AOL Officially Sucks More Than Anything Else

Every time we post a story bashing AOL, Gawker overlord Nick Denton forgets that he fired us the day before. So our jobs should be safe for at least a few days now that we can share the news that PC World has given AOL the prestigious prize of the worst tech product of all time:

“AOL succeeded initially by targeting newbies, using brute-force marketing techniques. In the 90s you couldn’t open a magazine (PC World included) or your mailbox without an AOL disk falling out of it. This carpet-bombing technique yielded big numbers: At its peak, AOL claimed 34 million subscribers worldwide, though it never revealed how many were just using up their free hours.

Once AOL had you in its clutches, escaping was notoriously difficult. Several states sued the service, claiming that it continued to bill customers after they had requested cancellation of their subscriptions.”

Other ignominious winners? RealPlayer, Windows ME, Sony BMG and 21 other crappy products.

The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time [PC World]


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  1. Paul D says:

    In my younger days I too was an AOLer. I used the old “sign up for the free minutes and cancel when they’re up” trick. I didn’t have a credit card at the time, so I foolishly gave AOL access to my checking account for billing. (I know, I know.)

    When my free minutes were up, I actually legitimately paid for and used a few months of the service out of neccessity. But when I called to cancel, AOL cancelled my account but continued to bill me for several months afterward. Every time the charge appeared on my statement, I’d call and they would apologize, promise to fix it and refund the money. No money was ever returned. I called weekly. Then daily.

    At one point, AOL had billed me for almost $200 on a cancelled account. I don’t exactly remember the details of my last call to AOL, but I remember it was wholly unpleasant. I remember having to repeat myself several times about the length of my AOL membership and when I had cancelled the account.

    The CSR claimed she could only refund up to $100. When I asked about the rest, she said “there’s nothing I can do”. At that point I was more interested in the whole thing being over (perhaps that was AOL’s strategy all along?) and took the $100.

    The way I look at it, the remaining $100 owed to me came in the form of dozens if not hundreds of lost potential customers as I proceeded to tell everybody I knew not to sign up for AOL. (Remember, this was in their heyday.) I convinced MANY households to stick with local mom & pop dial-up service rather than go with AOL. Not a single person complained.

    Suck it, AOL.

  2. SecureLocation says:

    AOL richly deserves this. They try in so many ways to keep billing you after you cancel. And they try to make it impossible to cancel. I ended up yelling at the stupid fuck on the phone to shut up and cancel me. He kept going like an Energizer Bunny. And after all that I found out that instead of cancelling me they gave me “two months free” a scam that keeps them charging your credit card after the 60 days are up. Their churn rate is extremely high, as well it should be, but this is depsperate behavior.