnt be part of the problem- blindly forwarding on mail is simply irresponsible and abusive behavior for a large site.

    Many sites refuse to forward off-site, or at the least, force users to opt-in to a minimum of spam and virus filtering (not tagging) before enabling off-site forwarding.

    IMHO, it really is the ISP’s bad here, not AOL’s. If they are interested in getting useful work done and making their customers’ service experience better, they could simply take a quick gander at AOL’s helpful postmaster info site.

    It would be a lot more productive than bleating “AOL SUX!” and flailing
    innefectually- but then again, it wouldn’t be quite as good slashdot fodder.