AOL Retention Manual Uploaded in Full


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  1. RandomHookup says:

    So, what’s the over/under on a “cease and desist” letter?

  2. guess what? bloggers *ahem* i mean, journalists, are protected in revealing trade secrets vis a vis Apple vs Does (

  3. bambino says:

    “Pretend that you are sitting on the back porch having lemonade”
    -while We monitor your calls, schedule your bathroom breaks, and terminate you if you actually allow customers to cancel.

  4. RandomHookup says:

    I certainly don’t play a lawyer on TV, but isn’t the Apple case a California state case? There may be other precedence for your statement, but I’m not sure that case applies in this instance. And of course, regardless of the law, nothing would stop a company from sending a letter anyway. And, it goes without saying, NEVER rely on me for legal advice.

  5. Oh man, it would rock if AOL tried to silence Consumerist on this. Enormous publicity for an awesome blog while AOL looks like the dirtbags they really are. Everyone wins.

    Especially the readers, as the delicious, delicious drama unfolds.

  6. And it’s not much of a trade secret when the dicky retention manual could be reverse-engineered from dicky CSR calls.

  7. Ran Kailie says:

    We had something similar to this for support related calls when I worked for RCN, except it was “this is how to make the angry customer who’s install went bad less angry”. Just as patronizing and filled with corporate bullshit though.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a cease and desist letter was received not that it necessarily has to be heeded.

  8. ModerateSnark says:

    This is why I was skeptical that AOL would be both hypocritical enough and dumb enough to actually fire John/Jon.

    Now looky what he (or someone like him) gone and done fer revenge!

    (Not sure exactly why I slipped into Hillbilly-speak, there. Feudin’ talk, I guess.)

  9. Ben Popken says:

    J. Wales writes:

    “I read your article bashing AOL for their user retention manual. This document is a standard sales training document.

    I’ve been in several types of sales, from cars to mortgages to software, and the main tools taught to salesmen are to build rapport and answer all concerns of your customer. What, exactly, is supposed to be shocking here? This is just tips on how to build that rapport and how to answer their concerns. I guarantee you that every car dealership in the US has a similar course they teach their sales people what to do when a customer stands up from the table and starts to walk away. I remember these flow charts from the mortgage business, when someone calls and complains that their rate wasn’t what they wanted and so they were going to some other mortgage company.

    This is just the way sales work, and there’s nothing shocking or sinister about it.”

  10. Ben Popken says:

    Josh writes:

    “This is not meant to be construed as legal advice:

    Apple v. Does, as far as I can tell, will not shield journalists against copyright infringement, and it probably shouldn’t. You’re well within your rights to publish excerpts from the AOL retention manual and comment on them, but fair use is exceedingly unlikely to protect you from verbatim copying of the manual in its entirety. Be careful.”

  11. Falconfire says:

    Apple v Does doesnt protect much of anything. It was first off a state case and thus not useable elsewhere since it was dealing with a specific California law that Apple used. Secondly it was about disclosure of a source when all other options failed, the judge felt Apple didnt do enough to investigate themselves first, if they had then the judge would have ruled that the blogger needed to reveal his source.

    And last the judge never once ruled blogging = journalism. Infact she refused to.

  12. Vinny says:


    This is just the way sales work, and there’s nothing shocking or sinister about it.”

    There is when you lie about it. Like when you say honoring customer requests quickly is important, and fire someone for not doing so, and then it turns up in your training manual.

  13. Ben Popken says:

    Paul writes:

    “Having the law and prior court cases on your side still won’t stop a law firm from sending a cease and desist letter.

    And yes, most of us know this is how sales works. That doesn’t mean that this is how it should work and/or we have to like it.”

  14. Ben Popken says:

    Dave writes:

    “the aol story is amazing. i manage a movie theatre, my main goal when i’m trying to motivate my staff is to NOT sound like that manual (though the corporate parent has no such reservations when they try to motivate me).

    i was an aol subscriber in ’94 (’95?), it lasted maybe a year. i cut the cord after their automatic monthly billing started skipping some months and then doubling up on others. you don’t pull that kind of shit with a student on a budget. never looked back.

    point of the story, you’ve earned your pay for the week. feel free to take a few days off.”

  15. LLH says:

    if i didn’t know what i was reading was an AOL thing i would have SWORN it was new scientology gobbly gook…i mean, the almighty word of l. ron…nah, i mean goobly gook.

  16. NYCMacUser says:

    Well, now it’s free-so who cares!