AOL After the Storm

Now that AOL has weathered the Vincent Ferrari storm, what’s it like to cancel? Has anything changed? Are the reps more courteous? Do they tell you bedtime stories over the phone?

One intrepid reader took it upon themself to find out. Yeah, things are nicer. A little to nice, if you ask them.

Plus, insight into AOL’s eternal retention plan, with the hopes of luring you back by the dangling possibility that maybe somebody somewhere sent you an extra-special, super-important email and maybe it would be worth it to check out…

“Chat Noir” writes:

“After reading the horror stories on the Consumerist about people trying to cancel their AOL subscriptions, It was naturally with some trepidation that I placed my call to AOHell to end my service.

My wait for a human being was not terribly lengthy, especially considering that I had heard it would last longer and be more painful than a Clay Aiken remix of “My Heart Will Go On.” Of course, I had taken the precaution of fortifying myself with snacks, bottled water, tunes, magazines, and comfortable seating, not to mention my cell phone in case I needed to place an emergency call, but didn’t want to lose my place in the queue.

I was greeted by Nicole. Nicole was very happy to tell me her name. Repeatedly. She said it was to make certain that if I needed to refer to whom I spoke, I could refer to her, Nicole. I doubt it had anything to do with prior complaints that AOHell operators refused to give their identification. No, siree.

Nicole happily told me that I could cancel my subscription, but she could give me a month free instead. I politely declined, having already taken advantage of the “free month” earlier so that I could finally get my butt in gear and notify my contacts of my new email address. I advised Nicole that I also did not want to be placed on any sort of “suspended billing,” either. I regurgitated that directly from the pages of the

Nicole became less happy.

However, Nicole did tell me that although she was cancelling my service, as a free gift from AOL in appreciation for my years (Gawd, yes, it was years), of service, I would still have free access to my screen name and email. Forever! “There’s no catch,” she assured me. I wasn’t given the opportunity to say “hells no” because she didn’t stop talking and began immediately reciting my “cancellation number.” Well, of course, I
had to stop and write that down so that I could include it in my written follow-up
cancellation letter. Not that the Consumerist has made me paranoid or anything.

I was then quickly transferred to an automated male voice who was not nearly as perky as Nicole, and who advised me again of my “cancellation number.” Mr. Roboto also told me, though not in such clear terms, that if I were to sign on to AOL with my “free screen name,” in say, an attempt to actually read my “free email,” that such action would constitute my automatically signing up for the service. Mr. Roboto did not say at what price that would be, but I imagine it would have been at the $24.95 going rate and not at the $14.95 rate I had renegotiated. Not that the Consumerist has made me suspect AOL of dirty dealing or anything.

Needless to say, I immediately uninstalled every last bit of AOHell software I could get my grubby hands on. Not to say that I don’t believe there isn’t still some insidious AOHell spyware lurking in there.

Now, mind you, I’ve not tried accessing my AOHell mail, so I don’t know if that would actually make me an indentured servant again. I leave that experiment up to younger people who aren’t already on anti-ulcer medications. But I do think it sounds suspicious and I warn anyone considering trying their “free email” to think again.”

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