Zombie AOL Account Crawls Out Of The Grave Nine Years Later

Jennifer, like many people, one subscribed to AOL. She paid for the service originally, then received a free account while employed with Time Warner. Then she joined the 21st century and didn’t use AOL at all, but her free account remained in the system. Until AOL started billing her. Nine years later.

Have any other readers had a problem with AOL suddenly billing them out of nowhere, without any notice? I had an account with them that I opened nine years ago, perhaps paying about $9.99 initially, but I haven’t paid for their service since around 2000, after it was converted to a free account provided to me when I worked at Time Warner. Then, of course, I went to broadband like the rest of the country.

In February/09, after probably years of not using AOL, I was sent a notice in the mail to “update” my account because they were having a hard time billing me. I logged in and hit “update” and I got a message saying I had a free account and all was well. But I guess it wasn’t. Yesterday, I got a notice from a collections agency saying I owe $103.60 for four months of service. I’ve called AOL repeatedly, and they insist that a $25.90 per month charge was being successfully billed to a Visa, but the Visa stopped working in November/08. I’ve never had a Visa! And I certainly didn’t authorize a $25.90 monthly charge for a free, subpar internet service. So who was paying for my account?

I don’t know what to do at this point. I’m having them send me a fraud form, since that may be my best chance at fighting this, but I have so far been unable to convince them that something is wrong here. Incidentally, I pulled a credit report on myself last night to see if there was a latent or delinquent Visa I wasn’t aware of, and there are no Visa cards on it. I have perfect credit and am worried about the collections agency reporting this if I can’t solve the problem. Any advice?

She can’t do a chargeback when the account was billed to a credit card that doesn’t exist. Other than going all customer service ninja and contacting someone in a position of power, any ideas as to what Jennifer can do?

(Photo: kalleboo)

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