EXCLUSIVE: AOL’s John Not Paid Hush Money

Remember John? He was the other man on the phone in the AOL cancellation call heard round the world. Despite his voice being played, without his permission, over the internet, on radio and nightly news, no one’s heard a peep from him.

We speculated that AOL paid John a sizable bonus package to encourage his silence, until now…

A source close to the situation told us that John did not receive a severance package and AOL told him to not to apply for unemployment either.

AOL was unresponsive to our request for comment to verify this statement.

Let’s get this straight. So you’re John, and you’re just going along, doing the job AOL told you to do, the way they taught you. One day, someone records one of your calls and spread it around the internet. You end up humiliated in the mainstream press, AOL publicly disowns you, terminates your contract without notice, tells you to forget your unemployment bennies… and you don’t even get a little payola?

Classy. That is one seriously scaped goat.


Edit Your Comment

  1. MissPinkKate says:

    What the hell, that totally sucks. Who can we write to at AOL to complain?

  2. Ishmael says:

    John doesn’t need any hush money. Anything he would have said, the ConEds already have.

    I know if I were him, I’d be horribly embarrased, move far away, change my name, and pretend like I know nothing about the situation.

  3. Tiger says:

    AOL commonly fought to stop unemployeement for ex-employees. HR usually had one a week. It consisted of the fired AOL CSR on a three way call with AOL’s HR and the unemployeement board. They would fight tooth and nail to stop the employee from getting a dime. They had lots of paper work to back them up. AOL usually won. Stop them from canceling and stop the unemployeement.

  4. DeeJayQueue says:

    Yeah, that’s sorta the definition of shame. Besides, if AOL decides to use his voice as a “what not to do” for training purposes or whatever, it’s the same thing, and he knows that some of his calls are monitored.

    We also know that working as a retention rep at AOL is a choice, you get to pick good or evil, and even if he didn’t know at the time he picked evil, he still stayed there long enough to be in the situation he’s in now.

  5. cudthecrud says:

    Lets not forget that overall, AOL is the bad guy and not John. I would welcome John to come and vindicate his name, letting us know some specifics about how AOL encouraged him to treat callers that way.

  6. Paul D says:

    Suddenly we’re all on John’s side…

  7. WMeredith says:

    Yeah, as soon as he’s off AOL’s side.

  8. something_amazing says:

    But this is also great news, it means that John is free to talk about his experiences without fear of legal retribution.

  9. Vinny says:

    I think the only people who weren’t on John’s “side” were the ones (like me, in the beginning before all the crap started trickling out) who thought he was acting on his own. The more you read, the more you realize that he was acting within company guidelines and then fired for doing so.


    That’s why people appear to be on John’s side now. The guy was made a scapegoat in the hopes that merely shitcanning him would make everyone think that AOL took that sort of thing seriously.

  10. Demingite says:

    I never doubted John was just doing the job he was taught to do for two reasons:

    (1) He was a kinder and gentler version of the guy I got when I called to cancel — seriously. The back and forth was similar, except the guy I had had substantially more of a “you’re stupid,” combative attitude than John did. Maybe I wouldn’t have chosen that particular job, if I had a choice — we all make mistakes — but John sounds to me like a fundamentally decent person. He was unfortunately stuck in a job where he was asked to do indecent things.

    (2) It was way, way too random. What are the odds that Vinny would just happen to get a “really bad apple” employee? The connection of John to Vinny was entirely random. The fact that John was actually nicer than the guy I talked to — and other comments confirm that John was relatively easy — tells me that John was either a normal, typical AOL retention consultant, or else someone who actually was a bit more decent than the normal, typical AOL retention consultant. It also seems apparent in the cadence of the conversation that John is following a protocol — a protocol trained to him, and enforced by, AOL. Vinny was at times on the aggressive side (vs. customers who would be more readily cowed), and John responded to that as many humans would.

    It seems to me that the evidence — from other former customers, former AOL employees, and AOL documents — at this point is overwhelming and consistent: John was just doing his job, and his behavior was entirely within the normal range for an AOL retention consultant.