Former Elite AOL Retainer Interviewed

Tricks an AOL retainer used to keep people from cancelling:

• If the husband calls up and you see the wife’s name is on the account, say the wife needs to call. When the wife calls, says the husband needs to call. Keep juggling untill the give up or both call in at the same time.
• If the customer asks, “Are you going to bill me for this?” Say no and the customer hangs up, thinking they canceled. See, the retainer himself isn not going to bill him, AOL is.
• Use rebuttal after rebuttal until the customer gets confused and thinks his account is cancelled.

Listen to the interview in full below.


Transcript after the jump…


CONSUMERIST: America Online gave him trips to Mexico and thousands of dollars in bonuses. He was in the elite, an expert at getting people to not cancel AOL. But he didn’t there by being Mr. Nice Guy. interviews a former AOL retainer.


CONSUMERIST: What would be some examples of some of the tricks you had up your sleeve?

RETAINER: “Are you gonna get billed for this?” Well, I’m not gonna bill you.


RETAINER: Well, I’m not. America Online is.


RETAINER: A lot of these tricks I came up with myself, and showed others, and my boss would ask me, “Hey, can you please show these other people here how to do that?” Member calls up and says they want to cancel, and the wife’s name is on the account, the husband’s calling, so “Oh, you need to have your wife call.” The wife calls and, “Ohp. Your husband needs to call.”


RETAINER: As long as you can get them to not cancel the account, you get a small bonus.

CONSUMERIST: Mmhm. I received an email from another person, he’s claiming people having anxiety attacks, people…

RETAINER: Yeah. When I first got into the saves department, had a little bit of anxiety myself, and went to the doctor and complained about not being able to sleep, and having problem, trouble eating. He told me it was because of the anxiety of the job. And he gave me some medicine to help take that edge off. And it helped, but I had to take medicine to actually, make it through those, probably first three or four months there until I got acclimated to the environment.


RETAINER: So yes, the stress is quite a lot. People have anxiety attacks, people have been taken away in ambulances from the call center.

CONSUMERIST: In the manual we uploaded, there’s been talk about this crazy program called, “Merlin.”

RETAINER: It’s just an interface allowing them to look at the accounts and change things in accounts. What you really want to look at is the Retention Buddy. That’s the software that was written specifically for the saves department. And had rebuttals, and questions, and basically, how to handle just about any situation from any member that called in. Like, oh, we have great Parental Controls that you can use that will help… keep your daughter from these things. And if they said no to that, they would with a second rebuttal and a third and you used as many as you could until the person got ticked off or you confused ’em enough till where they thought the account was cancelled.


CONSUMERIST: What eventually made you decide to leave?

RETAINER: They started really cutting back on the money. My calls were listened to quite a bit and one call got listened to and I didn’t do a couple of things and they took $2500 from me.

CONSUMERIST: For one call?

RETAINER: For one call being off. I just didn’t feel good about what I was doing anymore. The job I have now, it’s high pressure, I have a lot of responsibility, but it’s nowhere near the stressful levels that it was at AOL.

CONSUMERIST: Probably don’t need a prescription to get through your day.

RETAINER: Nope, not at all, no more of that.

CONSUMERIST: Right…right.

CONSUMERIST: Our anonymous interviewee told us that he was not only not surprised at John’s behavior during Vincent’s phone call, it was typical, and certainly not the worst an AOL rep could muster. Join next time when we speak with another retainer… who paints a graphic portrait of life inside an Oklahoma call center, and how far they went to deal with the pressures.

OK: There were people selling on the floor! You could get meth, you could get pot…

CONSUMERIST: All that and more, on, your number one source for the disco party over AOL’s grave.



AOL Retention Manual Revealed
NYT Notes AOL Manual Upload, Questions Raised
AOL Updates Retention “Offer Matrix”
AOL Internal Memos, After Vinny’s Call