Cancelling AOL

How hard is it to cancel AOL?

I decided to find out.

Here’s the setup.

I had an AOL account years ago. I kept it around because many of the suits in my office use AOL. When the boss needs AOL fixed, you’d better have an account to get it running. That’s fine with me. It made troubleshooting much easier. Even though my father and mother both had accounts under mine, their computer didn’t even have the software installed. No one in my family was using it, and at most I was using it once a month.

Recently, I decided that I could spend $14.95 a month in many better ways, and decided to cancel the AOL account. Knowing the horror stories, I decided to do the deed at work where I could record the whole thing. I knew it was going to be good, but I had no idea it would be the abusive disaster it was.

Click here to check it out.

The highlight for me? Him asking for my father when the account is mine, the name on the account is mine, and the card paying the bill is in my name.

Warning: I know the audio on my end is a bit weak. I don’t have the greatest phone recording setup. Anyone else have an interesting “cancellation” story from AOL or some other company?

UPDATE: File is no longer on this server and can now be found at the link above. Sorry for broken links, but my server can’t handle being hit by Digg, Fark, Metafilter, and Anandtech at the same time!

Thanks to Putfile for bailing my ass out.

[tags]aol, cancellation[/tags]

This entry was posted in Scary. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Len

    Wow, that’s even better than the story posted to Consumerist recently by a person who tried to cancel their father’s account because he’d passed away … IIRC they were asked “Is there any other reason you’re cancelling the service?”.

    Let us know if you still get an AOL bill next month …

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    I am sooo glad I never had an AOL account. They must have bonus for each person they talk-out of canceling.

  • Euan

    What an idiot, either you’re really unlucky, or AOL needs to rethink their training strategies.

  • 15thousand

    Just keep the one simple thing in mind. He’s doing his job. Yes that includes pissing you off. You have to call them and go through their shit to cancel. If they notice that there’s no way for them to convert you back then their goal is to get you off the phone without doing the cancellation. That includes pissing you off till you hangup. You THINK you are hanging up on them, but from their perspective you just made your account last just a little bit longer in their system AND maybe just pissed you off enough to NOT call them back to cancel. He was doing his job, and he did it very well. Blame AOL as a company, not some guy taking calls doing what he’s told to keep a paycheck. His job is to answer the phone and try to prevent you from ending that account. They take classes in this, they have meetings, they have “cue-cards”, they have people monitoring them and making sure they do what they are told to prevent you from cancelling. He was just doing his job. Blame AOL, not the little guy.

  • Tracy

    Be prepared for some annoying follow up phone calls from them. When I tried to cancel it took about 30 to 45 minutes, even though I just kept saying “cancel it.” Then they called about twice a month for three months trying to get me to come back. Every time I told them I would never come back and not to call me anymore. They finally got thet hint the last time.

    I cancelled with a different isp, because I was no longer going to be using dial-up. They were extremely friendly about it and refunded me the unused portion of my bill that month without me asking. Guess which one I would go back to first if I had to.

  • Fooluaintblack

    I think im purposefully going to sign up for alot of aol accounts, and then cancel them all. i enjoy doing this like this, especially when thousands of people get to see what happens.

  • Fooluaintblack

    I think im purposefully going to sign up for alot of aol accounts, and then cancel them all. i enjoy doing things like this, especially when thousands of people get to see what happens. Perhapes i will eventually move on to the lofty goal of pissing off atleast one horrendous corporation a week.

  • james

    too bad if you send this to AOL, they will probably sue you becuase it’s illegal to tape phone conversations without telling the other party…or have that beeping in the background.

  • http://dreamnetstudios.com/ Duodave

    Wow!!! How horrible is that? Dude, watch your cc statements to make sure they don’t keep billing you! I will have to say though, that the CS rep was doing his job. It’s not him we should be pissed at but his superiors who have the policies about making cancellation as difficult as possible. Trust me, he’s paid to talk about anything besides cancelling your account. I loved the way he made up stuff about the usage. Nice touch. I’m sure he talks a lot of people out of cancellation that way.

  • http://tail-f.net/ YourM0m

    :evil: Absolutely unbelievable. I’ve heard about horror stories like this before. It was amazing to actually hear it first hand. I can’t understand why anyone would sign up with aol in the first place.


    Steve – http://tail-f.net/

  • Andrew

    I wish I would have recorded mine. I too had an old AOL account (11 years). Beside the “i am helping you by not helping you” line i also got the “in dangering your family & credit score” line (i am single). it took 30 min in the last 7min all i did way ask to speak to his supervisor, who was allways on a call. you should make a pre canceling page to get everone to record their calls.

  • Tim

    It’s tactics like this that got AOL sued, and why they have lost so much money. I got the same spiel when I cancelled and luckily they didn’t give me too much grief.

  • JD

    Wow. I almost feel bad for that guy. You know that this kind of corruption starts at the top… he’s just following protocol. If I were working at AOL customer service I would be getting out right about now.

    However, I do empathize. It’s frustrating when you see CSRs trying to take advantage of you, assuming they can get away with telling you blatant lies. For example, last year I set up a neighbor’s WiFi for them. I didn’t know how to sign back onto their Bellsouth DSL account after I had severed the physical connection. I called a CSR and told her what I was trying to do. Perplexed, she told me she would have to “go back into her lab and do some research.” She came back and told me that Bellsouth did not support Linksys routers. I sighed deeply… and asked to be forwarded to Level 2 tech support. Not surprisingly, the man who I spoke to actually treated me like a human being and we solved the problem.

    It’s hard to find competent CSRs who won’t try and slip one past you. You just have to ask to speak to the right people, or in the case of AOL, stand firm.

  • David

    I got the same routine from a Discover credit-card representative. After two non-pertinent questions, I simply said, “I’m sorry. I called to cancel this account, not to answer questions.” That did it.

  • Chris

    This is exactly why the 2nd Amendment needs to stay in the Constitution.

    Nuff said.

  • Jennifer

    I saw this link on boingboing; went through the same thing with AOL. Are their reps taken out back and beaten if they have a cancellation? I point blank asked the rep ‘are you going to cancel my account?’ The answer: NO. !!!

  • ThePolynomial

    I have a feeling that for each subscriber this dude stops from cancelling he gets to keep one of his children.

  • Operator 666

    Man what a stooge!

    That AOL guy probably scored top in ranking at the AOL staff retreats, you know the ones that coach teddybear spanking and autoerotic ventriloquism.

  • http://dbpr.blogspot.com/ dbpr

    My friend also had the same experience like you. He got a fight with the CSR while cancelling his service on the phone for about 30 minutes.

  • JV

    In situations like that I just ask for a manager. If some drone gives me a hard time or starts asking stupid questions, all I say is “Could I please speak to your manager”.

    What a moron. Good thing I’ve never been on AOL.

  • Steve

    I listened to the recording and frankly I can see why the AOL person might have been a little testy. Clearly you went in with a chip on your shoulder, spoiling for an argument. The tone of your voice annoyed me, too, and I can see why the service rep responded as he did. I probably would have done the same, if not more (which is probably why I’m not in that business).

    The words “please” and “thank you” go a long way to making life a little easier for everyone.

    Remember, the poor slob at the other end of the line is just someone trying to make a living and put food on the table. They’re not de facto part of some vast AOL conspiracy trying to make your life miserable. They have procedures that they have to follow in order to keep their jobs, just as you probably do.

    I also note that you did not tell the AOL rep that you were recording the call for “broadcast” and give them an opportunity to opt out. In some jurisdictions, that’s a crime.

  • Eli

    nicely done, but that guy was annoying the shit out of me as well. Bridget’s right, this could be used in one of those anti- AOL commecials. Thanks for posting it.

  • Dallas

    How could something be at once so funny and so painful?

  • http://jennifernieland.blogspot.com jennifer

    You mean you didn’t have to wait on hold for 45 minutes first??? After doing that twice, and getting the whole spiel about how it was in the middle of a billing period, and so I would been defaulting on the bill, so I should just stay on for another couple of weeks and then cancel, I finally had my credit card company deal with it. Only time will tell if it actually got cancelled, as it took a couple of cycles to quit showing up on my credit card statement. Kudos for remaining relatively calm under the AOL pressure :D

  • jefferson I think we’re lost

    I remember a t-file going around ten years ago that instructed as to how to use a tesla-coil to jump a bolt of lightning through ma-bell’s surge suppressors and electrocute the brain of the person on the other side through the telephone.

    Justice is sweet. Glad boingboing picked up this story.

  • http://www.ericsstorybook.com Eric McWilliams

    Wow that was totally wild I feel sorry for you having to put up with that crap man…

  • Rob

    I just canceled my AOL on 5/26/06 as I just got DSL. After being harrassed for about 30 minutes they finaly agreed to cancel my service. (They tried to get me to stay by cutting my rate from 24.99 a month to 14.99 and then finally to just 4.99 a month!) A week later I got a letter in the mail. It looked innocuous, just a piece of junk mail from AOL, but I decided to open it. Inside was a letter congratuilating me for renewing my service! That if I didn’t reply to the letter that they would begin to automatically bill me $24.99 a month. It also stated that “If my intent was to cancel AOL service” to fill out the form on the back of the letter and fax to AOL. I immediately called my credit card company and asked them to cancel any payment to them. (To use the payment dispute service you need to give the credit card company the name of the person you talked to, the date, time and the confirmation number provided by AOL. I luckily had kept these.) I then called AOL who quickly stated that this was an error and that they could see that the associate who handled my call had selected the wrong option. B.S. I believe this was on purpose. Anyway, I reported them to the Better Business Bureau. I suggest you do the same as I believe these are intentionally shady business practices that they employ.

    Thanks

  • Michael TLH

    Have you had your epiphany yet? Has your Dad had an epiphany?

    Good lord, you were a lot more calm than I would be.

  • jahxman

    I recently finally managed to cancel my AOL account – I’m at work so I haven’t listened to your experience yet, but I will listen when I get home.

    I had a similar situation – a 14.95 account that I had for convenience, and to help other people out.

    I actually tried cancelling it about a year ago, and finally got the person I was talking to (she was clearly in another country, probably India) to admit that she herself could not cancel my account on the phone – I had to actually mail a letter with all kinds of specific identifying information on it. All she did was keep trying to sell me on keeping the service. At the time I never got around to sending the letter….

    This time I was more determined, and from the very beginning kept interrupting the guy’s pitch with, “I just want to cancel, I don’t want to listen to a pitch, I want to cancel now, If you can’t do it for me on the phone, tell me exactly what I need to put into a letter or fax, and I’ll send it right away. If you can’t do that put me thru to a supervisor.”

    I had to repeat this above statement exactly 9 times – but he did finally stop trying to pitch me and cancelled my account, giving me a confirmation number. Just before he did this he had offered me three months free if I would keep the service – really amazing:roll:. He kept insisting that I would be plagued with malware and other evil influences if I didn’t pay to use the AOL browser. LMAO:lol:.

    I’ll be watching my credit card statement very carefully to make sure I don’t get charged again.

  • Mr. Atoz

    Kudos to you for (mostly) holding your tounge and not going off on this guy. I wonder if you asked for his super if you would have eventually gotten to talk to one, or if you would have been “accidentally” disconnected in transfer.

    I have 50 republic credits that say you get a bill next month AND they have no record of you calling to cancel. You proabaly also have the “irate & difficult customer flag” set on your account now. :D

    Good luck, let us know how it turns out.

  • jahxman

    I recently finally managed to cancel my AOL account – I’m at work so I haven’t listened to your experience yet, but I will listen when I get home.

    I had a similar situation – a 14.95 account that I had for convenience, and to help other people out.

    I actually tried cancelling it about a year ago, and finally got the person I was talking to (she was clearly in another country, probably India) to admit that she herself could not cancel my account on the phone – I had to actually mail a letter with all kinds of specific identifying information on it. All she did was keep trying to sell me on keeping the service. At the time I never got around to sending the letter….

    This time I was more determined, and from the very beginning kept interrupting the guy’s pitch with, “I just want to cancel, I don’t want to listen to a pitch, I want to cancel now, If you can’t do it for me on the phone, tell me exactly what I need to put into a letter or fax, and I’ll send it right away. If you can’t do that put me thru to a supervisor.”

    I had to repeat this above statement exactly 9 times – but he did finally stop trying to pitch me and cancelled my account, giving me a confirmation number. I guess they can actually do it on the phone now. Just before he did this he had offered me three months free if I would keep the service – really amazing:roll:. He kept insisting that I would be plagued with malware and other evil influences if I didn’t pay to use the AOL browser. LMAO:lol:.

    I’ll be watching my credit card statement very carefully to make sure I don’t get charged again.

  • Adam

    I used to work for a credit card customer serive department. This was at least 10 years ago. I can’t tell you how many calls we got from customers that were having their accounts charged by AOL even after they’d cancelled their service with AOL. So, remember to check the credit card statement that is on file with AOL, and get ready for another battle. AOL will get the last laugh.

  • http://www.nickzart.com/blog Nick

    It’s beautiful, thank you for recording it and hope many, many more people will record these conversations and P.S. get the person’s name and time of calling to make it semi-official.

    5 years ago I cancelled an AOL account for a client of mine standing right there and we had a blast. The idiot, like the one you caught on tape was going through the usual annoying how can I hekp you. So we played along and said too much porn spam. At the time, AOL was huge on porn spam. The idiot finally says that they had special filters for that after I had reinstated there were children using that account. I ask him to tell me again that AOL knowing we had children using that account and seeing it never bothered to protect them?

    He promptly shut up and cancelled. This recording should be sent to AOL by the way.

    Thank you…

  • Noah

    Man…that was just ridiculous. The Better Business Bureau has some information on AOL you might find interesting/useful: http://www.dc.bbb.org/report.html?national=Y&compid=2087

  • justis

    Un-fucking-believable. I played this for several people around my office, and everyone says the same as Bridget — it pisses you off just listening to it. I cancelled an AOL account about four years ago, and got essentially the same runaround, but since my account hadn’t been used for over a year, they didn’t give me as much crap as you got.

    Incidentally, some of my coworkers know people at AOL, and they have sent a link along to them. This has to get back to someone who matters at AOL, and “John” or whatever-the-hell his name is needs to get fired now. Unfortunately, he’ll probably get a promotion.

    Of course, you’re already on the first page of Digg.com, so I don’t think publicity will be a problem anymore. ;-)

  • milt

    It took me over a half an hour of battling to get my AOL account cancelled a few years ago. The guy was a complete asshole. He asked me, “What were you using this account for?” And I said, “That really isn’t any of your business.” To which he replied, “It is if you want your account cancelled.” I was amazed. He wouldn’t let me speak to a manager when I demanded to speak to one. I hope AOL crashes and burns and all of their call center drones are sent to Guantanamo. Do companies like AOL not understand that all they are doing is creating hostility and losing customers for life by these practices? I told everyone I know about my AOL horror story and none of them will ever become an AOL customer because of it.

  • duh

    That is so obviously a fake..

  • http://www.themaingate.net/blog David

    I cancelled an AOL account years ago and they had the same sort of routine, asking why I didn’t want it anymore. They only asked maybe once or twice – the dude you recorded was definitely way more aggressive. I have also had AOL CHARGE me for using their free 1-month trial. This being said I think this call was a problem with Customer Service guy more than AOL. Sorry you had to go through with that…

  • tim

    this is the kind of passive aggressive bs that i hate about phone service people. assholes like this guy should have their job outsourced to india.

  • PDQ

    Never having had an AO-Hell account, I thank my lucky stars for my foresight.

    I suppose if they absolutely refused to cancel you could just cancel your credit card and have it reissued so they couldn’t bill you anymore – but that’s more of a pain in the ass than calling AOL customer service if you have a bunch of automatic charges on the card.

  • wenceslao

    i thought the caller was more abusive to the customer service than the other way around. profanity did not have to be used to insult the other person in the other end. it is the customer representative’s implied job to keep customers from an already failing company. we know AOL is going down. although quite a horrible tactic to customers though. caller could have just done it effectively without the hostile words and calmly duffused the situation. i have gone through the same situation similar through this. i just calmly repeated and kindly said i did not want to keep the service. although frustrated there was no need for such hostility.

    that customer service personnel deals with many other people’s anger day by day and takes the end of it all day. even though the company tells them to do it. its not the customer represntatives fault. yet the caller blame the person and direct such anger to an undeserving person.

  • dragonpup

    Terrible. It may be one of the many slackers, flunkies, IT-wanna-be’s and otherise a plethore of losers who work for a company called Software Spectrum (AOL uses this company to handle their tech support calls) a company that is equal to if not worse than AOL. I hope you deal a damaging blow to both of these reprehensible exucese for companies..

  • http://www.consine.tk Recoil

    I bet that guy was just aching to get his “Employee of the month” diploma :P

  • Greg

    The only problem with sending the audio to the hi-up people in AOL is that the employees are trained to try to convince the people who whish to cancle their account to keep it.

    Although the employees sound like idiots the entire time, they’re trained to do that =P

    Isn’t that funny?

    Being trained to sound like a jerk off!

    It’s hilarious!

    Also, the highlight for me is threatening to not cancel the account if he didn’t listen to the promo at the end!!

  • guy awesomeo

    this is amazing, i’m so glad someone recorded this. i work at aol so i know what a shit company it is. that type of attitude does not stop at the member retention department. its pretty much the lay of the land at this company. why am i still working here? i dont know….

  • http://paulstamatiou.com Paul Stamatiou

    Oh man, that is great! My parents still use AOL, so one day I will get them to switch to gmail and I’ll be making that call. Hahah. Good idea to record it.

  • http://originofmorons.blogspot.com brian

    Seriously, you are taking this up the line right? You deserve a corporate response.

  • Joe

    This is just about the exact same experience that I had years ago – down to the repetition and obnoxious attitude. They must still have the same script and training in place.

  • johans

    I recently cancelled my old AOL account and it went through pretty quickly. I still had to say “no thanks” a few times, but all in all, it was very effortless. I spoke to an friendly woman from India. I think that to a certain extent, it depends on who you connect with on the phone. My guess is that the “John” this individual spoke to was employed at AOL’s Jacksonville FL (USA) facility (one of the largest in the continental USA with over 2k employees). Everyone there was recently fired, and the call center shut down, and most of the call volume sent to India. So I suppose that’s a kinda cool thing. The dude who “Vincent” spoke with is very likely unemployed or employed moping jizz up from a porn shop :-) hehe

  • Joe

    This is just about the exact same experience that I had years ago – down to the repetition and obnoxious attitude. They must have the same script and training in place.

  • crazysheep

    Sounds like the guy was just doing his job.

  • John

    I’m trying to convince my partner to dump AOL but he won’t budge for whatever reason. I personally hate them and stopped using as well. My sister tried to cancel the account when she moved and ended up with 6 months free because the idiot wouldn’t take no for an answer. Morons all of ‘em.

  • http://blog.stereophile.com/wesphillips/ Wes Phillips

    I had a fairly similar experience, only my guy wasn’t as big a jerk as yours. He was just as insistent, but not as obnoxious. Of course, the reason we both had to call is that AOL won’t let you cancel online, since they can’t hector you that way. Thanks for posting this.

  • z

    :D Boing Boing :D

  • Harry

    Wow! Was his next step gonna be to come to your house and put a gun to your head? I had heard the same stories and anticipated this when I cancelled awhile ago. I received the same treatment. My question was, “What part of NO don’t you understand!” I asked for the manager, who denied her employee stated what he did. She was worse than he was and when I started threating to call my state attorney general she relented. Down with AOL!

  • Chris

    Note to self: buy an air-horn for when I need to cancel my aol account.

    “Are you going to let me speak? We can stall you all day..”

    BHWAAAAAAAAAA!

  • http://digg.com Patrick

    AWESOME!

    “Helping me would be cancelling the account” – too funny.

    What’s sad is I’ve had this same conversation with at least 3 other companies.

  • chonzer

    omg this happend to me around 2 weeks ago, i have comcast now and i still had an aol account and when i called to cancel they kept making me so many damn offers it wasn’t funny, offers as low as 3 dollers. Eventually they gave in and cancelled the account.

  • chonzer

    omg this happend to me around 2 weeks ago, i have comcast now and i still had an aol account and when i called to cancel they kept making me so many damn offers it wasn’t funny, offers as low as 3 dollers. Eventually they gave in and cancelled the account.

  • ben

    That is really sad. I second the motion to forward to an AOL rep. First contact the local news, they love stuff like this. :)

  • http://dreadpiraterobert.blogspot.com dreadpiraterobert

    Yikes, that’s pretty embarrassing for AOL. I mean, I know the phone rep job really sucks, but he didn’t have to get all testy with you. “You’re going to listen to me if you want this turned off?” “We can stall you all day?” “If you want me to cancel this account you’re going to let me speak?”

    Nice business practices AOL, and don’t try to blame the phone jockey.

    p.s. cancel my account.

  • obiwan

    Makes me want to get an account just to cancel it.

  • quasi

    Jesus Christ. I wonder whether threatening legal action unless they closed your account would have encouraged them…

  • Erica

    Awww, when I cancelled my acct, the guy went through a similar shpiel, but I could tell he didn’t like doing it, and he gave in to the inevitable much quicker. Instead, he put me on hold a lot and tried to sell me their firewall service for DSL. The phone call took about 15-20 minutes and ensured that I’d never do business with AOL again.

  • http://www.inboxnews.com/story/433/ Audio of man cancelling AOL account

    Great story, even better audio. I hope you don’t mind but I posted the audio clip on my site to help distribute the load. Everyone should hear this!

  • Greg

    I went through the same **** with these losers. Even after all that, they restarted my account and started billing my CC again. I had to get my bank to block it. Then then asked me to provide them another CC number (!) They then sic’d a vulture collection agency on me for “non-payment.” It’s been over a year and they’re still leaving recorded messages on my answering machine. They’ve also ignored a written response I sent to AOL with copies of their own cancellation letter I got from them. The Feds need to shut this American icon down and end the lunacy.

  • KJS3

    I actually had to cancel a credit card to stop AOL from billing it after phone calls, faxes and certified letters didn’t work.

  • Scott

    You’ve been linked from boingboing.net, and I believe you’ve exceeded your bandwidth limit. Could you host it somewhere else, or maybe post a transcript?

  • http://philosoraptor.blogspot.com Winston Smith

    Don’t be silly. You can’t cancel an AOL account… They once charged us for six months after we had already cancelled. A friend of mine once worked for ‘em for awhile, and he said that even the people who worked there couldn’t cancel their accounts.

    An AOL account is like herpes. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it for life.

    And as this incident makes clear, they have now apparently added stupidity training to help insure that cancelling is *absolutely* impossible.

  • tekjerk

    i’d love to hear that audio…to bad the link’s broke

  • http://terminally-incoherent.com Luke

    Dude, that guy was annoying!

    Btw, it seems that the link is dead. It might have something to do with being digged and boingboinged at the same time :D .

    I was able to get the whole thing via coral cache here.

  • wendy

    hmm, the file doesn’t seem to be working anymore?

  • Viral

    Meh. Most call centres have required scripts that must be read to the customer or they’ll take a hit for it when they have their performance reviews. The guy sounded like he was just trying to do his job. But at the same time the guy’s no different than anyone else. He’s not just going to sit there and take shit from someone. I’d say he was pretty frustrated being unable to do his job.

    If Vinny here had just gone with it and remained polite it would’ve been over faster than the 5 minutes it took him otherwise. In fact I bet you the detailed description posted above could’ve been given point-form with relative ease, and I’m also pretty sure this AOL dude would’ve been satisfied with that reasonable explanation. His job is to keep AOL in the money. Keep that in mind.

  • Robyn

    I’m not able to download and listen to the clip, for some reason. Is there a transcription available?

  • jim m.

    Gettin a code 500 server error.

  • dustin

    the audio link doesn’t work.

  • jim m.

    Actually, I think he was at least somewhat right. If the account showed recent usage by your father, he was right to question why were cancelling it. The fact that you said that he didn’t use it was kinda heresay to him..

  • Ben

    The mp3 is gone……….

  • onetime

    Hopefully the link gets back up soon. I had a similar experience. Perhaps not abusive, but it took me a good 20 minutes before I could cancel (for my boss even).

  • Darth Meatloaf

    AOL has been notorious for many things. This definately ranks way up there, but for those of you that may have missed one of the other fun ones…

    Some versions of AOL have installed an AOL VPN adapter along with the other AOL-specific networking components. (not sure if the latest version does, but it’s not that long ago that I learned this) The VPN adapter has the potential effect of handing AOL 100% access to everything on your hard drive, and the AOL software that includes it will not work without the VPN adapter there – uninstalling = total lack of the ability to go online.

    Even funnier, I called and asked their tech support and engineers why iit was there, given the access to my computer that such a thing would grant, and they all claimed to have no idea why it was included…

  • DarkMastyr

    When I cancelled my AOL account, I had the guy telling me that he was willing to put money down that I’d be back within a month, and that he could make such a bet because he made more money than me. By the way, I can’t access that link. Internal server error 500.

  • Dave Parke

    I quit AOL several months ago and had no problem at all. I don’t know why this guy had so much trouble. They even let me keep my e-mail address for free and I can check my account from the aol.com website (just in case somebody finds me)

  • http://www.pattib.org patti

    I had something very similar happen to me a few weeks ago, but they kept going on and on about how great their network security software is, and how vulnerable my computer would be without AOL’s software.

    I run a small data center out of my loft; I’m perfectly capable of handling my own network security. I finally started lying through y teeth just to get through with it.

    “What are you doing for network security on your home connection?”

    “I have a high-end Cisco firewall on my connection; it retails for about $30,000.”

    (blah blah blah) “You do understand your computers are vulnerable when they’re connected to the internet all the time?”

    “I don’t even have any Windows boxes on my network.”

    (blah blah blah) “AOL has the best security software in the industry…”

    “Look, I make my living as a network security consultant. Corporations pay me several hundred dollars per hour to help them keep their networks safe. I think I can handle my home network.”

    And it took me about fifteen minutes to get through the call.

  • AR

    the link is down :cry:

  • Libby

    Funny!

    When we cancelled our AOL service, we had the exact same problem. The account was in my mother’s name, so she did it, and she had to tell them at least ten times (no exaggeration) that she wasn’t interested in any “super awesome deals” that AOL currently had.

    They asked her as well if she had high speed internet, and she said she was getting it through another company. The AOL representative went on a tirade about how much better AOL was and how she shouldn’t cancel. The entire call took about 15 or 20 minutes before they finally got the point.

    And oh yeah, they canceled the service about a week before they were supposed to.

  • http://www.creativearts.com J Kelly

    You know what.. I didn’t even listen to it. I know from past experience what a nightmare it was, an I don’t want to relive it!

    I still have clients held hostage by AOL. Mainly though it is their email addresses; they are frightened to lose them after all these years.

  • http://grumblemagazine.com/articles/thebigjew/aol.html The Big Jew

    This is an article I wrote for Grumble Magazine about my dreadful AOL experience.

  • Lisa

    Isn’t that abuse? As if they have nothing better to do than to hassle departing customers. I feel that while technology has allowed us to connect with the world, it has also gotten that much bothersome.

    AOL can be partially blamed for some of their ridiculous junk mail (trail CDs) and ads that come with certain software installations.

    *sigh*

  • http://blog.osministry.com Bob Brown

    I had a horrible experience with the frea AOL 2.0 trial disks and just haven’t bothered since.

    Living in Jacksonville, FL (The home of the recently closed down AOL call center) I have heard the AOL support complaints from the other end of the phone.

    I was just talking to friend who used to work there and he quickly rambled off a bunch of the standard answers they are required to give to people trying to quit.

    The #1 rule: Don’t let them cancel.

  • Chris

    I used to work for a company that handled “retention” for Netzero, which is a great name for haggling people who wish to cancel their service with the company. AOL uses a different company for this service, but they use the exact same tactics.

    The idea is to try to converse with the customer to try to find out why they want to cancel and attempt to remedy the problem. Unfortunately, their are very few customers that have an actual issue with the service that can be swayed to keep it. The call center’s policy is to “always get 3 NO’s” before giving in to the request. Individual employee tactics vary, but range from ignorance to straight-up deceit.

    These call centers require a certain retention percentage. Many, like AOL and Netzero, give bonuses for every “save.” These bonuses increase as your save rate does. Like I said, not many customers are easily swayed to keep the service, so you can imagine the methods of the most successful in that business. I’ve seen those who will attempt to keep the customer on the phone as long as possible, denying their request, until they hang up and it does not count against them. Ignorance and misleading are also common tactics used.

    As the people can freely give out a couple of months free service, I’ve even seen them credit an account with a few free months instead of cancelling. The charge stops for a few months, you go on with your life thinking your will is done…

    It all ultimately lies with the person on the other end of that phone line.

  • DAN

    I would have told the guy to pass me to his supervisor so I could tell them I would be suing. When the cardholder/account holder wishes to terminate a no-lock in contract, they have to do it or they are guilty of usuary.

  • Mr Angry

    And of course, the popularity of this post will be brought to AOL’s attention, they will realise the error of their ways and immediately fix their abusive customer service policies. Or maybe not. I hope they don’t and we get more hilarity from them in the future.

  • richard

    Well, I can’t dispute on this one coz it happened to my friend exactly the same way. I was listening to the phone while he was talking to the customer service of AOL and she was trying to convince my friend not to cancel the account. And even if my friend will cancel the account, and his sons will access (which is just the secondary account), the primary account will automatically reactivated. HOW THE HELL CAN THIS BE POSSIBLE??? If you are the primary account, and once you cancel it, the secondary account should have no authority to reactivate it. THAT’S HOW STUPID AND IDIOTIC THE SERVICE OF AOL.. And AOL is trying to advertise their “HIGH SPEED CONNECTION”, DON’T BE DECEIVED BY THIS ADVERTISEMENT, it is not true that they have a high speed connection. Their what they call “high speed connection” is only good if you have an existing broadband (DSL or cable modem) internet.But they still have the balls to charge you more than $10 bucks for their service. What the heck is their service if you already have an existing internet connection???

    check out this webpage where they advertise their AOL HIGH SPEED for as low as $25.90 a month. Check for the details especially on the part which says “Now get AOL High Speed – it’s not just faster dial-up, – it’s true broadband – powered by a DSL or Cable connection.

    There, from the statement “…powered by a DSL or Cable connection”, you MUST have an existing high speed internet for the “AOL HIGH SPEED INTERNET” to work. Isn’t this ridiculous??? Judge it for yourself.

  • richard

    I am sorry, i double posted the comment coz i got an internal server error when i first posted it and then when i tried it the last time, it says something that i double posted it.

  • http://skippy.org.uk Skippy

    The Audio file seems not to be available at the moment, if this is a problem with your bandwidth usage, would yo ulike it mirrored when i can download it?

  • Justin

    mp3 linky doesn’t seem to work :(

  • http://orneryworld.blogspot.com/ tom

    I get a 500 error. A shame, as my life is basically a process of drifting between peoples’ tales of abusive IT types and thinking, there but for the grace of etc…

  • Cir

    Being hearing impaired myself, I’d like to know if there’s any chance of having a transcript of this (a quick one is fine).

  • http://slashdot.org Steak

    Any chance of typing up a transcript? The link to the mp3 seems to be down at the moment.

  • Steve

    Can’t hear it, server error it says! :(

  • http://n/a Troy

    Damn, I can’t seem to access the file, I get:

    “Internal Server Error
    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@insignificantthoughts.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

    Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
    Apache/1.3.36 Server at http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Port 80″

    Is there an alternate link?

  • cakesy

    Anyone have a link to a mirror?

  • Matty

    Went through a similar hell with them a year ago. My partner tried to cancel his account because w/ broadband he simply didn’t need it.

    I WISH I’d had a recording. We had just bought a house together and in the new place I had him all set up with our cable ISP. They stalled him and badgered (sp?) him, even though he asked at LEAST five times to close the account. Eventually I got on the phone and told them to just close the damn account and knock it off. Of course they asked who I was – told them I was his partner – and the comeback was “well, your ‘partner’ or whatever he is needs to be the one we talk to”… the guy actually laughed at me as he said it.

  • PMR

    Hmmmmm. As of 7AM, June 14, 2006, this file no longer exists? I hope nothing bad has happened. Midnight raid by the AOL strike team? I was looking forward to hearing it.

  • Mickey

    Link to mp3 doesn’t work. Gives 500 error.

  • http://www.sinisa.org/ sinisa

    Oh,
    unable to listen to it :(
    Can you mirror it somewhere or seed it and post a link here?

    cheers.

  • Phil Vitale

    Sorry I couldn’t hear the cancelation notice due to some internal server error. But I can imagine what it was like since I went through a similar thing some years ago when I canceled AOL. They were insulting, rude, stupid and arrogant. When they asked me if anyone else used the account I told them that my son does sometimes. Well they wanted me to ask him if it was alright. (My son was only 10 or 11 at the time and he doesn’t pay the bills.) That’s when I launched into a series of invectives that that asshole may still be stinging from. Eventually I was able to cancel but was still being billed two months or so later. That required another phone call and another round of stupidity and rudeness. I

  • Phil Vitale

    Sorry I couldn’t hear the cancelation notice due to some internal server error. But I can imagine what it was like since I went through a similar thing some years ago when I canceled AOL. They were insulting, rude, stupid and arrogant. When they asked me if anyone else used the account I told them that my son does sometimes. Well they wanted me to ask him if it was alright. (My son was only 10 or 11 at the time and he doesn’t pay the bills.) That’s when I launched into a series of invectives that that asshole may still be stinging from. Eventually I was able to cancel but was still being billed two months or so later. That required another phone call and another round of stupidity and rudeness.

  • Jim

    Very similar experience for me. My call lasted much, much longer than yours – probably more like fifteen minutes.

    The woman speaking with me would never agree to cancel my account until I warned her that if their bill appeared on my Mastercard Account, I would notify my bank to deny the charge.

    I finally got a screen showing that my account would be cancelled but could not find a way to print it out. Finally picked up my digital camera and made a “portrait” of the screen.

    After my experience, I would never, ever renew with AOL even if they had they were the best
    ISP in the business.

    Keep up the good work,

    Jim

  • worried

    why is this audio link not working.
    I hope its an innocent reason

  • http://airshowfan.com Bernardo

    “This call may be recorded for internet-amusement purposes…”

    And is it just me or is the MP3 not downloading properly?

  • Toby

    Is the link broken?

  • Jesse

    You got dumped by AOL – Your link to the recording is “Internal Server Error”. Big brother isn’t happy with you know. AOL has the power to reach out and grab someone! Be Careful – you are making big news!

  • lofidelity

    looks like the link is broken to the MP3 file… it’s giving a 500 internal server error. I really wanted to hear this, having been CS for the last year and a half.

  • http://www.spidertactics.com theSpider

    Wow, that sure brings back memories. I went through a very similar conversation about two years ago. I got so frustrated that I just said screw it and canceled my CC – it was that brutal.

  • Z

    FYI your audio link is down.

  • Richard M.

    The audio is down.

    They pulled that same shit with my grandmother. She called to cancel her account and hung up having subscribed for another full year. Scrimeballs.

  • JPH

    I’m not able to open it for some reason…anyone else having trouble? It takes me to a page that says “internal service error”….

  • Jeff

    the file won’t play for me:

    “The file you are attempting to play has an extension that does not match the file format.”

  • http://www.johnlittle.com John

    The file isn’t available here. Has it been posted anywhere else?

  • fubar

    The link is broken.

  • Nicnewsdad

    An effective way to cancel such auto-renewed services is to buy a Visa or Mastercard gift card, spend all but a few cents of it, and then change the billing info for the service to that card number (which can usually be done on line). Amazing how quickly these things are over when the card can’t be billed. No human contact is necessary.

  • evader

    Yo….your mp3 link comes up with a 500 error….did you get slashdotted???

    -evader

  • http://www.intelligent-coffee.com/ George

    The reason this was such a horrible experience was that the AOL Overlords have declared that you should not be allowed to just cancel your service, and penalize the CSRs who let you do so.

    What on earth do you think AOL does to the slacker CSRs that just let you cancel? Send them to prison in Guantanamo? Electrocute them through their headsets?

  • Laurel

    Yeah, wow. I have had similar experience(s) with them. They are always like this (not quite this bad tho) and, I presume, they are all trained to do some version of this. I hope you choose to do something *good* with this…. Wreak havoc!!

  • Isaac

    Your link is dead, and it’s KILLING ME. I’m eager to hear how all this went down….

  • http://asurroca.wordpress.com asurroca

    Sadly, I am not surprised. I’d gotten a trial AOL account like five years back, and the cancellation call was a ridiculously uphill battle. Nice of you to grab the convo on your side though; those cancellation calls can be a comedy goldmine!

  • Sam the Dragon

    Been there, Done that – All my friends were on AOL when I got on the net so I decided to join as well. It took me 30 minutes to sign up over the phone. I downloaded and installed all their (AOL) browser and crap and it took over my computer. They told me which web sites I could view and which pictures or music I had to view/listen to. So I finally decided to cancel my subscription – HA! It took me 3 MONTHS worth of emails and phone calls to finally get rid of them – they kept billing my credit card even though I had cancelled. Not only that, I had to strip my hard drive and start all over again as AOL puts crap in every conceivable corner & niche of your computer that cannot be eliminated without a complete striping. Unfortunately, Windows Comes with AOL bundling. Never click on the AOL icon that comes with windows other than to delete it as you will start an unstoppable chain reaction and you will have to strip and reload windows again.

  • Duanne

    I had an account that we used here at the company about 10 years ago. It took them
    3 months to get it cancelled and I had to
    verbally abuse them and threaten bodily harm
    before they finally got the picture.

  • hperez

    LOL, the sad part is not that the employee is dumb but that the company actualy encourages the employee to behave this way to preserve the revenue stream and actualy discourage the enployee to comply with the customers request. I’m almost certain that this employee will get can bacause he manage to make a fool of the company.

  • http://none Anders Jensen

    just for the heck of it, the mp3 seems gone (and no need to publish this :)

  • http://rvgl.tonycai.com/blog/ j2

    “Internal Server Error
    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.”

    Booo. If you need/want it mirrored, I can set up a copy for you.

  • Eric

    If it weren’t so unbelievably bad customer service, it would be hilarious.

  • Ted

    Years ago, I had an AOL account set up for my mom. It was fine, she was a Net newbie, and it was $22/month, which I paid for. Then my company became a partner of AOL, so we were all required to get an AOL account, albeit for free. So here was an excellent opportunity to cancel the AOL account I was paying for, so I called them up, went through the whole rigamarole, and it was cancelled. Right?

    Wrong. I continued to get billed on my credit card, despite maybe 20 phone calls to AOL. I even called my bank to deny payment to AOL.

    Finally, I just cancelled the card. Problem (finally) solved. AOL is worse than even the cell phone companies, if that’s possible.

  • mrlukeplease

    Goood stuff. Reminds me of my sister’s experience with canceling my mother’s AOL account after the old broad died, they didn’t let her off that easy!

  • Gamekiller

    Back when I had AOL as the only means of dial up it was fine. Then I got DSL and wanted to kill my aol. Well after who knows how many searches on their site to the steps to cancel the account. And the hours on hold with the cancellation number I just canceled the credit card the account was linked to. That got them quick and they call me and ask what happen. I told them they suck their program makes my computer run like crap and please do not bug me ever again. They never did anything else to me of charge me any more.

    God that was a pain.

    Gamekiller

    PS my girlfriend some how was about to do it in no time over the phone and she has one short temper. Go fig.

  • SFGary

    I feel your pain, it brings back memories of my own pain when I tried to cancel the account. In my case I had it for 2-3 yrs w/o using it and always wanted to get rid of it but had forgotten the account number so I “deferred” the coming pain. When I finally got around to it they did the dance about closing the account but still kept charging my cr. crd. Interestingly the cr.crd issuer said they were helpless and I was forced to eat 4 months worth of extra charges. I can’t believe that these pirates still manage to survive in business. By contrast Earthlink and even AT&T DSL closed my account in 5 minutes.

  • Justin

    The link seems to be broken now

  • Jay Car

    About two years ago I decided to cancel an AOL account that I had not used in ages. It was just the 4.95 account (or whatever the minimum, basic email cost was, I just remember that it was under $5 a month at the time)

    It took nearly an hour to get that piddly account cancelled. I was asked very personal questions and endured some very abusive high pressure tactics. Was often threatened with the call being disconnected if I did not quietly listen to the lecture or if I did not answer the long list of incredibly intrusive questions. If I gave simple yes or no answers, I was questioned further. It was a most miserable and humiliating experience. The worst part for me was the fact that no one believed me when I recounted the experience to friends later.

    I was glad when the State of NY sued AOL for these ugly practices. At least it brought the subject up in the news. I didn’t realize they were still doing practicing this reprehensible behavior. Maybe more States need to sue them.

    I despise their TV ads…”AOL, The Better Internet”. Hmmph! Pure lies. How do they get away with it? Whatever happened to the Truth in Advertising laws? I hope to see the day when they cease to exist at all. Soon!
    Jay Car

  • http://www.undrhil.com Ken

    :?: I want to listen to it but the link comes back with an Internal Server error. Does anyone have this .mp3 file mirrored somewhere so I can check it out?

    Ken

  • Mike

    dude, the link seems to be dead, i get an internal server error every time i click on it.

  • Michael

    Server is throwing an exception on the audio link.

  • Bob

    Time to outsource customer service to India !

  • Michael

    the link doesnt work

  • joshyy

    The mp3 link gives an “Internal Server Error”. Any luck of corrcting this?

  • webmonkee

    I work for a center that handles disconnects for a large dialup service that is not AOL. It’s worse. A typical story goes like this: A customer calls up to ask about some charge or a service, the rep asks them if they ‘want information on the internet’, and the customer is sent a installation kit, usually no matter their reply. If the customer doesn’t open up the letter and call up to cancel it, the 30 day trial eventually expires and the customer is charged for internet. This happened one day, and the customer called me to have it disconnected.

    It was for a call button in an elevator.

    (which requires a active phone line)

    I’d estimate we go through at least 1,000 disconnects a day at my place of work. But we won’t argue with you. Our only requirement is to ‘show empaphy to the customer’.

  • Sam

    It is rather amazing that all traces of the audio recording is gone (today is June 15th, only two days after this ‘popped’ on…
    is someone blocking this ???

  • ShortWave

    Of course you realize that “Customer Service” no longer means “serving the customer”…what it means nowadays is “handling the customer”…at least as far as AOL is concerned. Incidentally, I’m unable to download your mp3 file. Probably a mime issue or something.

  • No one

    Hmm. What gives? The file seems to have been moved or taken down.

    Too much traffic from Boing Boing?

    Internal Server Error
    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

  • Tony

    I went through the same thing, but with this butchy sounding woman. She asked me if I’d answer a few survey questions and when I told her “no”, she said I had to or she couldn’t cancel the account. She didn’t even wait for me to answer and started asking me all kinds of personal questions. When it because clear that I was not going to put up with her sh**, she finally agreed to cancel it (rather than put her superior on the phone), but she did so while being verbally abusive. As she was giving me my confirmation number, she cut the conversation off, so I did not get the whole thing. I called back to complain about her and found out that she had never processed my cancellation request. I suggest you call back and confirm it. AOL retention reps are a bunch of a**holes. I honestly don’t know how they sleep at night.

  • pseudogeek

    Usually there is a disclaimer up front “please be aware that this phone call may be recorder for training purposes”. That effectivly lets you record it as well.

    You should have just asked for his name, let him know how unhelpful he was being, politely, and then asked to cancel the account. You have to say ‘i want out’ like 18 times for them to cancel your account while still keeping their job. If you say it once, then ask to speak with their manager if they don’t do it for you, you get them off the hook AND get what you want faster.

  • paul

    That guy HAD to be a Scientologist. Oh wait…that’s Earthlink…

  • Gilbert Moore

    I had a friend who called up to cancel his account. The reason? He was dying of cancer. He wanted to make sure his wife didn’t have to deal with the problem after his death. The guy on the phone didn’t believe him, said he was lying, and all that. Long story short, after my friend passed away, his wife told the AOL rep to check out the obit page on their local newspaper’s website, and they still didn’t believe that it was the same person. She cancelled the credit card, and AOL sent the account to collections. It took a certified letter from an attorney threatening legal action and the publicity that goes with it, along with a notarized copy of the death certificate to get the account closed. She was unable to recover the 14 months of fees that she was billed after her husband died. I’m positive that when the AOL execs die, they won’t see him where they’re going.

  • Shel

    Similar story — many years ago. It took at LEAST 60 minutes of begging, pleading, repeating, yelling, asking for a supervisor (on my end); yelling, screaming, threatening and finally hanging up on me (on AOL’s end) to cancel my service. The guy was a complete and total A$$ — condescending, abusive, smug — you name it… I now wonder if AOL may just “encourage” this type of strong-arming by their CSRs to stall cancellation requests — this guy was GOOD and used EVERY conceivable turnaround in the book to try to get me to NOT cancel.

    I’m getting worked up about it all over again! Ack!

  • Vincent

    Good discussion. I would disagree on one point tho. People seem to say the CSR is “just doing his job”. I think that is a bogus cop-out. I think it is ok to blame AOL and the CSR! I mean, i blame the guy leading jews in to the shower at aushwitz as well as hitler for the holocaust. I dont think its ok to dismiss culpabilty because you were just “following orders”. At some point a sense of right and wrong have to enter into the equation, that were things like integrity, honesty, etc become more than just words. I think to say you did something you knew was wrong just because you were told to is a huge blow to self-respect. I’m sure people would say, hes just trying to feed he family,etc etc. I would argue being the kind of person you want to be is hard sometimes, and impossible with the attitude of “i was just doing my job”.

  • Derek Krumel

    Man, I’m using AOL, thank god the account isn’t in my name. I barely use it anymore though, but man, that’s more than a little fucked up.

  • Lulu

    I had the same experience about 7 years ago. Looks like they haven’t changed their tactics at all. Not only did I have to stay on the line with some tool for 30 minutes, but I also had to endure a venomous verbal attack from the aforementioned tool. After a few rounds of “No, just cancel it, please” he began yelling at me and trying to scare me off the phone. Like “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST FUCKING SAY SO IN THE FIRST PLACE??! GODAMMIT! If you had just SAID THAT in the beginning, we wouldn’t have had to go through all that SHIT! JESUS!” And muttered like that for the rest of the call. I was a little shaken up afterwards, but glad I held my ground. No one had ever talked to me like that before, it was awful. They obviously train their employees to intimidate people off the phone and prevent them from cancelling. I hate those bastards.

  • wayne

    I had a friend in Florida that wound up canceling a credit card to finally stop the AOL billing. The free perod after the supposed cutoff was still being billed to him…………..unreal. No wonder they are losing customers!!!

  • Ruth

    I just had a smiliar experience with Dish Network – and it’s still not completely worked out. They are annoying the crap out of me.

    Our service went out the Friday night before Memorial Day. Called them, finally determined that it was the dish and needed service. Service on THEIR dish was going to cost me $100 unless I signed up for a warranty thing for something like $5 a month and then the service call was only going to be $30. I asked why I should pay for their equipment to be fixed, they replied I was paying for the labor. I asked why I should pay for the labor for their equipment? No answer. So I said never mind and hung up.

    I called on Saturday, was told the same thing. I said again I would not pay for a repair. They offered it to me for $50 or $30 if I did the warranty. I asked again why I should have to. (They kept saying it was for the labor not the equipment) She said she wasn’t authorized to send someone out for free. I asked who was, and she was dumbfounded and didn’t answer.

    I finally decided I was going to just cancel since we’re moving in August anyway. (Thankfully when I signed up last September and signed a 1 1/2 year contract they screwed it up and it was never submitted – so I was free to cancel at any time)

    I called Tuesday (after Memorial Day) to cancel. I got bounced around and around and explained my story a million times. Finally had a lady processing it and I explained I was not going to pay their service and furthermore I was moving to take a teaching job and wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway. She offered me the service call again for $50. I said NO. She offered me the warranty again, and I repeated that I WAS NOT GOING TO PAY ANYTHING TO FIX THE SERVICE. Then she said that she could do it free if I would agree to a one year contract. I repeated that I was taking a pay cut and couldn’t afford it. Finally, she got it, and processed it.

    Then came the part of returning the equipment. She said she’d send me postage paid boxes to return JUST the receivers and remotes in. I asked her like 3 times what had to be returned. I was supposed to have the boxes in a week. Last Friday, boxes had still not shown up so I had to call again (and be bounced around and around again) to ask for the boxes.

    Finally got them yesterday. The instructions said I was to mail back receivers, remotes, a LNBF, and a switch. The instructions never said where a switch was or how to remove it, the LNBF was on the dish on the roof!! I called them and asked if they expect me to climb on my roof to remove it?!?!?! Furthermore, I never had my own dish – the stupid installation guy (who was worthless) hooked me up to someone else’s dish. The guy who barely spoke English said I didn’t need to return it. I asked if he was going to note it in my account so that I wouldn’t pay for it, he said yes. I asked what the switch was and where to find it, and he just mumbled “don’t worry about that either” – so I asked again that he was going to note it. He said yes. I don’t believe him though. I bet I get charged for both the LNBF and switch.

    I will never get Dish Network again!!!!!

  • http://attrition.org/postal/aol.html Jericho

    A while back, I started getting requests to cancel AOL accounts.. at attrition.org, a site that is just about the farthest thing from AOL. For kicks, I started replying to them and making it impossible for them to cancel. Wild how my antics end up being just like the real AOL support staff.

    http://attrition.org/postal/aol.html

    Vinny, please send me a copy of the mp3 if you would!

  • Aww.

    The .mp3 link doesn’t seem to work anymore — just redirects me to the main blog page. Please fix, I want to get in on the fun too :)

  • Nathan

    So easy to cancel, no wonder it’s #1!

  • shawn

    i had a problem a few years ago canceling my AOL account… well what started it was this AOL long distance calling plan… remember when you had to pay for long distance within the US? any way when i called i was in a pretty good mood but by the time i was off the phone i was so upset that i called back and canceled my whol AOL account (which i had for close to 10 year). basically our conversation boiled down to this… me saying. I want to cancel my AOL long distance… and the guy saying what can i do to get you to keep it? what if we did this or that or this or that… and i would just say no i want to cancel. he was getting pissed and was yelling at me… finally i went into a tirade and he finally canceled it… the best part is how they have that script and say “is there anything else i can help you with?” I was on the phone for over 30 minutes just yelling with that guy about canceling a damn AOL long distance calling acount!

    glad to hear that this guy got fired. i wish i could have had the same satisfaction.

  • Blue

    I tried several times. Then they would just say they were cancelling, and then not cancel and continue billing.

    The way to do this is NOT through AOL directly. I called American Express, told them I was disputing the charge and wouldn’t pay it, and they got AOL to shut it down. You turn off the money, and it’s no longer a problem.

  • Angelos

    Trust me you will get a bill next month.
    I did, it take me 3 months and move my bank account to a diffrent bank, they call my bank, told them that they where a collection agency and got my new account # 8O
    So they charge me again, their reason was that I called and reactivate the account every month, and that I was stupid for doing that…

  • Shane

    Unofficial transcript follows.

    (ring)
    JOHN: Hi, this is John at AOL. How may I help you today?
    VINCENT: I wanted to cancel my account.
    J: Sorry to hear that. Go ahead and pull your account up here real quick. Can I have your name please?
    V: Vincent Ferrari.
    J: ‘Kay, Vincent. And for privacy and security, can I have the last four digits of your payment method, please?
    V: (omitted)
    J: All right, thank you very much. Okay. Had this account for a long time!
    V: Yep.
    J: Used this quite a bit. What was causing you to want to turn this off today?
    V: I just don’t use it any more.
    J: Do you have a high speed connection, like the DSL or cable?
    V: Yep.
    J: ‘Kay. How long have you had that?
    V: Years.
    J: …The high speed?
    V: Years.
    J: Okay. Well, actually, I’m showing a lot of usage on this account.
    V: Yeah, a long, a long time ago, not recently.
    J: Well — well, the “Pops Ferrari” account was on 71 hours since the 24th of last month.
    V: No he wasn’t. He doesn’t even have the AOL software installed on his computer. You’re looking at AIM usage, probably.
    J: No, it’s… AIM usage doesn’t come on to this…
    V: He doesn’t have the AOL software installed on his computer, so…
    J: No this is — this is your father, then?
    V: Yep.
    J: Okay. Well, I’m looking at this account…
    V: Ah, either way, whatever you’re seeing…
    J: Well, what’s causing you to want to turn this off today? I mean, obviously, I mean…
    V: I don’t use it and he doesn’t use it, so we’re cancelling. He’s –
    J: ‘Kay.
    V: I’m telling you he doesn’t use the account. The software is not even on his computer. So.
    J: Well, okay, I mean is there a problem with the software itself?
    V: No, I just, I don’t use it. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I just don’t need it any more.
    J: Hm. So, when you use this, I mean, use the computer, I’m saying, is that for business, or…
    V: Dude, what difference does it make –
    J: …For school?
    V: I don’t want the AOL account any more. Can we please cancel it?
    J: Well, on June second, this account was signed on. It was, it’s been on for 72 hours. On June second.
    V: Ca– I don’t know how to make it any clearer.
    J: Last year was 540– last month was 545 hours of usage.
    V: I don’t know how to make this any clearer, so I’m just going to say it one last time: Cancel. The. Account. Please.
    J: Well, explain to me what’s, why…
    V: I’m not explaining anything to you. Cancel. The. Account.
    J: ‘Kay. Wha- what’s the matter, man. It’s not, I mean, we’re just, I’m just trying to help here, a’right…
    V: You’re not helping me, you’re– Helping me would be–
    J: Yeah, I am trying to help.
    V: Helping me– Listen. I called to cancel the account. Helping me would be cancelling the account. Please help me and–
    J (simultaneously): No, it wouldn’t actually.
    V: –cancel the account. Cancel my account.
    J: Turning off your account would be…
    V: Cancel the account.
    J: …the worst thing that…
    V: CANCEL the account.
    J: Is your dad there?
    V: My dad– I’m the primary paym– I’m the primary–
    J: ‘Kay, let’s, ’cause, could…
    V: — person on the account, not my dad.
    J (laughing): ‘Kay, ’cause I’m just trying to figure out…
    V: CANCEL THE ACCOUNT. I don’t know how to make this any clearer for you. Cancel the account. The card is mine, in my name…
    J: ‘Kay.
    V: The account is mine, and in my name. When I say “cancel the account,” I don’t mean “help me figure out how to keep it,” I mean “cancel the account.”
    J: No, I’m sorry– I don’t know what anybody’s done to you, Vincent, but this is…
    V: You’re annoying the shit out of me, that’s–
    J: Well–
    V: what you’re doing to me. Cancel the account, please?
    J: ‘Kay, now that goes both ways, my friend.
    V: Good. Can you please cancel the account?
    J: Because, I, all I’m… *sigh* All right. Some day, when you calm down, you’re going to realize that all I was trying to do was help you, and it was actually in your best interest to listen to me.
    V: Wonderful, okay, yeah, great.
    J: Ah, when that epiphany happens, then ah, just give us a call back, and we (indistinct).
    V: Wait –
    J: As I process your cancellation request, like to tell you about a free benefit available for valued members like yourself. We will continue to provide you some features of AOL (indistinct as V. interrupts)
    V: Don’t want it. I know the, I know the drill. I don’t even want it. Don’t even bother.
    J: ‘Kay. If you want me to cancel this account, you’re going to let me speak and, and give this paragraph. ‘Kay? ‘Cause if not, we can just argue all day, I d- I really don’t care, to be honest with you. But, you’re going to listen to me if you want this turned off. So: can I speak now?
    V: Go right ahead.
    J: Thank you. Appreciate that. As I process your cancellation request, like to tell you about a free benefit available for valued members like yourself. We will continue to provide you some features of AOL service even after membership has been cancelled. At aol.com you can keep your existing email, buddy list, address book, and more at no cost for as long as you like. There is no catch. This is AOL’s way of continuing our relationship with you. We know you — We know you want to keep your same email. Just go to aol.com, log in with your screen name and password. An email confirming the cancellation will be delivered to your free aol.com email within 24 hours. To complete this cancellation (unable to make out the rest of this sentence)
    (call ends)

  • JJChew

    I actually think you were the one who got nasty. He was being annoying, but you got nasty.

    And now he’s fired.

    Good work.

  • Kyle Lady

    Transcript:

    [[START]]
    [AOL Customer Service] Hi this is John at AOL, how may I help you today?
    [Vince] I want to cancel my account
    [AOL] Sorry to hear that…Let me pull your account up quick. Can I have your name please?
    [V] Vincent Ferrari
    [AOL] OK Vincent, for privacy and security, can I have the last four digits of your payment method please?
    [V] —-
    [AOL] Alright, thank you very much. Ok…You’ve had this account for a long time.
    [V] Yep.
    [AOL] This is quite a bit. What was the cause of [unintelligible]?
    [V] I just don’t use it anymore.
    [AOL] Do you have a high speed connection like DSL or cable?
    [V] Yep.
    [AOL] OK. (pause) How long have you had that? The high-speed?
    [V] Years.
    [AOL] OK. Well actually I’m showing a lot of usage on this account.
    [V] Yeah. A long time ago. Not recently.
    [AOL] Well the [firstname] Ferrari account was on 71 hours since the 24th of, uh, of last month.
    [V] No, he wasn’t. He doesn’t even have the AOL software installed on his computer. You’re looking at AIM usage probably.
    [AOL] No, it’s, uh…AIM usage doesn’t come up on this.
    [V] He doesn’t have the AOL software installed on his computer…
    [AOL] Well this is, this is your father then?
    [V] Yep.
    [AOL] OK. (pause) Well, I’m looking at this account…
    [V] Either way, whatever you’re seeing…
    [AOL] Well what’s causing your [unintelligible]? I mean, obviously, I mean…
    [V] I don’t use it and he doesn’t use it, and so, we’re canceling.
    [AOL] OK…
    [V] I’m telling you, he doesn’t use the account. The software is not even on his computer. So…
    [AOL] Well, OK, I mean, is there a problem with the software itself?
    [V] No. I just, I don’t use it. I don’t need it, I don’t want it. I just don’t need it anymore.
    [AOL] So when you use it, use the computer, I’m saying, is that for business?
    [V] What…
    [AOL] For school?
    [V] What difference does it make? I don’t want the AOL account anymore. Can we please cancel it?
    [AOL] Well, on June 2nd, this account was signed on. It’s been on for 72 hours. On June 2nd.
    [V] I, I don’t know how to make it any clearer.
    [AOL] Last year was 540…, last month was 545 hours of usage.
    [V] I don’t know how to make this any clearer, so I’m just going to say it one last time. Cancel…the…account.
    [AOL] Well explain to me what’s, what’s, why…
    [V] I’m not explaining anything to you.
    [AOL] OK.
    [V] Cancel the account.
    [AOL] Well, what’s the matter Vincent? Where’s this…I’m just trying to help here.
    [V] You’re not helping me.
    [AOL] Alright.
    [V] Helping me would be…
    [AOL] I am trying to help you.
    [V] Helping me…
    [AOL] I am…
    [V] Listen. I called to try to cancel the account, helping me would be canceling the account. Please help me and cancel the account.
    [AOL] No, it wouldn’t, actually.
    [V, concurrently] Cancel the account…Cancel the account
    [AOL, concurrently] Turning off your account would be the worst thing…
    [V] Cancel the account.
    [AOL] Is your dad there?
    [V] My dad? I’m the primary paying…I’m the primary person on the account, not my dad.
    [AOL] OK.
    [V] Cancel the account.
    [AOL] OK, ’cause I’m just trying to take care…
    [V] CANCEL…THE…ACCOUNT. I don’t know how to make this any clearer for you. Cancel the account. The card is mine, in my name…
    [AOL] OK.
    [V] The account is mine, and in my name. When I say cancel the account, I don’t mean help me figure out how to keep it, I mean cancel the account.
    [AOL] Well, I’m sorry, I don’t know what anybody’s done to you, Vincent, this is…
    [V] You’re annoying the shit out of me, that’s what you’re doing…
    [AOL] Well…
    [V] Cancel the account please.
    [AOL] Now that goes both ways, my friend.
    [V] Good. Could you please cancel the account?
    [AOL] Because, all I’m…alright. Someday, when you calm down, you’re gonna realize all I was trying to do is help you, and it was actually in your best interest to listen.
    [V] Wonderful. Ok, yeah, great.
    [AOL] Now, when that epiphany happens, just give us a call back. As a process of a cancellation request, I’d like to tell you about a free benefit available to valued members like yourself. We’ll continue to provide you some features of the AOL…
    [V] Don’t want it. I know the drill.
    [AOL] OK.
    [V] Don’t even want it, don’t even bother.
    [AOL] If you want me to cancel this account, you’re gonna let me speak, and give this paragraph, ‘K? ‘Cause if not, we can stall you all day, I don’t, I really don’t care, to be honest with ya. But, you’re gonna listen to me, if you want this turned off. So, can I speak now?
    [V] Go right ahead.
    [AOL] Thank you! I appreciate that. As a process of a cancellation request, I’d like to tell you about a free benefit available to valued members like yourself. We will continue to provide you some features of the AOL service even after the membership has been canceled: At AOL.com, you can keep your existing email, buddy list, address book, and more at no cost for as long as you’d like. There’s no catch, this is AOL’s way of continuing our relationship with you. We know you, We know you want to keep your same email. Just go to AOL.com, login with your screen name and password. An email confirming the cancellation will be delivered to your free AOL.com email within 24 hours. [unintelligible] complete this cancellation, a lot of important details [unintelligible]
    [[END]]

  • Susan Frank

    I had virtually the identical conversation with Compuserve–yes, I know they are the same drones now–but I don’t have it recorded. I bet they didn’t REALLY fire this guy’s ass–just promoted him to supervisor…

  • InteractiveUser

    Its unfair to quote AOL in the last transcript as this guy, John clearly does not represent the AOL as I know it.

  • weatherman

    I think you’re being too harsh. Mountain out of a molehill. You’re too easily set off, and I think you went looking for trouble. Unlucky for the rep who got fired as a result, but at least you got 4:57 of your 15 minutes.

  • http://Hackmx.net Mx

    Went through the same bullshit. You can forward these recordings to your Attorney General. Eventually AOL will be sued again by all states in US.

    By the way, America Online recently changed it’s name to AOL. So if you submit this for review you need to look at the Better Business Bureau and they can investigate this.

    You can make free AOL membership accounts at http://free.aol.com – you can make accounts online then cancel them via phone. Record the phone conversations (Phone number to cancel is 1-888-265-8004). These phone recordings will serve as proof to bad business practices.

    If someone feels the same, email me and we can start the Anti-AOL Movement.

  • wallybbare

    I am amazed that there are so many people who think this guy was not responsible for how he treated you. If AOL does train employees to handle customers this way, he can certainly choose to work somewhere else. If it is their procedure, did AOL think that there would never be back-lash over this treatment? I can’t imagine that there would be too many customers who would put up with this treatment and remain quiet about it. I just don’t believe that this guy was a innocent employee.
    It was sad that even you seemed to feel a little bit responsible for his behavior and disiplin. I think you deserve a pat on the back!
    I would like to add that as necessary as it is to make this sort of ‘abuse’ public, when we are treated with extra respect and kindness, we should make those incidents public also.

  • f00

    incredible!
    it cant be legal to treat customers like that

    it may look like
    “Could you please cancel my account” is some kind of cue for the aol person.
    He went from asking all kinds of irrelevant and strange questions to go through some kind of speech after that.

  • http://www.wheresmyblogdude.blogspot.com Lee

    Oh, jeez! I’m not really all that surprized. I knew someone who worked there in the customer keeping dept. (the dept. you dealt with) and knew that they tried to talk people outta dropping and had a script they had to follow.

    My recommendations, if you haven’t done so already, is to complain to AOL about the guy and to call up the credit card company which AOL bills you and tell them to not accept charges from them anymore.

  • http://180degreesofseparation.com Tom Smith

    I wish I’d have recorded my AO-Hell…

    I was moving house and phoned a few weeks in advanced to ask if I could start getting broadband at the new place. AOL said they could but only when I moved in and that they’d cut me off right away… (offering me a dial-up in the meantime).

    WHAT?! I said… if I want to move my broadband you cut off my current broadband. So… I said “forget it” I’ll get broadband in the new house from someone else and leave the broadband in this rented house until I have it in the new one…

    I said, “why can’t I have broadband in this house until I have broadband in the new one?”… AOL said “because of internal processes”… ” ‘Internal processes” what are those?” I asked… they said “Internal processes”.

    THEN… after asking him not to say “Internal processes” ever again… I said, “If this was water I’d die of thirst if I moved house”… so the AOL person said “The internet isn’t water sir!”… to which I replied “If it was water I could get it in bottles, I can’t buy bottled-internet… and anyway… it’s more IMPORTANT than water, I use it to make a living”…

    At that point the AOL person says, “Oh you are using it for business, we don’t support businesses, AOL are a family internet business….”

    I then made sure they weren’t going to do anything… and I started researching other broadband companies…

    They said “ok”… then cut off my broadband the next day anyway.

    The story doesn’t end there though but you know what it’s like… AOL can continue to piss people off like this because customer service nightmares are quite hard to recount and make interesting, they have become part of life… unless you record them that is… well done…

  • Kyle Lady

    InteractiveUser (#180):
    Please take note of the initial names given: “AOL Customer Service” and “Vince”, which are both accurate. I subsequently shortened them to “AOL” and “V” for the sake of my fingers and getting the transcript up as soon as possible. I did not intend to imply that that is representative of AOL, or that it isn’t. It was simply an abbreviation. Sorry for the confusion.

  • jay

    wow- I MANAGE a customer support team (for a web-based application- not an ISP) and I would’ve killed any of my guys for acting that way- CLEARLY AOL is losing tons of customers and these guys are paid not to allow customers to cancel. pathetic.

  • http://lrbotch.com Eddie Sehota

    You need to be off-the-wall with them:
    I AM my father!
    My brother was an only child!

    Everytime a phone provider calls me and asks me to change my provider, I tell them that I don’t have a phone. There is a pause, followed by “but, what are you talking on?”
    answer: “this is a Secret phone, and just how did you get the number?”
    they always say, meekly “I’m sorry” and hang up.
    When I canceled AOL, I changed my bank acct and called the credit bureau to report a possible identity theft…nobody investigates, they just write “disputed” on the acct and you go your merry way…I never heard from AOL again.

  • http://devlab.ca Simon

    Good work documenting this, frankly. I’ve done my time as a rep, and treating the customer with disrespect is the kind of crap that makes it hard for other reps further on down the line.

    Dude got fired? Probably for the best, he should be doing something else if he doesn’t have the disposition for working with people. He’ll move on to something else and I hope he’s happier.

    Getting canned from an AOL call center is probably often a blessing in disguise.

  • Russell

    I almost peed myself listening to that audio. I feel for you buddy. I had an equally frustrating experience with their tech support. The genius I dealt with was trying to help me to get my address book to sync correctly and somehow coached me into deleting the whole book of 2000+ addresses. I sued them in Small Claims court and just won a $5000 judgment. It also changed the law in NY. AOL’s forum selection clause, which forces you to sue them in Virginia, was rejected by the court and now anyone can sue them in small claims here in NY. A more recent decision, using my case as a reference, just rejected the forum clause in the NY Civil Court as well. You and everyone else who is frustrated and annoyed by the company should simply file a lawsuit and take them to task. It’s amazing the crap they get away with.

  • k

    wow. this brought me back…this sounds a lot like my experience trying to cancel AOL. As a former CSR, I’m patient, I treat them as I want to be treated, and I understand that they’re just doing their jobs. But if they get an attitude, I am not afraid to pull out the big guns — prepaid legal, it’s great! People need to recognize that everyone’s just trying to get on with their lives.

    But the AOL story is nothing on my MCI story. Way back when I signed up for a free cell phone and some dinky service that eventually got bought up by MCI. Fine. I happily used that service til I outgrew it and cancelled it with minimal fuss. Silly me.

    A couple months later, I received a past due notice on my account. I called customer service, had them confirm my account was cancelled, the balance was clear, and the past due charge was a mistake. A couple months later, I get a call from collections. When I call them to tell them its a mistake, the agent blows up and starts threatening me with legal action and damages to my credit if I don’t pay. I call MCI and they tell me although their records say my account has been inactive, since it got sent to collections they can’t do anything about it. I call back collections and spend hours waiting, arguing with CSRs and managers, hanging up, calling back, until finally I got someone to transfer my account back to MCI. Call back MCI, they confirm my account is cancelled, the balance is zero, and the past due is a mistake.

    Another couple months later, I get another past due notice. It’s around Christmas and when I call CS, they have a special message about the high volume of calls and they can no longer take any more. Try back later. I hear this same message for about a week before I decide to go to an MCI store and have the rep there fix this for me. Guess what? The computer system at the store is not connected to the main accounts database so they can’t do anything for me. They can’t even call CS, because they use the same number as the public and would just get the same message about how they can’t take any calls.

    After the holidays, after hiding from daily calls from collections, I try back again. I go through the same process with getting my account transferred back to MCI, call them up and talk to an incredulous CSR who can’t understand why I’m still being charged. Yes, my account was cancelled and paid in full, and yet I was still being charged monthly, although I never got any statements, just past due notices. Kind CSR put strongly worded comments into my account saying that I was being wrongly charged. I thanked her and suggested she get into another line of work because MCI was obviously a poorly managed company and she deserved better.

    A couple months later…another past due notice. Finally, and it’s a good thing I kept all the notices and took notes on my phone calls, cuz I forwarded it all to the FCC and filed a formal complaint (this was all several months before the Worldcom scandal hit the press). They responded that they were looking into it. Nearly two years after I cancelled my account, I finally got a letter from MCI HQ apologizing and confirming my account had been cancelled, my balance had been paid in full, and all the charges following the cancellation were a mistake. And then they asked that I keep them in mind for my future telecom needs. Yeah, right!

  • http://www.stevesblog.net Stephen

    My grandmother got “Free AOL” when she bought her new Dell desktop. Now that the free period is over my mother tried to call them and cancel. She ended up with more service than she started off with. -_-;;

  • Sam

    I just listed to this, and, like the other comment, I was getting red-mad just listening to it. It reminded me of the time a couple of years ago when I cancelled my AOL for about the third time (they kept billing me!) and when the girl asked why i wantedto cancel, I just said, “Just because.” I didn’t want to go through a whole big routine. Then she got pissy and said something much like the guy says to you at the end, that I better tell her why or she won’t cancel. I hate that fucking service.

  • Marti

    :cry: I too am trying to cancel AOL. They say my password is wrong, the name on the account is wrong, which by the way is my own!!! The answer to my secret question is wrong,,, I am getting nowhere with them. I really don’t know what to do. Even the customer service rep at my bank had the same trouble HELP!!!!

  • joevideo

    what program did you use to rip the phone call?

  • apism

    it’s rather funny that some people here feel sympathized for the csr. they mention the reasons such as ‘he is just doing his job’, ‘doing what he is told to do’, or ‘trying to put food on the table’. that’s just bullshit. do these csr’s have any morals at all? they don’t think on their own at all? would you consider killing/robbing someone as you were told by your boss a right thing to do? this example may be on the extreme but it demonstrates a point that these csr’s should have some morals too.

  • http://rootmag.typepad.com Marcy

    I went through the same thing with Earthlink last year. Had to tell them ‘I’m breaking up with you’ for them to finally listen.

  • http://www.creditor-law.com Gary Nitzkin

    I had a similiar experience with AOL a few years ago. One of my staffers decided to get her AOL acount attached to one of the many hunt lines in my office. I called AOL to protest. When the agent refused to do anything about it, I threatened a lawsuit as we lawyers like to do. He said “Go ahead and try to find us…you never will.” I am fairly certain that AOL recruits its help from group homes and gets a tax credit for these helmet wearing morons.

  • http://rosedesrochers.todays-woman.net/2006/06/16/the-nightmare-of-cancelling-aol-customer-service-hell-2/ Rose

    So the user on the other end was you? 8O

  • http://elbrazo.com Das

    My man I just got done having a couple odf the shittest days ever and I know I need to get a life but man that brought me back hard. I love it!
    Man I needed that what a great way to end the week.

  • mykuljai

    If anyone is still masochistic enough to stay with AOL after listening to this, check out your credit card company’s options for virtual cc numbers. At the next AOL renewal provide a new (virtual, cancellable) billing number that can easily just GO AWAY anytime you need it to.

  • Josh

    Why were you such a dick to the AOL guy? He had to try and save face, just like anybody else. Don’t be so arrogant. I canceled like two months ago, and they offered to give it to me for 10 bucks a month, and then when I declined, canceled it. So maybe he doesn’t know as much about computers as you, but don’t be such a dick.

  • Patrick Glasco

    Put a stop on the bill with the credit card company and AOL cannot bill you.
    Darn, problem solved

  • http://www.krisbattles.com Kris Battles

    When we tried to cancel our account a couple months ago, we told them that we had signed up for a free trial and yet they had billed us– even after we stopped using it for months.

    They said we had had usage, but we had uninstalled the software on our computer over two months prior!!!…

    “we see you had usage on this computer,” they kept saying, but that was impossible. Just because they say you had usage doesn’t mean you did. It’s probably just a tactic.

    AOL should be investigated, if this is going on all over the place…

  • JMike

    To all of you who say “don’t blame the little guy, he’s just doing his job”, I say

    I DO BLAME THE LITTLE GUY.

    If your job requires you to do unethical things, you must refuse, or quit. Otherwise you are tainted.

    For example, the U.S. military has a principle. If you are given an unlawful order, you are not only allowed, but REQUIRED, to disobey it.

    For another example. Can anyone count for me how many defendants in the Nuremburg trials tried the “It was just my job” defense? How many succeeded?

    Granted, abusing a phone caller is a few orders of magnitude lower on the ethics scale than killing people, but the individual is still culpable.

    Happy to help,
    –JMike

  • Gary

    My mother told me she was cancelling her AOL account. I warned her to keep a close eye on her credit card because of AOL’s well known history of continuing to charge after cancellation. She replied that she was also cancelling the credit card as AOL was the only thing she used it for. No flies on Mom.

  • Sham

    I just saw this story on CNBC. That behavior is so offensive. I hope the recording of that conversation forces AOL Customer Service to treat people like human beings.

  • http://www.freepressmusic.com/blog/alex/ Alex

    Dude I had to blog this. I hope AOL catches fire one day. The whole damn place.

    Note to FBI internet spies: I am kidding, I have no intention of setting fires or engaging in any illegal activity personally. Put down the patriot act and go enjoy a muffin or something.

  • Iamstupideatme

    Hey bro I feel your pain. Back in Febuary the video card on my laptop died and I no longer had a way to log into the internet. Febuary 7th i called to cancel my service with them. They refunded the charge because i was just billed the day prior to my call. I no longer had a computer and i wanted to cancel my account. I pretty much got the same run around as you did. The billing was withdrawn from my checking account 5 aditional months after I canceled the service. The other night I had to call up to cancel again cause the first time I called aparently they never canceled my account. The guy told me that i was logged into aol each of those months even though i never installed aol on my computer, just instant messenger. Those service reps really can shovel it like the best of them. I only noticed my account was still active when the motherfu#%&@’s almost overdrew my checking account.
    I am very upset with aol and im sure many other people share stories very similar to this. Iamstupideatme@yahoo.com

  • Bill

    I had no problems canceling AOL last summer.

  • Dana

    I had a similar experience with them and other shady internet companies as well. The kicker with AOL though is that a few months ago my account was mysteriously reactivated and I was charged 25+ bucks for a month of service that I never even signed on to! They cancelled my account (again!) but refused to refund the money. After a few calls to my credit card and some conversations where they actually confirmed this very shady practice, I was credited the full amount. CRAZY!!!

  • GB

    Son … what an absolute loser you are. Let’s count the items:

    1. If you were to try cancelling anything else (from a credit card to a cable subscription), you would find that you’d go through exactly what you got via AOL.
    2. By Alexa calculations, this website could earn at best $10.00 per month from ads, but you’ve poured way too much effort into the site than you could ever possibly recover. Why? Do you just have nothing to do? Have you changed anything at all? (Hint — Try cancelling something else, whether it’s a second AOL subscription or another kind of subscriber service, and tell us all if they really will let you cancel without asking a few simple questions.)
    3. Some poor guy — who in no way can impact AOL’s customer service policies (or those of any other company, for that matter) — is now unemployed. A job which wasn’t much to write home about in the first place has now said it didn’t want him, all because you couldn’t spend a few minutes to explain why you didn’t want to continue paying a measly $25.00 per month. Then again, if you survive on the revenue you make from this website, maybe I understand why that amount of money is hard to digest — yet with the amount of time you waste with this website, how was a few minutes with an AOL rep that bad? If you really are cheering for the “little guy”, just look at the collateral damage you’ve caused…

    What an absolute sorry addition you are to the civilized western world! Best wishes for your continued “success”!

    GB
    Yale College ’08

  • http://www.eventsetter.com EventSetter

    Way to go!
    Glad you’ve been able to bring so much attention to this most dishonest business practice.

  • http://leebo4u.home.comcast.net Leebo

    That is classic AOL, I just cancelled my step-dads account December 2005 and it was the same exact drill! EXACTLY I wish I recorded it. I had an account with AOL from 1996 until they cancelled it in 1998 or 1999? I tried to cancel it when I got DSL in my area through BellAtlantic phone company, now Verizon. They told me at the time I could keep AOL for $4.95/month unlimited using BYOA or Bring Your Own Access, you may remember the big AOL crash after offering unlimited service for $19.95/month, that was in 1997 I think? That’s when they came up with BYOA, so I kept the account, but years later of using AOL unlimited as my primary e-mail AOL decdided I was using it too much I guess and cancelled my account. They told me I was cancelled for e-mailing inappropiate material, when I asked when this occurred the time so happened to coincide with the time I was 30 miles offshore NJ fishing for tuna! lol Needless to say AOL was not making any money on me @ $4.95/month and had to get rid of me! lol

  • James

    From the BBB information in the link posted above:

    “The company agreed to eliminate employee bonus incentives involving retention of subscribers, to record all cancellation requests, and to verify cancellation through a third party monitor. ”

    Obviously this didn’t take though, as this post is from far after August of 2005.

    Oh, and as for people saying that the guy is just doing his job? Evil pays well, but that doesn’t mean you should do it.

    Soul first, Money second.

  • harry

    We have had the same problem. We tried to cancell several business accounts with AOL shit company and we where still charged more then 7 months later after cancelling and only after we had a hired a lawyer (!) things where settled. Private the same thing happend. Actualy this happend with all Time warner companies. Trying to cancell a magazine with them is a nightmare. This is not the fault of the service dept. rep, but a company policy.

  • bill

    same thibg happened to me a few years ago frm aol. the woman would not let me cancel. hopefully, this bad rap will punish this ungreatfull co. and serve as a warning to others. it is not isolated with respect to aol.

  • Rick

    Here is a good one….My son passed away in 2004 so I tried cancelling his account. I got the same run around. They were trying to keep his account open even though he was no longer alive. In case you are wondering, it was his account but billed to my credit card.

  • http://www.apnradio.com del

    I know from having worked with AOL that it is hard to cancel an account. The department you called is paid commission on keeping you as a customer. “John” was above the top. I do not agree that you should have to lie to close an account.
    My own experience was that I had high speed already. They gave me a price that did not tell me if I cancelled anytime after the end of the call that I was going to be charged $50. I told them I would not pay it because I had the dsl before them at a good price. I did not use AOL at all, so it was a waste of money. After 2 calls the amount was “forgiven” since they did not want to take the time to listen to the call or look up the letter they sent. They are liars and a waste of money. Just get aim and you can do everything on aol for free. Stupid that they shot their self in the foot.

    Also, look out for the 90 day trial. It is a paid trial.

  • randy harrison

    My wife and myself tried to cancel our aol account. Our first call to cancel was disregarded. We had to call for cancellation of charges through Amex. We kept calling for six months and finally cancelled the credit card to get the billing to stop. Same thing happened with showtime. Never set up an automatic billing to your credit cards, they will never stop charging

  • Tom

    :P . At least AOL is getting better that you can actually speak to an American CSR. When I tried to cancel my account last year, I spoke to an Indian-sounding gentleman who went through a similar routine like “John.” When I raised my voice a little trying to insist that he just cancel my account, he hung up on me. That caused me to wait for another month before I called back, this time I was determined not to get hung up on, so I endured more than 30 minutes of silly questions before they finally cancelled my account. Even then I was not sure until I verified my credit card statement sometime later.

  • http://www.xp-smoker.com Dan

    I had it about 6 years ago and decided to cancel. I have heard horror stories about how they were charging a dead woman for 4 years, etc.

    I decided the easiest method of cancelling. DO NOT call AOL to cancel. Call your bank and tell them that you lost your card and would like a new one with a new number issued.

    It worked perfectly. I was inconvenienced by not having my card for 24 hours. I didn’t lose a dime and didn’t have to deal with AOL.

  • Juli

    It took me 5 months to finally cancel my aol account. They kept transferring me to different people who relentlessly would go on and on trying to convince me to stay. Then they’d give me a free month of service to stay, so I’d finally give up and wait a month and then call back. They’d just wear me down and I’d get so sick of arguing that I’d give in (stupid, I know). I did this 5 times before my husband finally got on the phone and basically yelled at the service rep to cancel the service once and for all. I thought I was just not being assertive enough (I probably wasn’t) but I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time.

  • Juli

    It took me 5 months to finally cancel my aol account. They kept transferring me to different people who relentlessly would go on and on trying to convince me to stay. Then they’d give me a free month of service to stay, so I’d finally give up and wait a month and then call back. They’d just wear me down and I’d get so sick of arguing that I’d give in (stupid, I know). I did this 5 times before my husband finally got on the phone and basically yelled at the service rep to cancel the service once and for all. I thought I was just not being assertive enough (I probably wasn’t) but I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time.

  • Juli

    It took me 5 months to finally cancel my aol account. They kept transferring me to different people who relentlessly would go on and on trying to convince me to stay. Then they’d give me a free month of service to stay, so I’d finally give up and wait a month and then call back. They’d just wear me down and I’d get so sick of arguing that I’d give in (stupid, I know). I did this 5 times before my husband finally got on the phone and basically yelled at the service rep to cancel the service once and for all. I thought I was just not being assertive enough (I probably wasn’t) but I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time.

  • http://www.helpbradpay.com Brad B.

    That sounds exactly like the phone call I made 10 years ago when I cancelled AOL for a local ISP. 2 months later I had to call and cancel again with AOL because they were still billing me. When I told them I had called before they said “your account is still active.” I asked how much usage in the last 2 months and they said “you are paying for the service if you use it or not.” Needless to say I was irate and demanded it be cancelled. They said ok and 2 months later I had to go through the whole thing again. The 3rd phone call started with me saying “I’ve cancelled twice in the last 4 months, I want a refund, my service cancelled and I want to talk to your supervisor……NOW.” I think it worked but just in case I told my bank to change my checking account number. Never heard from them again!

  • Joe

    Had an even worse experience canceling my Earthlink account of 8+ years last week. They try to trick you up front by saying they “are experiencing a severely high volume of calls and the wait may be lengthy. You may want to try your call again later.” However, somebody picked up the call in less than 10 seconds after the message. They go on and on and on. Offering discounts, etc… Then at the end, after you have painstakingly made your point, they tell you they will cancel your service at the end of the month. I instisted they do it immediately and that I be credited for the balance of the month, which they begrudgingly did. I’ll never go back to them, or AT & T, but that’s another story.

  • Matt

    Holy shit dude, are you sure this wasn’t an episode of “Crank Yankers?” I doubt the guy was fired too.

  • Kathy

    I too had trouble cancelling and they hung up on me so I called back and told them I was terminally ill with cancer and had 3 months to live, please cancel my account. Would you believe they tried to offer me 3 months for the price of 2? Evil Rat Bastards!!

    Kathy, now a satisfied Charter High Speed Internet Customer!

  • Mary

    I signed up for the free trial and quit before the trial ended. It was a fight, but I was able to cancel. About 8 months later, I noticed a charge on my credit card. I called and AOL claimed that I reopened my account – which I didn’t. They told me that I was online for hundreds of hours – which I wasn’t. The software wasn’t even installed on my computer anymore. They gave me my password – it wasn’t my password. They refused to refund the money. Check your credit card – I received NOTHING in the mail to suggest that this was going on. I hate AOL and would never go back.

  • Todd

    I tried to cancel my father’s AOL account after he passed away. It took about one month and was an absolute nightmare. Without his password they refused to help. I finally had to get my father’s credit card company and my mother on the line. To top it off, I found out they were charging him over $120 a month for one dial up account. It was showing up several times each month on his statement. This company is a disgrace!!!@#$@#$

  • Raf

    Well this brings me back.

    I was an AOL subscriber from 1996-2000. I pretty much used it whenever I was home from college on vacation. When I was at school I’d downgrade the account to the low-use, low-billing type. So when I graduate and move into an area where DSL is available I decide to cancel the account.

    So, I call up. They ask for my information and I say that I want to cancel my account. As fate would have it, the Customer Service Rep says that her system just went down and can’t help me and would I call another time. WTF? She just took my info down and I could hear her typing. Whatever. I hang up and call and hour later. I either got the same person or someone with the same strategy because as soon as I say I want to cancel my account bzzzzt… yep the system “goes down”. So I hang up and call again. First thing I say is “Is your system up?” “Yes” “I want to cancel my account and if you give me any trouble I want to speak with your supervisor. If your system goes down again in the middle of this call, I want to speak with your supervisor. Got me?”

    So, after sitting through the same things Vincent went through (Why do I want to cancel…Anything wrong with it…Well you could keep the service even with the DSL…Are you sure…Are you really sure…Sales pitch #1) I ask for her supervisor. Silence. Beat. Finally she cancels the account.

    Bloody hell. Having a tooth extracted is quicker, easier, and faster than cancelling your AOL account it seems.

  • carla

    I went thru a similiar experience. After faxing, phoning and emailing them to cancel my account they said it would be cancelled effective before the next billing cycle. Well they didn’t cancel charged me my fee and when I called to see what was going on they refused to refund my money eventually they sent me to collections for the $23. The kicker is that this was all occuring during one of their supposed free trial periods! So I had to pay $23 for a free trial they wouldn’t cancel. I probably spent 3 hours dealing with them between phone, email and fax.

  • Paul

    AOL is simply evil. It is internet access designed for morons. My father-in-law is an AOL user and I have been trying to get him to drop AOL but it is the only ISP he has ever used and he is comfortable with it. He uses dial up from work and has three co-workers who are part of his account. I have had to help him a couple of times with his problems with his account and modem. John’s problems with AOL mirror the problems I had trying to work with their CSP to fix some of my father-in-law’s.

    Why anybody uses dial-up is beyond me. I went high speed in 1997 wen I was living in California and never looked back. I could never live anywhere w/o highspeed.

  • Terri Clark

    Ok, I haven’t heard the audio, but I’m familiar enough with the tactics not to need to hear it. Enough is enough. I had to go to my bank a short time ago to put a stop-payment on a check for another dishonest company that apparently decided that such tactics were the new business norm. At that time, the lady at the bank told me the stop payment would be enough…unless they happened to be like AOL and changed their vendor number in order to keep putting through the automatic payments.

    So, here’s my new personal strategy: Call the CEO. Sure. Just hang up, call the company, ask to speak to the CEO and tell THEM that you don’t appreciate their tactics. After all, they get the big bucks.

    Of course, you probably won’t get the CEO, but I bet if everyone trying unsuccessfully to cancel their AOL account let the executive secretary know about their dissatisfaction, AOL and the rest of these companies would finally realize that we’re just mad as (AO)Hell, and not about to take it anymore.

  • Andrea

    I too had a problem with AOL a few years back. I was under my parent’s account. My mom decided to switch providers and called AOL to have it cancelled. We thought everything was fine until we found out that we were still being billed after we “cancelled” it. I will NEVER use AOL ever again.

  • Shannon Margolis

    I had a horrible experience trying to cancel AOL about 6-7 years ago. I called frequently for several months. They never could find my account (even with the account name, number, email address, everything); or they would hang up on me. It was a nightmare. I finally paid off the credit card and cancelled the credit card just to get rid of AOL. They somehow managed to bounce the AOL charge to another cc I still held with same cc company. I called the cc company and finally got it stopped. I tell everybody I know NEVER SIGN UP FOR AOL!!! NEVER USE THEIR FREE CD’S. NEVER TOUCH AOL WITH A 10-FOOT POLE. It was a nightmare I never forgot!

  • Marek

    I was a VERY early subscriber to AOL. Cancelled my account like 1995. But they billed me all the way to 2000… yup… five years they billed me. I disputed the charges, I cancelled my card… they got the charges transferred to the new card. I called Chase Visa security and they were very understanding they told me AOL is thier worst customer for this type of complaint. I sent faxes, emails, registered letters, I called customer service. Each time I was told YOU DON’T HAVE ANY ACCOUNT WITH US… and I was like… ‘my point exactly’ but every month you bill me. Sorry sir but with an active account user name, we can’t help you…

    There isn’t anybody I know that this HAS NOT happened to. My Mother signed up a few years ago with the test account on a new computer. Entered her card number to activate the account. Cancelled long (long) before the free period was up but it took her a year and fifty phone calls to get them to stop billing her.

    This is ‘obviously’ SOP for AOL… they’ve been sued for it (they settle quietly), New York State has gone after them.

    They call it the cost of doing business. If we can keep them from quiting then we can just keep billing them for services we don’t provide.

    Most useless crap on the planet…

    Marek

  • John, uh, Doe

    In the summer of 2005 I worked at the AOL call center in Jerusalem, Israel. I was an AOL Retention Agent, the official title for the person you reach when trying to cancel. Before beginning training we had to sign a complete confidentiality agreement, so I really can’t tell you the secret goings on, but it’s nothing you couldn’t figure out yourself. I can tell you that John’s conduct went against everything AOL mandates. At the center of every callflow is “3 no’s and a go”. The salesperson can pitch any three ideas, but if the customer is still not interested then the account is canceled. If you don’t like the phone routine you can always cancel by fax or mail, information on these are available at keyword “CANCEL”. And yes, the faxes and mail do get obeyed. I saw them properly entered on many accounts.

    If you hate AOL, like I now do, the best way to hurt them is not to bitch to fellow consumers or agencies like the BBB. AOL has been thwarted at every turn by the FTC, which is just itching to shut down the entire concept of retention. If can complain to them enmasse, this would be over.

  • John, uh, Doe

    In the summer of 2005 I worked at the AOL call center in Jerusalem, Israel. I was an AOL Retention Agent, the official title for the person you reach when trying to cancel. Before beginning training we had to sign a complete confidentiality agreement, so I really can’t tell you the secret goings on, but it’s nothing you couldn’t figure out yourself. I can tell you that John’s conduct went against everything AOL mandates. At the center of every callflow is “3 no’s and a go”. The salesperson can pitch any three ideas, but if the customer is still not interested then the account is canceled. If you don’t like the phone routine you can always cancel by fax or mail, information on these are available at keyword “CANCEL”. And yes, the faxes and mail do get obeyed. I saw them properly entered on many accounts.

    If you hate AOL, like I now do, the best way to hurt them is not to bitch to fellow consumers or agencies like the BBB. AOL has been thwarted at every turn by the FTC, which is just itching to shut down the entire concept of retention. If we can complain to them enmasse, this would be over.

  • Mike

    I am more then stunned after hearing the recording of that call. I’ve had AOL for over 7yrs and I must say and admit that their customer service is by far, the worse I have ever experienced. I do use my AOL a lot so (for now) I have no reason to cancel my acct but I can assure you that when and if I do ever cancel my acct, I now know what to confront and how to approach it. As far as the rep, I am flabbergasted at how rude, nasty and condescending he was. How dare he? I mean yes, I am sure AOL pressures their reps to act a certain manner when a customer calls in to cancel their acct but come on, being rude, I hope is not one of them. I am more then digusted by what I heard and read in the transcripts posted on the CNBC website. Vincent, I more then admire the fact that you kept your cool throughout the call despite of you using just one “fowl word”. I would have used a countless amount of them and would have been yelling at the rep at the top of my lungs. Again, I more then admire your way of keeping your cool despite of having someone talk down on you when you are the customer calling “customer service” for “assistance”.

  • Jim

    5 Years ago – I had the exact same experience with AOL. Bravo and congratulations for outing them. And, already as we speak they are lying through their teeth all over the airwaves claiming that they don’t do this and it’s against policy. Bull!@#$ – it IS their policy to abuse customers trying to cancel. They’ve been manhandling their customers for years and years – and this time it will truly hit them where it counts. Nice job!

  • A. Nonymous

    I listened to the recording, and I feel that the whole thing is an unfortunate situation. While the CSR was trying to do his job, he had no way of knowing that the caller was 1.) Recording the call for the purpose of broadcast, and 2.) Approaching with a one sided opinion that no matter how hard he tries to address the customer’s concerns, he will not be able to overcome. This practice of convincing the customer that they don’t need to cancel the account is not an act of evil. If the account has something to offer that the customer was unaware of, it could be of benefit in the future. This is the case with the closing paragraph of the call. The CSR made the caller aware that he could still keep his email address and such, at no additional cost. As little as the caller wanted to hear that in his angry state, the CSR delivered the message anyway. I am not saying that the CSR is blameless. I don’t think he handled the call as well as he could have, but I also don’t think he needed to be fired over it.

    As for comment #47 by awesomeo… You need to quit, get fired, or otherwise lose your job! It is not good for the company, the customers, or even the disgruntled employee to have people in the organization with such a lack of pride in their work. Find a job that your heart is in, and you will have a happier life.

    YES. I work for AOL.

    YES, I am proud of the massive technical marvel that makes up every small part of the AOL service.

    YES, there will always be a certain section of the population that will hate AOL no matter what. For these people, I am sorry you feel the way you do.

    For everyone else, and our customers especially… You are the reason I go to work each morning. So think of this as you read all of these negative posts… For every person within AOL who feels that it is an evil corporation, there are many people like me who are proud of what we do, and will be with the company until the end.

    No company is perfect. It is not hard to find things to be angry about with any company if you are looking. If this post only gets a few hundred negative responses in comparison to the tens of millions of people who we work hard to serve every day, I still think we are doing pretty well.

    Have a good day.

  • http://www.cubebreak.com Nalts

    Oh, what an amazing piece! We can all relate. I remember where I was when I dumped AOL. I just wrote about it on my video blog… http://www.willvideoforfood.com.

    Then I ended up staying up well past my bedtime to make this tribute to it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JYIXzfhel8

    Hope you enjoy the video version (2 minutes)

  • http://www.cubebreak.com Nalts

    Oh, what an amazing piece! We can all relate. I remember where I was when I dumped AOL. I just wrote about it on my video blog… http://www.willvideoforfood.com.

    Then I ended up staying up well past my bedtime to make this tribute to it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JYIXzfhel8

    Hope you enjoy the video version (2 minutes)

  • the game

    “AOL will probably sue because its illegal to tape a conversation without the other side knowing”

    When he first called in it says “This call may be recorded” – in those very words.

  • Bonejob

    Well since vincent was probably the last aol member and this guy couldn’t keep him it is no wonder he was fired – no need for him any more

  • Ken

    Vincent Ferrari’s AOL experience only tells half the story. AOL had me respond to a snail mail confirming my cancellation which was slow in arriving and meantime continued to be billed, it took me three months to finally get cancelled and only after literally screaming obsenities into the phone. I have absoulutely no sympathy for “John” the AOL customer rep nor the worthless AOL business. I was once a happy customer of many years. Now they can rot in hell as far as I’m concerned and hope they go into bankruptcy asap.

  • http://none Bob

    Having worked for AOl just recently I have read all the posts. Most of the people responding w/horror stories are idiots. I was in Retention and the guy that mentions Netzero is exactly correct. Most customers call to cancel. Its the retention specialist job to find out why? Are you satisfied w/the service? Is it too expensive? Do you realize that by giving up AOL that if you don’t have Secutity installed on your computer that your giivng that up? Do you have DSL or Cable modem? AOL does offer AOL highsoeed in some areas. Ever heard of TIME WARNER CABLE? Well people AOL OWNS TIME WARNER!!!!!! In most areas they have special rates with other cable companys and DSL carriers so they can offer AOL Highspeed for 25.90. This price includes the price of the highspeed connection. Most customers have no security or they did but decided that it was not needed. Big Mistake! Some posts mention cancelation fees. Well again most customers don’t read the TERMs OF SERVICE and the cancelation fees are told to the customer when they agree to the special rate. Its amazing how many people “forget” that when they call. Some AOL plans have cancelation fees. BE responsible for your actions people. I am not a fan of AOL but it is a ggod company that has a strong customer loyalty, the problems with most of these posts are that alot of customers DO CALL with a chip on there shoulder. I think AOL should go after this Vincent guy for taping the call without first informing the retention specialist. In most states that is against the law. If you care as to why I quit, well it was due to dealing with a bunch of assholes that would not allow me to do my job. Allow the AOL reps to hit there “marks” and most will go ahead an cancel your account. There are always “bad seeds” but this John guys only mistake was at the end when he was reading the confimation of cancelation. He should have never said we can keep you on the phone all day..That was wrong! and last but not least don’t call from work to cancel your account…its just stupid. Most employers don’t pay ther employees to do personal business on company time….

  • Kade

    It is about time this problem got some attention. Kudos to you for posting this! When I canceled my AOL account, I thought their telemarketer was going to show up on my doorstep and physically force me to use their product. It was an absolute nightmare trying to cancel AND it wasn’t the end of it. They kept calling and calling trying to get me to come back. Now, the first thing to go in the garbage is those CDs they’re always sending out. I will not have a thing in my house with AOL’s logo on it. Never again.

  • Jenn in Seattle

    8O I recently cancelled my AOL account after taking advantage of a free trial. It took me 30 minutes to get it through the rep’s head that I was NOT going to change my mind. I think that the FTC needs to crack down on these people once and for all. AOL is like the Hotel California (You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave).

  • Paul

    I went through the same thing that Vincent went through. AOL is lying thru their teeth if they say that the rep’s behavior was inexcusable, since AOL is condoning this.

    when I tried to cancel, the customer rep said he had a script to follow and he was going to follow it, despite me saying that I had no wish to go through 20 questions, and just cancel my account.

    He wouldn’t do it. I started verbally abusing him, calling him a few profanities. He said he was going to disconnect the call.

    Fine, I am going to deliberately cause disruptions in the chatrooms so I get a few TOS (Terms of Service) warnings. If you get 3 in 6 months, then your account gets canceled.

  • Brian

    Had the same problem!
    Spent 30 minutes on the phone and my office mate thought I was talking to a machine because I kept repeating “No thanks, I want to cancel my account” over and over and over again

  • http://www.aol.com Tariq

    Hi , first of all you need to know that you were doing a crime “recording the call without the consent”, and the guy sounds really genuine to help you , it is just the matter if you gave him a choice to offer you what he had , his job is to stop cancellation and possibly give you everything to satisfy your online needs, dont like refuse everythig, and you would realise the guy has no other choice than cancelling your account !

  • anthony

    My aunt tried for over 6 months and kept getting “free months” everytime she contacted aol support to cancel, finally she decided to stop her account
    I, on the other hand, have also experienced “free months” from aol to stay, finally letting cancelling the charge card that aol had on file so they could no longer charge me . after numerous mailings(snail) to my apartment, finally aol got the hint…but i also moved in the mean time with no forwarding address to anyone LOL.
    Aol…the anti-christ ?

  • former AOL employee

    As I look through all of the posts on this message board and think about the call that was recorded all I can think is that you all don’t know the half of it. I just recently ended my employment with AOL and it was for many reasons but the main reason was that AOL as a company doesn’t give a shit about it’s employees and it’s members. They are all about numbers. This John guy was in fact doing his job and that is how most of the employees do. They are monitored and recorded but only a fraction of the calls are observed. The company sees a print out (in this case with the cancellation dept.) showing the “save rate” (how many accounts were not canceled and for how long they stay active) and also see how many accounts were canceled and what the reason it was. To keep the numbers high in the “save” category they offer incentives, a 24 hours saves bonus, a 90 day save bonus which ends up being a lot of money for the person taking the call. On any given bonus check this ends up being thousands of dollars. AOL is in a mad run to keep as many people as possible with the company. They know that they are charging too much money and that they screw their members over but they don’t care they are bringing in the money. The employees also know that they are screwing over the people they talk to and most of them hate their job but, there aren’t many places that kids right out of high school can make the money that AOL pays and have all the benefits. If you live in a city that has an AOL site you will notice that they are constantly hiring and that is because they are about the numbers as I said earlier. They have unreal expectations well, they can be met but you as an employee feel dirty and morally wrong at the end of the day, no matter what department you work in. So, in the end you can blame John but the shit rolls down hill. All of the evil that AOL members experience comes from higher up. And if it makes anyone feel any better, John was fired after this call was posted on the Internet and all employees know about the recording and are being told to cover their ass on the phones.

  • Brad

    Hi, now that Vincent Ferrari is a celebrity, who knows if this message will ever be read! :) I want to preface that I am not siding with the AOL CSR, I’ve been through the same thing and I feel for Vincent to have to go through that. HOWEVER, I believe the CSR was simply trying to determine the discrepancy as to why there were hundreds of hours logged when Vincent said he never used the account. Why does this even matter? Well, maybe there was a relative or friend that WAS using this AOL account, and you can argue that the CSR *MIGHT* have helped Vincent by noticing this, and having whoever this mysterious user keep their internet access.

    Now, I know it got out of hand, because Vincent was very clear in saying that it doesn’t even matter who used it, that he just wants to cancel it, and at this point the CSR should have just obliged.

    So I’m sorry if this isn’t a popular opinion, but I think there was SOME merit in the CSR’s questioning, albeit the last half was completely ridiculous on AOL’s part. Curious if anyone agrees to my thoughts?

  • Francis

    WOW!

    This has been going on for so long that I’m surprised it hadn’t come back to bite AOL much earlier.

    I’m speaking from experience when I cancelled my AOL account back in the 20th century (aka the mid-90s). Not as bad as Vincent, but their stalling tactics and utter lack of English comprehension to the words “CANCEL MY ACCOUNT” still irritated the hell out of me.

    I would not be surprised if AOL gets slapped with a lawsuit for the monthly fees they still collected after someone has specifically said to cancel. Hell, throw the RICO act on them for this common tactic of mobsters.

    On a humorous note, I vividly remember sitting in a seminar during the 1998 Web Developers Conference when the lecturer started the session by asking for a show of hands in how many are AOL members. Not one single person raised their hand in a room of about 75-100 people. The lecturer then gave off a wild “Yeah! Woohoo!” yell while pounding his fist in the air! Truly memorable.

  • howlingdog

    I’m surprised at all of the people that believe that John was in the right and just “doing his job”. If, as a customer, I simply want to cancel my account without enduring the Spanish Inquisition, so be it. To believe, as a business, that you have the right to impose your will on your customers is arrogant and “biting the hand that feeds you”.

    I had a free six month subscription to AOL when I bought my latest PC. I tried it and found that I disliked AOL which was nothing more than personal preference. While I didn’t have a tremendous amount of hassle canceling, my problem was the barrage of phone calls at every time of day and night trying to get me to re-up. I continually reminded the callers that I was on a national no-call list and they were violating that. It wasn’t until after 3-4 weeks of several calls a day that I explained to an AOL caller that they were violating the no-call list and that I had documented 38 cases of this violation, that I was able to force AOL to quit calling me or risk huge fines.

    Because of their arrogant actions and disregard for their customers’ desires, I will never again subscribe to AOL.

  • scott

    This was a setup. You really are an ass dude. All you had to do was ask for the guys supervisor or call back and get another rep. It’s very clear you knew you had a guy on the line that was going to make good copy for your blog. Had you done what any other customer would have done, your fat UGLY ass would not have made it onto all the TV shows this morning. Enjoy your 15 min of fame you pathetic loser. A guy lost his job because of your sorry ass.

  • SnoWolfe

    It’s the supervisors of the CSRs that need to be strung up.

    Now about that employee. I’m sorry but the a-hole got what he deserved. Just who the heck does he think he is to tell a customer “we can argue all day long”? He practically threatened NOT to cancel the account if the customer refused to listen to his paragraph!

    I think Vincent handled this well. People who know me would tell you, I would have been screaming profanities at him about two minutes into it.

    Anyone defending aol or even the CSR on this really needs to wake up. Yes, a CSR is practically forced to follow certain rules. But again, to tell someone “we can argue all day long” is enough to make many people seriously think about catching a flight just to meet you face to face.

    Before anyone points a finger and says I don’t understand customer service… I’m Senior Systems Admin at an ISP, and direcly deal with hundreds of customers a month, in varying states. So, yes… I too deal with customers. And at my height of frustration, I have never started having that sort of disrespectful tone with a client.

    That’s not to say I haven’t run outside muttering incomprehensible curses, after hanging up the phone.

  • Bev

    At least two years ago I had this same problem cancelling one of their so-called “free” accounts. I ended up having to pay for 6 months service! I reported them to the Better Business Bureau. That was another waste of my time.

  • francis cali

    Amen let me tell everyone here that I will NEVER use AOL again. I had cancelled(or thought I had) my aol account, but they didn’t cancell it like I had asked a million times and charged me next month which made my bank account go under. I don’t like the way they run things and I know 3 other people that this happened to . When you tell them that you want to cancell they do everything to keep you (including lying to you).

    Keep up the good work and I am glad that you recorded that call.

  • eva

    I had the same experience and Im sooo glad that you have put them on blast – I just saw the clip on the news and it was great!! I was on the phone a total of 15 minutes I kid you not. It was very annoying at the time I had a newborn baby and I just wanted the cancel order done fast I had no idea that canceling something could take so long – Ive cancelled stuff in the past and I never had such a problem. I commend you for staying so cool I actually blew up. Anyway I hope they are embaressed by this – they should be!

  • j zanderos

    ….Is anybody going after these clowns legally?? I had to use a 3 way phone call with a FRAUD INVESTIGATOR from my credit card co. ( Chase ) , and they lied, THEY LIED to the FRAUD INVESTIGATOR..!!! Finally, after about an hour of being transferred litterly around the world, we wound up with someone in oklahoma city ( I think ) that finally cancelled the account..!!! Obviously, the get paid for waht they sell, and GET DOCKED if they cancel someone, so you have to find a “new-bee who’s “stupid enough” to actually cancel you.!!!

  • KinWV

    Hey! Just saw your interview on the Today Show! You did a teriffic job!

    This is obviously more than one difficult employee — it’s a company policy at AOL. I had a similar experience a few years ago when AOL bought CompuServe, which was my ISP at the time. They offered me 3 free trial months of AOL, along with my CS service, and when I called to cancel before I began to be charged, the rep I dealt with was a jerk to me. Actually laughed at me for cancelling, with a snide “Well, okay, if that’s what you *really* want,” like I’m some kind of idiot. He even offered me another 6 months free. I remember him saying “You do realize that you’re passing up $25 worth of free service each month.” YES! I REALIZE THIS! What good does it do me if I never use it. I already had an ISP – CompuServe, the same company they just bought. Of course, this was in the days before hi-speed, when AOL pretty much had the corner on the dialup market. These days, I’ve found much better service (still dialup) and at a much better price elsewhere.

    The publicity you’re getting over this is killer. Good for you, and it must suck to be AOL. Their tactics are getting national attention.

  • http://lady.strathconn.com Lady S

    Saw you this morning on Today. Way to go.

  • Bill

    I don’t think you treated the csr fairly. CSR’s have scripts that they must follow, blame the company not the poor guy on the other end of the phone. If he didn’t try and save a customer he would no doubt lose his job. If you have a problem with a csr you should ask to speak to his supervisor. This poor guy lost his job maybe he has a family to support. Vincent you should be ashamed of yourself for doing this to this guy but looking at you on tv I can understand why. Baldheaded fat guy with no life no nookie makes you like that I guess. :D

  • Scott

    A lot of fuss going on here about a persistent AOL customer service rep who was trying to do his job but took the wrong approach. Having heard part of this illegal recording on CNBC TV, I have no doubt that the customer service rep should have understood earlier in the call that you were curt and close minded and did not want to engage in any conversation and just wanted to cancel the account. I can understand your frustration however the issue at hand leads me to many questions as to how you handled the call including its recording. If you were the customer service rep, I wouldn’t have enjoyed talking with you either.

    I have been an AOL customer since 1996. I have cancelled my account a few times for various reasons but most often to save a few dollars when another ISP offered 6 month specials. I always returned to AOL because its value, due to content, always exceeded the competition. I never encountered a rude AOL rep however I disliked talking to reps in Indonesia for various reasons. I also recall speaking with a rep or 2 that may not have handled the call properly in terms of fielding a technical question. Such types of customer service problems exist virtually everywhere. There are many other companies that are far worse with respect to customer service both on the front line and their supervisors. Your incident, in my humble opinion, is overblown and should be extended to the real culprits out there, both on the phone and in the stores.

    I think CNBC should be directing their energies and resources by assigning their journalists and correspondents to corruption on wall street and to investigate the real reasons WHY crude Oil is stuck in the $65 to $75 trading range. If they reviewed the increases in the price of oil futures with corresponding headlines and reasons for those increases over the the past 5 years, they would realize traders bid up the price of oil over the same headlines over and over again with little regression as those issues dissipate. I believe CNBC does not want to spend the time or step on toes in the insane world of trading at the NY Mercantile exchange. Pretty weak in my opinion. I will CC this to AOL and CNBC.

    Good Luck with your 15 minutes of fame.

  • sandy smith

    I just saw this story on Today. A few years ago I had the same experience trying to cancel my aol account. It was a nightmare!!! I think the aol employees are encouraged to behave this way, otherwise why would it happen so often!! Good for you for doing this!!!

  • Barb

    I tried to cancel aol June 19, 2006. The first time I called I also got John. He kept telling me I was the boss but kept butting in with this offer and that offer. After 20 minutes I was finally told he would connect me with my confirmation number only to be hung up on. When I called back I was on hold for 20 more minutes before I talked to another person. If John was fired I don’t know when because I caught the Today show June 21st and I recognised his voice on the tape playback.

  • Teresa

    My mother tried to cancel aol for about 6 months. She’d call and get the same run-around, and after some time on the phone with the rep, would be assured the account was closed. Next month, another charge to the account, and she’s on the phone again. She finally told a rep that she wished she knew where aol was so she could bomb the place!!! Not seriously, of course, but that’s how furious she was!

    This was in the time period that Spitzer was prosecuting aol in NY State on charges that they were doing exactly what my mom went through, BECAUSE AOL WAS TELLING REPS THAT THEY’D GET BONUSES FOR GETTING CUSTOMERS TO NOT CANCEL THEIR ACCOUNT AND KEEPING THEM ACTIVE NO MATTER WHAT THE CUSTOMER WANTED.

    Too bad we don’t live in NY. aol settled, IIRC.

    I cancelled my account a few weeks ago via fax, so I wouldn’t have to go through the hassle. Got a letter in the mail that the account was cancelled. I’m watching my bank account very closely, anyway.

  • Lisa

    I worked for the cancelation department for AOL in Orlando Florida. And as with all sales jobs we went though 2 weeks of extensive training on keeping customers. Out on the floor you are set up in teams you had goals and other incentives. Being the moral person I am when you were confronted with people like Vincent all you really wanted to do is cancel his account. They told you that you were suppose to after three definate request by the consumer. But that wasn’t the truth. If you didn’t do what John did you quickly lost your position and livelyhood. I feel sorry for him. He sounded like he was under alot of pressure to meet his sales quota. AOL does alot more underhanded things then the cancelation department. Which reminds me I better get on the phone right now and cancel the 6 months free trial for just buying my DELL even though I never installed it AOL will start billing the credit card I used to purchased it with. Hows that for morals.

  • Clyde Haywood

    I once had an encounter with an unhelpful and hostile “customer service” rep at Merck-Medco. When I asked to speak to her superviser she said “My superviser don’t want to talk to you.”

  • Charles

    Hey everyone beware of AOL. Don’t buy into this free 90 day trial. I tried this out about 2 months ago. I got my credit card statement in the mail and it had a charge from AOL. when i called them the guy told me it was because its a 25.99 cahrge for the FREE 90 day trial. Thats pretty missleading if you ask me.

  • Jill

    Vinny, I loved seeing you and your story on the Today Show this morning. Thanks for your national exposure of AOL’s “customer service” tactics.

    I experienced the same unbelievable frustration when I canceled my AOL account 7 years ago. You couldn’t have played the recording of my conversation with the customer service rep…by the time their intimidation tactics had gone on for what seemed like an eternity, I was screaming CANCEL MY F’ing ACCOUNT over and over!! I didn’t care who was listening or recording me. Even after that phone call, my account wasn’t canceled. I too had to finally close my credit card to stop them. How can they get away with this kinda crap for so many years???

    AOL SUCKS.

  • Kevin Whitworth

    I must have had the same operator when I tried to cancel my account a year or two ago. My experience was very similar to yours. They fired this operator for his handling of the situation but after hearing this it reaffirms what I thought: this has to be a company policy. Since my bad experience I hate AOL and refuse to use any of their products!

  • Dave

    You should send a copy of that to the FTC, who has settled at least 3 action against these scumbags already. This was SUPPOSED to have stopped. The clowns get a commission for everyone they keep, so the incentive is there

  • http://none Debra Emerson

    Just saw you on the Today Show. Thank you for recording the call. I had the same experience, but your customer service rep was much nicer. It took me three times and over 30 minutes to cancel my account as the first two reps refused to cancel the account, would not let me speak with a supervisor and told me I needed to “think” about what I was doing since I had been a customer for 6 years. They wanted to know the reason, why would I want to leave such a great company, etc. I told the third customer service rep that this was my third time, did not want to have a conversation and just cancel the account. I went on to say that I was recording the conversation and that if they did not cancel my account immediately that I would use the tape to take legal action as my time was valuable. They immediately cancelled the account. Took less then 3 minutes. I will NEVER use AOL again and have dicouraged other from signing up. Thanks Vincent!!!

  • http://none Debra Emerson

    Sorry for the second comment, my server went down and id not think it took.

  • Roxane

    I’m so happy to hear I’m not alone. I’ve had this experience with AOL not once, but TWICE. It was a horrible experience. I swear I must have talked to the same customer “service” rep. I even asked to speak with his supervisor (which he wouldn’t allow me to do). I submitted remarks to AOL about the experience, but of course, never heard from them again. Thank you for recording it–I wish I had!

  • Jen M.

    I had the EXACT same problem a month ago, and was treated exactly the same way. After 15 minutes, I was so mad I could barely stay polite. I severely doubt AOL actually fired anybody; if they did that, then their entire customer service dept. handling cancellation calls would not exist. I will NEVER have anything to do with AOL again.

  • Dinar

    I don’t have an AOL cancellation story but a “forced signing up” story. My wife and I never had AOL, and we had recently moved to a new apartment. One of the first pieces of mail that shows up is a bill from AOL for $24.99 for their internet service. It was totally ridiculous considering that we don’t even have a land-line telephone to connect to the internet and we used TWC cable internet. The funny part was that letter was directly addressed to our new address, with no forwarding from a previous one.

    To get back at AOL, I pick up their free installation cd’s from Walmart and use them to play frisbee. Atleast my game has improved thanks to AOL.

  • Bryan

    This is one more confirmation of what I have known for 10 years…AOL sucks. The best contribution that AOL has provided to the world is a hefty supply of skeet targets.

    Besides, who needs AOL anymore?

  • Terri

    After signing up for broadband with a new company I cancelled AOL and then noticed that months later I began seeing charges on my credit card statement again. AOL claimed that someone had once restarted my AOL program and since AOL had kept my account on file, it reinstated the account, and charged my credit card, although no one had been actually using it. It took a while, but I finally got AOL to completely CANCEL the account meaning I would now have to supply them with new credit card information if I wanted to use the service. I had to go through their fraud department to get reimbursed. So, just make sure you really are cancelled and not just put in limbo land until something starts you up again.
    Terri

  • Another ex-aol customer

    I too had similar problems cancelling AOL. Watch your mail CAREFULLY for the next few months. About a month after I cancelled, I got a letter from AOL stating “we’re happy you decided to renew your service”. Only after I called and threatened to have my lawyer make the next call was my service cancelled for good. BUT Aol isn’t the only one that does this. My 18-yr old son said “yeah, sure” at Best Buy’s checkout counter and ended up with 4 “free” magazine subscriptions. In order to cancel them, we had to endure 10 minutes of a computer talking and asking questions like “answer YES if you’d like to cancel your trial subscription and start a yearly subscription”. You really had to think hard about your answers so you didn’t inadvertently sign back up!! :wink:

  • http://www.startreksims.com Josh

    I had an account for 5 years and when the account was hacked and someone started getting me TOSed for stupid garbage I called AOL to try to straighten it out. What happened was the Indian guy on the phone said that the United States Consitution and Federal laws do not apply to them for computer crimes and that they would be cancelling my account for me. Nevermind that I had resumes and such out there with my AOL address on there for employers to contact me on, and I lost contact with most of my friends because of it. AOL, you do fall under the US Consitution and US laws. Stop kidding yourself, you are NOT the greatest thing since sliced bread.

  • James Fallows

    This exactly resembled my experience trying to cancel my AOL account more than a year ago. I’d had the account since the very earliest days of AOL, and since I had a good screen name, I was slow to give it up. BUt I had no idea what “slow” could mean until I spent more than an hour on the phone convincing a (sweet sounding Southern) woman that I wanted to CANCEL!!! I got mad only at the very end, when she said: “We can keep this name reserved for you for six months if you change your mind.” I said, “Ok.” She then immediately said: “All right, then, we’ll continue your account on the same terms.”

    She also admitted at the end that she got a bonus if she talked people out of cancelling.

  • Kim

    I had terrible luck with canceling AOL, and so have a few people I’ve spoken to. I spoke to a guy who was th rudest customer service guy I’ve ever spoken to, who threatened to ruin my credit and harass me until I paid $48 he said I still owed. I then spoke to a really nice helpful woman, but in spite of her efforts to fix my account and credit money back to me for the abuse I suffered, AOL ended up charging me more than twice what I was to be credited. AND, I still get notices saying I owe $48. Not only are they ruthless, but there service isn’t even any good.

  • http://yahoo.com Lisa

    It is interesting to see all of the stories. I, too, thought I was going to go insane before I had my account cancelled with AOL. I had a three month trial subscription. I set the account up under a false name (long story-found out my husband was quite the swinger on the internet and I was snooping and did not want to be found out!) After the 3 month trial ended, I called to cancel. I spoke with a rep. whose accent was so thick I could only understand the words, “cannot cancel, not your name” even though it was billed to me, had my billing address, credit card info, etc. After 45 minutes, I FINALLY got a so-called supervisor who was also a jerk. After another 10 minutes I told him I was going to cancel my credit card and was told that even if my credit card was cancelled, they could STILL charge it because we had a “contract”. I ended up screaming at him, then finally hung up. They, of course, continued to bill me. I called 2 more times and finall spoke with a woman (obviously sympathetic to my situation) and explained the reasons why I the account set up in the first place and did not need it anymore(hey, I had already filed for divorce at this point!!) and she mailed a letter to me that I had to sign and mail back to them before they would cancel. This was over a year ago and I still have a copy of the letter…just in case!!!

  • Gail

    I saw your story and can relate to you although my experience took only 20 minutes. It should not have taken that long because people have the right to cancel services when they choose and the strong armed tactics at AOL are horrible. I will never use AOL again. I hope that their PR people are reading these messages and realize that they (AOL) have a credibility issue.

  • Av

    I had a similar experience but with the IRS. Spending hours spread over several days just trying to talk to a person to get things straightened out.

    I’d like to point out though that 545 hours logged for the month equals to over 18 hrs per day.

  • http://insignificantthoughts.com Rich

    Wow, I can’t believe this, the exact same thing happened to me. If I didn’t know better I’d swear I had the same AOL rep. I was only being charged $2.95/month just for email service, I had it for years and never used it. The rep would not let me cancel it, he gave me the same bull story as Vincent. I finally gave up and agreed to keep it but I planned to call my bank and have them dispute it. I hadn’t called the bank yet but in a couple of days I got an acknowledgment letter in the mail from AOL stating that I had agreed to keep their service but on the back of the letter was a form that can be faxed back to AOL if you want to cancel the account. I sent it in and voila, it worked, they finally canceled it.

  • Kit Frantzich

    Somehow, someway, I had an AOL account and could not even remember how it was started. I figured this out one day when I took a look at my bank statement and noticed an AOL withdrawl for about $20.

    I immediately tried to find a number to figure out what this charge was all about and stop it. Finding a number in itself was an ordeal. Once I found the number I had the almost exact conversation as you in the first minute or so.

    After “cancelling”, I went to my bank to find out how to prevent these charges in the future and after explaining how I didn’t even know how I had the account they stated they might be able to get me the money back if the charges were just happening for that past few months.

    After looking into how long the charges were going on, they found that the charges had started about 3 years earlier. Now, granted I should have taken a look at my account more readily, but 3 years of inactivity and I still get questioned about cancelling and let alone the fact that I had the hardest time finding the number.

    I don’t at all believe that the man you spoke to was the same man I spoke to in order to have such a similar beginning conversation. AOL is responsible for how there employers act and should be held accountable.

    I am more than willing to be part of some kind of action that might help stop this horrible company from doing business in this manner.

    In addition, there software is one of the worst things to try and get out of your computer and has alot of problems working with other application.

    I only wish I had know about this cancelation problem sooner so I could have recorded the conversation. (oh, and the looked at my bank statement a little more often):?

    Please help keep this movement alive.

  • Ellen Murphy

    OMG!!!!! This exact thing happened to me yesterday! First, it took 8 minutes to actually get a human. I know this because Im trying to keep 3 kids quiet and entertained while I was on the phone. Finally a lady, Mary, comes to the phone and gets my info and then says about our being a customer for 8 years and how she sees I just used their site today (duh, where else do you get their phone number?) she tried to sell me many things and offered free service for a month among other things. She then wanted me to sign on and check out their Spyware keyword to prove they were blocking all of my spyware, I was polite at first then became angry and loud with her to no avail. I asked if she had a supervisor that could get me through the process quicker and she still kept going. Needless to say we were over 15 minutes at this time and my patience with her were gone. She could clearly hear my kids in the background and was being totally disrespectful to me at this time. She then said there was one more piece of info she was legally required to read to me and I told her she could read all she wants and it would do nothing for me. All said I spent 28 minutes on the phone with this ‘witch’. I dont care if AOL bought everyone out and was the last company offering internet, I would go without!

  • Jesse

    “I have 50 republic credits that say you get a bill next month AND they have no record of you calling to cancel. You proabaly also have the “irate & difficult customer flag” set on your account now. – Mr. Atoz”

    That’s exactly what happened to me. I called to cancel my account and the rep I spoke with tells me that she put in the cancellation order.

    Nine months later I’m checking my bank statement and I noticed a reoccuring charge from AOL. I know we should check our statements routinely, but it’s also very easy for things to get past my attention at the number of tractions that pile up.

    Anyhow I call AOL customer service again wanting to know why I was still being charged. The new rep says there’s no record of me ever requesting to have my account canceled. That in fact the previous rep gave me some kind of discount or credit which is usually given to coerce people into keeping their accounts. But I was very explicit in you my request to cancel my account in the first phone call to customer service.

    Anyhow, I requested the cancellation again and this rep assures me that the order has been placed. Then I ask for a refund of the 9 months of charges for an account that was supposed to be cancelled. The rep tells me that I have to write a letter to some office in Georgia and “ask” to have that money refunded.

    After all of the headaches I only got 3 months refunded even though they clearly could see my account has had 0 activity from before I originally request to cancel my account and to my second call to customer service.

  • Mark

    Lesson learned from these comments:

    If AOL won’t cancel the account in a timely fashion, go to your bank to have the charges refused.

    As for Jon being “fired” (btw- love the use of the tem immolate!), I’d really like to see what REALLY happened to him. He obviously was operating under AOL’s retention policy.

    I stopped using AOL when I realized how invasive the software was on my computer. I eventually dumped that computer and vowed that I would never install ANY AOL software again.

    As for the comment about how rude you (Vincent) were, I disagree. You were very clear and concise about what you wanted. My opinion is that ANY internet provider should allow you to simply cancel on line- the fact that AOL forces you to call demonstrates that they want you to talk to someone that is a trained retention specialist.

    I think that AOL’s practices are improper and insulting to human dignity. Kudos to you Vincent for getting them in limelight and exposing them for what they are.

    Thank you.

  • Jesse

    I went through the same ordeal years ago. After cancelling my AOL account over the phone (took 30+minutes), AOL mailed me a letter two weeks later indicating how happy they were that I was renewing my AOL service. So I had to call them again, and go through the same scenario.

  • Angie

    I am so glad I am not the only one who has had this problem. I cancelled my AOL account but continued to get billed on my credit card for about six months. I would call each month and spent hours on the phone with AOL trying to cancel my account. Finally my only option was cancelling my credit card. Thank you Vincent maybe now AOL will cancel accounts.

  • Jane Hornberger

    I thought we were the only ones with difficulties in the cancel procedure ….silly as it seems. I was in tears and my husband tried to “rescue” the situation and after 3/4 hour, his face was as red as a beet. This is surely no way to run a company. Thank you for bringing this forward.

  • A. Losurdo

    UNBELIEVABLE – I watched the Today Show this AM (6/21/06) and could not believe it – someone had just as bad of an experience with cancelling their AOL service as I had!!!

    I had an AWFUL time cancelling my TRIAL AOL service last Spring. My conversation was longer and worse than Vincent’s – the AOL Rep could barely speak English, but was JUST as pushy and irritating.

    It got to the point that I told her I was going to hang up now and to send me confirmation that my account has been cancelled. Like you, I repeated this SEVERAL times. My husband couldn’t believe what he was hearing – and he was only on my end of the phone call!!!

    I gotta tell you – I was red in the face, shaking with anger and upset for HOURS after this call. And, I vowed to NEVER use AOL or let any friends use AOL from that day forward. And, this was a simple 2 week trial!!!

    Glad to know I am not alone!

  • Me

    Wow.. great way to get promotion for your site and blog… setting up AOL and the poor guy that got fired. Well done, Vincent.

  • Karen

    I just went through the same thing with aol just 2 weeks ago. If you really believe this guy John lost his job I have some swamp land to sell you. This practice is appauling

  • http://aolsucks.com CJ

    I tried to cancel because I never used it either and it became an argument just as you mentioned. Ridiculous questions and statements. It took me 1/2 hour, then they sent me crap in the US mail. Then they billed me the next month anyway. Yet another lengthy ridiculous phone call. Talk about not taking NO for an answer. AOL is truly a greedy and pathetic company!

  • charlie buckley

    I HAD THE SAME THING HAPPEN TO ME. IOT WAS AWFUL. THE GUY KEP ME ONLINE FOR 1 HOUR WITH ME SAYING OVER AND OVER, JUST CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION. THEY ARE IDIOTS

  • Chris

    Back in the early 90s I went through this, only I didn’t have the pleasure of speaking to anyone. All I got was hold. Indefinite hold. My solution was to blatantly and repeatedly violate the TOS in a chat room. After several warnings from the moderator, my connection dropped and I got a message box saying my account had been cancelled.

  • Candy

    I also tried to cancel my AOL account last October, was talked into a free month of service to try to keep me, then when I confirmed the cancellation as asked by December 2, my account was turned over to a collection agency for Decembers charges and I am still receiving bills for that month even though I had no Aol service! I am so sorry I ever signed up in the first place. Thay always called me a “Preferred Customer” because I had the account for almost 5 years.Never again!

  • Anon User

    Don’t believe for a minute that “John” got fired. He wasn’t even an AOL employee, and what he did is exactly what the call center wants him to do. He probably got a raise.

    My son worked for AOL retention at ICT in Spokane. They earned bonuses for keeping customers, and they got fired if they didn’t keep enough customers. These (mostly) kids are trying to make a living by doing a very tough job and making people extremely angry. I have sympathy on both sides. I remember how many times my son came home after a day of taking these calls and trying to keep people on the phone until they got tired of waiting and just gave up. That counted as a “save” for him too. He made up scripts, used a false name, and told every lie he could think of to earn his bonus, which ICT also made as difficult as possible. I understand ICT no longer has the AOL account. But some poor schmuck at a call center is on the other end of that phone when you try to cancel. It isn’t an AOL employee.

  • Laura Radomski

    :evil: I went through the cancelling bit with AOL… LAST APRIL!! They kept taking money from my checking account inspite of the fact I received my cancellation letter and number! They were NOT suppose to charge me after 04/25/2006 however managed to get away with another $55 on 06/07/2006 stating “there is a window in posting charges for early cancellation.” My bank said “it looks like a ligitament charge, it’s an early cancellation fee,” but from the date of cancellation and according to the letter “NO FURTHER CHARGES WILL BE DEDUCTED AFTER 04/25/2006″ however..now, verbally, AOL says “we have a window to the time allowed to charge you that early cancellation fee.” Several phone calls later to AOL (all of which I got a different excuse for each phone call as to why they did this and over drew my checking account to the tune of $145.00), a few phones calls to my bank AND a visit to my bank, all of which they apologized, but couldn’t do anything, but as a courtesy, they will note the acct not to let AOL withdraw any more money for the next 6 months, I STILL had to pay the returned check fees and the over draft fees! AOL SUCKS BIG TIME!!!!

  • Alan

    Thank goodness I never got an AOL account. Those of you that do, and are cancelling…you should start the conversation out by saying that you are recording this for quality assurance purposes. That should make the cancellation run smoothly.:lol:

  • Jamie

    I had a similar problem with AOL…I called and cancelled the account. I told the guy I was divorcing and moving and that maybe in six months if things were better, I would come back to AOL… only to find four months later they billed me for four months of service on my credit card. After getting no where with a customer service rep who insisted there was no one above him to speak to, the better business bureau got me my money back. Then I found another charge on my account and they told the BBB that it was because I have to give 30 days notice to cancel. I was tired of fighting with them, so I gave up trying to get $14.99 back and instead let everyone know what happened, and was happy to hear nearly everyone I know who uses AOL cancelled their accounts as well. The way they treated me has caused them to lose me as a customer for life as well as those around me. It’s sad to see after so many people having the same experience, they haven’t learned a thing.

  • Jane

    I had a similar experience with aol. We had moved. I called to cancel and they gave me the run around. I eventually hu and called back only to go through the same hassel. I will never use them again.

  • Bobby the Beast

    AOL has done this from the very beginning. I had AOL way back when there wasn’t many other choices. It took me months to cancel my account. Luckily I was getting billed every month and paying by check, so they didn’t have my credit card number. The only way I got them to cancel was to stop paying, which I would encourage everyone to do, who is unfortunate enough to be in their clutches. These people are crooks and always have been. Besides being the most expensive ISP service in history, their software infiltrates your computer, and even if you are lucky enough to stop being charged, you’ll never be rid of AOL until you get a new computer. Whatever you do – NEVER install those “Free” service disks they send through the mail.

  • Alix Flood, formerly xilanpt@aol.com

    Hi Vincent,

    I just had to commiserate after I saw you on Today this AM! Canceling my AOL last month took over 40 minutes. Though I began the process as a polite, reserved person — I ended up angry, exhausted, and feeling somewhat exploited. My call sounded exactly like yours (they all have the same script, I’m sure). My guy was beligerent toward me at more than one point and the entire experience was insulting and absurd. I asked for a supervisor but he wouldn’t put one on. He kept offering me better deals and rates, etc. I’m probably asked him to cancel my account upward of 50 times. Too bad they made your guy the scapegoat — as AOL makes all their customer service people do the same thing to be sure. Either fire all of them, or radically change their policies. Singling out one man because they were “outed” by you will not solve their problem. Ya hear me, AOL??
    Thanks.
    Alix, Newport, RI

  • Rev. Jeff Spaulding

    :evil: Just listening to the audio brought back flashbacks of my own experience on the phone with AOL about 8 months ago. I, too, had an AOL account for about a month on a free trial deal. I decided I was more advanced than most of the basic services AOL provides (I can surf the web reasonably well), so I wanted to cancel before they began charging me. My experience was a virtual mirror of yours. I don’t remember the rep’s name, except that it was a male. He absolutely refused to cancel the account after probably 15-20 minutes of effort on my part, trying to be as nice as possible. Out of anger, after he refused to cancel, I hung up. Several days later I received a letter from AOL saying that to cancel my account, I had to return the letter with my reasons for cancelling. I dutifully filled out the letter’s questions and mailed it back. Then a customer service rep called me back and wanted to know why I wanted to cancel. It was as if he had never read my written response, which he had in front of him. After arguing for a good ten minutes, I finally just yelled, “cancel the account, I refuse to pay” and hung up. Since that time, I’ve received too many to count requests to restart my service. Incredible. Absolutely incredible. I wish I had had the presence of mind to record my phone calls.

  • laura

    i spent over half an hour repeating over and over “I want to cancel my account”. The customer service rep assured me he would help me and then proceeded to tell me I need to keep using the aol browser for only $4.95 a month because it was easy to use, I was familiar with it and it was secure. I repeated myself “I want to cancel”. He then replied he needed to go through the process which meant he needed to give me his speech about why I should continue my $4.95/month service. He refused to let me speak to a manager because the call was not escalated, but my anger was.

    After continuous repeats of “I want to cancel” he then informed me that my account was still open. What part of cancel the account do you not understand? What a jerk this guy was. After continuing to repeat myself that I did, in fact, want to cancel he finally gave me a cancellation confirmation number and was very condescending to me. I refuse to keep my screenname because I absolutely want nothing to do with aol. good luck to all who must encounter the customer service idiots.

    Apparently they get a bonus for convincing someone to not cancel. I have had it with bullying tactics!!!

  • http://none Lee

    I had the exact kind of hellish experience with AOL, repeated several times, with multiple represetatives.

    I also would find myself repeating, in the most measured, polite voice I could muster: “Cancel the account. I’m done. Don’t like it. I don’t want it. I don’t need it. Have a high-speed connection with another ISP.”

    And would actually hear things like, “How can you do this to me? After all I’ve done for you?” from multiple representatives.

    Furthermore, they continue to try to reinstate my account. I’ve never experienced such ridiculous harrassment.

  • Susan

    That is EXACTLY what happened to me when I had an AOL account. It took me two phone calls at over an hour both times to get it cancelled. It was a nightmare. It is just awesome that you busted their chops so publicly. They obviously don’t care about the complaints they receive.

  • jeff

    I had the same experience with AOL about 4 or 5 yers ago. I only got AOL temporarily during a temporary absence of my regular provider. Used it for 2 weeks, after which it was almost impossible to cancel. Yuk. Congratulations on showing them up.

  • Derrick

    I worked for AOL in the Tucson call center…needless to say I only lasted 30 days..I could not believe the level of unethical ways we were trained to ‘retain’ customers….I took the job so I could go back to school after working for 2 fortune 500 companies. I wish someone would file a class action suit against this company. Not only did AOL not prepare for the high speed age but they’re using predatory techniques to keep their customer base. I think its time for Time Warner to dump their bastard child and I love that they’ve now ended up with egg on their face as their misdeads are now online for all to see.

  • wendylady

    I totally see the frustration! When I tried to cancel they denied that my credit card was on file even though they charged that card. They made it very difficult to cancel. It was about 2 hours on the phone. I will never use the service again!

  • Kevin

    BTW, the hassle-free way to cancel AOL is to send the bastards a snail mail letter. (The address is actually not hard to find if you look for it.) Believe it or not, they cancelled quickly and efficiently when I finally quit.

    I call for a law that any subscription service that can be initiated online, must also offer cancellation online. (e.g., Audible.com is good about that).

  • Melissa

    Thank you so much for finally showing AOL for who they are! I had a very similar situation three years ago. I was on the phone with the rep for an hour while he tried to give me everything but the kitchen sink. I thought he had cancelled it and while we were getting ready to hang up he said he had me set up for two months of free service. I am a very nice person, but I had to yell at him I didn’t want ANY service.

    I agree with Ken too, they sent me a letter to confirm my cancellation and I was charged until I received the letter. When I finally got the letter ( I can’t remember exactly what it said but it sent up a red flag for me to call them), I called back they said that they had no record of me cancelling my account. Finally after months of dealing with them it was cancelled.

    What a crock. AOL are lying about customer service. I am finally glad someone has hard proof of it. Good for you Vincent!!!

  • Millard

    Sadly, I feel sorry for John. The problem is not the pushy CSR, but rather the corrupt uncaring company that encourages his behavior. I have never subscribed to AOL because they are both the most expensive service, and the lowest quality all wrapped into one. I take my internet straight, not watered down. To discover that AOL allows if not encourages CSRs to act in this manner is no surpise to me!

  • pjpantaleo

    Comment 259 says that the rep did not know he was being recorded. Each and Every call center employee who works in a call center has to sign a statement with their HR staff allowing their calls to be monitored by their company. The recordings you hear before you get to a rep says, this call may be monitored. If there is such a recording then THEY ALREADY KNOW it is being recorded, so the customer recording is covered since the company makes that disclaimer at the begininng of each call!!!

  • Angela Cooke

    :D Saw this on the today show this morning, good for you for taping this and bringing it out into the open!!! I had almost the exact ordeal trying to cancel an AOL account a few months back, had to keep saying…no just cancel the account…effective today, not 3 months from now, cancel it today. It was an hour long ordeal. I was sooo happy to see these people exposed for what they are!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  • JP

    Saw you on the Today show this morning. Great Job!! So glad this is getting some attention. I had the same experience calling to cancel my brother’s account. I called as him ( he had a terminal illness ). I recieved the same treatment. If I were near that phone person at the time I would have beat him senseless! I don’t remember ever beeing so mad! You rock Vincent! Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.victimofobsession.com laura

    I am so glad you did this. I had a very similar experience trying to cancel AOL when I was moving and switching to Road Runner. They tried to tell me I still needed it and all this other BS about why I shouldn’t cancel. It went on, and on. I had canceled AOL before and had similar issues so I was somewhat prepared, but I stupidly thought that with a clear reason for not needing it anymore they wouldn’t try as hard. It’s obviously not just one or two employees, but company policy.

  • Ken Robertson

    I have a horror story for you regarding AOL. I tried out their service on a free trial. After a few months of having the service and rarely useing it i decided to cancel my account. i was given the same runaround as to why i wanted to cancel my account and yadeeyadeeyadee we went on for 10 minutes. A few months later I received another AOl disk and decided to give it a try one more time. I only had it a few weeks when I had to cancel again due to moving. when i called in the Cust. Service person informed that I never had cancelled my last account(which I did) and that I would be billed for the time which I never used. sure enough a few days later a bill arrives in the mail for roughly $130. i couldn’t believe it. I called AOL and spoke with this very rude girl and she confirmed what I was told before. lets just say that conversation was not pretty. I have not paid that bill and never will. My advice for AOL users… RUNNNNNN Thanks Kenny

  • Kris

    Well I hope that this ends it for you, however, my husband and I cancelled our aol account two years ago and it took us about 4 months to actually stop getting mail stating that if we did not respond by such and such a date the account would remain active. Each month we called explained that we had cancelled the account and they said okay. The next month another letter appeared.

  • Victoria

    I know I am number 300 and something, but I saw your appearance on the Today show. I had a similar experience with AOL. I decided to cancel them after they charged my credit card twice a month for a couple of months. When I called and questioned them, they blamed it on my credit card company. When I called to cancel, the customer service rep gave me the third degree about cancelling, then informed me that I was cancelling in the middle of the month and that I would need to call back at the end of the month to remind them to cancel me! I said to bill me for the rest of the month and get the hell out of my computer. As I talked to other people, I heard other horror stories. I have a friend who cancelled and it took two years for them to stop billing her.
    I can’t believe how this company can get away with this!!!!

  • Billie

    I thought I just had dumb luck with them, my brother, living at another address used my phone number to start an acct and it was billed to my phone, when I caught on I called AOL and they gave me crap about the acct and told me to take it up with my brother. I told them that I was recording and that I would contact my attorney so they changed their tune real quick with me. I would never again use them or refer anyone to them. Thanks for airing their dirty laundry!

  • Denise

    HOW FUNNY! We had an AOL account years ago and it took months to cancel the darn thing. I hate AOL and would never have an account with them again especially after this validation that it wasn’t just us having a hard time cancelling

  • Jennifer

    My mother had a similar experience with AOL. We talked her into DSL because she kept complaining about the time it took her to upload pictures to her photo developing website. When she called to cancel AOL, they used the scare tactic to at least try to get her to keep the protection plan for $7.99 a month. She is not very technologically advanced, so they scared the pants off of her and got her to keep it for another 2 months until my husband and I found out that she was paying for this. Thanks for getting the word out about AOL – I just hope they are looked into for these horrific practices!!

  • Carolyn

    I had an incident with AOL myself. I had AOL a few yrs ago and I cancelled it. My bank account was charged 2-3 months every month after that. I called AOL back and told them to stop and that I had cancelled it and wanted a refund. Well they told me they could only refund me for 1 of those months because I did not say I wanted it cancelled IMMEDIATELY. It has been 4- 5 yrs since this has happened and I STILL have not received the refund they owe me.

  • Kim Cramer

    I spent about an hour on the phone with AOL trying to cancel my account…..it was like beating my head against a concrete wall. Someone else stated they must get a bonus for each person they talk out of cancelling, they could not pay me enough to put people through this ridiculous process, all it does is make everyone really angry and determined to NEVER have anything to do with AOL ever again. As to Jonathan getting fired, this is a load of crap, with all of this feedback he was following AOL policy, the person I had was just as bad, no matter what I told her she had a comback, I was screaming at here towards the end of the call….CANCEL MY ACCOUNT!!!!!!!!

  • Robert

    I see where AOL apologized and stated that this was in violation of their policy. Well, when I cancelled my AOL account I had the same experience as Vincent. I would venture that AOL is lying thru their teeth when they say it was a violation of policy. Based on what I have heard from others and my own experience, it is “policy” for their customer service reps to do everything in their power to discourage the customer and get them to give up on canceling their service. I have been in the customer service side of business for over 20 years and am totally appalled at the outright gall of AOL and how they treat a customer who wishes to cancel service. They are despicable in their customer service practices and should be sanctioned for it. I will never use them again and I encourage everyone I speak with not to use them either.

  • Mark

    Vinny – You’ve done more for the average consumer than the BBB and FTC have done for a long time. Every call that I now make to cancel any type of service or subscription will begin with me saying (after I get the CSR’s name and document the date and time of day) “this call is being recorded and may be aired on a local and/or national news program”. I’m sure that I’ll get much better ‘customer service’.

    The one similar story I have is when I tried to cancel my wireless data service with Verizon Wireless. I was placed on hold for 1 hour and 20 minutes before someone came on to answer the call. I tried multiple times to get through more quickly, but was always told by a computer answerer that the wait was 75 to 90 minutes. What made matters worse was that the queue to add new wireless service was non-existant.

  • danette

    I am so glad that you caught them in the web of s*ht that you have to go through to cancel it took me a total of 10 calls 4hr 25 min to finally get them to cancel my account but would not credit from the 1st day i called to cancel but kept saying they don’t show any other calls about this matter. Thank goodness for cellphones it logged all my calls to them.

    At first i was sad that the guy got fired but hey he is an adult and knew what he was doing and wouldn’t like that done to him or his family. (they probably got NETZERO) last note check your credit card

  • Dana

    Had the same experience trying to cancel my account, kept promising me free month, etc. Such a bad taste in my mouth that now I would never go back and I tell everyone to join AOL.

  • Jeremy Kitching

    Had this same issue a couple of years ago. Mine took about 30 minutes to cancel. The funny this is I let the guy go on and on about how great the software was, and then still told him to cancel it. He kept pushing so I let him talk :) He was kind of upset but if he had just cancelled the account in the first place he would not have had to waste time.

  • Brad Davis

    I knew I wasn’t alone! When I tried and tried to cancel my AOL account I was faced with a barage of delay tactics, irritating questions and finally an offer to downgrade my service to the minimum $4.95/month internet access only. When I refused and finally got them to agree to cancel I was relieved. Of course, what I didn’t realize was that their offer was to cancel my account at the end of the next billing cycle. When I automatically clicked my AOL icon (just a habit in my sequence of checking e-mail accounts) I was automatically signed in and my account re-activated! Damn, what a bitch! Now I get a 4.95/month bill that I pay becasue I’m not willing to go through the torture of cancellation again. I mean really, shouldn’t there be a law?

  • Shawn

    Aol Brutally canceled my account , only to bill my credit card the next month with fraudulent charges which resulted in overdrafts , what a nightmare, to this day I am still awaiting credits from there fraud dept , everyone who cancels should also request that any screen name with their account payment info should be canceled as well

  • Tony

    Canceling my account was just the beginning of my problems with AOL. After repeated software problems I stopped using my free AOL trial. Then one day when I was attempting to go online, a pop up message said I needed to pay my past due bill to prevent interupted service.
    I immediatly called to cancel the account. After several minutes of waiting I was told that the past due ammount would be erased if I would try another 90 day free trial. I reluctantly agreed.
    A few days later a computer repair tech. advised me to uninstall all the AOL software from my laptop to solve the performance problems I was having.
    This helped tremindously.
    Then approximately 4 months later I realized there were automated charges from AOL on my check card.
    I called AOL and After nearly and hour and a half I was told that my AOL account is closed at my request. Approximatly one year later I start getting hassled by AOL collections department to pay a past due bill. I finally called AOL customer services and it was determined that they had made a mistake. The lady appologized for any inconvienance and assured me it would be taken care of.
    Approximately 3 mo. later I begain to get hassaled agian by AOL collections Department. I spoke with them several times, attempting to explain what I was told by customer services, and I requested that they stop calling me . But, they kept calling and eventually I got a letter from a collections agency demanding payment for nearly tripple the amount of the original bill.
    I called them and the person was rude from the beginning, stating that according to there records I had logged on nearly 8,000 minutes during the billing period. I tried to explain that I removed the AOL software from my computer over a year earlier and they just continued to be rude and basically called me a liar.
    I attempted once again to contact AOL and remained on hold for 45 min. before hanging up.
    I call it organized crime.

  • Grant

    I went through this same exact phone call with whom I am 99.9% certain was the same John. I run a restaurant that carries the local news rag and every couple of months, they are stuffed with the AOL CD with the 1001 hours of ‘free’ service(would take that long to download a few songs on AOL). In my efforts to be a good samaritan, I pull out the CD’s and put them where they belong, in the trash. I don’t want my customers going through the same thing that we and so many, many others have gone through.

  • Em

    OMFG, I can’t believe he said that the annoyance “goes both ways.” Talk about a very unprofessional representative. Let’s hope Jon finds a new line of employment. If I said things like that in my line of service (cable/internet call center), I would be out the door. Some people need a good slap in the face to realize they need another job.

    Vince…you rock. Thx for posting this.

  • Joe

    Vince for the most part employed the “Broken Record” technique. Let the other party dodge and weave while you keep repeating your request over and over.

    John hung in there longer than most customer svc. reps.

    I cancelled AOL in Jan. ’06 after 7 yrs of svc. My disconnect episode was much, much easier.

  • robert brady

    the fella is correct, It happend to me just a year ago!

  • Canary Jerry

    U.F.B.! ….. Approx. 10 years ago I had the very same type of problem with AOL removing their monthly charges from my credit card. It took ONE YEAR to get it resolved. Ever since that time I have told as many people as I possibly could to NEVER use this company. Actually I have caused several to change providers, which to this day makes me feel GREAT! I was only made to feel better when I heard of this case getting national attention. WHO WAS THAT PERSON on the AOL side of the call???? Instead of going to India, does AOL have a phone center in a mental institution somewhere???? It just sad to think that even if AOL terminates this person he will probably work somewhere else dealing with the public.

  • http://N/A CAROL

    WELL I GOT TOOK BIG TIME .I JUST NOTICED ON MY BANK
    STATEMENT THAT AOL HAS BEEN CHARGING ME FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS.I CANCELED APRIL 1ST 2004.AND THE PERSON I TALKED TO DIDN’T CANCEL IT.THE THING IS I SHOULD HAVE BEEN CHECKING MY STATEMENTS BETTER.
    I ADDED UP MY CHARGES AND THEY TOOK OUT MORE THAN $500.00 DOLLARS OUT OF MY ACCOUNT.SO I CALL AGAIN ON 6-18-06.TO PERMANTLY CANCEL AND HE GOES AHEAD.I CANT TELL YOU WHO I SPOKE WITH (I WAS SO MAD!).BUT IT WAS FINALLY CANCELLED.I WENT AHEAD AND GOT A NEW DEBIT CARD ACCOUNT,SO THEY COULDN’T TAKE ANYMORE OUT.BUT THE BIG KICK IN THE BUTT IS THAT I WAS TOLD I COULD NOT BE REIMBURSED ALL THE MONEY.THEY ONLY GAVE ME TWO MONTHS WORTH BACK.ABOUT $50.00 BACK.I UNDERSTAND I SHOULD HAVE CHECKED MY STATEMENTS BETTER.BUT THEY SHOULD HAVE CANCELED ME A LONG TIME AGO!!!!
    THATS MONEY I COULD HAVE REALLY USED!

  • ramon

    I cancelled my AOL almost a year a half ago…and it took me 3 months before they finally cancelled it…

    I tried to cancel it on February…but would still get billed the following month…then I would call again, and be given what I thought was a reference cancellation number…then…get billed again the following month…the reference number I would get is always the same…it’s like a generic number, they issue just to satisfy the customer…but if you bring that number during cancellation process…they don’t have a clue what it is…

    I did ask for a supervisor…who got irate with me…because of my insistence on cancelling the account…

    AOL finally stopped billing me in May…after calling them continuously for 3 months…

    I think my cancellation experience with AOL was worst than any other customers…I should have taped my conversation with AOL and sent it out to the media, also…

    AOL’s apology letter…is faked because…all those people who work in the cancellation department are trained to give you as much trouble as possible if you try to cancel…

    I’m hoping more people will come to realize that AOL is a rip off company…and more people will cancel their account.

  • David

    I went through the same thing about 5 years ago, except that I had to do it 3 times. I would call stay in the phone for 30 min . thinking it was taken care of , only to find 3 months down the line that they keep charging my credit card. Call again repeat the process. Next months there is a charge again (AOL’s argument? it was canceled but it was re-open automatically when somebody try to use it) The last time I called I was screaming at the top of my lungs, and punching wall while the pas my call to 2 supervisors and wouldn’t cancel my account or give me a refund for the previous 2 times that I canceled. I ended up giving up on the 4 extra months they charged, just happy that maybe this time they would let me go.

  • Tom

    I had an experience just like that about a year and a half ago. Just like your experience, the guy kept trying to keep me on the line as long as possible. And then, just like your experience, when he finally relented and decided to go ahead and cancel the account, he turned into a total dick, making smartass remarks for another couple of minutes before he finally gave me the damn cancellation number.

    Long story short: AOL sucks.

    Thank you for having the presence of mind to record your conversation; hopefully other people won’t have to put up with the same garbage that we have.

  • yep, aol sucks

    Thanks to the class-action lawsuit in New York last year, when I cancelled my AOL account I encountered absolutely no problems.

    I cancelled my account because I refuse to support any “American” company that outsources to third world companies just to save a buck, putting hard-working Americans out of work.

    Article on this:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/11/17/BUGB3FPGT01.DTL&type=tech

    I hope Americans continue to speak out and act up over corporate criminals intent on taking jobs away from Americans.

  • Cheryl

    Listened to the interview with Mat Lauer – and the recording. Glad you went public.

    AOL started to bill me for service when my free year supplied with the computer was up — even tho’ I had switched to another ISP from the get-go. ( Hmm – I guess they got the card # from Gateway) When I called to stop it –I had to argue with the rep but they did stop it – after 2 months @ $25 each — and w/o my knowledge or OK, the “customer rep” signed me up for their buying plan – a bill which showed up on my next credit card bill. I was not as calm as you were the next time around.

    It seems pretty clear that aol tolerates or encourages this. I lost about $50 — multiply that by a few million, and pretty soon you are talking big money.

    In NY, I think Eliot Spitzer’s staff had looked into aol…
    Anyway, thanks for going public. But I don’t believe it was solely an individual at fault.

  • Dennis from NY

    Vincent , saw you on NBC Today show thanks for taping and bringing to light the “in MY opinion the practices” of AOL in refusing to cancel a person’s account, yes AOL will blame the customer service rep
    who tried to talk you into staying , yes he deserved to be let go not fired as i truly believe he was just carrying out the AOL managements desires
    and philosophy don’t let them cancel no matter what! As for me yes in 2001
    my daughter graduated from USC in LA and I called and she called not once not twice but several times to no avail until i threatened a lawsuit. to cancel her account . Net result was they still stiffed my daughter’s credit card account for about $50.00
    I’d like you, since you are somewhat of a crusader for the AOL cancel problem to organize us at this blog into a class action lawsuit against aol
    to re-imburse all aol customers wrongly billed and not cancelled when they asked to. OH by the way if your listening AOL you got me for 50.00 but you lost many many more dollars from me in the long run as i don’t do business with you or your parent company if i can help it.

  • sf

    Bravo!

    I tried complaining to AOL recently about the large and incredibly irritating banner ads that just recently started to appear on EVERY email window and slow down the computer. These ads are flashy with too much motion, and keep changing every 30 seconds or so.

    A few months earlier, AOL made the big banner ad at the bottom of the mailbox start changing every 30 seconds or so. Just as you click on a message and then will hit delete or enter, the ad refreshes and takes the focus of the mouse to the ad and away from the message you clicked on. VERY FRUSTRATING.

    All these ads make the use of AOL software virtually unusable.

    I was unable to get even one reply from all my emails to AOL. The account cancellation people claimed ignorance of these ads. Tech support claimed nothing could be done and also said they had not seen them.

    I called AOL corporate HQ in Virginia but continually got transferred to people who could not help.

    As a paid customer, I feel these highly distracting and intrusive ads are insulting. It’s like the old NetZero free access where you had to have ads take up a big chunk of your screen–except that I PAY for AOL!

    There simply is no way for an AOL customer to communicate a message to anyone in AOL that cares what customers think.

    Only by going public like you have will AOL listen!

    Thank you for going public. Now maybe they will listen to their customers and act to please them, not just please their advertisers.

    I’d appreciate contact info for the AOL executives who finally contacted you to apologize, maybe they can help me.

  • Mark

    I had a worst experience with AO-Hell cancellation. I tried their “45 days free trial, no credit card required” crap that they advertise to mislead. The very first day my credit card was charged, and after just couple weeks of usage when i tried to cancel, I was asked all kindda reasons of cancelling. And then in the end was told about termination fees and stuff. After 15 minutes of arguing, I came to conclusion they were hell bent on charging me anyways. I went ahead to cancel AO-Hell account. And to be on the safe side had my credit card company issue me a new card with different account #, so can prevent AO-Hell from charging my credit card. It was a hassle, but I was extremely happy when I received new card on next day delivery.

  • David A

    If this is not Class-action lawsuit waiting to happen I don’t know what it.
    somebody should forward this link to a lawfirm ungry for a very large case against one of the bigest companies(AOL/Time Warner) in the country.

    I would love to be part of it. What they are doing is organize rapacious crime.

  • Jack From California

    Same experience last week. At least I had a female. At least ten times had to say no or remind them to cancel. They kept wanting to reiterate spam blockers and virus protection software. After 10 years promised another monther access and cut me off the day before it was due to close. AOL is going down the tubes! They’re high on something, and can’t see the nose on their faces!

  • John

    Come on people you are all idiots man. It’s the same with EVERY DAMN INTERNET COMPANY OUT THERE! Are you all really thinking that AOL is the only one like this. I tried to cancel People PC and went through the whole thing as well but I just drove the guy crazy instead and he was DIEING to get my A$$ off of HIS phone. So you put up a blog about it who gives a rats a$$. I’m really sick of people crying about there bad experiences like a bunch of cry babies. Get over it man really, so you had a bad customer experience you say? I dont really car because we’ve all had it happen so listen to me play the worlds smallest violin. Your a grown man act like one you pudd instead of trying to get others to feel sorry for you.

  • John

    Oh and all you people about the 90 day RISK free trial thing…guess what it says it with the packaging so the only thing misleading is probably your I.Q.’s

  • Martha

    After a half hour on the phone with aol trying to cancel my account I called my husband into the room and told him that they were refusing to cancel. We laughed at the guy on the other end. It took a total of 45 minutes to cancel. What the heck is wrong with these people. I’m sorry this happens so frequently. Thanks for listening.

  • Jaime A.

    I listened to your story this morning on The Today Show and couldn’t believe it. Several years ago, actually, I canceled AOL and the same thing happened, almost verbatim. I was practically in tears, yelling at the guy. I canceled the credit card that the account was being charged to because I didn’t trust that they would actually cancel it and stop charging me. What a pain. I would never subscribe to AOL again. I really thought I was the only person this ever happened to and as I said, this was several years ago. I had no idea this was so widespread! Thanks

  • Mary

    I saw your piece in the Today show this morning. I have the perfect solution for any would-be AOL cancellers – and it works.

    Last year I called to cancel my AOL account. Knowing of the horror stories ahead of time, I was fully prepared. When they asked me why I was cancelling, I told them I had only a short time to live (which was a lie). This worked and shut down the phone agent immediately. He was tongue tied and the rest of the call was short and to the point.

  • http://www.insuringminnesota.com Rick McIntosh

    I went through a deal with AOL also. Ten plus minutes on the phone to try and cancel. Finally it was done! Then a few months later, a friend clicked on the icon that was still on my computer. It reactivated my account and I didn’t catch the extra charges on my card for a few months. Another battle on the phone with those wonderful people.

    Maybe they receive electric shocks for every cancellation?

  • Hope

    I can believe this because the same thing happened to me. I ended up closing down a checking account because they wouldn’t stop charging it & then when I thought I finally had it all straightened out they said they had to have a card number to credit what they had over charged. Stupid me, I fell for it & a few months later they started charging my credit card! When I called to complain the guy on the phone was just plain rude and basically told me “too bad” so I ended up having to cancel that credit card account as well. Those crooks basically stole about $200 from me. If anyone here decides to start a class action lawsuit against those bastards, i’m in.

  • Jen

    Wow, that guy deserved to be fired!! I can’t believe he told you to be quiet and listen to his paragraph in the end about staying in touch with AOL after you cancel… I loved how he said if you don’t let me speak I won’t cancel your account and we’ll start from the beginning. What a dick!

    Anyway, I can tell you that they have ALWAYS been like that with trying to cancel! I cancelled my account in 1997 (so that’s almost 10 years ago) and I got almost the same thing… they just wouldn’t cancel the account for me! Kept going on and on about how much I used it and why I wanted to cancel, etc. It literally took me about 30 min. to get it cancelled. I think the name AO-Hell started around that time as well.

  • http://www.alldads.com Christopher Finlayson

    All I can say is, I thought I was the only one who had experienced the difficulty in cancelling AOL. Thanks dude!

    Chris

  • http://www.aolbahaha.com Nick

    Member Services Team:

    As follow-up to the message I wrote you on Monday, June 19, I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining our unwavering standards of ethical and effective service during every member interaction.

    The aftermath of the unfortunate, disappointing and unacceptable behavior of one of our former colleagues has been severe. Following the posting of the recorded call on the Internet, various television and print media have featured the story, including a lengthy interview this morning with the former AOL member on NBC’s Today show and on CNBC, casting a very negative impression of AOL and the great work all of us in Member Services do on behalf of our members every day.

    While fulfilling our Member Advocacy Commitment (the “F” in FOCUS) is Member Services’ number one goal for 2006, there is no time like the present to reiterate the commitment each of us has pledged to uphold on behalf of our valued members:

    As the voice of AOL, I promise to conduct myself with integrity at all times, provide excellent service, and ensure a world-class member experience on every call or interaction.

    The foundation of AOL is our members. The foundation of our relationship with our members is Member Advocacy. By being uncompromising in our adherence to our standards of behavior, we will maintain a relationship of trust with our members – trust that we are on their side and will provide them with a high quality customer experience. As you can see, withholding our highest level of service from even one member is all it takes to damage the trust and credibility you have worked so hard to earn.

    With all of the safeguards we have in place:

    recording and monitoring of member interactions;
    our Keep it Real policy, which details our standards of professionalism and ethical behavior;
    and Third Party Verification, an industry-first initiative to guarantee quality in every single retention call
    any attempt to circumvent our member promise is a violation of our practices, and we maintain a zero tolerance policy for non-compliance.

    Please use this unfortunate customer interaction as a reminder that we must maintain our standards of conduct at all times, maintain the goodwill of AOL, and most of all, that we must keep our promise to Fulfill our Member Advocacy Commitment!

    Regards,

    Scott Falconer

    EVP, Member Services

  • Amie

    My cancellation of AOL was a night mare, they would not listen and I repeated Cancel my accoutn at least 30 times. They continued to offer be better pricing, even free service. I was so irritated I was screamming at them. Finally, they completed the cancellation…but the night mare continues…..I get phone calls from AOL every other week with them trying to get me to sign up. On the verge of harrassment. I am close to changing my phone number. I wish I would have recorded it. These nightmares are not one off situations. AOL needs to get with it out they will be out for good.

  • Sosso

    Hmmm, as someone who lives in Australia, I find it staggering to read the responses of people defending AOL with comments such as “well, he’s just doing his job” and “AOL are just trying to keep their accounts alive’. This shows how in, US society especially, the balance of power has tilted from ‘the customer is always right’, to ‘the customer is right if the company allows them to be’. For heaven’s sake people, take the power back! Don’t tolerate this kind of sales & marketing-driven rubbish that they’ll tell you is about ‘making sure the customer is aware of all options’ and ‘providing total customer care’ but is really about keeping a customer, through whatever means, even against their will.
    The role of a ‘Customer Support Representative’ is to support the customer, no? Would have supporting the customer in this case involved closing the account as quickly as possible? Undoubtedly. Where is the room to defend AOL here? As for those who have had a go at Vincent for getting cranky, relisten to the CSR’s responses during the first minute of the call and figure out how you’d feel.
    About the legality of recording the phone call, this just shows how far American law (and, increasingly, Australian law) is being skewed in favour of those already with power and money. An undoctored recording does nothing except tell the absolute truth of what happened. If AOL say ‘we would have acted differently had we known the call was being recorded’, then this just shows the level of dishonesty and deceit at play here. Shock horror that we should find out that the reality of the AOL experience doesn’t match the marketing hype.
    Sorry for the rant, but this kind of sales-gone-mad BS, that seems to be an integral part of corporate behaviour these days, really gets my back up. Unfortunately in Australia we’re just starting to have to deal with this as American sales ‘methodology’ infiltrates society.
    Now, for the 99% of you who are on Vincent’s side, good on you, and may you continue to vote with your wallets against this kind of ‘customer service’.
    To head off any anti-US replies, I love America and it’s people, I lived in the States for six months and had a ball, it’s just the corporate behaviour and methods I abhor. And George W. neo-cons ;) .

  • Former AOL employee

    I was actually an AOL employee – at the same Ogden Call Center where this employee John worked. I heard the PR response on this “the employee is no longer with us”..what a weak way of handling this. Unfortunate he is an example of the culture the company has brewed…it is instilled all day long “what is your saves rate?”…it is the number that matters. There is so much pressure in saving the client rather than servicing the need…I certainly believe in a certain level of retention but the expectation that is provided is so unreasonable…if you don’t make 3 attempts to save an account, you can get terminated. I was really hoping the company would have come forward and said “We apologize and are embarrassed by this level of service…The company is doing everything in its power to review its processes”. There is more Sales Pressure in an AOL Consultant job then there is selling cars on any day. Consultants who have done the job eventually become immune to it and don’t realize what they are doing to people. So AOL execs, this is your chance to step in and change the procedures….don’t fire the little man who just fell into the company’s culture.

  • Taye

    I just want to say that I just saw your interview from a link on msn.com and I had to come to your blog and share my experience with canceling with AOL. Actually I will start off by saying that I used to work at a call center for an internet based company and I worked in the cancellation dept and I know what customer service is and what it is not. The one thing that conflicted me the most working with the company is the basic theory is give the best world class customer service possible….on paper that’s the theory and what the training coaches “teach” you but once I actually entered onto the call floor it was less focused on giving customer service and more focused on how many saves(accounts that you don’t cancel) one could get in an a day.

    I worked there for little over two months and I have so many war stories I could share from my own experiences and the friends that I made while I worked their on the call floor with me. I just couldn’t do what my coach wanted me to do. I didn’t want to lie to people in order to keep them as customers or tell’em that I couldn’t cancel their accounts because the truth is I could cancel their accounts at anytime during the phone call and I did. You have to realize that those people have certain quotas or “saves” that they have to have by the end of their shift in order to keep their job. From my own personal experience working an 8 hour shift, taking from 60-75 calls during that shift, I always saved over 57%(had to meet 45.3% of saves) but I only was able to do that because I offered free time and extensions outta my ass.

    When I got on the phone with someone it wasn’t about me offering customer service the only thing that went through my mind was how am I going to save this account? But towards the end of my stay at the company I simply gave people what they wanted… if they wanted their accounts cancelled I would offer one save(i.e. give you more free time, help you with your account etc..) and if the answer was no I simply cancelled and moved on to the next call and believe me that got me into a lot of trouble with my superiors. I would tell you about our AOL division but that’s another comment and another time and tons of stories I could tell you about my 3 week transfer over to that department to help with overflow of calls.

    I’ll quickly explain my AOL free trial…. After hearing from customers and former customers of AOL on the phone( if any of you have ever had AOL sometimes the agent will tell you that since your a customer of AOL would you like to be transfer to ….. to hear about a free offer you qualify for?) with them telling me what they had to go through to get refunded or having their accounts cancelled I decided to do a free trial and at the end of the 30 days I would cancel it and see how my experience was with them. I signed up and I logged onto the account that same day for 15 minutes and I logged out of it and never logged onto it again. When the 30 days ended I called up the AOL number waited on the line for a rep to talk to me and help end my account…. My goodness was it horrible! The person I spoke to I told them I wanted to cancel my account and he went through his whole saves attempts and tried to keep me as a customer and I told him look at my login history I never used the account and I simply don’t want it. The agent I spoke with started to yell at me, kept asking me why I signed up for something if I didn’t have any interest in using it. I had to frequently tell him to not yell at me. I told him over and over do not raise your voice at me and after more heated exchanges from him and myself he finally agreed to cancel my account and that I would receive an e-mail confirming the cancellation of my account and after that he simply hung up on me. That really pissed me off and I was concerned that he didn’t cancel it and that he only told me that to shut me up, but I logged onto the e-mail account and saw the e-mail saying that the account was cancelled and that was the end. I’m sure AOL has a great service but there call centers really need to be revamped….

  • Sosso

    Oh wow. Read the statement from Scott Falconer for a pure example of what I am talking about. Not only does it shift responsibility for this occurence from the company to the call centre operators, it manages to imply a threat because operators may not be upholding their ‘Member Advocacy Commitment’. It also makes it clear that it was the way the call centre employee dealt with this, not what he did.
    There’s also so much meaningless jargon in this statement (“World-class member experience” anyone?!) it defies belief.
    Bonus points to the person who posted Scotty’s ‘missive’.
    Good to see AOL follwing the coporate credo of covering it’s arse first, then threatening employees, and then saying nothing for the rest of the statement. Good work Scott, your bonus is safe.

  • Bryant

    I do believe that it is policy for John to have acted the way he did. To then get fired for that? That is utter bullshit. I wouldn’t work for AOL, either.

    I think, whether or not it’s true, we should always say, “I’m recording this for quality control purposes,” when greeted by a live person in customer service.

    On one hand, it would be nice if after I say, “I want to cancel my account,” they reply, “ok, sir right away.” That is, of course, what they’d say if you asked to buy more product.

    But sometimes people do have illegitimate reasons for cancelling, I suppose. So maybe they could say “ok, sir right away…would you like to give a reason for this cancellation, such as a problem with service?”
    “No.”
    “Ok, sir, I’ll cancel your account right away. Here is the confirmation number of your cancellation.”

  • Shawna

    I just tried to cancel Aol after my free 6 month of service because we decided to go with yahoo DSL. I am not kidding I was on the phone for 20 minutes and my husband counted at least 10 or more times I said could you please cancel. He finally cancelled it with hesitation and after the computer gave me my confirmation number I pressed 0 for an operator. When the next lady came on the phone I immeditely asked to speak to a supervisor. When I state the reason of being keeped on the phone for over 20 minutes to cancel. She then tried to say she didn’t understand why I was so upset. Put me on hold for 10 minutes then came back on the line and said they were currently on the other line and unfortunatly there was nothing they could do but offer me a free month. I then was very angry and basically told her where they could stick there free month.

  • Anonymous

    I am so glad you recorded the call. It took me 3 tries to get them to cancel my account. The first call I got so disgusted with the you will get viruses if you leave, they too told me my hours on line, etc. I hung up. The next call I got if you stay we will give you free months, we are the best, blah blah. I didn’t have time for the game and said fine and hung up. Finally I had enough of their hassle, called back and cancelled the account after a long converstation how my computer will get viruses because I won’t have their wonderful software and that if my DSL went down I would have no back up, and if I traveled I wouldn’t have access. I was already paying for good virus protection before they even had it as a part of their service. Oy! Don’t miss them one bit. Now to get their bits and pieces off my computer.

  • hankster

    This is not a new problem. I attempted to cancel by phone back in 1994. They simply would not do it – kept billing my card. I called five times, each time waiting on hold for more than 30 minutes and was told they would cancel and didn’t. Finally, I went onto the tech support chat area to try and address the issue and was told I had to call. So I strung together every vile profanity I could think of. My account was canceled for violation of terms of service by the end of the day.

  • http://homepage.mac.com/mkatzman/RockADayJohnny.html Marshall

    I’ve heard all of the horror stories about trying to cancel an AOL account.
    Here is mine.
    I tried to reply to a billing message that they sent me but I was unable to respond to their email. Next I logged into my AOL browser and tried to contact billing via a “snail mail” address; could not find one on their site. I did find a live “chat” with a billing robot link so I logged on to that. I was notified that I was #54 in a cue. I then decided to call an 800-# listed in one of the billing emails from AOL. That was pretty funny:
    “Say yes if you want to talk to someone”
    “What is your cat’s name?”
    etc. etc.
    Tried the trick of punching 00, did not work.
    Went back to my “LIve Chat” option, I was now #58 in a cue.
    Back to the phone. I bit the bullet and played their # punching voice response game, until about 10 minutes into it when I finally spoke to someone in New Delhi, who apologized for my having to wait.
    I laughed.
    I told him I wanted to cancel my account.
    He said, “No problem it would only take one minute, but I have some questions for you. How would I communicate without AOL?”
    I told him that in the morning I would talk with my wife, listen to the radio, read the paper and perhaps go on a bike ride with my friends.
    “But, how would I communicate without AOL?”
    “Is my account canceled yet?” I asked.
    He responded, “No problem it would only take one minute”.
    “Should I get some coffee while I wait?”
    “No problem it would only take one minute, but I have some questions for you.”
    “May I speak with your supervisor.”
    “We do not have a supervisor here” was his response.
    “Is there a mailing address that I can report this to?”
    “No, I am taking care of this for you.”
    “What is your name?” I asked.
    “Chris Jones” was his response.
    “Jones! Your from India and your name is Jones!”
    “I can give you my screen name.”
    “OK give me your screen name, but is my account canceled yet?”
    “No problem it would only take one minute, my screen name is walris117@aol.com”.
    “I have to take a piss, is my account canceled?”
    “Yes, your account is canceled, but I would like to ask you a question”.
    I screamed, composed myself and then said, “OK, one more question.”
    “How would I communicate without AOL?”
    “Good bye” I replied politely.
    I went back to see how my on line chat status was doing. A message awaited me “We understand that you would like to cancel your account with AOL’”
    I tried to respond with “I did it” but the Chat function did not work.
    The live chat robot asked me “Are you still there?”
    I signed off.

    Post Script
    4/2/06
    From: aolfeedback@aol.com
    To: mkatzhope@aol.com
    Subject: Satisfaction Survey
    Dear mkatzhope:

    As you may recall, on March 31, 2006 at 11:05 AM Eastern Time you contacted America Online. Our records show that Chris, one of our Customer Care Consultants, assisted you concerning your AOL account. We continually strive to improve our customer service. One way we do this is by asking members like you for an evaluation of your most recent experience with AOL and the level of service we provided you. Please take the next few minutes to complete the survey located below.

    Click here to take the survey .

    Please respond within 6 days of the date this invitation was sent so we may provide timely feedback to the consultant who assisted you. After 7 days, this invitation will expire.

    However, if the information in the first paragraph of this e-mail does not look familiar, it means we have sent you this e-mail in error, so please do not take the survey — and accept our apologies for the inconvenience.

    If you have any questions or comments regarding this survey invitation or the survey website itself, please forward this email along with your comments to aolfeedback1@aol.com.

    Thank you for your time — and for choosing AOL.

    Sincerely,
    AOL Member Services
    #################
    I took the survey and after 25 questions I hit “Submit”.
    Guess what appeared on my screen next?

    Thank You
    Thank you for responding to our customer satisfaction opinion survey.
    We would like to ask you a few additional questions about your support experience. Your responses will be used to help us improve the support you receive.
    1. Please rate the verbal skills of the AOL Customer Care Consultant you interacted with.
    2. Please rate how effectively the AOL Customer Care Consultant interacted with you.
    3. Please explain why you rated the Customer Care Consultant the way you did on communication skills.

    #####################
    I answered those questions, hit “Submit” and received the following response:

    Member Support Satisfaction Survey

    Thank you for taking our survey.

    Your feedback is greatly appreciated and will be instrumental in helping us to improve our support service to you.

  • EXAOLONE

    I never even got to talk to the idiot at AOL, the system hid so well the process for cancelling. So, I called my credit card to cancel my monthly charge from aol at that end but they wouldn’t so I had to cancel the whole damn card. What a nightmare.

  • da macster

    I’ve had a similar experience approx. 2 and a half years ago. The time it took me to cancel my subscription from the moment I picked the phone was roughly 35 minutes. Yes, I had to go to the rep’s pushy “sales tactics” to keep me in. Looking back now, I can’t imagine how amazing I managed to keep my cool (yes, that was how bad the rep was pissing me off) considering the rep (a female) was giving me one hell of an attitude.
    Between the time I cancelled my subscription and writing this blog, I often wondered if AOL is a cult-like secret organization with menacing plans, but at the same time, I believed that AOL has a crappy work climate for its phone operators. After reading ‘former AOL employee’s entry, thank heavens that it turned out to be the latter
    Nowadays when I see an AOL tv commercial brazenly toting their ‘hi-tech’ software completely with anti-virus and their supposedly excellent, friendly, ‘customer service ‘ (cough…cough…puke!), I would have this inexplicable urge to just throw my tv remote as hard as I can at my tv screen.
    I really can’t blame the operators, it’s the company itself that needs to be blamed. God I hope AOL goes bankrupt (the company truly deserves it).
    Oh, by the way, their software really sucks, which is why I cancelled my subscription.

  • Bryant

    I think I’m gonna get a free trial and cancel it an hour later without ever logging on.

    What I say will go along these lines:
    AOL: Hi this is John, can I help you?
    me: Hi, I’m Bryant and for your information, I’m recording this call for quality control purposes…I need to cancel my account.
    AOL: [insert save attempt number 1 here]
    me: My daughter used my private information to sign up without my permission. I do not want AOL, I do not want another free month, I have free high speed internet that my uncle pays for, and I do not want to pay for a service I did not sign up for.
    AOL: [insert save attempt #2 here]
    me: [like a broken record]My daughter used my private information to sign up without my permission. I do not want AOL, I do not want another free month, I have free high speed internet that my uncle pays for, and I do not want to pay for a service I did not sign up for.
    AOL: [insert save attempt #3 here]
    me: Do you want me to sue AOL for knowingly participating in credit card fraud?
    AOL: [insert save attempt #4 here]
    me: [like a broken record]My daughter used my private information to sign up without my permission. I do not want AOL, I do not want another free month, I have free high speed internet that my uncle pays for, and I do not want to pay for a service I did not sign up for.
    AOL: [insert save attempt # 5 here]
    me: Let’s make a deal, OK? If the supervisor who is listening to this is not available right now, you cancel my account. If he is available right now, let me speak to him.

    blah, blah, blah.

    I wonder how many man-hours they’ll spend on me.

    Then in a day or so, I can try again and cancel again, with more man-hours wasted on me. I’d just repeat the exact same line, except this time say that “once again, my daughter has used my private information to sign on.”

    I wonder how many times I can sign up and cancel before they stop offerring me more trials.

    I’m rofl just thinking of the potential fun I could have.

  • viki

    The link is not working. Heard it all on CNN but wanted my huzband to hear it. When he called to cancel they offered to keep us on at $5 per month instead of the $29 we had been paying. He finally said yes, just to shut them up. Please fix the link so he can hear the recording. If you can’t fix it, get your “Dad” to do it for you. :-)

  • Carebear

    I have heard from a reliable sorce that the CSR get a bonus for getting you not to cancel your account. It should be a crime. I heard that the rep got fired but if it is true that it’s AOL policy I think the CSR could have a law suit for wrongful termination. AOL is terrible has always been terrible and looks like they won’t be around much longer.

  • ray reynolds

    Years ago I never siged up for them and they charged me anyway. For 3 months they appeared o my CC bill and then 3 more they appeared on my phone bill. I almot had to threaten them and change CC and bank accounts to get them off.

    They are liars if they say this is an aberation.

  • http://juno FLkitty

    I had the same bad experience about 5 yrs ago, and wish I had taped it because I couldn’t explain it well enough to my friends. It was so unbelievable that I felt like I was in some kind of desperate verbal nightmare from which I couldn’t wake up. It was so bizarre, and I’d never heard anyone else talk about it until the Today Show this morning.

  • M Underwood

    1. You did have significant usage on your account- recently.
    2. You didn’t publish the whole phone call.
    3. I agree with some of the others. You went in with a chip on your shoulder. AND were rude yourself.
    4. The rep was doing his job. Yeah, he got frustrated with your rudeness and let it get to him. That wasn’t right, but neither were you.
    5. AOL does care. And the poor guy got fired. Probably wondering how he’s going to feed his young family now.

    My father always told me…. If you go out looking for trouble, you will surely find it. That’s what happened with your phone call.

  • Angela Shalk

    AOL Cancellation. hahahahahahaha!!!!

    I sent an email to cancel aol. They said I had to have it in writing. I put it in writing and mailed and faxed it. Not good enough. They still kept taking the payments out of my bank account. I wrote, faxed and called (spent 20 minutes on the phone)…still not good enough. Sent another letter and fax from an attorney…still not good enough. Had to put a stop payment on my account. Got a note from AOL that they were going to send me to a collection agency because I had not paid them. I think they finally stopped…mmmmm…maybe not. Since I couldn’t get through to them, I got through to all my friends. Poor AOL.

  • Bryant

    Yes, M Underwood, I agree with your father. Signing up with AOL is looking for trouble. In fact, it’s begging for trouble.

    How much did AOL pay you to say that?

  • STrRedWolf

    I just heard about this from MSNBC’s Countdown program. They played a small section of the tape. Yes, the CSR is rude. I’m glad I never had to worry about getting on AOL.

  • Had same experience with aol

    I had the same type of surreal conversation with AOL reps. Aol fired the guy in the above story to pretend like his behavior was atypical. Not true.
    It took me months and many calls to AOL to get them to terminate my account.

    AOL reps play mind games with you. They say the account has been terminated, then charge you for another month. When you call back to explain you terminated… rep#2 says notes in the file say that you didn’t terminated. And also… although I thought I was keeping my cool… one rep was saying stuff like “maybe when you calm down” or something like that… NEVER GET AOL!

  • Betty Gaeng

    finally, someone can speak the truth about AOL. When we signed up for AOL
    my kids were both UNDER 18. I wanted one account with 4 e-mail addresses, they gave me 3 seperate accounts and charged my phone line for each account. when I finally realized what they were doing my phone bill was for over $500. I tried to call AOL and explain that they had made a mistake, and the accounts were for two children. I asked that they stop charging me for the accounts. They kept charging me, told me it was my fault( that my children were minors). I kept trying to cancel the account and each time it was a new excuse, they would tell me I didn’t want to do that, as if threatening me, they would transfer me to other people to a dead end, meaning the line would just go dead, put me on hold for long periods of time, so that I would just give up, when you work who has the time to make trying to cancel your AOL account another job. I finally had to have the phone company cut off my phone service so there would be no account to charge. I tried to tell them I would bring action against them for giving two minors accounts and they laughed. They knew exactly what they had done one account with one payment or setting up three accounts with three payments, and it was my fault, right

  • yep, aol sucks

    AOL claims that “John” was dismissed because of his AOL-sanctioned harassment but does anyone really believe this? I think “John” is not his real name (“customer service” reps never give out their real names) and that he likely got reassigned….to a better paying job within AOL. I’ll bet this guy’s a hero at AOL headquarters (whereever that is these days? India or some other third world sh*thole)

  • Had same experience with aol

    To all of you that say that you terminated AOL with no problem:

    Don’t be so sure until 6 months has passed. The experience I described above unfolded over several months. First a call to a guy who gives me the hard sell but that call only lasts about 10 or 15 minutes. He agrees to terminated, we hangup. 3 months go by and WHAM there are AOL charges out of my checking account. Then the fun begins… 30 minute phone calls. Accusations that I never closed the account. Final step…terminated my debit card… Bank employee says “everyone closes their debit card or checking account to escape AOL”

  • liz

    Caught the story on Olberman’s show, Countdown, on MSNBC tonight (6/21). He played a portion of the conversation, then came back and reported that a colleague at CNBC (inspired by your experience) called to cancel his account. It took about 45 minutes!

    MSNBC reruns ‘Countdown’ a couple of more times before tomorrow night’s show, in case you missed it during the live broadcast.

  • Read this, info about AOL drafting your bank account

    I work for a Financial Institution and believe me I have had my fair share of people wanted to put stop payments on drafts after numerious phone calls to try and cancel their accounts.. To top it off.. when AOL or any company sends in a request to draft a checking account it comes in with a ID #… well it was almost guaranteed that once AOL got their notification that there was a stop payment issued, they would change their ID # so the draft would try and come through.. That’s why I told our customers to still keep an eye on their account cause they could still draft because they will go to no end to try and collect that money.. So not only is it in the call center but in other depts within AOL….Shame on them….

  • Jim

    This story infuriated me SO much when I saw it. The exact same thing happened to me several years ago after I used AOL as an “emergency” dial up resource (for when my broadband was down). Way before the expiration of the “free hours”, I decided that AOL was basically the same useless service that it had been years earlier, so I decided to bail. After the usual lengthy hold process, I was transferred from a customer service rep to (presumably) some type of retention / brainswashing specialist so I could be granted permission to leave the “cult” of AOL. I was asked a million probing questions, all in a lengthy attempt to get me to NOT cancel my account. I got so frustrated I demanded my account be closed, or else I would contact my credit card company and have the charges blocked and charged back. Finally, having been sitting and waiting for the cancellation to process, I was free. From that day forward I vowed to NEVER use AOL again due to their high pressure tactics. This story actually makes me want to start a campaign to warn people about AOL. I have MAJOR doubts about the sincerity of the “apology” that AOL issued and how this isn’t their style to behave this way. To that I say, BS – this is exactly how reps are trained to behave. From all of the experiences I’ve heard about trying to cancel an AOL account, I firmly believe that reps are trained to use these ridiculous, high pressure tactics. What a horrible, horrible company.

  • Reply to Betty Gaeng

    Yep. Typical AOL tactics. They lie like dogs. Anything for that short term gain of sucking money out of some poor sucker. Funny thing… no matter how much they screw you over… after you have finally broken away… AOL will continue to send those darn AOL disks. They got straight into the trash.

  • ugh

    I saw the clip on today’s Today show and had a similar experience several years ago. We signed up before AIM was free so my kids could send instant messages. One of their friends was kidding around and clicked a button to donate $200 to the Red Cross using a popup from AOL assuming it would ask to verify. It didn’t and even though it was a child using our account AOL had no problem putting this charge on our credit card. We called multiple times to cancel this charge and they couldn’t do it or refused. Later we heard that it wasn’t even going to the Red Cross, but some illicit group had convinced AOL to put its fake solicitation online. This led to cancelling our account of course which included multiple phone conversations like the one Mr. Ferrari had. Eventually I had to enlist the help of our regional consumer complaint office to have AOL refund bogus charges. I agree with comments above that the specific AOL employee was doing what they paid him to do and making him a scapegoat is completely disingenuous. It’s amazing to me that they are still in business and I too discourage AOL users to see the light and dump them.

  • http://none frank

    Verizon does the same thing. I called the other day to cancel my dsl with them and it’s like “What’s the problem? What’s wrong? What’s the matter? Why do you want to leave?…” I made the mistake of trying to explain to this guy that everything was fine with my dsl, it wasn’t broken, but I decided to go to cable because it was faster. I just wanted a connection with more bandwidth than what dsl could provide.

    He wouldn’t listen. He kept trying to spin it as if I had a complaint he could resolve or something. He tried connecting me to tech support to see if there was something wrong with my bandwidth. I told him no. The bandwidth I had was what I was promised and what I was paying for. It just became this whole thing. I’d say I want to cancel and he’d say. “O.k. let me set that up for you. I’ll transfer you to tech support. One minute.” I’m like “No, that’s not what I said. I just want to cancel it.” Then he repeats himself. He’s like “One minute, I’ll set that up…” And I’m like “Sir you’re cancelling it, right. Cancel it. That’s what I want. I don’t want it anymore. ”

    It starts getting all personal. The thing is I actually knew better. I went through this with aol before, and with other companies and people too in my life. I actually knew the drill. Problem was I was feeling in a good mood and didn’t want to have to play the asshole to get what I want, although I knew I should have. I regretted that I didn’t. I must’ve spent 10 minuties on the phone going back and forth with this guy just to cancel my account. I didn’t need that badness in my day.

    When I cancelled my aol, I knew exactly what to do and it worked fine. This was a couple years ago. I didn’t get into all that bullshit I did with verizon recently. I had advance warning. I told a guy at work I was going to cancel them, and he said “good luck”, and told me his own horror story with them when he cancelled his. But I knew I hated aol already anyway, because they spam you and call you at home to try and sell you more stuff. I only had the account through the trial period because it was my first new computer and I used aol to search for other isp’s. (by the way, if you want dial-up and none of this kind of bullshit, go with “Sysmatrix.net”. They are everything a dial-up company should be, and nothing it shouldn’t. I had two hassle free years with them before going to dsl. Even then I kept the account for awhile, just out of sheer devotion. I loved my sysmatrix.)

    When I cancelled aol, I was ready. I know where people make their mistakes here, and why you got into trouble. It’s because you gave a reason for cancelling. I did that too with verizon. I told them why. I said I wanted to try Road Runner for the better bandwidth. When I did that, I opened up the floor to argument. That’s what you did too. You said you didn’t use it anymore. He picked a fight with you because you said you didn’t use it anymore. You gave him a reason, and so somthing he could argue about. That’s where you made your mistake, and anyplace else you gave him a reason for your request.

    What was pissing you off was the guy was arguing with you, that he was putting you in the position of having to satisfy him with a good explanation, but you don’t owe him that.

    What would have made the cancellation go off without any of that would have been if you didn’t offer any reasons, or any explanation, not even to say that you aren’t going to explain yourself. That means calling up and saying “I want to cancel my account”, and when they ask you why you just say either “I just want to cancel it” or “I just don’t want it anymore”, “I just want to” and stick to it. Then he’ll try again most likely to get a reason out of you, but instead of ever giving a reason, you just keep saying ” I just don’t want it”, and you say it like it’s the simplest thing in the world to understand: “I don’t want it. I just don’t want it. I want to cancel it.” If he askes you why you want it, you say you “just do”. Only state what you want. Dont’ say why. Don’t justify or explain or give reasons. That’s all.

    Your mistake was in letting him get something out of you for him to argue with you about and to attack you for and try to discredit your reason. But just saying what you want without offering any reasons for it is the way to go. It’s not a situation where you owe a reason.

    The right thing for that guy to do, was that if he wanted to know why you wanted to cancel, he shouldn’t have used it as a condition of cancelling it. I think it’s fine for someone to want to know why, but that’s something they should ask for once they already agreed to go ahead with the cancellation. Then you can tell them or not, but no one is trying to make it a condition of doing what you asked. It’s your money! They don’t have the right to do that.

    Also, at the end, I think I would’ve told the guy to take his “paragraph” and shove it. I felt like telling him to go “F” himself, as I was listening to it.

  • NP

    Wow, I completely blanked out my experience until I saw you on MSNBC this morning. Then it came back like a pain so deep I can only equate it to tiny elf’s starting fires in my belly with dry flint and cotton socks. The time was 2001 and after a 20-minute session of agony, the account was “cancelled.” Next CC statement, I witnessed AOL charges. I called gave a reference number, was apologized to and another reference number was produced. Next CC statement, more AOL charges. I called again and got some Alec Bladwin circa Glen Gary Glen Ross type closer who insisted that I never canceled and that numbers were false. After 30+ minutes of BS, I was finally given another cancellation number. Next CC statement, more charges. I finally turned the case over to my attorney. AOL’s response was, that they could not definitively determine whether I canceled or not, however, they would refund my money. Alford plea in my opinion. This tactic is not exclusive to AOL. Verizon and Comcast also practice this type of customer retention. Moreover, have you ever dealt with an Airline if they loose your bag? Have you ever tried to rectify erroneous utility charges? Customer service is miserable anymore. To the people that have bastardized you, I say fuck them. It doesn’t matter what attitude you carry as the customer on the other end. It is incumbent upon the CS agent to rise above any negativity and execute with professionalism. Jonathon did not. You stated you felt guilty about this individual losing their job-don’t. He eventually would have been worked out. If anything, pity the organizations for teaching, coaching and fostering such horrible customer service.

  • chris.deasee

    f.y.i.

    i just heard this clip played in birmingham, al 6/21 on the 9 oclock news (nbc 13, birmingham). maybe if it spreads far enough across the nation, companies will figure out that customer loyalty is absolutely vital to the success of their business and they will put more emphasis on it.

  • Cody

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR FINALLY PUTTING THOSE SON OF A BITCHES WHERE THEY BELONG! I had a HORRIBLE experience trying to cancel my service with AOL. I was given this piece of shit computer 2 years ago that had a free AOL disk with it. I popped the disk in to try to get internet service and it didnt work so I called AOL and had them set up and account for me. It still didnt work on my system and I knew there was a catch so the very next day I called AOL and had them cancel the account (or so I thought) 2 months later I got a bill from AOL. I called them up and spoke with a lady who said that the account had NOT been cancelled but she would then cancel the account and remove the payment. The next month I got ANOTHER bill from AOL. I called them again and they told me that they saw where I had called it but that the account had not been cancelled. After arguing with them and having a woman on the phone tell me that I HAVE to pay the bill they cancelled the account. I held out on paying the bill but ended up having to pay it anyway. I was on a consumer talk show in Atlanta talking about this issue not too long after it happend.

  • Michelle

    AOL flat out does not want to lose customers. When you reach a customer service representative to cancel your account they are supposed to save that account at all cost. Now being rude is not one thing they are encouraged to do but saving the account is key. Our daughter worked one week in that department — no she is not in India, she is in Oklahoma — she was fired because her loss rate exceeded the accepted percentage, which is if remember correctly was very low.

    AOL could fix this problem by simply allowing people to cancel their accounts when they want to and not firing their representatives when people want to cancel the account. The thing here, as we all know, is the customer wishes to become a former customer most often because they have found a better deal. This is usually the reason people give something up. It is no one’s fault, it is life.

  • http://none john

    nice to see this problem exposed!

    a few years ago i also had an AOL account. on a monthly basis they took my fee out of my credit card. after MANY MONTHS of trying to cancel my account without any luck, and numerous hours on the telephone getting the SAME RESPONSE you got, i finally had to shut the credit card off! what a PITA. thanks for getting the word out.

    BTW – i saw the AOL response on the national news. PURE AOL BS. this IS NOT an isolated incident, and i will GUARANTEE YOU that these phone people are trained to respond the way your AOL rep did, and most probably follow a phone script given to them directly by the company.

  • reamed by aol

    Contrary to popular opinion, closing your card doesn’t always work. I know a lady who tried the free trial, cancelled early, started getting billed, cancelled the card, got her bank account charged, She froze the account, aol still charged more to that account, She closed the bank account and still got charged on it again. Then aol turned her over to collections. 6 years later still nothing fixed and she is out thousands of dollars for charges aol customer service cannot even explain. They are almost as bad as Direcway A.K.A Hughesnet.

  • http://tonysalieri.livejournal.com TonySalieri

    Dude, this same exact thing happened to me. I tried to cancel an AOL account for a customer of mine, and the woman and I got into a MASSIVE yelling argument at each other. It was really pretty nasty. I had to advise him to watch his credit card bills, although I think AOL left him alone after the initial call. But still..it’s insane. Just…insane. I can’t imagine how a normal, regular grade user could stand up to that level of stonewalling.

  • http://none frank

    Another way to put is that when you give these “retention specialists” information, you give them ammunition. He asked you why you wanted to cancel, and you say “I don’t use it anymore”. That “I don’t use it anymore” is ammo. It’s information you offer just like giving bullets to someone with a gun aimed at you. You can’t do it. They will just shoot you.

    That’s what he did too. He used that to shoot you. He said “You have account activity…” That was a bullet, and you loaded his gun with it. He’s using that information to belittle you. It’s belittling because he’s keeping your account active with it. He’s judging your reason as not an adaquete reason for what you asked. So he’s making a decision for you with what you gave him. Information you give him is what he’ll use to make the decision for you to do what he wants you to do. No reason will be good enough because he’s deciding which ones are, and to him, none of them are. It’s not what he wants

    So, if I may presume, the lesson is that reasons are ammunition in a situation like this and they’ll only work against you. Getting free of the situation without the humiliation means not giving them anything they can use.

    Like I said, I don’t personally mind giving anyone pretty much, my reasons for anything, but not on the condition that they have to accept my reasons for me to get what I have the right to, wether they accept them or not.

    It would have been fine with me to tell the verizon guy why I’d decided to cancel. They can actually use that information to maybe do better. That’s fine, but that’s not what he wanted it for. He wanted it in order to wrestle with me over it. That’s what he preceded to do too.

    Having a connection with aol or verizion, whomever, means them having some power over you. When you try to leave, they don’t want to give it up and resort to unseemly tactics to keep it. They use that bit of power, like charging you’re debit, to try to get you to justify why you’re leaving and then they decide wha’ts justifiable and what’s not. They spin the relationship that way to make a sucker out of you.

    They can pretend that it’s up to them to be the judge of your reasons for a decision. If you fall for that, that they are the ones who decide if you know what you are doing or not, and of course if you are leaving them, you must not know, like “John” said, that he was trying to save you from a bad decision, then you don’t get out of the contract painlessly.

    So giving reasons and information in respect to your decsion in a situtaion like this always works to counteract your decision. It’s self-defeating.

  • george hannen

    This is not an isolated incident as AOL claims. It happened to me and, as replies here attest, to many, many others. It will come out at some point, and likely soon, that this is a trained business practice to suck every dollar out of the customer, even unfairly. There will be some training materials that are purportedly “CONFIDENTIAL” that explain all of this as a business custom and practice of AOL. For me, I was in Cambodia and someone in the US to whom I gave my old Thinkpad laptop got trapped into AOL when he fired it up. My credit card was automatically charged not the $4.99 maintenance I got talked into years before, but $21.99! I alerted the US user who cleaned the hard disk of AOL. I notified AOL wo gave me the run around for a long time on the phone (very costly and frustrating as I was calling from Cambodia). Essentially, I was told I could not cancel except in writing. I sent several Emails to AOl, but then I was told there is no Email service for cancellation (of course, that would be too easy) and when I disputed the additional monthly credit card charges, the credit card company was told that unless I sent a letter from Cambodia, I could not cancel. Well, the mail from Cambodia is not efficient or certain, OK? Without going on, it was finally cancelled after months of attempts. The bottom line was I notified AOL to cancel immediately after learning of the problem, I was clearly identified, I could not effect cancellation even though everyone knew I wanted to, instructed AOL to and was frustrated that it would not do so. Oh yeah, and don’t go to “why not ask for the supervisor”, the first time I did I was placed on hold long distance from Cambodia for 17 minutes before the line went dead and the second time the supervisor was “unavailable – call back.” For the record, I never want any AOL account, of any kind, at any time, now or in the future, period.

  • Shelly

    Im sorry but you were a jerk to begin with to that poor rep. People can be such asses just because they cant see someone they think they can treat you the way they want. NO THE REPRESENTIVE wasnt in the right in fact he was very annoying but you were just an ass you can hear in your voice
    You knew what you were doing and you were fishing for a bad call. Im sure there are a lot of people with bad experiences with aol and other company but you brought that one on yourself buddy.
    I am so sure that the rep wasnt just making up that it was beeing used wether it was you or someone else. Come on he was just doing his job and you were making it difficult seriously how hard is it to just be polite. Sure the rep could have handled it differently but you didnt help matters. You went into that call knowing what you were doing and knowing you wanted a bad outcome and that is just as wrong if not worse then the way the rep handled the call.
    In no way am I defending AOL in fact I think the company is a piece of crap but that doesnt meen you should call up and be an ass just becaus you can. Their cancelation process sucks in fact im surprised it was so easy for you to cancel then again you were an ass. One good thing that may come of this is maybe aol will take a hard look at what they put their emplys and customer through just to cancel but exposing and employee for that is wrong if you really wanted to hurt aol it should be aol not someone who is just doing a job.

  • Russ

    I just want to say how happy I am that this issue has been raised this way – years ago my wife and I had a similar experience trying to cancel a Providian credit card. The CS rep first intentionally disconnected us, and then hammered us with all the “valuable benefits” we were giving up by cancelling…AOL, and every other company that does business this way, deserves this kind of negative attention – hopefully it encourages them and other companies to respect the customers that keep them in business in the first place. Thanks again!

  • http://na Bruce Smith

    So you illegally recorded a call with AOL, and you are a hero? wow, I have to say your moxie is amazing. Wonder when they will file a law suit against you for that, since they supposedly have protection against a recorded call. When I went to cancel I told them I had the call recorded and I was put in touch with their lawyers, All I know is I turned off the tape after they told me what they were going to do to me. You have some brass fucking balls if they can do half of what they said. But maybe you can afford the attorney fees for years that I can not.
    Netzero much better FYI

  • Martin

    They don’t even cancel it if you’re dead.
    Check this article out:

    http://www.consumerist.com/consumer/top/aol-wants-to-sell-%22internet%22-to-the-dead-182185.php

  • http://hometown.aol.com/Sixtimeseven/ JR Ford

    AOL – the Wal*Mart of ISPs

    As a former employee (albeit short-lived because you have to be an incredible liar, a robot completely immune to customer wishes and needs, and pathologically oriented towards your own, escalating commission rate) of Streams, Inc., one of the many contractors AOL uses (and many other industries use) to perform customer retention, which is what they call the department you reach when you call to cancel your account, I can tell you without question, the ordeal this Vincent Ferrari was subjected to is typical. You cannot cancel an AOL account online except by providing a method of payment which does not remit your monthly fee. Even then, AOL will suspend your service, continue to compile monthly charges if you are on anything other than a month-to-month contract, add interest, and mail you a bill ad infinitum.

    AOL JONATHON–although AOL says they fired him for this incident–was more likely fired for failing to stay on message with the dogmatic four point schtick (value, security, yadda yadda, blah blah), or for failing to retain Vincent Ferrari as a member in the first place. Streams spends a month indoctrinating new reps into feeding this load to the subscriber (AOL prefers the term member, likening you to an appendage).

    This renders the remark from Nicholas Graham, Executive Vice President of AOL Corporate Communications:

    At AOL, we have zero-tolerance for customer care incidents like this

    total bullshit. It is company policy. Moreover, it is a science.

    At AOL vis-a-vis Streams, there is no freewheeling such as AOL JONATHON did by saying, “it would be the worst thing you could do,” or by asking to speak to Vincent’s father. There are 4 minutes of required dialog, that is scripted such as to browbeat (and rudely overtalk) the member into submitting to continue the account for at least one more month, whereupon the representative garners minimum commission. A retained member is called a SAVE and is recorded by hand on chit sheets, which supervisors collect daily to compare to reports of member records whose accounts were accessed and either retained or canceled that day.

    Further, AOL JONATHON did begin to utilize the script, to wit: “Do you have a high speed connection like dsl or cable?” Yet, he did not mention the hokey encryption feature for the debit/credit card number you register with them? to make online purchases, the crappy anti-spyware and LE version of McAfee anti-virus AOL promotes, the leaky parental control obstruction; nor did he offer the member a reduced monthly rate, or one or more free months of service.

    AOL likes to keep their hold time higher than 11 minutes, anticipating you will hang up in frustration and forget about canceling until the next month. Incidentally, the 4 minutes of propaganda the representative is required to utter must be effected within 8 minutes of average talk time per call, else, the call should be considered a loss, so they can answer another call.

    For the record, one other AOL company policy is that once you have adequately identified yourself to the representative as the subscriber, or as someone else who is authorized to make changes on the account, all you have to do is say: “I want to cancel my account,” and hang up. You do not have to hear them agree to cancel, ergo, you don’t have to listen to all the crap Vincent (and gawdnose how many other millions of sufferers) was (were) subjected to (although it does appear Vincent had fun doing so, and even more fun publicizing it).

    AOL records and retains every phone call, every keystroke by phone representatives, and every incident of access to individual member records for at least 90 days. If the representative fails to terminate your account and you call back the next month because you have received a continuing charge rather than a final, that customer retention representative is fired, summarily. Most firings, however, are due to attempts to fudge Saves, in order to boost commissions.

    JR Ford (formerly AOL JON)
    UP (Unsubstantiated Press)
    St. Petersburg, Fl.
    sixtimeseven@aol.com
    forty-two
    Bushisms and Other Ridiculous Ideas

  • Stephen

    About 10 years ago they said I used xxx minutes during a certain DATE and TIME but I told them it was impossible as I had confirmed airplane tickets and was in a cross country flight during that supposed time plus the 3 hours to and from the airport at each end. Managed to get a refund and when they took their sweet time to cancel my account after much pleading and prayer. I just told AMERICAN EXPRESS who my account was being billed that and more charges from AOL is to be tagged as FRAUD and will not be paid. They gladly assisted in making sure that no more automatic draws were transfered. I got a call from AOL a few days later saying my credit card was declined. I reiterated my position and they finally got the point.

  • Michael

    Fantastic that you recorded it. If it was illegal, and I am not sure it was if they informed YOU that your call may be recorded for quality assurance I suspect you were entirely within your rights to do so as well… but even if it was, good job.

    Amazing tactics. I wonder if that rep will hear the call and bring a recording of it in to his next salary review?

  • Deb

    I had a very similar experience with AOL. Bought a new computer and the only pre-loaded internet service I could get to work was the AOL one. Against my better judgement, I signed up because I really wanted to use the computer. Of course, 2 minutes after logging on I got booted. The next morning I got a different internet service loaded and called AOL to cancel. Oh Hell no!! The guy I talked to told me that I hadn’t given it enough time to see if I really liked it and when I said I had AOL in the past he told me that a lot of things had changed since then. When I told him that I kept getting booted, he asked me if I had left the computer on while I went in to make breakfast. Huh?? He adamantly refused to cancel my account and when I asked for a manager he told me there was not one available. I ended up ending the call with an extra free month of service I didn’t want in the first place. The following Monday, I called back and spoke to a manager and told them that I had never been treated that badly by any company that I had done business with and he apologized all over himself and cancelled the account. To this day, when I get those AOL discs in the mail, I write “return to sender” on them and send them back. I refuse to ever have AOL again and I tell all my friends not to sign up with them either.

  • Jaime

    Why do you all care about this so much…All business’ want to keep their customers. They ask you questions so that they can understand if you are having money probs and really want to keep AOL they will offer a better rate. So many haters. They still have millions of happy customers, me included. I’m not so dumb that I don’t understand them wanting to turn a profit. Go figure. If you want to cancel, put up with the damn phone call and keep saying no, that’s how that works. Are you all telling me that no one has ever been pushy to get your money?

  • Marsha

    Everyone in my family has had the same experience with AOL. When my brother went to cancel his account, he couldn’t get the rep to cancel until he repeated “Cancel my Account” without letting the rep talk for more than 15 minutes straight. Then they cancelled his account.

    I had to tell them I sold my computer to get mine cancelled (and they still wanted to offer it to someone else in my household or anyone I knew to hang on to my account).

    And when I called to cancel my mom’s account, I had to tell them that she died and that the computer was auctioned to charity to finally get the account closed.

    It’s ridiculous and I’m so glad someone put in on the news! Way To Go! I don’t believe that “John” was fired at all. I’m sure he actually got a promotion for trying to keep another account. Down with AOL!

  • Deb

    Jaime, you shouldn’t ever have to say more than once that you want to cancel something. It shouldn’t take a 30-40 minute phone call to cancel service. And those millions of happy customers, such as yourself, need not worry though since you most likely will not be cancelling your service. And if they don’t want so many people cancelling maybe they should offer better service where you can actually stay connected long enough to use the internet that you are paying so handsomely for.

  • Jaime

    PS…to the guy that wants to sign up for a bunch of aol accounts and then cancel them all. i knew someone that did that with another company and they think you are just trying to get free introductory months over and over then you and your credit card goes to fraud and you get charged anyway.

  • Jaime

    My connection works. And I called in and got a cheaper rate. It’s not hurting my wallet. I just don’t understand why people are surprised at the “retention” efforts. I don’t think calls should last 40 minutes either, but I think people probably call in all ready for a fight, when it doesnt have to be, thats all.

  • Marsha

    Hey Jaime,

    Call and try to cancel your account and see if you’re singing the same tune after going through what AOL does. I’ll bet you’re not!

  • Jaime

    You’re conspiracy theories are great!!!hahaha Someone wrote “that it should be a crime to get a bonus for not cancelling accounts”…If you have ever bought a car then that damn sales man should be in jail for lying to you and taking a commission. I used to sit in on sales meetings and they talk about getting a car sale as another kill and laugh and laugh about all the money they took you for.

  • Andrea Raimondi

    I’m not with AOL, as I’m from Italy, but I’m astonished at AOL.

    It’s unbeleivable and unconceivable.

    Andrew

  • Billy

    I just think it’s funny how the name of the web site here is “insignificant thoughts” yet everyone here is spending the early hours of the morning bitching and complaining about AOL. Here’s an “insignificant thought”, get a life and go to bed dumb asses.

  • Jaime

    I’ve cancelled in the past for financial reasons and for a death in the family. I went back because I think the other providers (I’ve tried) all suck. I’m just not a baby when people try to offer me a better deal.

  • Jaime

    Hey Marsha,
    Are you saying that you can’t handle a phone call without making up stories (lies) to get what you want. Stand your ground when you want to cancel something, that’s all it takes. Be more confident.

  • jbravo

    I work for AOL in their tech support department. I handle calls like this all day long, although for other reasons.

    I do know that in our retention department, that their job is to try and save our members from cancelling. However, I never knew what lengths they would go through to save it. Personally, when I am taking calls for technical issues, I try to be as polite and kind as possible. I know that you are calling me for help, because you can’t get online. My job is to try and rectify that issue, but with you yelling and screaming at me for 10 minutes as to how long it took you to get through, or how you haven’t been able to get online for 7 months and you barely call, that is not my problem. Every single person has to go through the same process to get in touch with us.

    I never yell at the members that I speak with, so I would like to be treated with some common courtesy as well. When I get yelled at, I calmly make the statement, “I am not yelling at you, why are you yelling at me?”, and that usually stops the yelling, or cursing or threatening statements of bodily harm.

    However, I apologize that you had that experience with AOL. I can let you know that I follow our member advocacy guidelines as much as I possibly can.

  • David

    I agree, the phone call was not handled with the best customer service. The customer service rep. could have took a different approach on trying to convince Vincent to stay with AOL, Rather then just repeating over and over “there was usage on your account” However, What is the deal with Vincent? He calls to cancel and doesn’t even tell the Customer service rep, He’s recording the call. I thought that was illegal, I’m sure this guy, “John” will press charges against Vincent for releasing the audio footage. On top of it all, It sounded very clear to me that Vincent was provoking the Customer service rep. Listen to the call and see how rude and short Vincent is with the customer service rep. Vincent sound like an 8 year old, yelling “la, la, la, la….I can’t hear you!!!!”
    Furthermore, I have high speed, DSL.. I also called AOL to cancel my service when I got my DSL hooked up and I got a customer service rep that convinced me to keep AOL with my highspeed. I didn’t like the idea of paying twice, but the rep explained to me, that when I cancel AOL…I would have to surf the web through internet explorer, which was true. She explaine to me, “It’s kind of like cable, when you get the extra channels like, HBO or Cinemax, You pay extra for it…..Because It makes it better” Thats when It made sense to me. She also dropped my price down to 4.95/mo because of the fact that I already have DSL through Qwest. I am glad she convinced me to keep it because in all honesty, using inernet explorer is really dull and I didn’t have to change my e-mail or any of the settings I had with AOL. I like the XM radio with AOL….Oh and I love the fact that when I sign on to AOL, I have it programed to where Madonna greets me and tells me I have mail! What other internet provider does that! hehe

    Vincent is trying to get as much publicity out of this as he can, He had it all planned. Poor little ol’ AOL guy (John) who got fired and will probably sue Vincent.

  • http://www.myspace.com/own_the_nwo OWN the NWO

    KUDOS!!! I think everyone HATES AOL, I don’t understand why people still actually pay for this garbage from these trash peddlers. they sell your email address you get porn spam constantly, they censor web addresses critical of the (dearaol.com) and of course there is the “customer service”. I wasn’t as nice as you were when I cancelled my account and when I get angry my voice is pretty overpowering. I’ve worked in phone rooms before so I demanded their supervisor and had them cancel my account.

  • tsunku

    # james Says:
    June 13th, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    too bad if you send this to AOL, they will probably sue you becuase it’s illegal to tape phone conversations without telling the other party…or have that beeping in the background.

    actually that’s only in some states, most states only 1 party to the conversation needs to know it’s being recorded and since you are the one doing the recording, you know…

  • Elizabeth

    Yep, that was almost exactly what happened to me when I cancelled AO-Hell back in 2001. Sorry you had to deal with it all, but at least your call was under half an hour ;-)

    Grah, they’re a big wart on Satan’s penis!

  • a kid in flag

    I work for an AOL contracted company calling people to reup there accounts … i need the money i know… and all I hear is do you know how hard it was to cancel, glad i heard this call.. They have to rebutal about a thousand times.. I only have to do a couple thank god.. I would have got fired for talking like that… this guy is a prick…..

  • /.user

    I can’t believe how rude you were to the AOL rep. Frankly I’m surprised AOL apologised for this as it seems to me your bad attitude was the worst thing about this conversation.

  • http://diyhappy.com Sam

    Man, competing ISPs should offer complimentary AOL cancellation as a sign-up bonus. The ISPs could just train their reps to say “Cancel the account” then repeat “no” over and over. In fact, they could just have a recording say “no” for about half an hour then come back to see if it’s been done or not.

  • jennifer

    the csr was just trying to do his job..whats so wrong in it???? it was an attempt made by vincent to gain publicity…

  • Danielle

    Are you people crazy? This is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Don’t whine about Vincent’s “bad attitude”, don’t spew that B.S. about how this is how it is supposed to be, they’re just “doing their job”. For one thing, I disagree that Vincent had a bad attitude. He answered the guy’s questions for like the first two minutes. There is absolutely no excuse for what that customer service guy said and did, no excuse at all. And how can you hear this call and your first thought be, “Well it’s wrong to tape phone calls.” Really? THAT’S what you focus on??

    I have had difficulty cancelling AOL before as well. I have also been a customer service professional for years. There is just no way this can be excused and all of you putting any of the blame on Vincent are the reason companies like AOL think they can keep screwing everyone over. Sheep!

  • Greg

    It’s an interesting experience. I think that Vincent was patient, more so than I would have been. Additionally, the aol rep was reading his script but he said a few things that were inappropriate. One who is a subscriber does not have to say why the subscription is being cancelled. It may help the company if you do but isn’t your responsibility. I would have mentioned from the beginning that I was recording the conversation since it seemed that the rep wasn’t listening anyway. Ultimately (after 5 minutes) I would have simply said that I’ve informed my credit card that they should not honor any future charges, both verbally and in writing with copies to AOL. This is so similar to my experience trying to cancel AT&T cellphone service. Eventually I wrote to the FCC directly with copies to AT&T and within 10 days it was resolved in my favor.

  • Randy LeJeune

    The exact same thing happened to me. The guy wouldn’t listen to me when I tried to cancel my account and even went so far as to say that AOL ran on OpenBSD. I finally had to contact the Better Business Bureau to get the account cancelled.

  • deb

    I can see from your story that AOL has not changed. I had an account with them for a couple years and after all the crap I finally had enough and decided to cancel my account. The customer service was poor, I cannot tell you how many viruses my computer received and how many times our account names were hacked into. The last straw was when I was locked out of my account due to a mass emailing that was done thru my account by a hacker. Instead of trying to deal with them over the phone (because they will only try to talk you into staying) I dealt directly in the mail system, and what a run around that was. I had my fees directly debited from my bank account. Needless to say during the time I was trying to close my account they kept taking from the account, and overdrew the account as I was trying to close it out. ( I never got reimbursed for that) So I closed the bank account, only way to stop them from taking out fees because they completely ignore your requests. It took me over 8 months to finally get rid of their service. I was dealing with an office in New York and one in Florida. One office would acknowledge my request and say they were sorry to lose my business then I would get a threateninhg letter saying my payment was overdue. I switched to cable and AOL tried to charge me for broadband on top of the cable account.I would never recommend their services to anyone. And would you believe I still receive their stupid disk offers in the mail. Needless to say I file that in the T File TRASH! Newbies to the internet beware, do some research first before signing up with any internet service. All I can say is thank god I did not sign up with them by a credit card.

  • Jack

    I was happy to see your story…. I canceled my account and went through the same thing… I was so pissed by the end of the call….the hassel I went through also canceled any thoughts of maybe trying AOL again in the future. I thing is .. it’s not just AOL… I have had the same experience with some other companies.. it’s becoming a trend.

  • Mike

    I called AOL and canceled by account about a year and a half ago. the rep I spoke with tried to convince me to stay but I told him that I was getting a cheaper deal somewhere else and I want to cancel now!. Relunctanatly he says ok my account is canceled. Six months later I get a charge on my check card for 70 dollars. I called them up and told them that my account was canceled. I told the rep that if he didnt belive me he should check his records to see if the account was used withing the last six months. He cheked and confirm that the account was not active for the last six months. Shockingly he told me that the account wasn’t canceled and that there is nothing he could do.

    The point is, not only are these AOL thugs preventing people from canceling their account, they are also lying and steeling money from peoples bank account.

  • Art

    You think that’s bad??? Just try to uninstall their software! The programs they put on your system when you set up an account and maintain it for a while root themselves into all sorts of different things. If you still decide to uninstall it from your system, you will likely encounter the same thing I did on several systems where other programs do not run properly anymore. When you boot the system, the remnants of AOL programs are still around and your PC trys to load bits and pieces from the software that is no longer there and often hangs. Joining AOL is literally the same thing as joining a cult.

  • Darknight

    What pisses me off more than this story is that AOL claims it was an abomination and they don’t train their customer service people to do this. I cancelled my membership in 2003 and they put me through the same BS. Like many others I then got a stray charge on my creidt card. After spending 30 minutes getting them to simply fix the problem I realized they do this intentionally too so they can get another crack at badgerring you. I HATE AOL AND I HOPE THEY GO OUT OF BUSINESS!

  • Brian

    I had the same problem. Only I had only set up the account 4 days earlier to get internet access while staying at a motel. The AOL junk software seemed to take over my computer and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it. 4 days after setting up the free trial, I called to cancel.

    I was on for at least 15 minutes. I told the CS lady that I had already uninstalled the software, that I only ever used it to get free access, that I hated AOL and that I thought their service was worthless, and that there was no way in blazes that she could ever convince me that spending 21.95 a month for nothing was worthwhile (I have Cable Internet at home). But she kept assurring me that AOL was valuable and worthwhile.

    Finally I said that there was absolutely no way I would be convinced otherwise and asked if she would please let me off the phone. Reluctantly she did. I say to AOL what I said to their CS lady at the end of the call:
    Thanks for nothing!

  • Brad

    Amazing – makes me feel blessed to never have had to do that. Let’s all have some fun and call AOL to open a bogus account and give the AOL rep Vincent Ferrari as the account name and see what happens!

  • Connie

    I have had this exact same experience with AOL and at the end of the ordeal, the woman actually hung up on me – it was a very bitter experience.

  • http://www.LU13.TK Lu Cifer, http://www.LU13.TK

    This is certainly not an isolated incident. I had AOL approx. 3 years ago and was doing the same to cancel. The flaming hoops these annoying trolls make you jump through (ie. asking completely inappropriate questions and doing all they can to keep you with AOL) is mindboggeling and absolutely UNACCEPTABLE. The words AOL and CUSTOMER SERVICE should NEVER appear in the same sentence, unless with a negative connotation. Everyone should FWD this blog on to as many people as they can, because AOL *MUST* be exposed for the total slime they are. I highly recommend that if you see AOL cdroms at stores to take them & throw them in the nearest trash can. If you get one in the mail, that you deface it and write RETURN TO SENDER on it and mail it back to them. Maybe these jerks will get the message, but I’m not counting on it. Also I would highly recomment checking out http://www.aolsucks.org

  • Anon

    What it all comes down to is AOL has studies showing they earn more money by keeping accounts that are failed to cancel than they lose from the press generated by the bad experiences they receivce from calls and reports like this. You can blame the CSR, you can blame management, you can blame corporate, you can blame the share holders but really it’s just maximizing profits.

  • ian

    As a former AOL CSR, this isn’t terribly unusual behavior. After all, customer retention is about doing whatever it takes to keep the account active. Some reps are not terribly great about how they try to keep the customer using the service. Others, well, aren’t so bad. AOL isn’t the greatest ISP in the world, but it has its place. There are some people who like the software (8.0 Plus was the last good version they released), the features are nice and everything is right there and easy to get to. Some people don’t like hunting around the internet. I’ve long since cancelled my account (strangely had no trouble doing this – it depends on who you get). I’ve since moved on to bigger and better things, but I can’t say that AOL is a horrible company – all companies exist to make money, so naturally they’re going to try and do whatever possible to get new customers (the discs) and retain them to keep the money flowing. (if you install the software and set up an account with no intentions of actually paying for the service, you really shouldn’t complain about spending time cancelling. Also, http://www.aolsucks.com was a great site with useful information … in 1998.

  • Allison

    Totally agree with you on the AOL cancellation woes. I signed up just to get the free trial until my cable modem was connected and set to go. 30 min of some guy harrassing me. He told me that I “needed” to try it for another three days and then call back, and they’d give me a free month. I responded “You could give me AOL free for my entire life, and I’d still never use it. I. Hate. AOL. Cancel. My. Account.” He kept commanding me to listen to him, wouldn’t let me talk, and then turned very rude when reading off the confirmation number.
    In fact, now that I think about it, 6 years ago when I went to college and cancelled my original account, the guy I talked to then was terribly rude.
    I feel it’s definitely the work environment that causes them to act in such a way. AOL may tell them to be polite and accomodating, but reprimand for low retention rates, or offer rewards for retaining people, which would encourage employees to go against policy. After those experiences, I get a little stressed when I have to call and cancel any sort of service, like I’m gearing up for a fight.

  • Mitch

    I too had the problem, but then, stupid me, signed up agian because I needed dial-up service. So, after months of charges without using the service, I need to again go through this nightmare. Wish me luck. I wonder how many times I will get hung up on?

  • kevin

    I didn’t read all the posts so if this was mentioned sorry.
    What happened to me with AOL was that 6 months after I
    cancelled I happened to notice on my bank statement I was
    still being billed. When I called AOL they said they had
    cancelled one screen name service but since I had another
    screen name(same account) I was still considered active. If
    you are cancelling with them please be aware of this little trick they use to keep billing you even though to the average
    person “cancel the account” usually means “cancel the account”

  • AOL: Den of thieves

    Ian says: “I’ve since moved on to bigger and better things, but I can’t say that AOL is a horrible company – all companies exist to make money”

    Sorry, but you cannot excuse stealing money from people with unauthorized charges, then when they complain, tell them it’s their problem and keep the money you stole from them.

    Unauthorized charges is corporate policy with AOL. That is the very definition of a BAD company. AOL can’t go out of business fast enough for me. Maybe their CEO can share a cell with Ken Lay.

  • Freyar

    Sadly, I can’t hear it. The file has been taken offline.

    I’m pretty sure that it sounded horrible, I heard the first three minutes on CBS, now hunting for the rest of it.

  • Stephen Brown

    I worked at an AOL call center, operated by a sub-contractor called Convergys for several months in 2004. Every CSR is trained for two weeks on how to keep people from cancelling their accounts. CSR’s are given bonuses for keeping people from cancelling. If more than 50% of the people a given CSR talks to on a daily basis actually cancel their accounts, that CSR is fired in short order. Understand, every person who is directed to the call center is trying to cancel their account. AOL’s standard is to only accept 30% of those people actually cancelling. Although there are policies against committing outright fraud, there is tremendous pressure on the CSR’s to retain accounts.

    I refused to participate in such tactics. One of the tools given to CSR’s to retain accounts was to give the account holder up to 2 months of service for free. I discovered a hole in the computer program that actually allowed me to give unlimited months of service to account holders. So I kept my account retention high by giving away AOL’s service. If people still didn’t want their account, I would cancel it. It was no small trick keeping 70% of the callers on AOL even for free. However, I was fired when they figured out what I was doing.

    The bottom line is that AOL are thieves. I would never give those bastards my credit card number, because onece they have it, they will bill it as much as possible. I seriously belive the Justice Department should bring RICO charges against AOL and Convergys executives. It will never happen, but it should. This is not a matter of a big company giving bad service, it is an organized effort to engage in a deliberate fraud. I know because I worked for them.

  • AuntLinda

    I would bet that the CSR wasn’t fired. Your call with “John” is almost word-for-word my conversation with “Matt”just two weeks ago. My reason for cancelling was that I had gotten dsl and saw no reason to pay for both. When pressed, I also told Matt that aol actually slowed my computer down and that I just didn’t want it anymore. This was the point that Matt told me that his records showed that I had used my aol dial-up within the last 24 hours and that THAT was what was slowing me down. I had to tell him that I hadn’t had a phone line attached to my computer in the last 24 hours and that it would be impossible for me to attempt dial-up. He kept insisting that I had used dial-up until I told him that it didn’t make any difference, that I still wanted to cancel the account. All in all, it took me at least 45 minutes to cancel, and I’m still not sure that I won’t be billed next month on my credit card. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for it, tho.

  • Ginger

    I went through the same exact thing when I got a month of free service with my new gateway. I cancelled after the month was up but they continued to charge me even though I was with Bellsouth. To make matters worse I couldn’t get a perscricption filled because they took out 3 months of service some and sort of notebook charge all in one transaction making my account overdrawn by about. I called to dispute the charges and the added charge of the notebook.

    I also spoke to a guy named John. When I asked to speak with his supervisor he replied “lady as far as you’re concerned, I’m the president of the company”. After his rudeness continued I asked for his full name. He said “John Doe”. WOW. I had never been so enraged in my entire life. I fought with them for months but never got my money back. Thank you so much for bringing this matter to light.

  • Jeff

    Awesome…I heard this on Air America this morning. It typifies the “anything goes” mentality of so many big companies. And with ongoing deregulation, it’s only going to get worse.

    I have two points to make:

    1) To the people who defend AOL (you shouldn’t complain about having a hard time cancelling an account because they’re just trying to make money): How far are you willing to take this argument? Our economic system is built the understanding that when a customer no longer requires a good or service, the provider may no longer charge him/her. Consider the implications otherwise!

    2) To the people who say “don’t blame the operator…he’s just doing his job”: Again, how far can you take this? If it’s OK to compromise ethics and decency in the name of a paycheck, what kind of society results? These soul-less corporate policies only work if there are unquestioning people who implement them.

    These two types of comments are really troubling in how pervasive they are. They constitute the permissiveness that allows for Enron, 30% credit card interest rates, and any number of life-sucking work environments. Let’s reconsider what we think is OK…

  • Christopher

    Had the same experience over a decade ago. For those who claim that this tool was simply doing his job, etc… wrong! As the customer, when I ask for to “cancel” and get “customer retention;” and as to “cancel” and get anything except “Yes, sir. It’s done.” Then it’s over the top. Just because AOL has redefined terms does not mean that it is so.

  • http://slashdot.org maus

    For those of you that are whining that Vincent should be sued because the recording is ‘illegal’, in the state of NY (where the call originated), it is not:


    N.Y. Penal Law §§ 250.00, 250.05: It is a Class E felony to overhear or record a telephonic or telegraphic communication if one is not the sender or receiver, or does not have the consent of either the sender or receiver. It also is a crime for someone not present to overhear or record any conversation or discussion without the consent of at least one party to that conversation.

    So, as long as one person in the party is aware that the call is being recorded, IT IS PERFACTLY LEGAL and the statute doesn’t even allow for civil suits. Source: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/ .

    Way to go Vincent!!!

  • Bob Tweadey

    My father died in 2004 and as trustee for his trust I tried to cancel his AOL account. I made the mistake of telling AOL of the background and they requested a fax of my designation as trustee. This was forwarded and two months and two calls later nothing had happened. I called again and they requested a death certificate for him. At that time I put my foot down and requested that I speak to the representatives supervisor. Finally he dismissed himself and after 5 minutes came back and agreed to cancel the account.

    My point– Vincent’s dealings with AOL was typical and not that of only one representative.

  • http://slashdot.org maus

    For those of you that are whining that Vincent should be sued because the recording is ‘illegal’, in the state of NY (where the call originated), it is not:


    N.Y. Penal Law §§ 250.00, 250.05: It is a Class E felony to overhear or record a telephonic or telegraphic communication if one is not the sender or receiver, or does not have the consent of either the sender or receiver. It also is a crime for someone not present to overhear or record any conversation or discussion without the consent of at least one party to that conversation.

    So, as long as one person in the party is aware that the call is being recorded, IT IS PERFECTLY LEGAL and the statute doesn’t even allow for civil suits. Source: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/ .

    Way to go Vincent!!!

  • Ron G.

    My situation was worse. After nearly going into cardiac arrest, I finally hung up on the AOL representative.
    This was about 2 years ago. Aol continued to charge my Amex account. I disputed the charge and it was reversed. About 6 months later my card was charges again. Again I disputed the claim with Amex. Again they credited my account. This happened again 3 months later. This time Amex suggested that I put a restriction on my Amex account forbidding AOL form ever charging my account. We need a class action law suit!!!!!!!!!

  • George

    I went throught the same type of ordeal recently with Vonage. Well over an hour on the phone and stupid irrelevant questions. The last call lasted 45 minutes (after 2 disconnects) when finally a rep answered and canceled my account, charging me $40. to do so too. I have found myself, and from others, that this is becoming SOP for corporate America, though many of our calls are handled by people in other countries. One thing I will never ever do again is have any account linked to my bank account for automatic payment deductions!!!!

    Peace,
    George

  • Sparks Fly

    I had the same problem. They did agree to reduce me to a $7.95 “save” plan. I tried again and they told me about some coupons that would save me money, coupons I never bothered to use. No money saved if you have to “work” for it by using your time to find the damn coupons online!

    After not succeeding at cancellation the third time, I had an idea. Although no one should HAVE to use this method, it was actually fun once the process started.

    I called my bank and told them I had lost my debit card and needed a new one. They cancelled the one I had and I picked up a temporary card at the bank the next day, so I was never without access to my funds. A few days later, I get the new card.

    About a month after that, my partner tells me “AOL left a message for you.” I laugh. They keep leaving messages. With caller ID, we are able to avoid answering their calls. They were calling me because my debit card number on their account no longer worked and was getting rejected. Then came the messages that my account was going to be deactivated.

    Hello!

    They start sending me junk mail…stuff that looks like a telegram that’s really important and I MUST open it right now….I laugh.

    Eventually, they give up and my account was cancelled because they had no way to bill me.

    Think of the costs involved in trying to save my $7.95 account: 1) the salaries of the various employees who called trying to save me; 2) the mailing costs and overhead of sending me AOLgrams; 3) the cost of transferring the account to another department for collection type follow up instead of “save” follow up.

    I probably owe them $7.95, at least. My only regret is that my bank had to pay for it in their processing of a new card, but they were damned kind about it.

  • Sparks Fly

    I had the same problem. They did agree to reduce me to a $7.95 “save” plan. I tried again and they told me about some coupons that would save me money, coupons I never bothered to use. No money saved if you have to “work” for it by using your time to find the damn coupons online!

    After not succeeding at cancellation the third time, I had an idea. Although no one should HAVE to use this method, it was actually fun once the process started.

    I called my bank and told them I had lost my debit card and needed a new one. They cancelled the one I had and I picked up a temporary card at the bank the next day, so I was never without access to my funds. A few days later, I get the new card.

    About a month after that, my partner tells me “AOL left a message for you.” I laugh. They keep leaving messages. With caller ID, we are able to avoid answering their calls. They were calling me because my debit card number on their account no longer worked and was getting rejected. Then came the messages that my account was going to be deactivated.

    Hello!

    They start sending me junk mail…stuff that looks like a telegram that’s really important and I MUST open it right now….I laugh.

    Eventually, they give up and my account was cancelled because they had no way to bill me.

    Think of the costs involved in trying to save my $7.95 account: 1) the salaries of the various employees who called trying to save me; 2) the cost of the phone calls; 3) the mailing costs and overhead of sending me AOLgrams; 4) the cost of transferring the account to another department for collection type follow up instead of “save” follow up.

    I probably owe them $7.95, at least. My only regret is that my bank had to pay for it in their processing of a new card, but they were damned kind about it.

  • Karen

    I just have one question: What number to CS at AOL did you dial to get a CSR in AMERICA to answer? Both times I called AOL this year went straight to India. I get even more of a feeling of being disconnected from the company I am trying to do business with. They refused to cancel my account also, even after I spoke with the supervisor! Finally I sent a FAX. Seriously, AOL isnt helping themselves or America by outsourcing on such a grand scale!

  • http://plgrafix.com Kess

    Several months ago i had to cancel my girlfriends account, she got it for the one month trail and never used it, she called and canceled it, a few weeks later they sent a threatening letter about sending her to collections if she didnt pay for her service, she called again reexplained that she didnt want the service and that she had canceled it, of course they said “ok” after 45 minutes of argueing again with them. 3 weeks later, another collection notice and more threats. i finally called and for 2 days (1.5 hours the first time, over 2 hours the second time) and finally through talking with an endless line of “managers” and “dept heads” (and a few dropped calls), not to mention some threats of us sueing them, they finally stopped harrassing us and closed the account.

    it was funny, they kept trying to get her to pay for the service (the free trial service) and kepy threatening to bill her bank account. i kepy firing back “if she has this ‘bank account’ set up with you, then go ahead and try to bill it… whats with all the threatening notices? its because you dont have a bank account on file because she was just trying out your service”
    it was her very first online account. thanx ao-.hell

  • Jon

    I had two horrible experiences trying to cancel from AOL. Both resulted in me finally cussing the operator out, pleading with him to cancel my account, yet getting nowhere. It was un real! I’m so glad they are finally getting theirs. Thanks Vinny!

  • hate idiots

    Bruce Smith (who is obviously one of AOL’s henchmen, wrote:)
    “So you illegally recorded a call with AOL, and you are a hero? wow, I have to say your moxie is amazing. Wonder when they will file a law suit against you for that, since they supposedly have protection against a recorded call.”

    Why would it be illegal for this guy to record a phone conversation if AOL is also recording the phone conversation? All of these “customer service” agencies are recording our phone calls so I don’t think it’s a problem if consumers record their own phone conversations as well to defend themselves against immoral practices and to prevent agencies from “accidentally losing or erasing” proof against them.

    I hope AOL does file a frivolous lawsuit. Then maybe AOL would finally crash and burn and disappear off the internet radar.

  • Marty Gould

    I am not surprised. I cancelled my AOL two years ago by phone and also in writing. A few months later I received a notice from a collection agency trying to collect $95.00 for the use of the account after I cancelled it. Weird. I cancelled it and they demanded payment for use after the account was cancelled. I refused to pay the collection agency, the letters and harassing phone calls only increased. I demanded in writing or documents proof. After several weeks of this crap, I finally paid the amount, not wanting to ruin my credit, and demanded written proof of what I was being charged for. It has been over a year and I’m still waiting. I am grateful I teach computer classes at our local library and each new session I plead with all my students to never sign up for AOL. I relate my horror story each time and try to keep others from ever calling AOL the first time. Ive influenced hundreds of students in the past year to not use AOL. Now I have more ammunition to convince them to spread the word.

  • alan bisbee
  • YeahThat’sMe

    Some of you all seem to be missing the point…

    1 – Yes, the guy was “just doing his job.” That’s the point. If “John” were the only AOL rep doing this, there would be no story. I had a much worse experience ten years ago trying to cancel AOL. Had to go through several menu options, each with a 5-minute “don’t leave us” spiel, before getting to the no-service rep who refused to cancel for the first 30 minutes of our “conversation.”

    2 – In the process of doing his job, the rep went beyond any standard of appropriate discourse. While it may be appropriate to try to convince me to keep my account (we can disagree about the degree of persistence), it is *not* appropriate to call me a liar (“you *are* using the account”), it is not appropriate to tell me that I’m too stupid to know what I want (“when you cool down, you’ll see that I’m helping you” — how? by not doing what I ask?), and it is not appropriate, when you know that you’re reading a script that aggravates the hell out of everyone who hears it, to tell your customer “well, you’re frustrating me, too.”

    Same deal as health clubs. Why is it ok to sign me up using a 30-second process, and then require notarized copies of my Mickey Mouse club membership certificate to let me out?

  • jlines

    I tried to cancel my account a few years ago, and each time i called i went through the same hassle. At the end of the grueling conversation the rep would claim to cancel the account. Then a few weeks later i would get another bill from aol. This happened 3 times for a total of over 2 months of hassle to cancel my account.

    Aol’s response to this guy’s problem was “At AOL, we have zero-tolerance for customer care incidents like this’. What a bunch of liars, this has been going on for years.

  • Ed Elberfeld

    Why has ther b een no class action lawsuit about this AOL consumer fraud? This has got to add up to many many millions. There must a lawyer out there willing to take them on?

  • Dawminatrix

    I’ve had the exact same experience with AOL and cancelling accounts in the past, nice to see someone actually calling out their cancellation practices.

    My last and final experience with them involved an account change from the 20 hours a month to unlimited. I called to change my plan and was not informed that the change was not effective immediately, but at the beginning of the next billing cycle….they promptly deducted $1500.00 from my checking account. When i called AOL to find out what exactly happened, i was transferred to a person who called me an idiot, and what kind of dumbass would rack up that much of a bill, and then hung up on me when i asked for his name.

    I called back, and was told to just dispute the charges with my bank, that no one ever checks that stuff anyway.

  • http://thesecondeclectic.blogspot.com 2e

    Wow. Companies will have you believe their’ all about the customer. But in the end it’s not the customer but the cash they’re loyal to. Money is always the bottom line in business; but they spend a lot of it to tell us it’s not.

    Way to stick it to the man.

  • Michael

    This isn’t a new thing with AOL. I don’t have to listen to the MP3 to know exactly what happened to you. My wife had the same experience in 2003. One of her calls was like the transcript of your call I saw elsewhere online today. It took 3 months and a call to our credit card company to exorcise the demon. AOLs apology is a complete farce, as if this is some isolated incident.

  • Rick

    You brought this on yourself by lying to the AOL rep and you continue your lie here by saying you used it once a month.

    How is it that you “don’t use the account” when the prior month you had 545 hours of usage on it?

    That is almost TWENTY THREE DAYS of non stop usage 24 hours a day!!!

    If I was the AOL rep i’d be wondering why you were cancelling as well.

    This rep had every right to try to determine why such a heavy user suddenly changed their minds after years of service. Any REASONABLE person would want to understand that, particularly if their goal was to see if they could HELP you. Perhaps he thought you lost your job and couldn’t afford it any longer for awhile which in that case maybe some free months of service could have helped you out.

    Who knows, but YOU set the stage by your outrageous usage and then SUDDEN reversal of that and your claim continued here like it was no big deal the amount of time this account was in use.

    You got this REP fired and should be more than ashamed of yourself.

    I hope your 10 minutes of fame was worth that.

  • Teri

    Seriously?!?!?

    To all the loyal AOL employees/customers who chose to respond to this blog:

    If AOL is so wonderful, then why are they losing every class action lawsuit that is filed against them?

    the website “Consumer Affairs”
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/
    has a plethora of information concerning AOL’s horrendous “Customer Service” and “Billing” practices….

    Let’s start with the most recent first (Thank you Vinnie)

    1. AOL EMBARRASSED BY CNBC REPORT ON ITS BUSINESS PRACTICES:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/06/aol_cnbc.html

    2. AOL SETTLES WITH NY, AGREES TO CLEAN UP CANCELLATION PROCESS:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/ny_aol.html

    3. OHIO SETTLES LAWSUIT WITH AOL:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/oh_aol.html

    4. OHIO LATEST TO SUE AOL:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news03/aol_ohio.html

    5. AOL LOSES 2 MILLION CLIENTS, FACES SUBPOENAS:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news03/aol_subpoenas.html

    6. CLASS ACTION SUIT ACCUSES AOL OF DOUBLE BILLING SCHEME:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news03/aol_doublebill.html

    7. AOL OFFERS TO SETTLE FEDERAL CHARGES:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news03/aol_ftc.html

    8. CLASS ACTION AGAINST AOL SHOP DIRECT:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/internet/aol_unauthorized_charges.html

    Along with this, is a section of “Consumer Complaints”

    1. CANCELLATION DIFFICULTIES:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/internet/aol_cancel.html

    2. DOUBLE BILLING:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/internet/aol_double_bill.html

    3. “FREE HOURS”:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/internet/aol_free_hours.html

    4. UNAUTHORIZED CHARGES:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/internet/aol_unauthorized_charges.html

    5. AOL SHOP-DIRECT COMPLAINTS:
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/internet/aol_unauthorized_charges.html

    Let’s get the WHOLE truth out about the departments you represent.

  • http://plgrafix.com Kess

    hmm… ya, thats interesting… so a customer does not have the right to cancel an account with any company for any reason (or no reason at all) ???

  • http://newslined.blogspot.com Sammy

    Newslined got this story, this shit is crazy! I can’t believe he threatened you by saying “well if you want me to cancel it you have to listen to this paragraph” jesus, it was like an ex girlfriend that wont let you out of the relationship.

    Good going for exposing AOL for what they are. I highly doubt he got fired, as he was doing what they tell him to do. When asked why cancelling, I would have answered a bit more frankly, though, and said “Cause your service sucks ass and I would rather use gmail!”

  • http://newslined.blogspot.com Sammy

    Newslined got this story, this shit is crazy! I can’t believe he threatened you by saying “well if you want me to cancel it you have to listen to this paragraph” jesus, it was like an ex girlfriend that wont let you out of the relationship.

    Good going for exposing AOL for what they are. I highly doubt he got fired, as he was doing what they tell him to do. When asked why cancelling, I would have answered a bit more frankly, though, and said “Cause your service sucks ass and I would rather use gmail!”

    PS. That guy above probably works for AOL.

  • Donna

    My daughter signed up for one of the freebie try outs. She then attempted to cancel before being charged, only to be told there was no record of her AOL name, her name, her husbands, her address, credit card, nothing. She was told don’t worry, nothing will be billed. Guess what? She was billed. She tried for 3 months to cancel this account that AOL insisted didn’t exsist. She finally went to the bank and filled a complaint. This has been going on for years. I canceled an account 11/04 due to moving. Even canceled my checking account. SIX months later I receive a forwarded bill for several hundred dollars. They never canceled the account and continue to charge me even thought they couldn’t take the month payments from the account. Calling AOL, I was told there was no record of my cancelation, and per their “fine print” they are allowed to continue to charge for the account even without receiving payment. (It that was the case how come when I used the account on a regular basis and switched ATM cards, they put a hold on my AOL account after 5 days of no payment?!?!?)
    It’s time AOL is investigated for their practices.

  • http://www.aolwatch.org/list David Cassel

    AOL is notorious for not cancelling accounts.
    I researched this a few years ago. There have been lawsuits, threats by attoreny generals, threats by credit card companies. Maybe the lure of keeping members against their will is just too strong for AOL.

    In one internal memo, AOL warned their phone reps that ignoring customer requests to cancel accounts would be discovered — “eventually.” I wonder if they were secretly condoning it, because it worked in their favor.

  • Hiedler

    To those who claim he will get sued for not informing the fellow he was recording the call:

    You know that message when your on hold that says “This call may be recorded for quality assurance”? That means BOTH parties can record the call. Not to mention only some states require this.

  • AOL: Den of thieves

    It seems that AOL likes to chase people with collection agencies when the frustrated consumer finally cuts off the bank accounts and credit cards. So the only threat remaining is to have a blot on your credit report. But how many lending agencies will take a black mark from AOL seriously?

    If AOL’s scam is becoming widely known, and I had sterling credit otherwise, I think I could still get a loan from a bank with an AOL bad rating on my credit report.

    So, let them threaten collection. Their name and reputation are ruined. A “bad credit” black mark from AOL would be about like having one from Enron.

  • AOL: Den of thieves

    I guess “Rick” believes AOL is entitled to know all of our business. Who gives a rip if the representative wants all kinds of information? We have the right to cancel any service for NO REASON.

    And I don’t believe for a minute that this “John” character lost the slimy job he was in. So what — it probably did him a favor. He’s probably off selling broken down used cars by now. I don’t feel a bit sorry for anyone who works for a sleazy outfit like AOL.

  • lb

    Two years ago I got DSL and called to cancel AOL dial-up. Took a few minutes or so I thought, but they continued to bill me. Called again to cancel and I was told I had continued my service during that call. Now they tried to sell me a high speed connection and I said no. They continued to bill me and I went to my bank and stopped any further payments. Called AOL back, now I wanted my three months of payments back. Spent over three hours on the phone being disconnected by customer service in India. It wasn’t possible to get my money back since I had used the service during that period. Told them why would I use dial-up service if I had DSL. Spent two hours more on this call, but 5 days later I received a check from AOL for the three months. When I went to the bank, the teller said they stopped payment all the time for dissatisfied AOL customers. Donna is right — an investigation should be done of AOL and other customer service systems. AOL is not alone; cable tv services are among the worst violators. The actions of these corporations are tantamount to fraud and criminal prosecution should be an option.

  • cheftara

    I had a similar experience when I cancelled my AOL account 4 or 5 years ago. Well, I guess it only took me 20-25 minutes to get the rep to cancel it for me. They only did so after I started loudly saying things like “If this phone call is being recorded, please note that I have asked repeatedly that my account be cancelled and your customer service rep is refusing to honor my request. This level of service is unacceptable.” That finally got the rep’s attention, and he agreed to cancel. I’ve never missed AOL, and I’ll never go back.

    My mother has also had trouble cancelling. She is still in dispute for over $200 they charged her for a year’s worth of service AFTER she cancelled. It has been six months, and they still won’t correct it.

  • AOL: Den of thieves

    P.S. I guess the lessons to learn here are as follows:

    1. Send your cancellation in writing, adhering to all of their information demands. Request Return Receipt so you can prove they got it.

    If you call to cancel your account — record the call and after they’ve got your account information pulled up on the computer, inform them you want to cancel and that you’re RECORDING THE CALL. Repeat their name and the date so it’s recorded.

    2. If they debit your bank account — Immediately go to your bank and deny them the ability to charge you again — even if you have to change the account they’ve got access to.

    3. Same with the credit card they charge to. Immediately change if you have to. (Sometimes charges get through even though the credit card company has been alerted not to honor AOL charges. By then it’s too late.)

    4. Ignore their threats to send you to collection. Keep a record. Tell ‘em you’re joining a class action and informing your state’s Attorney General.

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Vinny

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for all your comments. I really appreciate you relating to the story. It means a lot that you support me so much here.

    Thanks!

    Vinny

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Vinny

    CNN is taping me right now, if you can believe it. I’m doing this ofr the camera.

  • Bobbie

    Vincent may find his problems are not over yet. About 6 years ago, I canceled my account with AOL. A few months ago, I noticed a $75 charge on my credit card from AOL. It turns out that over 5 years after I canceled my account, AOL arbitrarily decided to reactivate the account, and made it retroactive by three months. I was billed for three months service. The credit card account they billed was new. How they managed to get hold of it, I don’t know.

    When I contacted them – no easy task if you have an account and next to impossible if you are not a customer – they readily admitted it was a mistake and they should not have reopened the account. Closing the account again was not difficult. To obtain a credit for the incorrect billing was another matter. It took approximately 4 to 6 weeks, several telephone calls and the willingness to tolerate some very rude treatment.

    Are my problems with AOL over – I hope so. But obviously one can never be certain.

  • El Brujo

    I’m so surprised this has taken so long to come to the media spotlight. I used to work for AOL, roughly 7 years ago as a technical representative, a billing representative and coach (team lead, whatever). If I am about to repeat something somebody has already said, I apologize. Also, these statements may not be completely accurate today, but I’m sure, they’re not very far off from the truth.

    Yes, AOL trains and mainly rewards each customer representative, they called them “saves reps”, for each member they are able to keep with AOL. It’s commission, you make close to minimum wage but in addition you used to get something like .75 cents for each person saved. If you work a 6 hour shift, with one 30 minute break, at 4 minutes a call, non-stop. It’s impossible, but if you saved all of them, that’s an extra $60 (roughly) per day. My numbers might be slightly off, but if you do a little calculation, you’ll see how rumors were around that people were making $60-$70K per year. Not bad for a kid straight out of high school, deciding to put college off for a year or so.

    Another way to counter their call center expenses was to buddy up with another company, kind of like AAA (triple A), I forget the name of the company. If you listen a little closer to the end of the phone call, he explains how you have to talk to another representative who is going to explain how to use his cost-free online mail, even though his account is canceled. Why would he need to do this? Doesn’t he know? Of course he does, he’s passing you off to another company who has you now. They will explain how to use your account online, but then will try to sell you something else, like automobile coupons or something, I forget. It used to be that we’d get another .25 cents for each person that we got over to this other company.

    That’s the AOL issues, now the issues with the phone representative. Again, the more customers you save, the more you make. Each rep had their own tricks. One trick, and you may want to keep an eye on this, was to say it was canceled, but actually give the member 2 months free. You wouldn’t notice an AOL charge for months, and then all of a sudden, it was charging again. I think that’s why they implemented the cancellation mail/e-mail. But the ‘saves reps’ are such sharks, they took every advantage they could to get the money.

    For those of you blaming either AOL or the rep, you’re both right. The AOL system is setup for the rep to take as much advantage as possible. Then when something like this happens, if you’ve seen AOL’s response, they fire the rep and state that it was a one-time incident. Bullshit. It’s the practice.

  • YeahThat’sMe

    “Rick,” if I didn’t have a strict policy against calling people “idiot”….sigh…

    Rick, just because some yutz at AOL says that you used 545 hours last month, does not mean that you used 545 hours last month. In my capacity as webmaster for naughtycavemenintheraw.com, I can state that you downloaded 545 mb of high-quality images of naughty cavemen in the raw last month. Does that make it true? If I have a policy that allows me to bill you for your month’s “access,” can we agree that I might have an ulterior motive in stating that you have used the service?

    Not to destroy any cherished beliefs regarding the integrity and overall sterling character of all AOL employees everywhere, natch…

  • Love Handles

    Hey its the REPS fault for being so unprofessional. I blame both the company and the stupid reps.

    I didnt get much of a hastle when I tried to cancel, I told them I was going to Somalia for 10 yrs, and asked them if they had service there!

  • http://www.hotmail.com Junior

    I had AOL for about 1 year, between 1993 and 1994. When I called to cancel, they continued billing my credit card after I got my confirmation number. I had to call Citibank and complain. Apparently Citibank got so many complaints they actually had AOL’s customer service address available and instructed me to send them a certified letter, cc: Citibank, requesting they cancel my account with the confirmation number provided when I called the first time. Citibank credited my account $9.95 for the next 6 months because AOL kept charging me a monthy fee.

  • Steve

    I remember going through about the same thing in 1989 when it was only dialup. I tried the 30 days for free and ended up getting charged $9.95 because I was supposedly 3 hours into the next month by their calculations. I finally gave in and sent them the money and then turned around and let everyone I knew how bad they were. I’m sorry the word didn’t get to you. I have only heard of bad business practices about them and feel lucky to have only suffered a $9.95 charge. Others I talked to back then said they would cancel and AOL would still charge them every month until they finally called their credit card company and put the matter in dispute. There was even a classaction suit years ago about those practices. Good luck to those still with them.

  • Rich – Anything but AOL

    I had a very similar experience to Vincent’s but it was about 7 or 8 years ago. I was disconnected twice after saying that I wanted to cancel my account. I was put on hold multiple times for many minutes each time. I was tossed around between various reps. Finally we told the credit card company to not honor any more charges originating from AOL. We copied the credit card company with the certified letter we went to AOL demanding that service be discontinued.

    In the years since then I have told everyone who would listen to never use AOL or, if already an AOL subscriber, to end their service as soon as possible. AOL needs to go out of business. This sort of activity is spread all across their organization. You can even see it in the incessant pop-up ads they have. They have no respect for their customers.

    Thanks, Vincent, for recording this and bringing it to the public’s attention. Hopefully more people than just John will be wondering how they’re going to feed their young families. I’d recommend getting a job with a reputable company.

  • BobTheDog

    Per Junior, and many other on here, be sure and watch your CC bill. I had AOL in between 1999 and 2001 and had MAJOR problems getting them to stop billing me. They kept charging my card for almost a year after the account was canceled.

  • Michael

    Can you explain how you recorded and saved this phone call so that others may follow your inspiring lead? What kind of hardware and/or software went into it?

  • http://www.shaesplace.com/blog Shae

    You rock.

    My favorite part is when you say “When I say cancel the account, I don’t mean help me figure out how to keep it, I mean cancel the account.”

  • John B

    Ok, so you went into this call with an arrogant attitude, tapped the call and got this guy fired for doing his job, albeit he couldhave said “I have the intenetion of cancelling your account sir, but could you tell me why so that we can better serve other customers…blah, blah, blah.”
    Besides trying to keep you as a customer, he needs to input some reasons why you cancelled in his notes so that a company can improve and operate more effectively for current and future customers.

    Clearly, you went overboard with you attitude which bordered on being a dick! and you got the poor kid fired to boot! your an arrogant asshole and you will never succeed in life becuase of teh bad karma you just created. enjoy your 15 sec onds of fame, DICK!

  • John B

    Ok, so you went into this call with an arrogant attitude, tapped the call and got this guy fired for doing his job, albeit he couldhave said “I have the intenetion of cancelling your account sir, but could you tell me why so that we can better serve other customers…blah, blah, blah.”
    Besides trying to keep you as a customer, he needs to input some reasons why you cancelled in his notes so that a company can improve and operate more effectively for current and future customers.

    Clearly, you went overboard with you attitude which bordered on being a dick! and you got the poor kid fired to boot! your an arrogant asshole and you will never succeed in life becuase of teh bad karma you just created. enjoy your 15 seconds of fame, DICK!

  • ahat1016

    AOL’s employees must be very well trained to put cancelling customers through the ringer. I received the same treatment (minus the request to speak with Dad) when I cancelled my AOL account.

  • Failed by Management

    As a former AOL employee I can tell you that only a sampling of calls are recorded for “quality purposes”. The costs involved in recording the 40-50K calls recieved daily would raise member fees to well over 30 bucks a month for dial-up alone.

    Member Retention and Registration departments hire most of their people from temporary agencies because of the high turnover rates. The average Retention or SUBP employee only lasts 2 -3 months at the most. Please remember that their jobs are very stressfull because of the pressures placed on them by their supervisors and managers not to mention the irate members they have to deal with on a daily basis. I am not sticking up for AOL here but feel that those that have to deal with 40 to 60 calls per day with most of the callers yelling at them for doing their jobs need an advocate here. If I was still at AOL and Johns supervisor I would have terminated him for the lack of respect given to the customer and that he did not properly read the cancellation disclosure statement. Vincent repeatedly requested that his account be cancelled and John continued to do whatever necessary to keep him as a member.

    As a former member of the supervisory staff at AOL I can say that this type of behaivior is never tolerated reguardless of what most of the posts here are recomending. There is no telling what site AOL John came from considering that AOL has many internal and contractor sites around the world. The only sites that require the employees to use aliases are India simply because we as americans would not be able to pronounce their names and not to confuse the members as earlier suggested. I will admit that except for poor choices made on my part I enjoyed my tenure at AOL for 6 and 1/2 years (all of it in technical support) and if given the opportunity I would do it all over again. AOL is a good company that makes it’s decisions based on what is reported to the stockholders, not unlike any other publicly traded company. Remember when the oil companies were asked if they planned to help the american consumer with gas prices after they recorded record profits in 2005 it was simply stated that they had a responsibility to their stockholders and that was to return profits.

    AOL at one time provided the best customer support in the business and wants to do so again. They seem to think that if you change the mindset of the CSR you can change the mindset of the member. AOL would be best served by changing the mindset of the management staff by showing them the door. It is easy to change the mindset of the CSR but not so easy to change the mindset of the consumer. The consumer will remember good quality service for 5 minutes but at the same time will remember poor quality service for a lifetime.

    Am I bitter? Should I be bitter? Should you be bitter? Only because management failed the consumer by trying to protect the bottom line of the stockholders. After all AOL has lost 1/2 of it’s membership over the last 3 or 4 years and management seems to think that it’s going to take rocket science to get them back. Provide good old fashioned top quality customer service and you will get your loyalty back. I just wish that AOL would remember that in order to get the members back management is going to have to take it on the chin and clean house. Get rid of the management staff that got their jobs based on who they knew and not what they knew. The time for politics is over, the people that truely write your paychecks are the ones that count.

  • window licker

    this story got HUGE coverage on glenn beck this morning. AOL’s going down.

  • http://www.shaesplace.com/blog Shae

    One more thing… to the people who said, “blame AOL corporation, not the little guy answering the phone…”

    Bullshit. Blame them both. People with souls don’t act like that, and don’t stay in jobs like that for long.

  • AOL: Den of thieves

    Uh — “John B” — pay attention. Read the entire thread. It’s a companywide, standard AOL policy to hijack people who want to cancel, and then continue to bill them and keep the money.

    They reward their Customer Reps for doing it — train them for weeks to get good at it — pay incentives to encourage them to do it. AOL fires them if they don’t do it ENOUGH.

    AOL is being sued for it time and time again.

    AOL is ruined, John B. You might want to start looking for another lowlife job.

    Not too smart, are you “

  • Teri

    the one big problem with John B’s hypothetical (and delusional) situation is that the CSR from AOL did NOT have the intention of cancelling Vinny’s service….his INTENTION was to DO JUST THE OPPOSITE and “retain” Vinny as a customer.
    The CSR crossed the line….not Vinny.

    Has anyone else noticed that all of the AOL supporters on this blog have the same rude and arrogent attitude as the CSR from AOL that Vinny spoke with? It’s the same attitude I got when i tried to cancel mine.

  • CT

    I had AOL many years ago. This story is a classic example of trying to cancel with AOL. I remember trying to cancel my account with these guys a couple years ago. It was like pulling tooth and nail. It took at least four months to complete the whole damn process. I called and they tried to talk me out of it. They eventually relented and gave me a cancellation code and said a confirmation letter will be sent in the mail. Got a letter in the mail from AOL. Letter said: “Thank you for renewing your subscription with AOL.” And I went: What the fuck? Didn’t I cancel? So I got on the phone again and repeated the whole process over again. Next time, I never got any letter at all. My card just kept getting charged. I mean, there’s not much you can do after they say that the account is cancelled and a confirmation letter will be sent out. Eventually, I think I talked to a real human being who actually cancelled my account and actually sent out the confirmation letter.

    This story reminds me of my incident, which still really peeves me. I wouldn’t mind seeing AOL go out of business. I had some spare time today so I did the unthinkable. I signed up for an AOL account. Of course, with an alias and a false credit card / checking account information and a valid address. It was as easy as 1-2-3. I don’t think AOL even checked to make sure the billing information was correct, since the person or the credit card / checking account does not exist, as far as I know. To see how AOL has adjusted to the recent outcry, I called to cancel the account which I had opened just minutes earlier. Since my experience with them from a couple years ago, I noticed that you have to navigate through the automated system by pressing “0″ at least six times before you’re placed on hold for 20 minutes to speak with a customer rep who takes down your account info and place you on hold for another 10 minutes to speak with a cancellation specialist. The whole process took about 35 minutes to cancel the new account I set up. That’s assuming they cancelled the account. If they didn’t, that doesn’t bother me because sooner or later, they will realize the account is false since the person and billing information do not exist.

    So if you have free time on your hand and you want revenge with AOL, go to http://www.aol.com and set up a fake account. It’s very easy to do. Just give them a false name (aka: an alias), any address that isn’t yours (you can easily make this up), and a false credit card or checking account information. Soon enough, AOL will think they have signed up another user. The more fake accounts they have in their system, the more chaos will be generated in their accounting department. Their revenue will actually be less that what they expect. AOL SUCKS!!!

    As you can see, I’m really anti-AOL. =D

  • AOL: Den of thieves

    Failed by Management:

    1. AOL is not a good company.

    2. Some jobs are not worth having — sorry if working for AOL is stressful. If you don’t like working there and conditions are untenable, the company unethical — LEAVE.

    3. Oil companies have the right to make profits. You don’t see people screaming when people make huge profits off the sale of their houses, do you? After all, people need to live in houses, just like they need gas to get to work.

  • http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=607763&t=1510 Cudgel

    http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=607763&t=1510

    I posted a phone call of me cancelling AOL last year. It’s on the web at the link I provided. PG rated as I was taking a leak while the woman talked to me. I knew it was going to be an ordeal so I taped it and posted it as a comedy song on ACID Planet. Go listen! _Cudgel

  • http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=607763&t=1510 Cudgel

    Check out
    http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=607763&t=1510
    to hear my ordeal with aol last year. It’s pretty funny.

  • http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=607763&t=1510 Dan O

    Check out my experience last year. Same idea except i WAS TAKING A LEAK DURING MUCH OF THE CONVERSATION.

    http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=607763&t=1510

  • Failed by Management

    1. AOL is a good company, because of the people not because of management practices.

    2. I agree that some jobs are not worth having and you could not pay me enough to work in sales or retention but there is great satisfaction in helping someone resolve an issue.

    3. Remember that we sell our homes at a profit in order to purchase a larger home to make more profit down the line. It is after all the american way. We spend all of our time trashing AOL and it’s practices but defend oil companies for making a profit? I suppose you think spammers have a right to make a profit too. All of the internet providers spent millions trying to devise ways of putting a stop to that practice.

    I would not recommend AOL to anyone simply because of how it deals with people that are no longer interested in doing business with them. AOL’s got it’s neck in a sling and it’s going to do a lot of back peddling in order to get out of this one.

  • Storm Mercurio

    I would like to start my comment by saying I as a supervisor was a casualty of the recent AOL layoffs. One would think my comments would be extremely anti-AOL but guess what? They’re not. Why? Because I know how the company works and I know why the consultant did what he did.

    He was trained to retain accounts.

    We all know that AOL is everyone’s favorite punching bag and has been for years. It’s nothing new to make a site or mp3 or flash moving making fun of them or defaming them. You’re not doing anything revolutionary or even particularly interesting.

    The mere fact that you recorded the call shows that you went into this with a chip on your shoulder. You were short, rude, and all-around inflammatory. Does it make you feel like a big man to know that you got a consultant fired? For all you know, he was an 18 year old kid just out of high school, doing his job the way he was trained to do (follow the retention process and sell the benefit of AOL). He could have been a father of three, being pressured by his supervisor to get his save rate up or risk being fired and he was doing the only thing he could think of to do, which was a high-pressure approach. He may have been new, right out of training, and still learning about wording, phrases, and the like and panicked when you blew up at him. You have no idea what it’s like to do the job or what the job requirements are. You say you’re in the cellular business. What do you do, sell cell phones at some Verizon store? Then you’ve probably never been on the canceling end of things. I guarantee that the cell company you work for has calls that are exactly like this, if not worse. I have been on the phone with the people from say, T-Mobile, just trying to get my phone FIXED, not even to cancel the account, and they were a thousand times worse than the consultant you spoke to.

    There was no reason to curse at him. You wouldn’t even let him finish the disclosure that he is REQUIRED to read at the end of calls.

    I hope you’re happy that you got your fifteen minutes of fame for something so petty and ridiculous that for some God unknown reason, the media felt it was more important than covering, say, oil prices, immigration, or the war.

    Keep in mind that your little tape recording won’t hurt AOL. AOL’s not “going down”. The fat cats will still be fat and happy, because AOL still has their core group of about 15-20 million members that will never, EVER cancel (due to easy of use, the fact that they can’t get high speed in their area, etc.). All it hurts are the consultants who struggle with assholes like you (and dare I say even worse assholes) on a daily basis, because now the messages that are handed down from corporate will become even more mixed and misconstrued.

    After listening to your voice on that call, I remember why I was GLAD AOL laid me off: now I don’t have to talk to arrogant pricks like you anymore.

    And I’m not even going to dignify the comments like “people with souls don’t stay at that job very long” with a response, because I KNOW I have a soul and in my almost four years with the company, I did right by my members ever single time, be it fixing the software of some sweet old lady or referring some screaming and cursing kid to upgrade his memory if he wanted to use 9.0. If you think the consultant was bad on this call, you should hear some of the people that call in and the way they treat consultants… and not just at AOL, at ANY phone job. They’re even worse than the asshat that wrote this blog.

    And to the people saying that the consultant could have been lying about the amount of time used on the account that month… all it would take a five second trip to Keyword: My Account to look at usage. Our boy Vinny here could have looked at himself if he didn’t believe the usage was there.

    And lastly, to the person who said that the “This call may be recorded for quality assurance” means that BOTH parties may record the call: incorrect. AOL has the disclaimer of possible recording at the beginning to cover their asses, as you have to inform someone you are recording them. If you do not inform the consultant that you are recording the call, you are illegally making a recording of their voice and it cannot be used in a court of law in most states. You can read more about taping phone calls, including what states have what laws AND laws governing interstate communication, at the RCFP website.

  • http://www.lifeonapl8.blogspot.com Ross Kaufax

    I live in Ogden, Utah where the main AOL call center is located. My landlord is a manager at AOL and we have talked at length about their disgusting phone tactics.

    This is official: Each call receiver is to make 3 full attempts to savde an account or you are written up.

  • http://noface4film.com Toni

    Thankfully I never had to deal with AOL so I’ve never had this experience with them. As for the “retention” tactic CSRs use, I have had sort of a similar experience with T-Mobile.

    Granted, the guy was pretty nice, but he used a guilt tactic on me. He kept saying “Oh, you’ve been a customer for 3 years. It’s such a shame to lose you.” I just kept agreeing with him and said nothing else.

    He asked why I was cancelling and I gave him 3 reasons: they didn’t have the phone I wanted, they didn’t have rollover capabilities, and I wanted the same provider as my boyfriend’s so that we wouldn’t be charged when we call each other, which is often. He put me on hold for about 10 minutes so he could look for a phone or plan that I might like, and even though I knew he wouldn’t find anything, I let him do it anyway since I’m a pushover.

    I let him describe the other phones and plans and I said no to all of them, and he finally reluctantly agreed to cancel my account.

    When I finished, I looked at the time I spent on the phone. I had been on the phone for about 40 minutes! Sheesh!

  • Greg

    I think it’s outrageous that some people here are defending AOL and their practices.

    As you can read repatedly here, they are STEALING from people: You buy and service and pay for it, not get billed for something you cancelled or did not receive. That’s the American way – not theivery.

    It’s sad what AOL’s become but I absolutely refuse to believe that they’re “isolated incidents.” Management sets the tone!

  • Betty Jenner

    In January, when I moved from TN to GA, I was waiting for my Cable DSL to be installed, and had NO access to the Internet…so, I USED one of the ZILLIONS of *FREE* 45 Days/1045 Hours AOL CD’s I had received in the mail, using my Paypal account (as required by *terms of use*) for future billing (even though I KNEW there would be NONE)!
    I installed the CD setup, used AOL for ONLY 10 days (10 days @ 24 hours a day = 240 hours)…when I got my Cable DSL hooked up!
    I called AOL to cancel (as required by *terms of use*) my account the SAME day I got my Cable DSL!.
    February, AOL debited my Paypal account for $45…but, since there were NO funds available, and NO bank account for Paypal to draw the funds FROM…AOL got ZIP, which is ALL they were *owed* anyway!
    I contacted Paypal and explained to them HOW AOL was committing FRAUD by debiting my account, and NOT to PAY ANY debits drafted to my account BY AOL…CURRENT debit included!
    Then, I called AOL AGAIN, and told them that I had cancelled my account WELL in advance of BOTH *FREE TRIAL* deadlines, and that they should NOT have debited my account as they did! They told me that I was suppose to *CALL* to cancel my account, but there was NO record of my calling, so my account was debited! Now, remember…I DID call the SAME day my Cable DSL was installed!
    Well…I told the AOL rep that I DID call, and I was NOT going to pay for their reps mistake, and to consider THIS call as a SECOND cancellation call…and we would make it *END of story*!
    In March, AOL started calling using the “Unknown Caller”. I answered it, and explained AGAIN that I had cancelled my account TWICE, and I was NOT paying for THEIR incompetent Reps NEGLIGENCE!
    Well…they KEPT calling, & calling until I just got tired of it, and since THEY were the ONLY ones calling with “Unknown Caller”, I just quit anwering the phone THINKING they would give up after a while…WRONG!
    For 3 MONTHS they have called consistently every hour ON the hour with “Unknown Caller” from 8am to 10pm 5 days a week! FINALLY, last week I answered the phone for ONE more try to STOP this INSANITY! I was told my account was in default for $180, and was being turned over to a collection agency!!!
    I told THEM to DO whatever they had to do, that I do NOT *owe* them a RED cent, would NOT *pay* them a red cent…and do NOT call my number again!
    LAST Friday morning they called me AGAIN! I only gave them a chance to say AOL…and I let them have BOTH barrels of my digusted *attitude*…and told them IF they called my number ONE more time, that I would see what I could do to slap them with a *Harrassment* lawsuit!
    Yesterday & today…I have gotten “Unknown Caller” calls again…but, when I answered, there was NOTHING!
    I researched the web to FIND where I could turn with this matter…to NO avail! SO…even though I can NOT afford it, and it’s obvious that AOL has NO *ethics*, so I called my phone company a few minutes ago…it’s costing me $37 to have my Phone Number CHANGED…as of TOMORROW (by 7pm the latest)I WILL be RID of AOL PERMANENTLY!
    So, for those that USE AOL, and those THINKING about using AOL…THINK about the song “Hotel California” BEFORE you try to *check in*…because with AOL, “You can check out *as many times* as you like, but you can NEVER leave”!!!!

    Today, I got the *FIRST* actual *written* bill from AOL! It says $99.60 is owed…not the $180 they TRIED to tell me over the phone.
    But…I put it in *File 13* (TRASH)…and, I won’t even pay the 39 cents for the stamp to reply!
    LOL! They just DON’T give up! But, hel-lo will freeze over before they get even a PENNY out of ME!

  • chuck

    My experience with Aol goes back to 1998 when after cancelling my service to join another provider i was charged afterwards for seven months of service that i was not even using . After realizing what had happened they refused too return the $ 140 some odd dollars claiming it was my fault for not checking my bills properly . I can say I am not making this up , I recovering my money for weeks too no avail finally giving up and making a promise to encourge many other people I know too quit or never sign up for that sick company .. By the way if an AOL rep is reading this YOU OWE ME MONEY AND I WANT IT BACK NOW !!!! i have credit card statements to prove your sorry ass company wrong … May you and your company and its officers suffer in your later years ..

  • JOhn K

    Man unbelieveable. I tried once to cancel my account and was sent through the same exact drill so them trying to say in response that this is isolated is ridiculous. I got about as frustrated as you did and at the part where he tells you basically that he is going to finish the paragraph I got a tad upset and said no you are NOT finishing etc. The rep accussed me of “verbally assualting her” I did no such thing she just gave me the switch in hopes another voice would soothe me and put me through to the manager after 20 minutes more of the same with him I just hung up. Thanks for doing this I hope AOL wakes up.

  • http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=607763&t=1510 Cudgel

    href=”http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=607763&t=1510″>

  • Bill

    :twisted:

    AOL and its parent Time Warner should both make a public apology to you Vince! This was a great example of customer no service. It pisses me and I am going to “cancel my account” also.

  • Ace

    Hello, this is NOT MTV’s Boiling point. You’re playing with someone’s money, a PAYING customer’s money. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aol Read the segment on account cancelation. Keep the extortions coming. We want to see reps like AOL’s crack on thin ice…

  • Margaret

    I had a similar experience with AOL when they charged me for an account that we never once used. In fact, the software installation bombed out just after they received the credit card info, so the software never finished loading. Yet, they kept charging my credit card everymonth. When we asked to cancel and to receive credit for those months billed they refused. I will tell everyone never to use AOL.

  • Bluedot

    Bless you Vinny. Hearing/reading your story as it spreads the various media, I tent my fingers Burns-style and whisper “Excellent”.

  • Teri

    Excellent site Ace!

    Vinny made wikipedia!!

    What I found most interesting was that it only took approximately 300 complaints for the NY Atty Generals’ office to start an inquiry and file a lawsuit.

  • http://na it does’nt matter?

    for all of you ppl who got billed after calling AOl ,instead of calling you all “people” i wish to call you MORONS …..irresponsible MORONS ,so ignorant and irresponsible even to check your credit card statement ,your monthly bills credits debits etc ,but just wanna blame someone for your ignorance so pathetic ,,someone here has paid AOL for using AIM (a free service) for 2 yrs (LOL) ,,and she wants for wat her ignorance or ????????????? And Vinny good job ,but not worth commenting this kinda work ,,your fantasy for being on TV ,,and you lied by telling you use it very less ie., 545 hrs use a calculator man u need to do a lot of home work

  • Erric

    Yup, same thing happened to my g/f. She cancelled her account over the course of 5 months but they kept billing her. Then finally, she called again and they stopped. You think it’s over? NO! They start billing her again and then try to tell her SHE NEVER CANCELED in the first place.

    BULLSHEET!

    Unfortunately, it’s the only ISP that some people know how to use. Imagine that type of user trying to use Firefox?????

  • http://positiveposition.com/blog Ike

    The “illegality” of the recording is not absolute.

    In many states, it is legal to record a phone call as long as at least one participant is aware of the recording.

    In this case, it’s Vincent.

  • http://cinestarfilmworks.com Ibi

    The last time I was with AOL I had them for well over a year, almost two years and never paid a single cent. The trick is to call them every three months and go through the whole cancellation thing… this recording doesnt suprise me one bit, I had some 45 min to one hour session myself,

    After all is said and done the guy will give make you and offer and try and bargain with you,they always offer you 3 months for free. I guess they dont keep track of it cause I did this for almost two years and never paid a single cent, In the end broadband finally made it into my town and I had no more need of a modem based ISP. There’s no way in hell I would ever go back to AOL, unless of course they start providing their own broadband pipeline, at whichpoint I certainly wouldnt mind the cancellation calls every three months, see how long I can get away with the free web access :) .

  • Mr. R

    So, 545 hours, for the “it does’nt matter?” poster:

    545 hours works out to roughly 22 days, or 22.708 days, if you so desire. Now, obviously that’s only a MONTH (1) of solid usage out of TWELVE (12). Pending that, let’s say he has other obligations, and rightfully so. So let’s break that out further. Let’s say he uses it daily (365.24 days for accuracy’s sake)..

    That’s… oh look, 0.0621 hours daily. Now, let’s break that into something that’s easier on the eyes.

    3.73 minutes or 3 minutes 44 seconds (approximately). DAILY. Hardly a lot, imo. This total could also be achived in 8 days @ ~3.3 hours or so.

    So the next time you think you’re smart to declare that 545 hours isn’t very less (or little for the literate) (if that is indeed what you’re doing with this HORRIBLE flame), make sure to use a calculator yourself, know your units, etc.

    [I apologize if I have my math fudged. I'm busy and my mind tends to wonder whilst coding]

  • Greg

    Me again. After my personal experience with AOL’s lies and trickery, I had done a web search to see if I wasn’t the only one …. Needless to say, I was not.

    http://www.faqs.org/qa/qa-7812.html

    http://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=7733&wrapper=

    http://radio.weblogs.com/0128341/2004/12/27.html

    http://www.epinions.com/content_133006003844

    http://www.epinions.com/content_4128743556

  • Jeff

    I also had a really bad experience with AOL. I had to cancel my elderly father’s account because he had been in and out of the hospital for months and couldn’t afford to keep paying for an account he wasn’t using.

    After being on hold for nearly a half hour, I finally got an AOL customer service rep. She was located in India(!). I told her about my dad’s medical condition and that he wanted to cancel his service.

    After haggling with her for a little while, I told her that I had already spent over a half hour on the phone and that I wanted her to cancel the account without taking up any more of my time. She said “ah, yes – you Americans are very busy. Always in a hurry”. I thought that was a bit rude, but I didn’t want to argue.

    Then, I explained to her that my father was on a fixed income and couldn’t afford the service any longer due to his medical bills. Then, she had the nerve to say “ah yes, you Americans love your money” and went on about how America is such a bad place. I couldn’t believe she actually had the nerve to say that!

    By this time I was getting pretty pissed off, but I still didn’t want to argue with her because I was affraid she’d hang up on me and I’d have to start all over again. Can you believe that crap? AOL is a TERRIBLE company and I hope they go belly-up VERY soon!

  • Mr5050

    It is obvious to me that Vincent REALLY did not want to cancel the service, and that he may have been impaired to make such an important decision in such a state. When the rep wisely asked to speak with Vincent’s father, Vince shpould have done so. Now, his AOL service is cancelled and he will not be able to get his AOL name back! Now THAT is a loss! I feel sorry for Vince and others like him who seem to go around in a self-destructive mode, as exemplified here, and fine after they regain their senses that there is no going back. I hope Vince finds a good practitioner who can help him with his anger management problems and guide him towards being a more productive member of our great society.

  • http://www.broadwaystars.com James Marino

    I had a very similar experience trying to cancel my AOL account. AOL needs to fire the management of the call center and chance the incentives for the employees. Certainly there *has* to be an incentive to get customers to stay or else these call center employees would not go to the lengths that they are going.

    Watching the decline of AOL is like going to a high school reunion and seeing the members of the football team, now fat and bald, try to relive the big game. It is painful.

  • AOLISAJOKE

    AOL customer service and TOS (terms of service)are jokes. For months now I have been trying to get AOL to remove a photo of myself from someone else’s photo album. Not only did they not get this picture from me or my permission to use it, but it has a disparaging comment beneath it. So it violates TOS on 2 counts–privacy rights violation and harassment to another member. AOL as usual does ZERO. It’s answer is for me to send proof that the picture is me by either sending in a photo copy of my driver’s license or a photo copy of my passport. LIKE are you kidding???? Ever hear of identity theft??? Regardless of who the pictures really are–the comments in the captions themselves are harassment, and that is enough according to AOL for removal. The people who deal with TOS issues are either from 3rd world countries that do not fully understand our culture and language or are MORONS.

  • John

    I have never worked AOL thank god but i did use to work for a certain large telecoms company here in the UK that will remain nameless and i gotta say this account(no pun) sounds bang on with how “we” used to work. Let me preface this by saying that the operating practices disgusted me as a consumer and but when you need the £ and your boss says you have to follow some rule, regardless of how rediculous or redundant is seems…you gotta do it cuz if not then theres 10 more people who’ll do it instead.
    Cancelling Accounts: I worked basic customer service( the person you speak to when you first pick up the phone) and the majorty of the time Customer “service”s’ job is to transfer you to the “appropiate department”. I’ll explain why i put that in quotes in a moment. For a cancellation you’re expected to do all the normal stuff you’d normally do; Confirm account details, take them through the Data Protection Act etc etc etc. Heres were it gets odd. Cust Service are not allowed to transfer a call to the “cancellations dept” until they find out WHY the customer want to cancel. This is presumably to give the person in Turn Around a heads up as to what deals and such to offer the customer. Yea. You know the score. They’ll offer you all sorts of crap just to stay on for a few more months, to squeeze that little extra bit of cash outa you, and that is all these people do all day; give out offers to people threatening to cancel because the more “Turn Arounds” they get the more they get paid. But the thing is because of the way their Turn Around stats are measured they will right out refuse to take a call until they know why the customer wants to cancel. So Cust Service is left betwen a rock and a hard place. They need to transfer the call (Because Cust Service doesn’t have access or training in cancelling accounts) but unless they get find out the reason of cancellation then….deadlock. And so the above scenario unfolds. Customer keeps saying “cancel, cancel” Customer Service keeps saying “but why, but why” and nothing happens because of the top heavy bureaucratic rules and regs, which i should add, change weekly( you just know some pencil pusher is making a living by changing a guideline around to the detriment of all involved. Hell weeks can go by before we were finally told that some guideline or procedure had been changed)
    Oh…thats right. Why did i put “cancelations dept” in quotations? Because operators aren’t allowed to say the word “cancel” in the conversation at all. Why? because it sounds negative. You have to say things like “appropiate dept” or other nonesense.
    “Where are you tranfering me to? To Cancelations?”
    “To the appropiate dept sir.”
    “You mean cancellations? i want you to put me through to Them!”
    “Um..look. Heres the deal, i am gonna put you through to them but i can’t refer to them as that because of our rules.”
    “……….”
    Which just goes to show the mentality of the wasters who come up with these things.
    Want to stick it to the man? call and threaten to cancel, even if you don’t want to. Say you can get a better deal elsewhere. They’ll give you some offer to stay and when the offer runs out go back to your normal service. They can afford to give you free internet or cable or whatever it is they provide for free for years and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference to their bottom line.
    Power to the Consumer!
    Yea this has become my own little rant but it gives you a small glimpse into the unprofessional cowboyism that exists within the world of call centre customer service. Thats why if i need to phone my net provider over some technical fault i don’t bother trying to argue with Abdul about his insistance on asking such stupid questions as “have you tried restarting your computer please?”, because i know the poor sap is just reading from a script and he absolutely CANNOT deviate from it otherwise its out the door he goes. In the end if you don’t fight it and just let them ask their questions or whatever silly procedure they have to do you’ll get your problem sorted alot faster. At least thats my experience. If someone shouted at me when i was manning the phones guess what happened. *hang up*. Theres always a more pleasant caller waiting for help.

  • http://www.dbaldinger.com David Baldinger

    Their Netscape service was just as much a nightmare to cancel. After I finally got cable Internet I cancelled the dial up. I was obviously speaking to a call center in India. The CSR even had a phony anglo name. Now, I don’t begrudge people work so I fault company policy. For AOL to say that they disapprove of the high pressure retention tactics is complete BS. I also seriously doubt anyone was fired over the Ferrari call. If what they claim is true, then why do so many of us have almost identical stories? My tactic was to just keep repeating “cancel the account” until they gave up. Hey, the call was costing them, not me. My favorite line (of those I could actually understand) was that I could keep the Netscape as a back up. Now, in the extreme unlikelihood that I would ever need a back up, I could easily pop in one of AOL’s landfill staple Cd’s and sign up for some free hours. Why the hell would I want to pay monthly for something not being used? I recommend to anyone I know that if they are going to stick with dial-up, to find a local ISP. Stop encouraging AOL business. It is evil.

  • Bill

    Re Nicholas J. Graham’s statement: A pack of lies. It’s not common for me to call people a liar, but that man is a liar. Zero-tolerance is exactly not their policy. AOL TRAINED THIS GUY (JOHN) TO DO EXACTLY WHAT HE DID. He is a 100% innocent scapegoat, and, now, a martyr. I had a nearly identical experience, but with a different person, a year ago. The guy refused to engage in basic listening. MAKE NO MISTAKE, THESE PEOPLE ARE UNDER PRESSURE TO RETAIN CUSTOMERS AT VIRTUALLY ANY COST. They can and do behave unethically, including refusal to listen. The kicker was getting a mystery shopper evaluation of the guy from AOL, NOT, of course, any evaluation of AOL as a product. The quality and value of their product was not their concern, but taking my money no matter what apparently was. Shocking and disgusting.

    Mr. Ferrari: Great job!!! AOL may now finally desist in some of their shady, extremely shameful ways.

  • Kat

    So I saw you on MSNBC the other night, and I was so glad to see your story! I did that trial thing with AOL, and when the trial ran out, I somehow got signed up for AOL without even knowing it. So, I get a call from my credit card company saying I went over my limit because of this new mysterious charge from AOL. Oh, and when I tried to cancel from NetZero, the guy I talked to must’ve been the same one you talked to at AOL, because he was just as rude and impossible.

  • http://dugmirror.com Kiki

    What a RIOT! AOL is getting all the bad press they deserve. Moral of the story: FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS USE AOL!! Alas, someone who did the right thing and showed the world how warped our society has become. No doubt this guy who got fired from AOL is a telemarketer…

    I had a similar experience with NetZero, except I had to speak to someone in India. Their coaching is sickening. Where did the “service” part of “customer service” go? When I finally had to ask for an English-speaking manager, she got the clue and processed my request to cancel service and I made sure she fully understood (in very slow and LOUD ENGLISH) that I did not want their service and to cancel my account. No doubt the little gal in India has been promoted and now working as a manager.

  • Barbara Carkenord

    I just wanted to add to the list. When my Mom died two years ago I had to make several phone calls to AOL to get her account cancelled. They tried to transfer it to me (which I did not want), then told me I had to keep it for one more month to make sure that I really wanted to cancel. I almost screamed in the phone – MY MOTHER IS DEAD. I was grieving and the complete lack of compassion was amazing.

  • Cheri

    It took me 7 months to get my $180.00 back from AOL. I cancelled within 30 days and they charged me for the modem and service. I was told I would not be changed. Try to get the money for the moden back…it’s an experience!!! They give youa number and the person on the other end of the number tells you they do this all the time and they have nothing to do with the AOL modem. On one phone call to AOL I was given 8 phone numbers and transfered many times…I was going in a circle. This call lasted almost 2 hours. Their Cust Service is the worst. Trying to get to a live person is almost impossible. What a terrible experience I had. It took at times 30 minutes to talk with a person. They give phone numbers that are wrong and tell you to call the number. What more can I say but the CS if awful!!!! The worst I have ever experienced.

  • Kathy

    I also had a very hard time canceling my AOL account. In fact, it took me over a year to straighten the entire mess out. The first time that I called they offered me free service for the high speed for $14.95 because I was switching to DSL. My mistake for taking it. I called for the second time to cancel it because my install date for the DSL was pushed back. I had no intentions of keeping the account after the free period was over so I didn’t see any reason to take the second offer and just wanted to cancel at this time. I calmly told them that I did not have time to call back and spend another two hours on the telephone to try and cancel it again. The AOL rep would not take no for an answer. I replied that she could do what she wanted, I did not want the account anymore, explained that they could not charge me because the credit card that they had was not valid therefore they would be unable to charge me.
    After this I began receiving notices of nonpayment for the dial-up charge, it wasn’t even for the high speed version that they were changing my account to. I called again and stated that I have not used the account in six months and would not be paying the bill and insisted that they credit the account, especially since they were billing me incorrectly. This AOL rep insisted that she could not credit my account unless I gave her an updated credit card. I refused and insisted that I would not be paying it and wished to speak to her supervisor and she said there wasn’t one available, EVER.
    Needless to say they threatened to send it to collection. I called again and told them I canceled the account and would not be paying the bill for something I didn’t want or use.
    After 6 months I received another bill requesting payment and had to go through the same thing again. I thought it was finally taken care of. But another 6 months goes by and yet another bill arrived. As far as I know this last time that I called and threatened to sue them the problem has been cleared up. Though after my experience with them I wouldn’t be suprised to have this turn up mysteriously in the future.

  • http://n/a mroblivious1bmf

    WOW! what a jerk!

    you should sue aol. problems like this have gone on for over a DECADE!

    they need to learn their lesson.

    this guy is REAL smart for recording this!

  • mark

    I deal in customer service for a large corporation and while yes there are certain things that you are required to ask and say. letting the customer know that you are required to say or ask these things goes a long way toward making the call flow a lot smoother and quicker for both of you. Things can be said about customers and agents there are good and bad on both sides of the fence. Bottom line be nice. listen, act professional and follow through. Yes AOL seems to have that problem I’m usually a pretty patient fellow but I finally had to be quite vocal in my request to cancell.
    Closing and switching bank accounts helped also :)

  • Bill

    AOL’s post-cancel email to me is below. They were concerned about the behavior of Lee…but not about my customer satisfaction. That, alone, is a SCANDAL.

    I quit because of a poor experience with their ad- and marketing-saturated product and a low value for my money, not because Lee didn’t try extremely hard (he did) to make me a “save.”

    Nicholas J. Graham needs to start, right now, to be more honest, and take an honest look at the culture of his company. His firing the scapegoat John — who I am certain was 100% within the realm of normal Customer Care Consultant behavior — is a huge, disgraceful mistake. He should read “The New Economics” by W. Edwards Deming.

    -
    Dear xx:

    As you may recall, on January xx, 2005 at xx Eastern Time you contacted America Online. Our records show that Lee, one of our Customer Care Consultants, assisted you concerning your AOL account. We continually strive to improve our customer service. One way we do this is by asking members like you for an evaluation of your most recent experience with AOL and the level of service we provided you. Please take the next few minutes to complete the survey located below.

    Click here to take the survey.

    Please respond within 7 days of the date this invitation was sent so we may provide timely feedback to the consultant who assisted you. After 7 days, this invitation will expire.

    However, if the information in the first paragraph of this e-mail does not look familiar, it means we have sent you this e-mail in error, so please do not take the survey and accept our apologies for the inconvenience.

    If you have any questions or comments regarding this survey invitation or the survey website itself, please forward this email along with your comments to aolfeedback1@aol.com.

    Thank you for your time — and for choosing AOL.

    Sincerely,

    AOL Member Services

  • Sam Zack

    I would have been saying swears left and right. I would say them as much as there are wrinkles in a nursing home. I would just be like, hey ya know what? If you do not cancel my account there will be some problems with this company. I guaruntee it! And hopefully they would listen. I like this!!! Send this to eBaumsworld.com!

  • http://none Debbie

    Not that you will every put this comment on you site. Because looks like you don’t have any replies that don’t agree with YOURS. Tell me something now what wireless service do you work for? Bet you don’t even have a job, do you? Why don’t you tell us what wireless co you work for and we will call them and record their call when we try to cancel?
    The rep that talked to you was in the wrong, this I grant you, but he did not hang up on you, call you a bad name (even tho you deserve it). Bet you thought you were “it” on the Today SHow… lol.
    You are a liar. You don’t work this site is you only income who are you trying to fool. Yes, AOL trys to keep accounts, all service companies do. Just wondering how many calls to AOL you had to make to get one bac rep? Hey why didn’t you do the call live? Bet I know why, because if it had been a good experience you would not have had a story… huh?
    15 min on hold … gee try calling Social Security… lol…
    I DARE YOU TO MAKE A LIVE CALL TO AOL… come on big man (not only in width lol) . Because you don’t dare make a LIVE CALL and broadcast that because then everyone would see you for the liar you are!!!

    Tell you what… get Yahoo service, or netzero, and compare the service, options, and customer care to AOL. But you are a coward huh?

    Debbie

  • Sara Garsek

    I had the exact same experience as you did with AOL. The representative kept me on the phone for 45 minutes despite the fact that I repeatedly told him that I needed to cancel my account. Who would have thought that a person needed to allow 45 minutes for cancelling an account! When the representative thought he had a chance to keep my account, he was friendly. As soon as he realized he would have to cancel the account, he became rude, would not allow me to speak, and cut me off completely. I did report him to AOL and I told them that I had never had such a difficult conversation with a representative of any company. I used good manners and a friendly voice throughout my conversation. I wish he would have done the same.
    Sara

  • scott

    Again I have to say this dude setup the csr. Admit it dude. You knew what you were going to get and you played it perfectly.

    There is NO REASON you could not have just hung up and called back to get another CSR. Asked for a supervisor. Anything to get rid of this csr. However, that would not have allowed you to get up on your little pulpit and broadcast to the nation how bad you got treated by an AOL rep. It would not have gotten your ugly fat disgusting face on cnbc, the today show and in a conversation with that idiot Matt.

    You obviously have way too much time on your hands to go out and LOOK for a fight. As it was stated in here already, if you go looking for trouble, you are bound to find it.

    Guys like you are the real problem here. Not poor low paid csr’s.

    Your 15 minutes are up. Now go back to your pathetic life and feed that fat face. When you’ve got that face good and stuffed, just think about how that poor csr is going to be able to feed himself and any kids he might have.

  • http://AOL.COM Vinny

    I called AOL about 2 weeks ago to cancel for lack of usage. I opened the account back in 1995. He tried 3 different ways to save me as a customer but he was respectful of my wishes and terminated the account. Give them a break. They were the 1st company around for internet however they did not embrace high speed until too late and that lead to their own demise.

  • scott

    Anyone who needs to cancel AOL only needs to do the following.

    1. Send a certified return letter to aol stating you want to cancel your account.

    2. Make ONE phone call to notify them and make sure you record the call. Spend no more time on the phone than what it takes to tell csr directly that “I want you to cancel my account effective today”. Then hang up. Do not engage in any conversation with the csr after you tell them you are canceling the account.

    3. Wait for your CC statement. If there is any unauthorized chare on the statement, inform your credit card company that you are disputing the charge and initiate an investigation.

    4. Then, and this is the best part, call your cc company back and tell them you LOST your credit card. They will cancel the card and issue you a new card with a new account number. If aol tries to apply a monthly charge to your account, they will get denied.

    In fact, after you send the certified letter, you can skip to step 4 and your done!

  • http://AOL.COM Vinny

    Scott, I think that all you need to do is call AOL and be polite but firm. They are really trying to save customers as many are scared they will lose their jobs. From what I hear many people actually stay after they receive a better offer. I know someone who was paying $23.90 and called to cancel. They offered her the same unlimited package for $12.95.

  • Ex aol person

    To Jaime and all those that are still fans of AOL – wait until you want to cancel. Just wait until you have that experience. Everything people are telling you here is true… I experienced it also. Even telling the rep. that I hadn’t had a computer in 4 months (true) wouldn’t get him to shut up. Even saying “cancel the account” over and over wouldn’t get the rep to shut up. Then the rep lied…said the account was cancelled when he didn’t cancel it.

    Also, was put on hold forever, then the connection was cut off. AOL BASTARDS! Can we boycott other Time/warner products to protest AOL? The guy who recorded the AOL rep deserves a medal.

  • To Vinny above

    Vinny, I also started to cancel once and stayed when offered a lower amount. You are missing the point… When the lady in your post REALLY decides to leave AOL… gawd help her. AOL won’t accept a cancellation. Your lady friend could end up with her credit messed up, bank accounts closed, funds wiped out by endless AOL withdrawals.

    “polite but firm” didn’t work for me or anyone I know.

  • Ijo

    Wow, this brings back memories!

    When I wanted to cancel eWorld, back in 1995, all you had to do was go to the customer service area, click on cancel the service, and then, after a warning menu where it asked if you really wanted to cancel, it said good-bye and we hope you come back. Didn’t even take 5 minutes…

    Flash forward to 1996, when I wanted to cancel AOL. Spent an hour looking for some way to do it (over 2 days), couldn’t find out how to cancel, thought I was an idiot. Finally, I think about looking up a customer service number on their site, in order to phone them to cancel.

    I call the number which is on my computer screen, after 10 minutes get somebody to cancel me, and then, as I turn to hang up the phone, my computer beeps! And it says, “You have been disconnected because your account no longer exists!” Or words to that effect. That damn quick they pull the plug on me!

  • rocha1573

    AOL and their techniques is to blame. They guy, as a scapegoat, got canned. Sure, I will agree that maybe he was out of line, but these people are trained in trying to make you change your mind. AOL has never been a top rated customer service company, as a matter of fact it has always sucked so this is nothing new. There are great CSR departments out there, with people that truly understands that treating customers correctly which translates in not having this kind of response from the public.

    To AOL (I am sure someone is reading our responses hahaha):
    Kudos to you, you guys are a case review for college business majors and those on their MBA´s, on how NOT to make business. I am sure you guys are not stupid, but your CSR personnel sure makes you like a bunch of idiots.

    For my part, I am just thankful I never been a member of AOL.

  • Mom1

    What comment #6 said is right. I had the same sort of thing happen to me when I cancelled my “free” aol account, which actually cost me money in long distance connection fees.

    AOL probably has a policy to make their “customer service” people talk customers out of cancelling. I wonder how many they convince or intimidate into keeping it? The strategy must work, because they’ve been doing this for years.

    P.S., I don’t believe that the phone monkey in your recording was fired. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was promoted.

  • http://www.vampireposers.com twisted view labs

    ok…
    “Debbie” – when posting a comment, please do us all a favor…
    MAKE FUCKING SENSE!

    example: “You don’t work this site is you only income who are you trying to fool.”

    didn’t your first grade teacher teach you about the PROPER USE OF PUNCTUATION??? you know, so you don’t sound like an idiot….

    anyhow….no the CSR didn’t hang up on vincent, this is true. however, telling the customer to call back when he “has an epiphany and realises he made a fatal mistake” or basically says things to the effect of “if you don’t listen to my scripted speech, i won’t cancel your account” is not a GOOD thing. this would cause alot of people to say more than “you’re annoying the shit out of me”

    let me clear another thing up for you Debbie….
    Yahoo is a FREE SERVICE that offers web-based email, chat rooms, online games…oh…and a SEARCH ENGINE THAT’S BEEN AROUND FOR ABOUT 15 YEARS NOW. the only time you would “pay” for a yahoo account is if you want any premiums (similar to hotmail….more mail server space, the ability to download goat porn attachments if you feel the need to…you get the idea). …but in no way is it a “service” in the same sense as an ISP.

    Netzero is easy to sign up for…offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you don’t like their service…same with netscape’s dial-up service (remember, netzero and netscape are both dialup services). Yahoo is NOT AN ISP….not even remotely. see, it’s n00bs like you that keep AOL in business. you’ll never get it….don’t pretend you do….

    further, insulting this person’s weight, (i’m guessing) would be the “pot calling the kettle black” in your case. i’d bet bill gates’ yearly revenue on it.
    i’d also be willing to bet that if this guy had a GOOD experience…he would have posted it. true, it wouldn’t have garnered as much publicity….(remember typical americans are into what’s “shocking” these days…then again…is anything shocking anymore?)….it would’ve proved the point that all these people who CLAIMED to have had bad experiences cancelling an AOL account were exaggerating. the only “edit” that was made was the beep when Vincent states the last 4 numbers of his credit card.

    i’ll tell you what…
    why don’t YOU cancel your AOL acct, record the conversation…post it (if you know how to….) and prove to all of us that this guy was in the wrong….

  • toxic-ice

    I agree the rep had drug the call out more then he should have. But I have worked for AOL and they are a wonderful company!!! I feel bad for the people who have had a bad customer service rep who just didn’t get a clue. AOL doesn’t train it’s employees to be like that at all, and the reps that are like that make our jobs really hard and usually are not there for too long. Yeah we want to help people see what they are giving up but it wasn’t our job to badger people. I just hope that the bad experiences that prev AOL reps caused would not make people think that’s how the company works. I really love AOL and I know the over 30 million AOL customers would agree too. This statement of course does not reflect the views of AOL, I just stand behind a wonderful company and challenge anyone who feels badly about AOL to actually take the time to talk to a sup and be calm about the situation . Working in a call center is the most stressful job and being yelled at every five minutes by people who creat AOL accounts and try and blaim it on AOL because they don’t know what they are doing gets a little old, and it’s hard to be nice to people when they jump all over you for an account they or one of their children created. Also if people would take the time to read what they are signing up for and how to use it they would know you can cancle you AOL account with out even calling AOL at Keyword Cancle.

  • Dean

    I dont care if “he’s just doing his job”. Hes the one who sought and continued employment with a prick firm with prick policies.he gets paid to be a prick.Im sorry but… well…you know what Im sayin.

  • Mom1

    BTW, does AOL still make you click through a bunch of pop-ups just so you can check your e-mail? They did that back in ’98 when I tried their free sample. Now, when I get the “free” discs in the mail, I give them to my kids to destroy. They love to smash them.

  • http://tniassaint.livejournal.com tniassaint

    I use to work for this evil empire. This is the sort of crap that made me leave. The truth is, I kinda feel a little bad for John as he is, quite contrary to the line the company spokesperson wrote in the response quoted by Matt Lauer, is to RETAIN RETAIN RETAIN. He may have gotten – well – a BIT carried away, but the policy IS to make it EASY in and IMPOSSIBLE out. The logic was, and this is almost an exact quote from one of the supervisors there while I was working there . . . that the goal is to get the members so frustrated with the process of closing the account, and offer them free time on the network so that they will just give up and decide it is too damn much trouble. I hope they did not offer you $20 in free gas to join their shoppers advantage club. That was their old deal.

    I am so happy to have my soul back.

    Great recording. Brought chills down my spine.

  • Former AOL employee

    I worked at AOL a little while ago, and one running joke on the floor was, “Our first duty is to piss of the customers”. Most people who call are already mad as hell, and there was a game to see how mad we could make them before they hung up. Especially the ones who were annoying, thought they had rights (clearly they didn’t know who they were calling!) or if it was time to go to lunch or something.

    Most people who work there hate it, and the only entertainment is trying to make people completely infuriated. There’s no consequences, because they pay beans and everyone does it. I would come in two or three hours late every day, but they never fired me, so I finally just gave my two-weeks notice and pretty much stopped showing up after three days.

    I used the “ID theft” angle on things like Vincent’s call – if they denied the usage that was happening, then I would say…well, in that case, it looks like someone else must be using your account. I can give you the number for our fraud department, and they can assist you further. Also, you may want to contact your ISP and local law enforcement.

    If they did admit there was usage, and there were clearly children using it (like a username “roxygirl999″ or something) then I’d tell them they might want to get their other users to pull their information out first…bookmarks, emails, and so on, because once it’s cancelled, using the software again will cause the account to reactivate (which is true, but it’s not an issue until the account closes…an omitted detail).

  • gmon

    This whole hassle must have started in the last few years, since I cancelled my account back in the early ’90s and cancelled accounts for my parents in 2001 and 2002. No problems, no recurring charges, nothing at all. I assume when they started losing customers to broadband, they adopted a more aggressive strategy to keep subscribers at all costs, probably to inflate receivables to make AOL attractive enough for the next buyer…

  • Mandy

    Wow, listening to that was deja vu for me, lol. My husband cancelled our long standing AOL account last month and I remember him saying over and over again “cancel my account, cancel my account – WHAT PART OF CANCEL THE $&%&% ACCOUNT DO YOU IDIOTS NOT GET!!!!” It went on for at least 10 to 15 minutes. I also had friends who were in hot water with a credit card company because AOL continued to charge their card for over a year after they had offically cancelled. Also my mother had a hard time with them when she closed her account. They claimed hers was being used as well, but it couldn’t have – Her computer was not functioning at the time because her hard drive fried.

  • gobzofzeal

    SAME EXACT thing happened to ME!!! BUT you had better WATCH your ACCOUNT!!! My card was debited the 23.90 for MONTHS after canceling it. I didn’t notice my account was short, it started a few months after canceling AOL. When I noticed the charges I called and AOL said they could see the day I called to cancel the account JUN 2005, AOL didn’t cancel it, there was NOTHING I could do because I didn’t have my cancelation Number anymore SEPT 2005. SO I CANCELLED it AGAIN OCT 2005, and ONCE again they started to charge me FEB 2006. But NOW I am NOT being charged, and I am finally RID of that WORTHLESS COMPANY!!! It is FRUSTRATING to have to deal with AOL people, I would rather deal with the IRS!!!

  • Bruin

    Been there with AOL. and done that. I went to a sister company of AOL. Each time I called, I was a given free month of service. Three months later and four calls, the CSR said “O.K.” My son-in-law experienced the same scene when he had to cancel his father’s account after his father died. The CSR gave him a bad time. but, persistence paid off,

  • David

    It is awesome working for AOL’s retention department. They pay their employees very well, 14.80/hr + mad commision for saving people from cancelling. Over all working part-time because of the fact I go to school, I make 1,200.00 every 2 weeks for a wopping 25 hours a week I work!

    Even If I was not working for AOL, I know If I were calling any company to cancel any of my service, I would be polite to the customer sales rep.

    This Vincent Guy was provoking the Rep. and Knew exactly what he was doing.

  • A Student

    I saw this story on CNN and found this site through google… I can’t believe they couldn’t get the message after you were so blunt with them (what part of “cancel the account” is so difficult to understand?).

    I had a similar experience when I tried to cancel my account with SBC–my first call was put on hold indefinitely and then disconnected. When I called back they bounced me through three departments, and put me on hold for another fifteen minutes…and when I finally got to someone who could cancel my account, she tried several times to get me to keep my service, or agree to keep some kind of reduced service for a lesser charge–and on top of it all, she kept calling me “ma’am”, despite me having a clearly male name and voice. To their credit, after several minutes of insistence that my account be cancelled, they finally agreed to do so.

    It really is a shame that companies train their employees to do this.

  • Mom1

    One more thing, after reading these comments I’m glad I never gave AOL my credit card number!

  • Melissa

    Vincent, You are Fat and need to loose weight. Action plan follows:

    - Get over yourself, get off your fat ass and stop reading all these comments that are being sent to you.

    - Get some exercise, Instead of sitting in a chair and calling companies to climb your way up to FAME

    - If you are online for as much as you are. How much was it again?? over 500 hours was it??? Look up useful information, like some diets you can go on dude.

    - And the last thing is, For getting all the money you got paid for the controversy you stirred up, Hire a personal trainer!!, Just don’t record him and get him fired If he doesn’t get you into tip-top-shape.

  • http://insignificantthoughts shane

    that is such garbage -1st of all it is against the law to record anyone withnout consent. second of all so many people lie to cancel something instead of being honest . the “gentleman”" that called to cancel his acct. became verbally abusive by using profanity and making statements that could be considered hostile . yes the aol rep should cancel the acct – but obviously the man’s father was using the acct and on a regular basis. so why not transfer the act to his father to continue enjoying the service. I have enjoyed aol for 9 yrs never had a problem with customer service at any time. maybe he should improve his atttitude and realize people in the customer service do not have to tolerate rudeness and we as consumers should learn some manners. love aol and would never change. also so many of these non-aol users who have problems with their so called internet service have no problem popping in a trial disc and when their other service works again cancel aol. so stop using the service when your other service sucks aand you can’t get internet. freeloaders.

  • David

    Here is my url for all the myspace people on here! I forgot to leave it earlier

    http://www.myspace.com/nmcutie21

  • http://www.faderjockey.com/blog Joe

    I just wanted to mention that I used to work for an outsoucing company that handled some of AOL’s cancellation traffic, and THIS IS HOW YOU ARE TRAINED. It is AOL’s retention policy to never give up. AOL’s denial of knowledge/involvement and firing of their employee was completely wrong.

    Imagine if you will a couple hundred page training manual full of tips on how to keep them on the phone, how to turn their complaints around into benefits, how to trick them into telling you their interests, etc. You have to sign a NDA just to read this thing! (BTW, I have not violated my NDA by talking about the manual, AOL, I have included no specifics.)

  • teri

    Well Melissa,

    Aren’t you just the epitome of the word “class”.

    no doubt an AOL employee.

  • Brad

    I recently tried to cancel an AOL account being billed to my recently deceased father. My mother and I both talked to them, and they flat out refused to cancel — though my mother was on the checking account it was being billed to. The reps are no doubt just people trying to earn a living. But what they are doing is still slimey. They should be ashamed of themselves, but those who set the policies deserve the blame.

  • Melissa

    Teri,

    Eat crap! I work for t-mobile in customer service. You need to have alot of patience to work with boneheads like Vincent. Are you upset because I told him to loose weight?

  • Brad

    Shane, that has to be about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

    ” second of all so many people lie to cancel something instead of being honest.”

    Does this nonsense even need comment? You seem to be under the impression that you’re not allowed to cancel something if you don’t have a good reason.

    “but obviously the man’s father was using the acct and on a regular basis. so why not transfer the act to his father to continue enjoying the service. ”

    Um, if so his father could get his own account. You seem to think that if someone’s using an account you’re paying for you shouldn’t be able to cancel.

    Again, you don’t owe a company an explanation of why you’re cancelling its services. Ridiculous.

  • MelissaIsABitch

    Melissa, you’re a bitch. Vincent is an honest man showing the seedy underbelly of the AOL corporate world. Maybe this bad publicity will make them change their tactics, but obviously people like you will still exist in the world, so do yourself a favor and fire yourself from your job. It’s people like you that disgust consumers and make them not want to shell out their hard earned money to hungry-for-cash pigs like you who are just going to spend it on vibrators because they’re too much of a bitch to get any.

  • teri

    I’m not upset at all dear….just pointing out the tremendous lack of class you possess.
    Have a nice day.

  • Brad

    Melissa,

    I think Teri questioned your class, and your responded,

    “Eat crap! I work for t-mobile in customer service. You need to have alot of patience to work with boneheads like Vincent. Are you upset because I told him to loose weight? ”

    Well, that was quite classy; I’m sure Teri will take it back.

    I didn’t see Vincent on television, but if indeed he needs to “loose” weight I’m sure he’s aware of that. What has that to do with anything anyway? I’ve had similar experiences with AOL, and I’m quite thin. But I think anyone should be able to cancel an account without enduring such nonsense.

  • teri

    Brad,
    Sorry to hear about your dad….AOL seems to make it quite difficult for grieveing families to cancel their service. Absolutely vile, in my opinion.
    karma’s a bitch…wouldn’t want to be near that CSR when he gets his.

    “Well, that was quite classy; I’m sure Teri will take it back.”

    hehe…good one.

  • Tina

    I tried to find out how much it would cost me to “download” music from AOL Music Now (They had given me a free month.) It took me FIVE (5) HOURS (yes, you read that right) to get this answer. There are no prices posted anywhere. And of course, I cancelled the account. I got a letter a few days later regarding my account. I called to be sure that it was cancelled.

    This was one of the worst experiences I have ever had with an Internet co. BTW, I am now with Napster (monthy service), and I am quite happy.

  • Tina

    PS: I was asking about “downloading ” music as opposed to merely “playing” it.

    As I said, I’m much happier with Napster.

  • Ron

    Not only did I repeatedly have to call to cancel, AOL continued to automatically withdraw the monthly fee from my checking account. Eventually I had to close my checking account and reopen it with a different account number. They then continued to bill me and eventually cancelled my account for nonpayment. A (h)OL(es)!!!

  • http://poppielaaim.com dnet

    I had the SAME problem with trying to cancel AOL. They were nasty, unprofessional and when I asked to speak with a supervisor, they refused! I then asked for the name of his (the man/BOY) I was talking to and he told me to call STEVE CASE & gave me a phony telephone number. Between trying to speak to a human being and them getting the troll on the other end, I spent 1 hour on the phone. NEVER AGAIN AOL!

  • http://bertalee.blogspot.com/ Rob

    I’ve been telling this story since 1994. 12 years! They’ve always sucked and I hope this puts them out of business for good.
    Read my story on my blog. http://bertalee.blogspot.com/

  • jennifer

    I had the exact same thing happen to, maybe even the same guy! I was on the phone for 37 minutes. It actually took two calls to cancel it

  • B.

    YOU GO, VINCENT!

    I’m still a paying member of AOHell? Why? Because I like to read the old format of AOL’s message boards. Once the backdoors to this format are slammed shut for good, I’ll cancel my account. I’m only paying a few bucks/month for my unlimited Bring Your Own Access (BYOA) membership, anyway, and usually manage to pay nearly nothing by doing Opinion Place surveys.

    A little over a year ago I threatened to notify the FCC about AOL’s price plan scam, and got six free months of AOL for that. (I did end up notifying another regulatory group…LOL.)

    I do not like AOL’s capricious and inconsistent enforcement of Terms of Service (TOS). I also do not like being forced to be a part of AOL’s English language immersion program whenever I call. If I’m going to be a volunteer, I should get free AOL, just like the former “volunteers” who hosted the message boards and chats. And, heck, how about a year’s worth of free AOL like THEY got?

    How noble they all proclaimed to be, too, insisting that they did not do it for the free AOL. Now it’s a year after they all got canned, their free year of AOL membership is up, and they are cancelling AOL in droves. (Now what was that about not “volunteering” for the free AOL?) There is a “secret” area for ex AOL volunteers, and they all gripe and whine. LOL…they actually think they are going to get Certificates of Appreciation that were promised to them over a year ago now….they will never get them. How sad that they think they matter!

  • Billyjanie

    My wife had a very similar experience canceling her $9.95 a month e-mail account. It turns out that it was free the whole time! She still has the same AOL e-mail address and functions (webmail only). Nothing has changed! If you’re paying for the $9.95 e-mail, cancel it…you’re paying for something that you could be getting for free.

  • http://n/a The Unknown Ex Aol Employee

    Hello:
    I was employed by Aol until May 9th,until they shut our call center down.We had a system to follow and it really sucked,because when you didnt believe in what you were doing and werent even using Aol at home-it was hard.But like any other it was a job and paid the bills,quite well for a while.
    It was always sell value,price plan and credit and by this time the customer was so pissed off,and we were required to read that shitty presentation about Aol.com.A little friendly advice,tell the guy to cancel it,hang up and he or she is required to cancel the acct.Then call back and make sure it was done,and when you cancel,tell them.The Unknown Ex Aol Employee said,this is for all the people in Jacksonville.Aol Sucks!!!!!!!!!
    Sincerely
    The Unknown Ex Aol Employee

  • sherriw2

    I had EXACTLY the same conversation with AOL 2 monthes ago!! They were horrible. My situation was that I had signed up for a “freebie” subscription until I could get my Broadband connection installed. Then, I really just forget to unsubscribe – until I noticed a charge on my credit card for the service – that I wasn’t using. I called to cancel and ended up getting a huge scare tactic sales pitch about how the RR service that I had recently subscribed to – didn’t have the coverage and safety as AOL (yeah – this about their sister company). So – he literally scared me into agreeing to keep their basic service – even though I questioned him several times about the security features that RR advised they had set up.

    Long and short of it is – I was transferred to the AOL help desk to help me upload the basic security features – which COULDN”T be installed because of the security features that came with my RR connection. I ended up talking to two different help desk folks – as the first guy ditched me “becuase I didn’t know what I was doing”… both of the tech’s did tell me that I would have to uninstall my RR security before AOL would work.

    Needless to say – I was upset. I called back AGAIN to just have them cancel my service and after 10 minutes of not doing it – I finally had to ask for a supervisor and threaten to report them to the BBB.

    AOL SUCKS!

  • http://browsekid.blogspot.com Sidhu Datla

    THe worst part i had to face was after seeing my credit card bill, which never showed up the name AOL and the amount was 4.95$ exactly yhe amount I bought telephone calling cards for international calls, and I somehow missed it (I used that card only for buying a dell computer once and calling cards). One fine day I see 29.99$ and I call them. ok I’ll now tell you about AOL keywords. Listen Ma’am, I don’t wanna know. Cancel my account I pay 50 freaking $$ to Bellsouth, never used AOL after the first week of buying my computer, DID NOT GIVE CREDIT CARD NUMBER ever.

    we take it from Dell!

    WHAT? ok, just cancel my account.
    Have you ever tried typing people in AOL??
    What is this, can you cancel my account or not?

    I can do it here, but please let me know if you ever tried the keyword ‘video’ in AOL.

    If you can’t cancel my account now, please transfer my call.

    I was finally able to cancel my account, they gave me an address to send a snail mail to P.O.Box in florida where I can ‘start’ the process of getting my billed amount for that month back.
    I just calle dmy credit card company and told them toput a hold on any further transaction from AOL. Ever since that day I hate anything related to AOL internet or free CD’s and am always extra careful with credit card statements.

  • Emilio Mola, Esq.

    Good morning:

    I had a similar experience canceling my AOL account. They just don’t want to let you go. They even sent me a form to fill out which drags the process out even longer. Please note, if you try to cut them off by calling your credit card company and telling them to stop accepting the AOL billing they will tell you they can’t do it! Nice set up for AOL with a willing partner in your credit card company. I note for the record it was very easy to set the thing up and an abuse of a customer to cancel.

  • J.Jelepis

    Here’s a good one! Exactly 12 months after I cancelled AOL, two electronic withdrawals from my checking account for approx. $184.00 were taken out. One for some roadside/travel assistance program I allegedly signed up for (which I didn’t), and the other for a “free” legal assistance program which, again, I allegedly signed up for!

    Here’s the kicker, after I spoke with an AOL rep about their error and how I no longer was a member and the fact that I wanted my checking account credited accordingly, they (AOL) responded by saying it would take some 30 business days to re-credit my account. Luckily, I didn’t accrue any overdraft charges from their ACH deductions, yet still was a huge inconvenience to me just the same. Point being? Watch your back folks! Although you think you have cancelled, any connection with your original AOL account set-up and your mode of payment still exists with AOL Billing. Computers can still take your money once they have your checking account even though you long since cancelled. Gook Luck! J.Jelepis (Texas)

  • Vicki

    i had the same problem last fall except i wasn’t as nice as you. i got into a yelling match with the AOL rep. i talked to. by the time the call ended i was shaking.

  • Sid

    I seriously believe that a class action law suit is the best way to resolve AOL’s unethical treatment of it’s former customers.

    After paying out several million dollars, they might actually decide to change some policies.

    John at AOL was made their scapegoat, he shouldn’t sue Vincent, but AOL for wrongful dismisal.

    Hit a large corporation, in the only place that matters to them, the bottom line. This will be the only way for any change to occur.

  • Billy Sweeney

    Yo dude, just saw the piece on cnn.. I had a very similar experience. My 10 year old daughter signed up for aol after being grounded from the computer. She thought she could sneak in use aol for the free time and cancel before we got charged. well her scheme worked until she failed to cancel the account. My debit card was charged and her cover was blown. Now I go to cancel the account and It was a nightmare. They actually made me use the time I had left on the account and at the end of this time I was asked to call back and recancel at which point I would receive a refund. Crazy, Right??? It gets better. Now they send me a letter which I must sign and Have faxed back to them 24 hrs before my account is charged again.. 1 in a million people would be able to accomplish this feat. This was a scam not only to keep the first months charge but to get another months charge out of my account. Well I was dilligent, I went as far as to change my bank accounts. My wife works at our bank so this made it a bit eaiser. Guess what. I followed all of their stipulations even had the paper faxed back to them.. They tried to charge that now dead account… They are fucked up. In the end I did get my money back, only after I threatened to go to the news and the BBB. I fairness I had similar experiences when canceling other IP services, always trying to get you to stay offering free time and not letting me cancel until the last moment. But AOL took the cake. I now use Verizon Broad Band and am pleased, but I wonder what would happen If I tried to cancel, maybe I will try it today for kicks…

  • Mel Sevene

    When I canceled my AOL, it was a 45 minute phone call in which the guy, “Mike”, wanted me to guess which country he was in, what time of day it was, and then kept begging me not to cancel. I, too, kept saying, “please, I just want to cancel the service, I really don’t use it anymore” but that didn’t seem to be the correct answer and Mike seemed interested in making me feel like he was my friend so I wouldn’t cancel the service. After 45 minutes, I finally was able to get it canceled and get off the phone. Since that time, they call me constantly and send me so many of the introductory CD’s in the mail, I’m getting sick of paying for their trash!

  • Jill Fento

    A number of these posts trouble me because a lot fo people seem to be aying that the CSR is not responsible. Nazi Soldiers used that excuse at Nuremburg. Can you really hide behind “doing your job” when you are part of a corporation that is doings its customers wrong? At some point, aren’t you responsible for your part as a cog in that machine? Does trying to earn a living excuse you from responsiblity? If you willing do nasty things to people becuase it is part of your job… then staying in that job makes you just as corrupt.

  • danielle

    man. i had a similar experience in ’01. i got some guy named ‘steve’ from new delhi who did a very polite job of ignoring everything i said. i was calling because a blasterworm virus had fried my modem and the whole pc was practically useless so why pay for the net, right?

    the guy offered to put my account on hold for 3 months free and after my repeated, “no thanks! just cancel it!” he then, 25 minutes later, said that he would send me a brand new modem for free. by this time he was actually hysterical with the need to save my account while i was just kind of blown away by this sort of behavior.

    i worked as a csr in a call center for an insurance company, and while we had to save accounts as well, (2 a month mandatory), we weren’t pressured or fanatical about it. often we’d just not even make our quota and nobody cared all that much. we were way more focused on not being assholes on the line because that’s what we got seriously marked on. we could fail for the month for tonal quality or misinforming the customer. which would get you fired really quick.

    and while i could appreciate the guy ‘steve’ and the pressure he had from his guidelines…i was completely floored with the offer to fix my crappy home built computer for me. i endured his speech about logging in and activating my service if i changed my mind, more entreaties to let him buy me a new modem plus the account hold and finally got him to process my cancellation. then he actually lied to me and said that no funds would be drafted again ever. AOL yanked it out of my account that very second!

    i went up to my bank the next day and the bank manager said, “oh god. yeah. we’ll take care of it. we deal with this from AOL constantly.” they didnt ask for proof or anything. it is that common of a problem. and AOL continued to try drafting out of my account for 8 months. but the repeated denials of my bank for funds and a bank manager actually filing a fraud claim against them finally stopped it.

    and even though AOl has a seriously jacked up way of treating customers, i have to feel bad for those guys who work for them.

    call centers are hellish places to work even if the company is decent. but to have to go in knowing for certain that you’re going to be in a hostile situation all day. intentionally. constantly. and the customers reaction is 9 times out of 10 triggered by what you’re forced to say. by company guidelines! my god. the amount of financial desperation you have to be in to work in that environment… holy crap. that company is effin evil.

    not to say the guy you dealt with wasnt out of line, he sounded new as well. it’s probably best he was fired, if he was, because he would have probably gone nuts down the line. csr’s are constantly flipping out.

    call center jobs are completely dehumanizing. our place was fairly laid back, but the company was still entirely self-serving and ruthless for the most part. we had to constantly say or do things we didnt agree with. i did this for 4 years and by the end of it i was a complete wreck. i just stopped coming in one day after my 73rd nervous breakdown, and that was the smartest thing i have done in my entire life.

    ugh.

    i wouldnt attack vinny though. even though you went in pretty sure you were going to be dealing with shit, you didnt act any worse than most other customers would have. usually if a customer calls in totally firm and sounds trigger-happy, the reps are told to comply immediately to avoid a scene or a complaint. this is true with most companies. most call centers are even organized by similar guidelines provided by a single corporation that is hired to simply provide a system of operation. from interaction with the customer to how employee call-offs are handled.

    just shows how bizarre AOL is. they dont even try to hide how they feel about consumers.

  • Another former AOL customer

    It took me over an hour to get rep that would hang up on me. I would call back adn select the “wanting to open a new account” option and wow- I was connected in 2 seconds to alive rep! I’d ask them for help since I was on hold for that long and then got hung up – they sounded really apologetic and said they oculd only take new orders.

    The AOL free software is so sticky on your computer that it takes many many actions to delete all that junk they load your computer with. I will NEVER go back to AOL. Not worth it!!!

  • J

    I had joined AOL to try out the trial BYOA for 30 days. I tried to cancel it and it was supposed to automatically cancel. However, there was a letter that AOL had sent extending my free access by a month and that if I wanted to cancel it, I would have to call responding to the letter. I never received the letter and only found out about it after the fact I received a charge on my acct from AOL for the $14.95 BYOA fee. When I called AOL (also known as AOHell in my book), the guy that I spoke with called me an idiot and said that AOL was superior to any other company and refused to cancel my account. This was a couple of years ago… how I wish I had recorded that call because I would have sued AOL for it. Anyways, I called AOL back the next day and was refunded and yet they still offered me yet another free month. I said ‘NO’ and it was finally done. I will never ever use the services of AOL and will never recommend them to anyone.

  • NotAlone

    I had several similar experiences that were very irritating to me, but the worst was a few years ago when my wife and I thought we cancelled and then were charged for another couple months. I ultimately called them back 3 times subsequent to that bill and basically had an all-out verbal war with these “customer service” people. When I later recounted the story to my parents they said it sounded like I had “bad people person skills” and needed to calm down a little. A few months later my sister was visting my parents when she decided to cancel her account. My dad was sitting in the kitchen within earshot of the conversation. He called me that night (after my sister’s 1 hour conversation ended) and apologized. He wrote them a letter and received a similar response as Vincent did. Let me be clear about something. This is not a personality problem on the side of AOL customer service. I actually think it’s a shame that “John” who spoke to Vincent took the heat and was fired. Should we really believe that John is just a bad guy, or that “John” was the sole person that has upset so many people, or even that AOL just has really bad luck when it comes to hiring all these customer service people. Absolutely not! “John” is a well trained AOL employee – he may in fact be there best in show. It’s a POLICY. AOL trains these sales(wo)men to be this persistent. “John” is a scapegoat. And I’m not even sure we can say AOL has done anything wrong – at least legally – in many of these cases. They are a for-profit company in a capitalist society. And frankly I think their product sucks, so I suppose this is what they need to do to survive out there. What can be done though is to tell as many people as possible about your experience and those of others, attempting to save your friends and family from similar hassles and headaches. I actually consider it an obligation on my part – saving everyone possible from this ridiculous and annoying salesmanship. And I also happen to believe there product is very inferior. I asked a popular electronic store to remove AOL software from the computer I was buying (as part of the purchase deal) because I wanted it nowhere near my home. I don’t trust it sitting idle on my computer. The guy told me I definately wasn’t the first person to ask him for that. I also think it would be wise for everyone who has had similar experiences to take handfuls of those free AOL discs you see at various stores, and trash them. Save as many people as you can from these stress-provoking AOL people. And for God’s sake – DON’T EVER BUY THERE STOCK! Why? because their product fundamentally sucks and eventually enough people will realize that just because the first 90 days is free, there are so many better options out there. If they train there employees that way, I have this nagging feeling that AOL has core management problems that may lead it to crumple as other hollow companies have in recent years. Hopefully their partners like CNN will realize this before it’s too late. Wouldn’t want them to crash and burn as well. And remember, when you get that next bill from AOL after you thought you already cancelled your subscription: You Are Not Alone.

  • CC IN AL

    I had the same problem cancelling AOL on 6/6/06. Must have taken 30 minutes–and I must have said “I want the account cancelled” 30 times. Then it was on to the anti-virus, spyware software they provide and my computer would not be protected–”I’m not interested just cancel the account.” On and on this went…I have never been hassled this bad by a company. AOL is totally responsible and I hope other AOL members will find an alternative to AOL service. Since my daughter also has as account I intend to cancel her membership. ALSO MY ACCOUNT WAS BILLED FOR SERVICE FROM 5/25-6/25/06 AND YOU DO NOT GET REFUNDED FOR THE PARTIAL MONTH WHEN YOU CANCEL!!!!

  • former AOL User

    Everyone’s been through the same AOL crap everyone else has listed here. It’s surprising that a Congress that has time to waste with gay marriage and video game labels hasn’t gone after AOL for the sh*t they pull every day.

    I feel sorry for the CSR who got fired, because I know he was trained to do his job the way he did. It shows in the way every other AOL customer service rep acts.

  • bret smith

    I listened to the tape. Certainly the rep became very annoying. I’ve been through the same with many cancellations. But frankly listening to Vincent irritated me to pieces as well. The CSR wasn’t much better, and he should have given up earlier. But Vincent’s tone only escalated things. Let’s all be a little nicer to each other. We all have to live in this world together.

  • Wendy Maughan

    Just wanted to add my support, and emphasize that this customer service rep was NOT a one time fluke. I cancelled a very small AOL account a couple of years ago and had a terrible time. The woman would not cancel it, though I kept repeating myself. It probably took about half hour of arguing with her, and not only will I never go back, I tell all my friends to avoid AOL like the plague. Thanks for raising your voice about horrendous customer service. AOL needs to realize they lose more business than they get with such horrendous tactics. Any AOL executive who pretends this isn’t company policy is trying to pee on your shoes and tell you it’s raining.

  • qb

    I don’t for a moment believe that the executives at AOL are blind to what goes on. Every AOL rep I’ve ever encountered when trying to cancel their service has done the same thing. I’m very sure they train their employees to respond to any account cancellation request in the same manner. I’ve had the horrible pleasure of spending 15-20 minuntes along on the phone with an AOL customer service rep with a thick Indian accent when trying to cancel an account and yes all they do is repeat the question “Why?” Their almost like that horrible BellSouth that keeps trying to push services down your throat when you’ve stated “NO!,” thirty thousand times.
    To all people that are stuck with AOL and any other bad/outdated/unneccessary provider, just be a stickler and if you have to go an hour+ on the phone to get what is rightfully yours then do so, I did!

  • Leslie Zieren

    The only way I could get my deceased relative’s AOL account cancelled was to cancel the credit card the account was using for the monthly fees.

  • http://africanstreetkids.com Elizabeth

    AOL STOLE MY MONEY!!! THEY SAID THEY CANCELLED MY ACCOUNT…. BUT DIDN’T… 4 MONTHS LATER, I SAW THE CHARGE ON MY SAVINGS ACCOUNT…. ( it was an account that I didn’t check often…. )

    Good for you.! I had the same problems canceling my account. The rep. said that she cancelled my account….after arguing with me and trying all ways to retain my account… Only to find out that they continued to charge my bank account…for 4 months!!!! I called them back and demanded a refund of my $80 …. I sent a registered letter to the head quarters with all the details, but nobody ever responded…

    They are only acting this way because they got caught….. but this has been their practice….

    If you ever cancel, please keep an eye on your account….. I lost $ 80 that way.

    Still mad…
    Elizabeth.

  • http://www.ccrfuzzy.com Elaine

    I have soooooooooo been there with AOL. It took 3, THREE phone calls over 4 months to get them to cancel! I was accused of lying when I had actual case numbers, I was accused of racking up usage hours to the tune of $250 when I didn’t even have a phone line connected to the computer (switched to cable modem), and finally, I was threatened with blackballing (of what? AOL?!) by a ‘supervisor’ who refused to give his name. AOL still calls and mails me begging me to come back! Oh I soooooooooooooooooooooooo HATE AOL!!!!

  • lisa

    about 5 years ago i had the free trial of aol. i cancelled it after 28 days, before the 30 days you have to do that. they gave me a cancellation number and i thought everything was fine. about 1 month later i got a bill in the mail for a month of service. i called to see what happened and they told me i never cancelled my account. i gave them the cancellation number they gave me and they told me it did not exist! i was very upset, and told them i was not paying it. the woman on the phone started swearing at me, yes she actually swore at me. i asked to speak to a supervisor who did the exact same thing. i have never had such awful customer service in my life. how this company is still in business is beyond me. i ended up paying the bill because they sent it to collection and i really had no proof. my advice is anyone cancelling an aol account needs to record that conversation and have them state the date to you. it is legal in ny state to record a conversation without the other party knowing but i am not sure about other states. aol is truly an awful awful company!

  • Kate

    I had a similar experience with AOL when I wanted to cancel them upon getting Verizon DSL. What a crock of poop I had to go through, they tried everything….even lowering the price (my response to that was IF YOU GIVE IT TO ME FOR FREE I MAY RECONSIDER!!!!), they also tried to tell me that I would still be billed as they charge a month in advance. My Response to that was YOU DO THAT YOU’LL GET A LETTER FROM MY LAWYER – NOW, CANCEL THE DANG SIHT NOW! and I hung up……………..Needless to say, they cancelled the account effective that day and never took anymore money out of my account.

  • mark

    aol played with me as well when I called to cancel. They actually told me “no” when I requested the cancellation. They said it was mandatory for me to have the last 4 digits of my credit card used to open the account. The account was several years old….I no longer had that card. It was a nightmare. I will never go back to them …no matter what

  • Lezlee

    Letter sent to AOL – Never did get reimbursed but the account was FINALLY cancelled:

    September 19, 2005

    Reference Account ###########
    Tracie Danner
    # West # North
    City, Utah 840##

    Attn: Billing Operations and Services

    In November, 2004 I signed up my daughter for a 6 month free trial of AOL. After only 2 free months, a charge came through my account in January, 2005 for $23.90. I called AOL and disputed this charge and was told that I couldn’t get a reimbursement (apparently AOL doesn’t allow reimbursements?) but that I could get 2 months of free service. I complained that I was still owed 4 months of free service. I assumed that the issue was resolved. In February I was again charged $23.90. I called AOL again and we had the same conversation as in January. Again, in March, the charge came through and I once again called AOL and was assured that the next 4 months would be free. I did receive 2 months of free service (April and May) but in June the charge again came through for $23.90. At this point, I called AOL and requested that the account be cancelled completely and no further charges be assessed. Subsequently, I have been charged for the AOL account in June, July, August, and now September. I have called you EACH month and have been assured the account is cancelled and no further charges will come through but NOTHING has been done.

    CANCEL MY AOL ACCOUNT NOW!

    At this point, I am demanding a refund for all of the charges that YOU have incurred in 2005. I am owed for any and all monthly charges that should have NEVER happened. I am enclosing a statement that shows each month activity from AOL in my bank account. You owe me $167.30.

    At this point, if I encounter ONE MORE charge through my bank account that is going to AOL, I will involve legal counsel and discuss my rights for consumer fraud.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to tell you that I have been treated with nothing but disrespect through this nightmare. So much so, that during a conversation I had today with one of your employees, she actually snickered and said that my 25 year old daughter may be the problem and am I sure that this is all true. Excuse me? Who is the customer here and what is she insinuating? I will have nothing but bad things to say about America Online for the rest of my life. I will now give AOL bad reviews and will not recommend your services to all of my friends and family members.

    I want to receive a phone call to discuss reimbursement. You can reach me at work ###-###-#### during normal business hours.

    Sincerely,

    Lezlee Danner

  • Rick

    If all employees are singing the same song who do you think is pushing them to do so??? I would encourage all AOL customers to close their accounts to send the message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

  • mike

    I also tried to cancel my AOL account and was told after more than 45 minutes of arguing with someone who was “trying to do me a favor” by giving me a month free and when I pushed to cancel, proceeded to tell me “how unappreciative I was since he was trying to do me a favor” then said he would close my account. I then got two months later a collection letter from a company AOL sent my account to for services rendered AFTER I had already canceled the account. When I called them, they told me the account had not been canceled and they would cut my overdue bill in half (though I did not have AOL during that time). I told them I would take them to small claims court and the account was erased from the billing collector and I receive an apology letter. This was over a two week period of time. I think AOL is a disgrace and a big scam.

  • Sprocket999

    I listened to that recording and I couldn’t believe my ears. I had a similar run in with UPS and their CSRs are hopeless. Fortuneately I documented my calls. But THIS call takes the cake. OMG I’m glad I never got sucked into AOL. I never, in a million years, would have expected this Nazi-like interrogation from this firm. Wow.

  • Chey Tor

    IF YOU FEEL YOU HAVE BEEN WRONGED BY AMERICA ONLINE’S BUSINESS PRACTICE WHETHER IT’S FALSE CANCELLATION OR CONTINUED BILLING AFTER CANCELLATION, CONTACT YOUR STATE’S ATTORNEY GENERAL. ENOUGH COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY THE STATE’S ATTORNEY GENERAL WILL PROMPT AN INVESTIGATION AND POSSIBILY, A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT. AOL NEEDS TO BE SUED AND THEIR BUSINESS PRACTICE NEEDS TO CHANGE. I MYSELF HAVE JUST FILED A COMPLAINT WITH THE CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE OVER AOL’S BUSINESS PRACTICE. I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO DO SO. LET’S PUT A STOP TO AOL’S FRAUDULENT BUSINESS PRACTICE.

  • Eliza

    Awww man … this is the 1st time I’ve heard about how difficult it is to cancel AOL … and I’m suppose to cancel it for my parents shortly. I thought it might be a bit annoying (I’ve dealt with whining credit cards reps before) but this is ridiculous.

    It sounds like the same script that an abusive rep from another company used (Prudential … trying to cancel a life insurance policy) although he asked for my mom instead (and I’m in my 30s).

    Do all these reps from these companies hang out at a bar somewhere after work and swap best practices on how to abuse their customers??? They probably get huge bonuses after retaining a customer. Extra points if you can make them cry!

  • todd

    similiar experience.
    the guy should not have been fired, as it is obviously company policy to do this.
    I have hundreds and hundreds of their “free” disks that I have picked up at stores just because they pissed me off.

  • Dave

    I wish I would have taped mine, such a good idea. They flat out refused to cancel my account because I hadn’t completed the free trial. (I just didn’t care for the software and speed). When I asked for a manager I was also refused. When I asked for the person’s name I was speaking to. I was refused “I already told you my name”. I ended up hanging up and calling back, once I was done waiting they informed me that my account had already been cancelled. I will never use their service again and have encouraged my friends and family to cancel their accounts…. that is if they can get them cancelled. Its great that you have brought this to more people’s attention because the only way that this business is going to get the message is if it starts hurting them in the pocketbook.

    Dave
    Charlotte, NC

  • Jeremy

    AOL is A O HELL!!!!!! i had to sign up for aol just so i could re establish internet after my computer crashed….it came pre loaded with A O HELL so i thought what’s the harm, right? well….i got my ISP program downloaded and then called up AOL to tell them i didn’t want their service anymore…so the first thing i did when i called them was i told them the reason why i downloaded it in the first place (sure to make THEM happy!!!) and then I waited while the woman pulled up my account…she then proceeded to tell me “hey we got this for 199,999,999.95 a month…” “lady…i don’t want your service…i want OUT!!”…”are you sure?”..”yes i am sure..” “hey we got such and such program for 200,000,000.00 a month”..”maybe you didn’t hear me lady…I SAID I DON”T WANT YOUR SERVICE ANYMORE!!!!! JUST CANCEL MY ACCOUNT!!!”..”are you sure???”….”YES!!!! YES!!!! A MILLION TIMES OVER YES!!!! I AM COMPLETELY POSITIVELY ABSOLUTELY SURE I DON”T WANT AOL!!!! CANCEL MY ACCOUNT!!!!”…”okay but if you wish you can call us back to sign up…”…”yeah right lady that’s not happening”…”okay sir your account is cancelled thank you for choosing A O HELL…”GOODBYE and THANK GOD!!!!!” CLICK!!!!!

  • AM

    I once canceled an AOL subscription with a conversation that featured the following:

    Me: I have broadband, so I really don’t need your service at all. I signed
    up for a trial because I needed to complete an offer for another site.
    AOL Guy: What do I have to give you to get you to stay with AOL?
    Me: A million dollars and a blow job’d do it.
    AOL Guy: (laughs) Listen, if you saw me, you wouldn’t be asking for that.
    And anyway, you’re a college guy, shouldn’t you be getting laid
    all the time? Why aren’t you getting a blow job right now, while
    you’re on the phone?
    Me: A man’s got to rest!
    ***

    I promise, that’s all real. Eventually, he agreed to cancel my service, but not before he charged me for an extra month.
    A.

  • http://jodywhitesides.com Jody

    I feel your pain. I’ve gone through that process twice. Once back in about 1998 cancelling my own account. Then again about a year and a half ago cancelling my mom’s account (I had to force her off of it by getting her a new computer all tricked out with her own website and permanent e-mail). Both times were very similar including offers for free time, that I’d need to reconsider my desire to cancel, blah blah blah. Its amazing how difficult they attempt to make it all in hopes that you’ll get so frustrated and stay.

    I’m so happy to know that my immediate family does not use that service. If only I could get cousins off of it.

  • Daniel Norton

    AOL has been known to be this way for at least 10 years. AOL got caught with their pants down. Hopefully everyone who has supported this policy will get fired.

  • Malyssa

    I just saw your story on th CNN web site – good for you! I, too, had major issues cancelling my AOL account about 9 or 10 years ago and the conversations I had with the customer service reps sounded so much like yours I about fell off my chair. I became absolutely livid after having asked numerous times to just cancel the damn thing, and still they kept transferring me around, trying to sell me things, demanding to know why I was leaving.

    My reasons for leaving were not lack of use, but rather some serious issues. I took online classes and would consistently be knocked offline during class. I guess back then if you didn’t type anything, they assumed you weren’t using the service, so they booted you. This after a good 20 minutes minimum time to actually log on. (before the cable/DSL days)

    I expressed my dissatisfaction in emails to friends and – I kid you not – received a chastising email from an AOL person in response to my conversations!!! So how the hell did he get that info? Reading my emails? I had no idea who he was and the emails were only sent to my personal addresses. Somehow he tracked the conversation and felt he needed to butt in to defend his company. I was on the phone the next day to cancel, and even after explaining this (I had kept the email proof, too) they wouldn’t let me go.

    I tried again days later with different reps – also to no avail. In the end, a two-page fax with a law suit threat was what finally ended my contract.

    So I feel your pain – and despite what they say, it’s not this one operator. My nearly identical experience (minus the dad part!) was almost 10 years ago with at least 2 different operators. I don’t buy for a minute that they “do not tolerate this kind of harrassment” or whatever they said.

    I’m so glad these practices have finally been made more public – I hope this encourages AOL to change their policies.

  • Marc M

    To the people saying “He’s just doing his job”, that’s a load of crap.

    He went way beyond “doing his job”.

    He didn’t just “annoy” the customer.

    He insulted the customer, threatened the customer, argued with the customer and yelled at the customer.

    AoL may unofficially tell their employees to do certain things but this goes way way beyond any of that.

    I hope this tape haunts that employee for his entire life and he winds up begging on street corners or doing handjobs for lunch.

  • Michelle Cook

    I am really disapointed that AOL acted like this was an isolated incident. It took my six months to get AOL to cancel my account, I had more then 20 conversations likethe one Vinny had. Way to go recording it! This is how all of AOL phone customer service people act, at least each time I called. I feel bad that the guy lost his job, I am sure he was doing what he was trained and told to do. It was sad to see AOL deny this behavior as normal for them.

  • steve

    In spite of the AoL supporters and shills comments to the contrary, Federal law does indeed allow the covert recording of phone calls with the consent of at least one party to the call. 38 states and DC allow the recording of conversations to which they are a party ** without ** telling the other parties that they are doing so. This is referred to as “one-party consent”. As long as you are a party to the conversation, it is legal for you to record it.

    California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington require, under most circumstances, the consent of all parties to a conversation.

    The appropriate section of the U.S. Code is Title 18 U.S.C. §2511(d) which reads: It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication where such person is a party to the communication or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception unless such communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State.

    I’m so glad AoL cancelled my account.

  • Padraic Buckmaster

    :evil:
    I went through pretty much the same thing when I tried to cancell my account last fall. And all for naught as now I have a collection agency after me treatening to ruin my credit worse than the Bush Administration already has. So I went through a 15-20 minute ordeal to get my account cancelled, only to find on my next bank statement that they were still removing money from my bank account. So I called the bank and changed my account so AOhelL could no longer steal my money for an account I had already cancled. When they couldn’t get to my bank account any more, I started getting 3-4 calls a day telling me I owed them money, a few weeks of this went by when the calls began to come from a collection agency. They want $101.00 to leave me alone. I tell them I would be more apt to spend 1000 times more than that on a lawyer than to give in to their blackmail. After they hear the word Lawyer they back off for a few weeks and then start the harrassment again.

  • Marc M

    It wasn’t “normal” behavior.

    Normal behavior is spending 10 minutes trying to convince the customer not to cancel constantly.

    Normal behavior is not threatening the customer with “your going to let me speak or else”.

    Normal behavior is not “the feeling is mutual my friend”.

    Perhaps alot of you people did not listen to the audio on THIS site, the FULL recording where he does all these things and only heard the edited 3 minute version floating around where they removed the personal insults and threats from the recording.

    Take a listen to the one on this site, there is no way any logical person can say any company, even AOL, instructed employees to do what this guy did.

  • Craig Finkelstein

    I had the exact same experience in trying to cancel AOL. I was on the phone for a long time before they finally let me cancel. I even asked questions like “Are you actually trying to stall so I’ll just give up and not cancel?” To which he would reply: “No, but did you know that AOL provides superior virus protection and protection against identity theft” It got to the point where me and my wife who were both on the phone, were yelling profanities at the guy, and he threatened to hang up if we kept at it! How ridiculous is that? How could this be a company policy? Do they honestly expect that I would EVER come back as a customer after treatment like that?

  • Fernanda

    Unbelievable that this isn’t just happening once in a while.
    Just the other day this occurred to me, not with AOL but with a collection agency being used by Direct TV.
    I had tried to settle a bill with Direct TV since I had canceled my service but was still being billed for an extra month, even though they always bill a month in advanced.
    Then I have this company called Allied Interstate harassing me. Calling from 7 am to 11 pm on weekdays and weekends approximately 10-15 times a day over a $63 bill that I didn’t even owe.
    When I tried asking for their supervisor the customer rep simply hung up the phone on me not once but multiple times.
    Finally they put me through what supposable was the supervisors answering machine and I told them I had contacted my lawyer regarding this matter of them harassing me and that I knew the laws in the State of Florida regarding collection.
    I finally got a call back from some guy named Enrique. I repeatedly asked for a supervisor.
    The guy just kept telling me that he would not pass the call through unless I settled the $63 bill.
    I must have been on the phone with this guy for like what seemed an eternity (must have been like 15 minutes).
    And still he would not pass me to a supervisor.
    I had to tell him if he understood English and seriously it felt like I was speaking to an idiot.
    I was forced to contact Direct TV again and of course they apologized for what happened.
    But really what good is an apology when nothing seems to change in this ever increasing customer rep world!!!!

  • Mike

    It has to be obvious to everyone that these workers are being trained to respond this way. I know several people, myself included, who also had to deal with this. The first time I tried, I actually become so outraged I just hung up the phone.

  • Shay

    I had the same problem with AOL myself, they also have these shopping programs and credit watch programs, and if you don’t read the small print after a month they will automatically sign you up if you don’t cancel in writing. Well, I did send letters for both programs saying to cancel, and guess what – they tried to debit my bank account a $79 membership fee! I put a stop payment on the charge, and called AOL three times and got the same runaround – they wouldn’t cancel my subscription. Finally, on the fourth call I made, I got a gal who actually listened to me and said she would cancel the subscription and even gave me a confirmation number – she said that type of thing (the phone runaround) happens all the time. I tell everyone I know that AOL is the worst ISP ever!!!!

  • juspassinthru

    “John” no longer works for the company. All they did was change his name to ‘Andy” or whatever.

    When I worked boiler-rooms, we used to make bets on various things. For instance, how long before the customer got pissed off. (The shortest time won). How long could you keep the customer on the line, etc. all approved by the managers, who get a piece of the action when we keep the customer.

    Of course the managers are under pressure not to lose customers, so they sanction these in-your-face tactics because be-littling is the surest way to keep them, percentage-wise.

    It’s good that the bait wasn’t taken by those of you who have told your stories here. But there are thousands more who fall for this crap. If not, they’d shut down the CS dept. and REALLY fire “John”.

    I’d bet ten bucks ol’ “John” is Employee of the Year.

  • AOL_Hater

    I went through a similar exercise when I tried to cancel my AOL account. They gave me every reason under the sun not to cancel my inactive, obsolete and unwanted account, none of which convinced me.

    Finally, I said, “Ok here’s the deal, your calls are recorded for QA I’m also recording this call. You have my name, account number and security info for verification, you heard me say no less than 15 times to cancel my account. If a new charge appears on my credit card I will then remand that to Visa collections for fraudulent charges and you can explain to them why you felt it necessary to continue charging me for services I very clearly don’t want’.” It was AMAZING how quickly the CSR switched to cancel mode.

  • Jenny

    I work at a call center and we would never behave like that! When someone wants to cancel an account with my company, we have no retention scripting at all. We just say, “ok, here is your reference number for canceling the account,” and that’s that. However, my company has many other heinous things that they do to their customers which are really not cool.

    I’ve heard horror stories about AOL while on the phone with customers. One guy had his nephew come to visit, and because of the above-mentioned shopping programs, (all you have to do is be logged into AOL and it stores all of your credit card info for one-click shopping), his nephew ordered a ton of shit off the internet on his uncle’s credit card.

    I remember once a few years ago, my roommate tried to cancel her AOL account because she was going to work for the Forest Service for six months in a cabin with no electricity. The AOL rep kept wanting her to get me on the phone to see if I wanted AOL. My roommate, being way too easily pushed around by other people, actually brought the phone over to me. I refused to speak to the rep and just repeated, loudly, “AOL sucks.” It took my roommate forever to get them to cancel the account, but now she has AOL again. Maybe they didn’t let her cancel the account after all.

    The only reason that call center reps are that aggressive about anything is because at call centers they have all of these stupid incentive programs for reps that have no basis in reality and are directly at odds with actual customer interaction.

  • http://NytIsle.Googlepages.com Chrissy

    Hey there!

    I cancelled my AOL account a couple of months ago and it took more than 15 minutes to do, and then I got disconnected. I figured that was part of the scam but it did get cancelled so it worked out.

    I didn’t interrupt the person, tried to answer all their questions but I was definitely annoyed. At the point where you started interrupting him and just responding “cancel the account” he went off script, however, the beginning was verbatim for what I got when I called. So I guess they fired him because he went off script, but that annoying process is THEIRS and they want it that way—so it’s not like the guy got fired for reading the script part. Had you not gotten straight to the point by repeating “cancel the account”, they would have continued to ask about your usage, your connection speed and what other ways you plan to email people (as if there aren’t a ton of FREE email options available these days!) Several of the questions were re-worded, but the same question. A stall technique, any means necessary to get you to stay on. What a pain.

    THEN, after all this, I get a note from them telling me I can use their email for FREE by using the website interface and not their software. LOL What a joke. I’m so glad to be out from under them and their monthly charges.

  • Sarah

    I know I sound like the dozens of others who have posted here, but the exact same thing happened to me about 2 years ago. Actually, after listening to your audio file, my rep was even a bit ruder I think. I called at 2 a.m. (I’m a night worker) and got an Indian CSR. She gave me the whole run around, and like you, I insisted I just want my account canceled. Then she told me she couldn’t do it. Why the hell does AOL give you a number to call for cancellations, and it goes to reps who can’t even perform the task? Wth? I asked to speak to a supervisor, and the rep got pretty hostile, stating that the super wouldn’t be able to able to cancel my account either. The super gave me another 800 number to call. I waited until the next afternoon and called, getting someone in the States who was able to cancel my account and wasn’t rude about it.

    I have a friend that used to work at a MSN call center. His whole job was to talk people about of canceling their Internet accounts. It’s called a “save.” He even talked a woman out of canceling her recently deceased husband’s account. Pretty awful, but then again, he was trying to support his ailing mother and himself, so I can understand the need to bring home a paycheck.

  • http://philmcracken.blogspot.com Phil

    I saw your story on CNN today…what a joke. Thank god I never used AOL..or what I like to call “Internet for Dummies 8.0″.

  • Madison

    Hey,

    I just saw you on CNN…and I think that it is kind of funny how hard it is to cancel AOL. They are soo scared of losing business for some reason. I worked in a Call Center at one point in my life and when people would threaten to cancel…I would tell them go right ahead, its not going to hurt us. I mean if someone wants to cancel something then they should be able to do it right then. But oh well…

    —Madison—

  • Chris

    This ALSO happened to me when I canceled. It tool over 20 minutes and a lot of back of forth. AOL is LYING when they sent you that letter saying it was an isolted incident. It is protocol for them to do that when they have a customer on the line trying to cancel. Thanks for bringing this in the spotlight.

  • Maggie

    I cancelled AOL last year (2005) I really had no problems BECAUSE I went on the blogs and read everything so when I called AOL I was ready for them. I told the person on the phone “I didn’t want to hear anything from him but Ma’am your AOL account is cancelled”. He still tried to find out who I was going with and why. I told him it was none of his business. My account was cancelled..

  • John

    They said they don’t tolerate this kind of thing from their employees.
    Bullcrap! I went through weeks to get them to cancel. When I threatened to get a lawer they finally canceled. It is their policy to have their employees do anything to keep you. When they get a serious threat or are shown on CNN
    they say OH! We will fire the employee because that is not our policy.
    They are nothing but greedy liers.

  • Rob

    I had a similar problem with trying to cancel an AOL account. They tried to sell me new computers, etc., as well. They then told me that they’d cancel my account but let me have it for an extra month so I could take care of informing friends of my new e-mail address, etc. I asked what happens after the one month. They told me that if I don’t call them back that I get auto-billed and my account becomes active again. Yeah, watch out for that trick.

    They also told me all about my usage as well — I hadn’t used the damn thing in 6 months.

    In response to Steve’s comment about going in with a chip on your shoulder – I started off my call very politely. I said please, I said thank you, I used a calm quiet tone. I even asked the guy how his day was going. Then HE got rude with ME because I wanted to cancel. Same deal. They like to hang up on you when you’re canceling, too, so you have to go through the same trouble.

    Even after cancelling, they billed me once more. I called my credit card company and reported it.

  • cmaire olnom

    I KNOW THE FEELING! I AM TYPING THIS LARGE TYPE CAUSE IT EASY FOR ANYONE OVER 50 TO READ IT! I HAD THE SAME TYPE OF PROBLEM WHEN I CANCELED MY AOL ACCOUNT (GET THIS) THREE YEARS AGO! I DONT USE CREDIT CARDS SO I WAS USING MY ACCOUNT TO PAY FOR THE SERVICE! WELL THEY TOLD ME TO OPEN ANOTHER ACCOUNT WITH MY BANK IF I WANNA MY SERVICE TO CONTINUE! AND THEN IT GOT REALLY WEIRD I SAID CANCEL MY ACCOUNT AND GOT ALL THE STUPID QUESTIONS THEY ASK AND THEY HAVE THE FACTS RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM ABOUT THEIR SUBSCRIBERS! IT TOOK A LONG TIME FOR THE REP TO CANCEL MY ACCOUNT PLUS I TRY CALLING BACK AND TRY TO GET A REASONABLE PERSON TO TALK WITH! AOL WELL SORRY TO SAY IT SUCKS BIG TIME!

  • John…no not the AOL “John”

    This recording demonstrated that the legendary reputation of AOL was not just an exaggeration. But I am surprised at the defensive reaction of so many people who obviously haven’t read carefully.

    Anyone who wants to defend AOL needs to look at AOL’s history, not just this one caller’s recording. Yes, poor customer service is common-place and continues to grow. Yes, you can rattle off many companies who are just as reluctant to cancel customer accounts. What sets AOL apart is its apparent Standard Operating Procedure of telling customers they’ve canceled their membership, while continuing to draw money from the customer’s credit/checking account in the hopes that the customer won’t check their statements. AOL has a reputation among bank employees that sets them apart from others.

    And why do people point to the AOL rep’s claim that Vincent had 545 hours of usage, as if that were a fact? How gullible can you be??? Any company that continues to draw money from customer accounts, after fooling them into thinking they’ve canceled, will have no compunction about telling their phone reps to lie to the customer. If one has to choose between Vincent’s honesty and AOL’s honesty, there’s really no contest unless you can give a body count of how many people Vincent has ripped off or how many states Attorneys General have filed class action suits against him.

    As for “John” being fired, it may well be true. I’ll wait until I see a reporter stick a microphone in his face. Until then, given AOL’s track record on truth-telling, I remain skeptical. And to those who keep picture-painting about his “wife and kids”: How do you know he isn’t childless and beats up his girlfriend every night? I can paint pictures too, but they’re just as meaningless as yours.

    I also laugh at people begrudging the caller’s “15 minutes/seconds of fame”. It’s a small counter to AOL’s YEARS of INFAMY. Whether he intended it or not, he did a great service for those who wish to cancel their AOL and have procrastinating, because now is probably a good time. With all the publicity, there may be a narrow window of advantage. When they ask why you’re canceling, just say “too many lengthy customer service calls” Thereafter, whatever they say, you can tell them they are just proving your point.

  • KillBill

    I canceled my aol account two monthes before my trial ended. I cancelled ahgead of timecause I knew I’d forget. I called and battled for 10 minutes trying to cancel my account.”Why don’t I keep your account active till your trial period ends”. -aol rep
    ” I believe I may not have been clear so I will say it again. I am calling to cancel my account.- me. What part of “cancel my account” is not clear. I saw your segment on CNN and excited that someone taped the call to share with the World. Thank you!

  • Elaine

    I loved reading your page and hearing about you in the news. When my father passed away I had a really hard time cancelling his account. He received 3 “We miss you; come back” letters after I made the phone call. I am pretty sure he didn’t get them.

  • Lisa

    Finally, everyone will believe me!!! Three years ago I cancelled my AOL account after enduring an unbelievably rude and crude CSR. I was cursed at, called names and hung up on. I asked for the supervisor and was told I did not need to speak to a supervisor. I was told I had cancelled a day too late and would have to pay an extra month for service I did not want. It was jaw dropping! My family thought I was exaggerating my experience but now I am vindicated.

  • Fred Blue

    Several years ago, I tried to cancel an AOL account. It was a nightmare. I couldn’t believe how many nosey questions they were asking me, treating me like I was a 10 year old who was trying to return a toy purchased at WalMart. The highlight of the experience was when they transferred me to a customer service rep who was familiar with my geographical area. This guy then tried ‘male bonding’ with me by making specific references to my town (asking, for example, if I enjoyed fishing at a nearby lake because he used to go there) and trying to buddy-talk me. I was offended and exasperated by the fact that it is easier to get a divorce than to cancel an AOL account.

    But the biggest farce of all is AOLs public comments about “this is not the way we conduct business” and “we will not tolerate things like this” when, in fact, they TEACH their customer service people these procedures and tricks. Anything less than a full admission of guilt and public apology from AOL is a lie and should not be believed. I am angry all over again just reading your account and all the others.

    If AOL is serious about changing their ways and mending their internal procedures, they should make THIS BLOG the required reading at their company!!!!!

  • Ed

    HA HA you guys crack me up. I worked for one of the companies you guys are complaing about. I totally understand why you guys are mad but its our job to keep you from canceling your account. I don’t know about the other people but I never tried to piss off the caller to make them hang up so they had to keep there account. To make a remark about a statement i saw about not canceling the account now but doing so in a month. They bill you a month in advance so lets say your bill date is june 15th and you call on june 23 to cancel your account, it is still usable until july 14th because you paid for the month. Then the account gets closed at 11:59pm so you wont get charged again. If you read the fine print you will see that this is how they charge for there accounts. Alot of people argue about wanting the month prorated but that is in the fine print too. My best advice to everyone is read the fine print before you sign anything or agree to do anything.

  • NOT AN AOL SUBSCRIBET

    Darn, this kid is getting too much traffic to his website! lol.

    I never used AOL, and do not intend to.

  • santa

    My son just got a new computer and hooked up to Cox with phone,cable, and internet. He tried to close his AOL account because he no longer needs it and had the same problem getting them to cancel his account.

  • Chey

    Ed,

    If they only charge for the current month in use, that is fine. But AOL doesn’t do that. Using your example, AOL would continue to bill you on July 15th, August 15th, September 15th, October 15th, November 15th, December 15th and so on. Only until you threaten the involvement of legal counsel, does the AOL rep hear the words: cancel my account. AOL’s practice is pervasive and AOL reps are just as much to blame. No one with a soul or a heart would work in AOL’s CSR dept, period!

    –Chey

  • http://Earthlink.net Garry

    I had the same problem trying to cancel my earthlink account. When I called customer service, they answered in a matter of seconds. When I told them I wanted to cancel, they said that a different department takes care of that and they transferred me. I was put on hold for 20 minutes. Obviously when the person eventually came on the line I was not very happy. I knew the game they were playing. Most people would have hung up before the 20 minutes had passed.

    Then I got the same stupid questions that you did. Over and over again trying to talk me out of cancelling. In the end I had to insult him, his mother and every other relative of his before he grew tired of talking to me and cancelled my account.

    The problem is that these are not the only companies doing it. Many companies make it very easy to sign up and almost impossible to cancel. Something should be done about it.

    Thanks for bringing this problem out into the open.

  • Ed

    Yes i knew alot of people that wouldn’t allow the caller to cancel there account. When you ask to cancel they are going to try to keep you, if you tell them you don’t want to keep the ISP and they keep trying to talk you out of it stop talking to them and tell them you want to speak with there supervisor. Thats as easy as it gets, you wont have to get mad and it will save you time. One thing to remember you have to ask for the supervisor a few times until they try to connect you to one.

  • Lita

    I remember cancelling my account, and it took about a whole hour for the guy to finally do it for me.

  • Mary

    Same thing happened to me. I was on the phone for probably about 20 minutes trying to cancel my account. The woman kept trying to offer me a couple of months of free service or other freebies. I kept telling her that I didn’t want AOL. I just bought a laptop with wi-fi and can get free internet at school and at my church. She didn’t care. It was sooo annoying, but finally she agreed to cancel it. What worked is that I was not putting up with her crap. I was assertive and didn’t fall for her tactics to try to keep me as a customer.

  • http://jordansview.blogspot.com Not an AOL fan

    I saw your story on CNN, and decided to visit your blog. I too have my own frustrating tales of trying to cancel ny AOL account on several occasions. Recently I had been considering whether or not to try AOL again because their rates for high speed in my area I think are lower than my current ISP offers.

    But after hearing your story, and reading how many people have had similar experiences, I’m convinced that AOL trains their workers to follow these annoying routines, and I rather not be involved with a company like that.

    Even if they are only training their phone reps to try to get the customer to not to cancel– which is perhaps reasonable– there’s a right and a wrong way of doing things. They need to develop a policy that at least shows some respect for the customer. For example, if they feel they must at least make an attempt to keep the customer, they could ask something like this:

    “For company records, would you mind telling us why you’re cancelling the account today? (they might even read the customer a multiple choice list of possible responses). But if the customer doesn’t want to answer the question, or just says “cancel”– the customer’s wishes should be respected.

    I know people, myself included, who have called to cancel their account, only to stay on with AOL a little longer because it is so unpleasant to deal with a rep who won’t take no for an answer.

    Hoepfully the wide publicity your story is receiving will help bring around some very needed, long overdue policy changes at AOL.

  • avalon1178

    Yeah, they gave me a hard time too! Mine was more civil though :) Luckily I know something about computers and computer security to not get duped by them. They gave me reasons like, “oh, but AOL provides state of the art security, anti-virus, spyware detection, etc”, and I’m like…uh, I can get those features with my normal ISP and I don’t need AOL”. They also say “oh, you get unlimited email when you’re not logged in, stream video and live radio music, etc”. And I say, “uh, I can still do that in http://www.aol.com even if I’m not subscribed”. Basically, every reason they give me why I should stick I always have a rebuttal why I should cancel. In the end, she gave up and cancelled my account.

  • http://mynismo.com Jason

    CANCELLED the day after I heard your interview!

    THANKS!

  • Bucky

    I’m glad this story is getting the media coverage it deserves. I had an AOL account I tried to cancel almost a DECADE ago — SAME DEAL! :) Never considered AOL since, and have recommended to MANY friends through the years to avoid AOL like the plague!

  • Kelly

    Being excellent at customer service also entails that you know who and what you are working for. That you are part of a team. This guy demonstrated excellence at his job, but poor choice of employer. I am sure he would have loved to be able to instantly cancel and refund the months remainder. That is a significant long term perspective decision by the company. His bosses three or four levels up should be fired for being short sighted managers. But the “go get your dad” was his idea, and that unreasonable sarcastic attempt should be dealt with. Trouble is, he is most likely a prison contractor working a phone and had nothing to loose to begin with.

    “Because it is my job” to me is a poor excuse and the sign of sheep.

  • Digital Bliss

    It’s sad things have come this far when it comes to customer service. I recently had a problem with two companies like this involinvg a router and dsl. Told them exactly what the problem was and they had no idea what I was talking about. Their was a conflict with the router and modem thus one ip needed to be changed. After spending 3hrs on the phone the router company gave me vauge instructiosn to solve the problem. In the end neither company could help me solve the problem completly

  • aoltechguy

    After reading the postings here for the past several days, and as a current AOL employee ( I work in tech support ) I finally wanted to comment and also provide some insight as to what is happening at AOL right now that is affecting those of us not involved with retention/saves/MRM or whatever they are calling us these days.

    Was John right to do what he did? No, because his training teaches him different behavior. Could we really expect John to do things the “right” way post training? Not really. Is obnoxious behavior encouraged “on the floor” once John left training and started taking calls? Yep, it is. It’s encouraged by the bonus program AOL has in place for the saves CSR’s. Most importantly it is encouraged by the immediate supervisors of the CSR’s, whose benefits are calculated based on employee performance. Saves CSR’s are encouraged to make big bonuses by their supervisors because that helps supervisors make big bonuses to continue to make payments on those Lexus SUV’s that dot our parking lot. My bonus is about 10% of what they make and the ethics in tech support are much better. So, while I would say one could not condone John’s behavior, one could understand it. I think that moving forward the company has no choice but to completely change the way saves does their job, and possibly reduce the size of that department and let people just cancel online or call in and not be hassled.

    AOL management is now scrambling to save face and it’s funny to watch and read their latest communications encouraging everyone to be nice to the customer. I’m always nice, so are my tech co-workers. I suppose our job is made easier because members call us for help connecting online or help using features on AOL so they are usually pretty easy to work with. The irate ones are either just nuts ( who’d harass any company ) or people with legitimate complaints about previous phone calls. Most of that is due to the fact that tech support in India is partially outsourced so we can’t trace back to the person who helped make the situation worse for the member before we got involved.

    John was his real name, he did work in Ogden, and he was fired.

    If you call now and tell us you are recording the call, we cannot hang up on you.

    If you call in ( like someone did this morning ) and call me a dick, asshole, fucking whatever….I have to be as nice as possible to you because you are the customer. I have to work really hard to get your POS Windows 98 64 MB Ram PC loaded with our latest software and help you get connected. My call times have suffered and I probably won’t get much of my measly little bonus this month, but I do understand why. AOL has become a target for pranks over the last couple of days as a result of corporate behavior.

    The best thing that could happen is for TimeWarner to dump us so we can become a leader again.

  • justwondering

    Reminds me of the AOL rep when I wanted to cancel my account a few years ago. It was an extremely frustrating 10 minute call because he just wouldn’t listen. I told him that I knew he got credit for stopping people from canceling their account and that’s why he was being so difficult.

    Then he actually told me that wasn’t true and that AOL didn’t even have a marketing department. Guess those discs can reproduce and mail themselves. I finally hung up on him and called back a few minutes later.

    Another rep answered the call and started asking the same questions. I refused to answer any of them and kept repeating that I wanted to cancel the account. Finally the second rep realized that he wasn’t going to change my mind and canceled the account.

  • http://luvsiesous.blogspot.com Wayne

    Aol

    Aol has NEVER been a leader IMHO. I maintained an aol account for several years when I was a novice internet user. Aol preys upon people that are not very tech savvy.

    I had over a dozen emails reporting tech support issues (including the advent of spammers) that I sent to aol (mostly to steve what’s his face). The responce was TRIVIAL.

    When I cancelled my account, the representative was kinder than he was to you – but to think that aol doesn’t breed that abusive culture does not cross my mind. He took almost 10 minutes. I identified myself as a computer technology professional that did not WANT to pay to be spammed. He offered free service for 3 months.

    10 minutes – I should have billed at the usual 2 hour minimum.

    Regards

  • Shhimthinking

    I cancelled my AOL account months ago. My most recent credit card statement has it reinstated. Who did that? I most certainly did not, and I live alone!
    They’re usually really nice on the phone…like the person who cancelled my account…or who I thought had cancelled it. Is it possible to SORTA cancel an account? Or did they think I suddenly want it uncancelled??????????!

  • Anonymous

    I am a former employee of a financial institution who personally took countless calls from AOL customers who stated they were billed by AOL after they had cancelled their accounts. This was the only ISP who engaged in this practice.

    It later became quite clear that their retention deparment was engaging in unscruptulous practices when they were sued by and settled with the Attorneys General in New York and Ohio in August 2005.

  • Curtis

    I had the same problem when I cancelled them 3 years ago. I have heard it has gotten worse. This proves it.

  • erica

    the first internet service account i got was aol, along with my sister, my dad paid for a year in advance for each of us, we liked it we asked for it for xmas the next year but on the third year we moved had no home phone and decided to cancel aol, and get cable, (also my sisters account had not been working for six months they sited her computer, a tech said her computer was fine, even my boyfriend a comp. science grad students said the computer was fine). well that is where the nightmare started first i could not cancel cause even thou everything was under my name the credit card was not, then i got that infomation called them and could not cancel cause i could not rember my address, (i had update my address and i had move three times i was a college student) i was told that as long as i cancel before my service ended i would be done, well after five calls the last my dad made, my service was canceled, in the mean time the automatical charged my dad for my sisters service, something that goes against consumer reg, cause he did not call and ask for extenstion, and when we singed up there was no cancelation clause, well he got hers canceled and then he got charged for my canceled account, them stating since i did not cancel in time. well here we are two canceled account, which they did cancel, and being charged for two one year services, that where not existant, (they erased our email addresses and we could not log in). i will say my dad got his money back he took it to the attorney generals office in north dakota and sued. it did take to years. i am sooo glad you published what you had to go through lets everyone know how sucky they are.

  • aoltechguy

    AOL was a leader. Way back when AOL, Prodigy and Compuserve were it for dial up access, because there was only dial up access, AOL’s online content surpassed the competition and kept getting better and better. AOL tried its own DSL and Cable services but the costly fees AOL incurs on leasing phone lines and maintaining agreements with TWC’s Brighthouse division now makes these “legacy” programs overly expensive and too costly too maintain for much longer.

    For a novice internet user, or for protecting children for online predators, AOL software and parental controls are outstanding. I get calls all day from people who do not know what a tower, modem, CTRL key or monitor are. For them, AOL is very user friendly.
    I am sorry you continued to get spammed. Upper management isn’t always the best place for resolution, especially at AOL where there is a lack of communication between upper and local management. Truthfully, your mail probably was never directed to the right source and that is unfortunate.

    AOL has made some decisions in the past few weeks that astound us. Delaying the release and no training on AOL Suite, no plans in the works for an AOL 10.0 ( can they keep tweaking 9.0 forever? ) a Safety and Security package the size of Texas, lack of co-ordinated support between AOL and its high speed partners ( Verizon, Charter, etc.) and the unbelievable decision to put ads on all email content. Those floor us each and every day.

    I hope AOL can survive and make a decision about what it wants its future to be….

  • http://www.j-birdlivemusic.com Kudos To You!!

    Just saw your story on cnn.com Great job in keeping your cool while handling this annoying and very frustrating situation. This should be a “heads up” to Corporate America to get a better handle on their customer service relations.
    Joanne J-Bird Phillips

  • http://www.brentcreative.com mark

    I recently had a similar type of experience with a credit card I was trying to cancle. In my oppinion this isn’t just about a guy trying to hard to do his job. I’m sure these coporations push this type of behavior. If I was John(the AOL guy) I would sue AOL for firing me. Finally, who would use AOL? It’s been know for years that they are just pushers. Look at all the CDs that you are given when you don’t ask for one.

  • Howard M

    that is funny these are the reasons we call them AO Hell

  • Rick

    Over two years ago I did the same thing. I decided to use my broadband provider for my email accounts. For about 30 minutes I had to argue with customer service rep to get the account cancelled and I mean ARGUE. It was ridiculous, I think it’s something they are trained to do. I’ll never use AOL again, I don’t care what they have to offer.

  • Annie

    I had a similar response about 18 months ago when it took me 45 minutes to cancel my account. My rep acted as if he couldn’t hear me, when that failed he tried to convince me I would be really sorry if I cancelled and it might not be easy to get back on. He gave me several versions of,”I hear what you are saying but I would like to explain why this would be a mistake”. He reduced me, a 53 year old woman to shouting and cursing(tho I did tell him it was for the people I hoped to God were listen to this call(which I was told would be taped). I am sure I was not an isolated case – so AOL knew in 2005 that this was occuring:BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THEY WANTED.

  • Jeff Shaw

    Sounds painfully familiar. This is how I did it and got instantaneous positive results:
    a) Determine which credit card you are using to pay for the AOL service.
    b) Call up the bank and notify them that the card has been lost or stolen; can’t determine which. Ask them to issue a new card with a new number.
    c) Call up AOL and politely request to close/cancel the account. If they resist in any way, then notify them that from this moment forward you will no longer use or pay for the service. You can disconnect this call whenever you wish.
    d) I GUARENTEE YOU that they will immediately attempt to charge an additional month of service to your card on file.
    e) They will instantly discover the card has been canceled, become irate, and immediately send you a threatening email, mentioning lawyers and lawsuit. SAVE this email for a while, and be assured you are NOW fully disconnected.

    Try my method; it works. You get the desired results and some modicum of satisfaction, all at the same time. LOL

    Enjoy!

  • http://null anonymous user

    Netscape is a subsidiary of AOL, and is pulling this same kind of crap, as I’ve discovered to my disgust. Somehow they lost the record of my request to cancel my account. They gave me a cancellation number when I didn’t call to cancel (??), but somehow the cancellation number I recorded doesn’t match any numbers in their records, so I’m out of luck.

    Well, not really. I’d been paying for the account via credit card, and I had the foresight to have the credit card number changed BEFORE I called to cancel. So they can’t touch my funds. Now all I have to put up with is some collection agency calling 5 or 6 times a day, despite my having told them to stop. They refuse to identify themselves, and they call from a different number each time. Betcha this ends up in court.

  • james

    same thing happened to me, took 30 min, told the lady i had sold my computer, she asked if i could use my friends, found out on my statements they were double charging me, said i had two accounts, when they admitted it was a mistake they needed me to write a letter explaining the problem and send it certified mail, did that, still didnt get my money back, how many people do think they are ripping off,, somebody investigate, then sue

  • Joshua

    Dude!!,
    I just saw your piece on CNN I had an even worse experience with cancelling my AOL account. I cancelled my account in March 05, I spent about 25 minutes on the phone convincing them I did not want there business. I had switched to DSL through my cable company. I got a cancellation number and everything! Six months later I closed my bank account, that AOL had been taking ther money from. About 2 weeks after I had closed the account, I got a overdraft notice from my former bank. Aol had never closed my account!! So that was the first 35 dollar overdraft fee. So i called AOL, After 2 hours on the phone with 3 different associates ( i use that term loosely) all of them barely speaking english they were in India!!! I thought i had finally cancelled my account! WRONG It took a total of 4 more times to get out of the AOL matrix!!! Plus two more overdraft fees from my bank!! From an account that was closed. After all was said an done… AOL over charged me for 6 months, I got 49.95 back , which was taken away in overdraft fees…3 different times!!! I calculated AOL owed me 138.00, but after all the bullshit. I settled for 24.55!! And lost approximately 15 days(waiting for them to electronically deposit my money in a closed account, then the bank would take it away in overdraft fees 3 F—ing different times…that includes driving back and forth to the bank , being on hold for at least 12 hours, and having to put up with that terrible Indian accent!!!!!And like you my friend all I kept saying was I just want to cancell my account. …..PLease let me out of the Aol matrix….If ther is anyway I can help to bring them down I got your back!!! When I saw your piece on T.V. I was like wow how many people have they done this too??.. They have probably made millions on trusting people like me and you !!!!!!!

    DOWN WITH AOL………JOSHUA

  • Kathy

    I WORKED for them as a volunteer, and got free dial up service (BACK IN THE DAY) beta testing new versions and hosting chats on questions for it…
    When I decided to not use it anymore,,, THEY REFUSED to cancel my account I told them I would promptly pass out the username and password everywhere I could and the account was canceled promptly

  • LaTrice- Houston, TX

    THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! I am so glad to hear that someone dealt with AOL and their demanding customer service dept. I used AOL for many years. And when I decided that it was cheaper for me to have my phone and internet service with the same company, I requested to have my service terminated. After making several attempts to cancel, AOL gave me about six months of free service. Once the six months was over, I called one of their rep. and had to have a 45 minute conversation requesting that they cancel the service and why I wanted the service cancelled. The conversation became so intense that I was forced to tell the rep. that she was an ass-hole to have me on the phone so long, and if I had to tell her again to cancel my service, I was going to contact every possible executive with the AOL corporation and act a damn fool. So… Vinny… I applaud you for your actions. And, I’m glad to know that someone was in the position to record this activity and take a stand. LaTrice

  • erica

    A note for Shane and others, it is not illegal in all state to tape a conversation with out the other party knowing, in some state it is legal if only one person knows of the recording, the only time that recording becomes an issue is when you want to use it in a court of law, you have to right to record every conversation you have, but you may not be able to use them i a legal proceding.

  • erica

    also a an after thought most custmer service calls state that your call may be recorded, so if they are recording him why cant you record them???

  • jon

    i had the same problem with my dish network when i tried to cancel them. i tlaked to somebody for over 20 minutes there adn he kept trying to say that the price of cable has gone up twice in the last three years i told him dish went up 4 times in a year and that it was alot more he then said that the account was turned off at the end of the cycle i siad fine. then a monthh later i got a bill and it said that i owed them for even more channels than i suscribed to before i cancelled i called them back and they said i didnt speak to a person that was authorized to cancel my account that i had to toalk to somebody else i asked if the person still worked there they said yes that they did i informed thme that if i didnt get the bill wiped and service cancelled that i would sue for deceptive service (a law in florida it has a different name tho) and poof the bill was gone and my service cancelled.

  • Gene Dees, Albuquerque, NM

    It boiled me to listen to that, too. However … in spite of what AOL told you and the media, they DID NOT FIRE “John”. The guy is too valuable for them to fire. I’ll bet any amount of money he is still there but using a different fake name, now. I went through exactly the same thing with AT&T WorldNet.

  • Rick

    AOL now puts annoying ads into our E-mail. It took me four hours to fix the problem. The AOL Live Tech Support people wasted a lot of my time by telling me to do things that actually made matters worse. Sometimes, even when AOL is acting polite and helpful, they are being rude and troublesome.

    Back to the Topic at hand, Thanks to you all who have shared your experiences trying to cancel your AOL service. This must be a case of “misery loving company.” I have loved reading your posts!

    Now, a plea for help –> Can anyone recommend an ISP I would be happier with than broadband AOL?

    THANK YOU !!!

  • Alex

    We had an AOL account when we got our first computer. We had 12 months free from a deal and when those 12 months were up my mom called to cancel but they gave us anouther month free. Not sure what the point of that was cause we canceled after the extra month free anyways.

  • Christina

    THANK YOU! I had the same exact experience with AOL. I actually thought I was being phone scammed by a friend, I couldn’t believe what was happening. The guy would not accept my cancellation. He went on and on and would not listen to me…It was soooo annoying! I actually couldn’t talk to the guy anymore and gave the phone to my mom so she can yell at him. I have never experienced anything like that. I am COMPLETELY disgusted with AOL and those representatives should be ashamed of themselves.

  • qingqing

    It seems that everyone has had the same experience with AOL. It’s the only ISP in the world, probably, that needs a separate browser open for Internet access. If you accidentally hit close because you think you’re using a normal web service – it’s redialing all over again. And I always wondered why the broadband was exactly the same. Close the browser and poof there goes your connection without you knowing. Trying to call it to cancel the account…? Keep on dreaming. Even though I never got into an argument with the SVR, and just sat there listening to all her promotions – it was very, very, very annoying. In the end, after saying no to all of them again and again… took up about forty-minutes, I think the account got cancelled. It’s the typical sales strategy, but AOL seems to be too aggressive with it. Sometimes you do have to pity those poor souls working for AOL – imagine the training they must have undergone in order to sound like that…

    AOL… die….

  • Teri

    rick

    First of all – When asked by anyone…my only response to that question is “ANYTHING BUT AOL” hahaha

    I googled “best ISP” and found this for you:
    http://www.consumersearch.com/www/internet/isp/index.html

    Notice at the bottom half of the page, after they go through the best ISP’s, they make a note of stating that AOL is, in a word, awful.

    I use Earthlink, and am very happy with the service. Good luck and when you call to cancel AOL, be sure to tape it!!!!

  • Shallon

    To all those of you who are going on and on about poor poor Johnny and his wife and kids and dog or whatever……I work for a company who has a customer service department. I can tell you first hand that while most customer service reps. are well versed in that art of trying to prevent people from getting a refund/cancellation/return, I would say that the overwhelming majority also are people who do not live in a hole…..they too have bank accounts, AOL accounts, credit cards, etc…..and they would not want to be treated that way if they had to call to cancel them. No one at this point really knows what his deal is or why he acted that way. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is ILLEGAL (i.e. what he did was break the law) in this country to deny, suppress, or withhold cancellation of a contract if the contract clearly states the user is free to terminate at anytime.

    While yes, it is their job to try to get you to keep the account, it is not their job to threaten and annoy you to the point that you feel the need to scream, yell etc. The world is full of A-holes. That is reality (and they come on both ends of the phone line). No it’s not right to curse at someone, but it’s also not right to demand that someone who is funding your paycheck they must listen to you disrespect them.

    While I do feel slightly sorry for John, it’s only because he was fired because this phone conversation was taped and blasted all over the media….but for that he would still be happily employed, trust me (maybe even promoted). He is a victim of the system that created him. However, he should have taken a lesson from all of his co-workers, some who work there for years and years, and have come up with some good tactics as to how to keep people from canceling that don’t include lying.

    The moral to the story…..why the hell is anyone using AOL? It is well known that AOL generates more advertisements per minute through its service then any other media service in the WORLD. Period. Why don’t we all just graduate to the REAL internet? If you need an outside ISP before getting AOL broadband, why not use the outside ISP’s software to surf (if your a novice). By that I mean the Comcasts, the Verizons, etc…..they all come with their own software. If your not a novice, and you are not using IE, Firefox, Safari, etc. to surf the web, you need to have your head examined. AOL exists because it appeals to a group of people who don’t have computer experience enough to know they are being taken advantage of and can have a better experience on the web just using standard browsers, not Advertisement-Factories like AOL. You wanna shut down AOL? Get educated on how to use the internet without it, and teach those who aren’t computer savvy how to live without it too…..do that and AOL will crumble in a matter of months.

  • Andrew

    Thank you very much for posting this. We need more collective action to denounce this sort of thing. I had a similar experience trying to get a refund from Verizon Wireless for a service that I had cancelled. It took me more than six months to get my $120 back and repeated phone calls were to no effect. Finally I was helped by someone at a local Verizon office who “escalated” the complaint and I had a check within 24 hours. The experience made me never want to deal with Verizon Wireless again.

    It is a crock that AOL seems to be walking away pretending that this was the employee’s fault. If we all use the web more to get even for this kind of disrespectful treatment from big companies, perhaps we can actually induce them to change their customer-relations policies. In the meantime, the more public shaming they get, the better.

    He probably got fired for saying “You WILL listen to me!” which wasn’t even the annoying part. The annoying part was that he didn’t simply process your cancellation in less than a minute and say “Have a nice day.”

    Am I wrong or does he make a Freudian slip toward the end, where he tries to read “We know you” and instead says “We annoy you”?

  • Missy

    From now on, I’m going to tell ALL service reps that I’m recording the conversation for ‘quality assurance’

  • Dee

    I remember being on hold for 60 mins before I got someone on the phone to cancel. Thanks for bringing this to light.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/valerianx6 MedusaX6

    Wow! When I heard on CNN-Showbiz Tonight that there was someone out there that actually beat AOL from hell, I was waiting with a pen n’ paper ready to find out how you did it.
    I cancelled AOL a two months ago via, AOL website, fax and phone, all three methods available to cancel.
    It worked, so I thought! I was billed yesterday for $30.90. It comes directly out of my account.
    I called my bank and they said I can do a Dispute. I will have to or change banks completely I guess.
    I already paid the last expenses last month, but NO, I was still billed this month anyway.
    I get no access to the cancelled AOL account at all. I am confirmed Cancelled yet still being billed a strange amount for dial up.
    I deleted every single AOL file or folder I could find also.
    I used TrueSwitch and did not get a single thing forwarded from AOL to MSN, nothing.
    I did find a phone number for The Department for Consumer Affairs. I guess I really need to call it and file a formal complaint as well as the bank.
    I saw on another news broadcast about a week ago that a guy has all the vital 800 numbers to live persons in administration departments for AOL and other companies but missed writing that information down.
    Well, I’m sure glad you got away from AOL, I have not been able to.
    I don’t use a damn AOL thing, but still have to pay them.
    I hate AOL’s gutts.

  • randy

    just to let you know aol not only is hard to cancel, but they do a few other things
    1. they hide files into your computer, it is one of the hardest things to remove from your computer
    2.they put out spam, and are virus laden, i have found on many peoples computer that if they have problems i can usually trace it back to aol.
    3.the first thing i do when i work on a computer is to remove anything relating to aol, also if someone buys a computer be sure before going online to remove all aol software.
    4.and make sure never to accept e mail from anyone on aol
    hope this helps someone out there

  • Deborah

    Congratulations!!! I successfully cancelled my AOL account about 2 years ago only after I had my fiance on another phone to witness the request to have the AOL service cancelled. When I informed the AOL representative about having a witness to my request, he became VERY angry. Fortunately the service was cancelled. I will NEVER use AOL again.

    BTW, more recently I had a similar experience with AT & T. I was on the phone for 30 minutes attempting to communicate with someone from India before they FINALLY cancelled my long distance service. AT & T had threatened to turn me over to a collection agency for an account balance that accumulated AFTER I had requested my service be cancelled the first time. BEWARE CONSUMERS!

  • Andrew

    Having now read several hundred of the posts here I would like to emphasize two very interesting points that emerge from the discussion. First, perhaps the reason that John “no longer works for AOL” is simply that he _never worked for AOL._ In my protracted argument with the CSR from Verizon Wireless, I got her to admit that she in fact did not work for Verizon Wireless. “We’re supposed to say we work for Verizon Wireless, but, like, when we get our checks they’re from this other company; that’s who we actually work for.” She claimed, in fact, to be unable to contact anyone who worked at Verizon Wireless. In short worked for a company whose sole mandate it was, as a subcontractor, to *not* provide service to customers of Verizon Wireless! It’s straight out of Terry Gilliam’s film, _Brazil,_ where Jonathan Pryce’s plumbing is exploding and the woman’s voice on the phone says, “I’m sorry, Central Services no longer services calls centrally. This has not been a recording.”

    Second, I also really approve of the idea that consumers should take their complaints to the FTC, not the BBB or consumer groups. After all, what we’re seeing here, effectively, as far as I can see, are massive conspiracies to commit fraud. Nothing more, nothing less. So people, a) cancel, b) document, and c) file an account of what happens with the FTC. Enron and MCI went down; AOL is overdue.

  • steve case lol

    did you know aol will let you keep you email address and screen name for use on aim so there is no point to pay for aol if you have a high speed conection their software sucks and the typical aol user has no business on the inter i would love to see aol go belly up and then maybe these morons who use it would have to learn to adapt and use the internet the right way
    aol sucks
    oh yeah just an fyi i have worked for them
    and honestly the responce to any issue is just to get the customer off the phone as quick as possible they could care less how well the software work as long as the customer can see the adds splattered everywhere
    oh if you want to cancel i just called them to get the # it’s 1-888-265-8008

  • former AOL employee

    to “Mr.R” who post was on June 22 at 7:27pm,

    You are right with your math but one thing just isn’t working for you. Now maybe you didn’t listen to the call or maybe you just don’t hear well. But if you had listened to the call or paid attention you would have heard “John” say, “last month was 545 hours”. So if my math is correct that would be about 18.16 hours in day in a 30 day month. So yeah I don’t see that as a little usuage. To me that seems like a high speed user had their AOL on for most of the day and everyday.

  • http://NONE Dee

    plain and simple, I hate AOL

  • TechLevel2

    to former AOL employee post on 6/24/06 4:39A
    I don’t think it matters if there was usage or not when someone decides no longer wants the account… or any service for that matter… furthermore, you are the one failing to understand… when John the rep said there was 500+ minutes of usage, the answer was “probably AIM usage” so… the customer acknowledges usage however continues to request cancelation.

    I had AOL 1.0 when AOL first came out back in the days there wasn’t one day gone by without a new AOL disk in my mail box. I’m extremely glad I found out about an independent ISP based in Miami (back in 1993) that provided 99.9% uptime and allowed me to browse outside the AOL content world.

    AOL is internet with training wheels for the computer challenged user. AOL went from service provider to content provider. AND… read the link below:

    PCWorld / The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time
    http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,125772,pg,2,00.asp#aol

    If watching CNN, FOX NEWS or reading this Blog does not convince you to drop AOL, you probably deserve to have it.

    TechLevel2

  • Bill Roberts

    You are all so stupid – why do you have to go though this ??
    On the AOL software, when you go to keyword: cancel – they will tell you there that you can also send a fax or a letter with all the account details to them asking for the account to be cancelled – this take about 72 hrs to process. The information of how to do it is right there – they tell you how to do it .. so why going into fights …..
    without talking to anybody – but few things you should do :

    Put down all the information but all of it as to the account:
    *Full name of the person named on the account as the billing contact.
    *If you have the account number … great, if not the master screen mane.
    *Full address and phone number as they appear on the account.
    * And the last 4 digits of the payment method ie: c.card, bank account etc..
    VERY IMPORTANT _ DON’T SKIPP ANY OF THAT INFO !! they tell you that there – even give you the address and fax number.

    Keep the “fax received” confirmation just in case.

    I did it that way – piece of cake – got a confirmation in the mail and e-mail.

  • http://putfile John Cody

    I too recorded the phone conversation of closing my AOL account from last july (2005) but just never “let it out” on the chance of legality. But, it seems things went fine for you, so here is my recording for some additional fun…

    http://media.putfile.com/Trying-to-Can-AOL-705

    So it seems this tactic has been used for at least the past year and doesn’t look very good for the isolated incident theory :)

  • http://none Jim

    I tried to cancel from Match.com back in March. I was two months into a three month deal. They sent me an email saying I would still be a member til April 10–I really didn’t expect to get a prorated refund for the last month, so no big deal. When I get my credit card bill in April they had renewed me! I called and got a Heather McCallum. I demanded my money back, she told me they’d give me $20 of the $50 back, thus pocketing $30 for their mistake! I told her to refund it in full. The last thing she asked me? Do you want to cancel! Unbelievable. I told her I cancelled in March. Well two months later, still no refund. I go on Match.com. I was still a member and they were planning on recharging me in July! They have ignored all my emails. Incredible.

  • http://www.kplctv.com/Global/link.asp?L=160221&nav=menu66_8 Jim Serra

    I published the following column on kplctv.com last year. Our experience with cancelling the station’s aol account was remarkably similar. “John” was pushed under the wheels of the bus as a token sacrifice, but his handling of cancellation requests (if you can ever actually get through to a “service” representative at aol) is Company Standard, if our experience and that of our viewers is any indication.

    http://www.kplctv.com/Global/link.asp?L=160221&nav=menu66_8

    -Jim Serra
    VP/GM, KPLC-TV Lake Charles/Lafayette, La.
    jserra@kplctv.com

  • Professor Blather

    god bless you, Vincent. That was pricelessly funny. Way to stand up for the little guy, my friend.

    Now I’m off to cancel AOL. And a few other things, just for fun.

  • Stephen Tyler

    Yeah, AOL are a bunch of a$$holes…they refused to close an account I had and caused a bank account I used to have with U.S. Bank to go almost 400 bucks in the hole…just as much the banks fault as aols cause I told both of em that they weren’t authorised anymore…they’ll never get a d*mn dime of it….I don’t care what collection agency they send it to….and they day comes that they start garnishing wages for crap like this will be the day I get in the car to go burn down their main office. It’s bullsh*t, AOL does that to everybody that tries to cancel; people shouldn’t have to put up with sh*t like that….business practices like that are what gives the internet a bad name. Period.

  • Matt

    Or just do as I do..just swear up a storm.They record their calls for “training purposes”. Like they’d use my call to train some tool. Use the same stategy for jury duty..just say “I hate everybody, especially people like (fill in the blank).

  • mel

    I can empathize with your plight. I recently canceled my account with DISH SATELLITE NETWORK. It took at least 15 minutes of me repeating “Please cancel my account” over and over. He keep telling me what a good deal I had with them ( I told him I was going with a cable-phone-isp all in one service.) He just keep giving me reasons not to cancel, and kept dropping the price to stay with them. So I suggest anyone who wants to save a few bucks on DISH service, call and they will cut their price to keep you.

  • Lynnette

    Hi,
    I watched the YouTube video, listened to the tape and have got to say Vincent Ferrari YOU got the ONLY American, or peferct English speaking employee at AOL, and now he got fired! I have never in all the years of using AOL spoken with anyone other than people with mid eastern accents. You are the man! You not only got the only English speaking CSR but you got them to pull your account up without asking the first three letters of your master screen name, the last four digits of your credit card. That and the fact that the guy told you what your total usage was for the month blew me away! Go Vincent!

    AOL does have the worst customer service, many disconnects, people who not only do not understand English, but do not speak it. Most of AOL’s customer service reps are in India from what I have heard. There have been numerous times that I sat on hold for up to fifteen minutes to change my service, or yes, cancel it, but when you get DSL/Broadband for ten bucks per month, it is sort of hard to give it up.

    I am still in shock … and how do we know it was really AOL on the other end of the phone and not a friend pretending to be an AOL rep? Not that I am defending the action, just that since 1997 I have never spoken to an English speaking person without a very strong accent.

  • Lynnette

    OOPS, I see the media chopped off your illegally recorded converstation … they did ask for the information as usual. Wow.

  • Master Allan

    Great move. It’s about time someone exposed the truth. I hope they don’t retailiate with a massive consumer “Damage Control” campaign by sending out millions of CDs. Vincent is the web hero of the week.

  • Bill Roberts

    HERE YOU GO – WHY PUT YOUR TIME AND NERVES INTO CANCELLING JUST FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS WITHOUT TALKING TO ANY REP:

    The following article may also be found in our Online Help area.

    We value your membership with the AOL® community. However, we are really sorry that you’re considering canceling your AOL® account. It’s our mission to build a service that lives up to the high standards of the online community. We hope you’ve enjoyed being an AOL member and that we can help you again in the future. For security reasons, AOL accounts cannot be cancelled either online or through e-mail. You can get your AOL account cancelled either through phone, US mail or fax.

    To Cancel Your AOL® Membership Over the Phone
    To cancel your AOL account over the phone, all you need to do is call up AOL® Member Services at 1-888-265-8008. You can speak to our representatives to get your account cancelled. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Back to Top

    To Cancel Your AOL Membership Though U.S. Mail
    You can request the cancellation of your AOL account through the U.S. mail. Just send your request to:

    AOL
    PO BOX 17100
    Jacksonville, FL 32245-7100

    Back to Top

    To Cancel Your AOL Membership Though Fax
    If you prefer sending in your request through fax, please send it to us at 1-703-433-7283.

    Notes:

    If you choose to write or fax us, please include a brief note stating the nature of your request, the primary billing contact’s full name, phone number, address and handwritten signature.
    In addition to that, for account security purpose please provide any one of the following:

    The master screen name of the AOL account
    The last four digits of the current method of payment (for your security, please include only the last four digits)
    The answer to the account security question of the master screen name.
    Cancellation will take effect within 72 hours of receipt of your request and AOL will send you a written confirmation. Please note that AOL LLC reserves the right to charge and collect fees, surcharges or costs incurred before your cancellation takes effect. Thank you for using AOL.
    Related Articles:
    Access to Your Backup Files Upon Cancellation of AOL® Service
    Cancel My AOL® Account Because of Online Privacy Concerns
    Cancel the AIM® Service

    Back to Top

    About this article:
    Last updated: Fri Apr 14 12:41:08 EDT 2006
    © 2006 America Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • KRH

    I used to work there doing this very job. It was awful. Seriously one of the worst jobs I have ever had. I think further investigation is definately in order…I have seen people who had NO useage on their account and had been charged 21.95 for in excess of one year before calling to cancel…and they were refunded no money. Not good.

  • Joe

    I have an AOL account for several years – and I am about to cancel as I haven’t used it in years. I find it interesting that we always find a people with difference of opinion advocating their own beliefs. For one – thing if you don’t have an account with AOL and you weren’t trying to cancel – you really can’t render a valid opinion- its not your money that is being ripped off. When someone says they want to cancel an account they are paying – its not up to the individual on the other end to say no. People doing a job in which so intention is to piss you off is not a job putting food on the table. This world has enough stress – they are just adding to the frustration. AOL is a business going under…If they have a job with AOL they either need to find a new job or think about how they would like to be treated if money was being taking out of their wallets. Furthermore, Yes if you are going to record someone legally you need to inform them that they are being recorded as well. You also can request a copy of their recorded message. You won’t get it- but you can request it. I strongly urge that customer call AOL- and informed them that they are being recorded. I also suggest that they mail the cancellation first then call. This way you have two avenues in which to file a law suit. The letter can be delayed by them, thus the reason for the follow up call. If we call and inform them they are also being recorded, I would venture to believe the behavior will change, however, it doesn’t mean that the person on the other end will not be annoyed by it. In summation, It appears People who do not have their own money taken – always seem to have an open-minded opinion towards the AOL rep. If things were reverse – you would not be so patient nor find the yourself being rude. Putting food on-the-table works both ways.

  • Binfordman

    AOL needs to change their policy. Why do ppl pay $25 bucks a month to view ads?

    I heard rumours that AOL will be elimating their dial up service, too I don’t know how true this is.

    Here in the Fort Walton Beach/Pensacola area I started on AOL because it was the only ISP with access numbers that were local. Now that we have cable, who needs aol.

    AOL is trying to redeem themselves by saying crap like “you need a better internet”

    Sorry, but I don’t need them spying on my surfing habbits. I value my freedoms, my privacy and as long as we still have a constitution (anyone know what that is…ahh anyone.. I DOOO!) we still have these rights.

    -Binfordman

  • http://darligraphy.blogspot.com Darla Dixon

    I saw the report on CNN. I thought you were incredibly PATIENT with them. They really seemed like they wanted to mess with you for the fun of it. You did great. Too bad the audio can’t still be here, but it is understandable. I also think though that the jerks responsible for hiring the jerks should have been fired also. It goes all the way up the corporate ladder, but companies always want to have a sacrificial lamb for their corporate irresponsibilities.

  • Peg

    My fiance even had a very difficult time cancelling his dead father’s AOL account. They wanted a death certificate before they would do anything. You see, even death isn’t a good excuse for cancelling your account where AOL is concerned.

  • Jonathan woolums

    aol is doing the same to me i canceled months ago and they continue to bill me i had to cancel my debit card to stop charges. they just sent me a letter telling they were going to turn me into a collection agency. I have made numerous calls to cancel because i changed providers.

  • Dave

    You did an awesome job, I wish I had done something like that when I got this kind of treatment from them. Their agents are thick skinned, rude and very stubborn.They are trained to igonre the requests of cancelations. They would do any thing to get their huge commissions.They ld even lie to you and tell you after asking you a hundred questons, that your account has been cancelled, when its not. And next month you ld get a new bill again and you ld have to go through this painful interrogation all over again, and chances are the agent that you get this time would be worst than the one you had gotten last time!
    They are UNBELIEVABLE and ruthless, they dont ever want you to cancel!
    DONT EVER GET AOL!

  • BK

    Thoughts:

    (1) Organize AOL CD Destruction Parties all around the country.

    (2) Try to find or figure out WHERE DID ALL THE MONEY GO from those fraudulent charges, from accounts not being used, from accounts retained because people couldn’t bear to interact with the “consultants,” etc. Extravagant executive compensation, perhaps? What are the compensation packages of the pressurized retention consultants vs. the executives, I wonder?

  • JeremyC.

    This guy was NOT doing his job correctly. I worked for a cell phone company for 3 years doing the same job this guy is doing. If I were caught treating people like this, I would have been fired on the spot. It could very well be that AOL tells their operators to act like this, but I doubt it. I’m no AOL fan myself. I was banned from AOL when they first became popular for making an off-color remark in a chatroom that was monitored by one of their Nazi Speech-Police.

    There is no excuse for the way this operator acted. When he asked for Mr. Farrari’s father, that was WAAAAAAAY over the line and unreasonable. The attitude was not appropriate either.

    That being said, here are some facts that may or may not help you when you have to deal with call center employees in the future:

    1. It is a very frustrating job. You answer calls all day long – practically non-stop – from people who automatically assume that you’re not going to help them. You have either a script that you have to read to the caller or strict guidelines that govern the structure of the call. This is how you get evaluated at the end of the month. Your voice gets tired, your throat gets sore, and you feel like a leech has been sucking the life right out of you when you leave.

    2. No matter what mood YOU, the caller, is in, try to be nice. The operator is supposed to do the same. Keep in mind that there are things that the operator cannot do. Be reasonable. If you use 4000 minutes on a 300 minute cell phone plan, don’t expect any bill “corrections”. If you think that the operator is being unreasonable, calmly ask for his / her supervisor. You probably won’t get one, but it may make the operator more cooperative. Supervisors are there to evaluate the operators, not to take their calls.

    3. Make sure you get the operator’s name and if they have one, their ID code. Operators are supposed to place remarks on every account that they access. These remarks are to include why you called and how the operator assisted you. They should also include the operator’s ID, which can used to track down any untruthful or abusive operator. Remember that sometimes, a truely bad operator will not leave remarks in the hope that the call was not monitored, in which case, he can get away with it. Also remember that you will NOT get the same operator you got the last time you called. Even if you called 5 minutes ago, the last operator you got may be in another city or even in another company that was contracted to take calls for them.

    4.Upon cancelling service, the operator is instructed to give the caller “opportunities” to change his / her mind. Yes, it is very frustrating on both ends of this. Firstly, the caller does not want to hear any of this. The caller just wants to be done with it and get on with his / her life. The operator really doesn’t care if you leave the service he is working for. He wants to get you off of his line as quickly as possible, so that he can move on to the next issue.

    5. This one is key. More likely than not, there is a timer on each call that the operator takes. In my case, it was 6 minutes. The operator’s calls must average under 6 minutes each month or he suffers deductions on his evaluation, which affects his raise next year. This is NOT something to take advantage of. A call lasting more than 10 minutes is definately something you want to avoid. After 10 minutes, the operator knows that the call will not be evaluated and can pretty much get away with anything. The reason for this is because the people who evaluate the calls are on their own time restrictions. Evaluating shorter calls keeps them from getting backed up.

    6.Do not get suspicious or upset with the operator when he asks you for the last 4 numbers of your social security number or your birthdate. He is looking right at that information when he asks you for it. He is trying to verify that you are the owner of the account. Identity theft is very common now. I cannot tell you how many people I had to deny access to because they either could not or would not verify that information. It is done to protect your account from fraud. Period.

    7.Finally, DO NOT HANG UP UNTIL YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE CALL SUMMARY AND THE CLOSING. At the end of every call, the operator is supposed to tell you everything he has done to the account per your request. Then he will close the call by saying something like “Thank you for calling XYZ Company. We appreciate your business.” If you hang up any time before this closing, the operator is instructed to not do anything to the account. There are certain legal reasons for this as well as business reasons.

    I know that all this seems to be rediculous, and I wouldn’t argue with you if you told me it was. Unfortunately, this is the world we now live in. I only hope that this helps people understand how a call center operates and what the operators have to work around. Just remember that these operators are people too. They have to deal with you just as much as you have to deal with them. Most of them will be reasonable if you are.

  • Sarah :)

    My God! Some of the entrys are so funny! lol I feel sorry for AOL, now that the world knows what to do when call for cancelation! And some of you would sign up just to go to the cancelation part,LOOOOL. Serves them right.

    Hey, I heard about YOUR BIG ADVENTURE in the NEWS! WOW! Did you ever thought this thing will get so much attention?

    When I tried to cancel my account few months ago, their agent began to annoy me by asking me questions like what do I do on line! So I told him that I am recording that call, and as soon as I said that, he hung up on me!

    I had to call and wait again for ten miutes to get another agent and had to answer all the questions all over again, and after requesting and begging and pleading with him for 45 minutes, he finally agreed to cancel my account. I thought I was the only one who got a bad agent but after reading all these posts it seems like it is their company policy to annoy the hell out of the caller so he would just go away with out cancelling the account. Nice move AOL.

  • LBAH

    Stick it to these both the U.S. and in Europe and they are pond scum. I believe I ended up telling one operator that I would rather kill my own children than have another AOL account in frustration.

    Their product is worseless and completely outdated. Their habit of preying on the ill-informed – read elderly – with their ridiculous commercials concentrating on virus protection (apparently no other provider offers anything that might help, let alone McAfree or Norton) is disgusting.

    I truely can’t think of enough bad things to say about AOL. I wonder if a class-action suit would be possible for all the charges they continue to make on credit cards after cancellation?

  • Gayle

    Bought my parents a Dell computer which included 6 months free AOL. After 5 months AOL put one months charge on my parents credit card. I decided to change them over to a CHEAPER ISP. Having gone through the trying to cancel AOL myself I let my 85 year old very capable mother call and cancel. She was on the the phone for at least 20 minutes saying “NO I just want to cancel”. Then she got to the one month charge and they would not credit her. Told her it was for future use. She explained there would not be any future use as the purpose of the call was to cancel after 5 months of use. But alas, they offered her a month free but still would not credit the charge! The end of the conversation was a RECORDING saying the account would be cancelled. Then they have the balls to call a week later and offer her a month for a buck!!! They are trained to not accept ‘please cancel’ and that is blatantly obvious!!!!

  • Will

    Here’s my story: When Time Warner turned off my high-speed (due to non-payment), I got the free for 60 days AOL account. I had paid off Time Warner and was having my high-speed reconnected when I called AOL to cancel my account (this was 3 days before the 60 days was over). AOL told me that since they were partners with Time Warner, I could keep my AOL account and it would cost me nothing, since it was included with my Time Warner service. Since I knew how difficult it is to actually cancel an account, I told them to go ahead, PROVIDED I DID NOT HAVE TO PAY ANYTHING. Much to my surprise, when I got around to looking at my bank statements, AOL had charged me for 3 months after I was told that there would be no charge ever. I called AOL and the representative assured me that the situation would be rectified by the money being put back in my account. It was not put back in my account. I had the bank charge the $54.85 back and change my card number. Soon after, AOL started sending me collection letters and calling, demanding their money. Foolishly, they called me from an 866 number that I was able to redial and instantly speak to someone. I spent many an hour calling the collections department (in India). I eventually started calling the number to order new service to try to resolve this situation. Every call was met with a claim that AOL would investigate this matter. Finally, on one of the occasions when I called to order service, I was told that if I just gave them my credit card number, the situation could be resolved with no charge to my account. I very clearly told the rep that I did not authorize any charge to my card, and any charge on my card would be viewed by me as fraudulent. They did, in fact, charge my card $17.95. I promptly had the bank charge it back and that’s the story so far.

  • Jeff

    I’m sorry the guy lost his job but I guess he reaped what he sowed. But man I just can’t stop listening to your conversation dude! I don’t know why. But yes AOL is garbage anyway mmhmmz…….

  • Jeremy

    Tried to cancel the account I set up for my sister a few years ago as she no longer uses it. Despite the fact that I had set it up, I wasn’t allowed to cancel it- my sister had to. She’s a complete technophobe and can barely manage email so I was worried to put her on the phone with the AOL person. To her credit she stuck by her guns and listened through the rambling salespitch (including ominous warnings about malware, etc) and kept asking to cancel. Between the both of us I estimate we asked to cancel 6 or 7 times before the account was actually cancelled. Took probably 15 minutes total.

    Was definitely pissing me off- if they had put up any barriers like what I read above then I would have told my credit card company to stop payment to AOL and filed a report with the better business bureau.

  • Jill

    After my experience with the hell of cancelling my AOL account a couple of years ago I can offer this step-by-step “preparation” guide. If you take a few steps BEFORE you cancel you’ll find it a little easier to deal with the crap that will be thrown your way.
    1. If you do not already have one, get a free Yahoo or Gmail account.

    2. (you can skip step 1 if you already have your new ISP) Approximately one month before you are ready to cancel, email EVERYONE you know with your new email address. Let them know that after about 30 days they will no longer reach you at your AOL email address.

    3. Call your bank and let them know that you are having trouble cancelling your AOL account. Many banks are already familiar with customers troubles with AOL and are willing to put a “block” on AOL charges at no additional cost to you. While you have your bank on the phone check the date and charge of the last AOL transaction. Make a note of it.

    4. Make the dreaded call to AOL’s cancellation department. It would pay to be courteous and friendly. Read below for some tips to help you keep your cool. Get the rep’s name if they will even give it to you. Write down the time of the call.

    Realize these things in ADVANCE:
    *It is in the REP’S best interest to change your mind, receivig cash rewards or suffering if they fail to keep you on.
    **You will be on the telephone for about 30-45 minutes.
    ***You will be offered “free” service in an effort to keep you on
    ****Yelling will only feed into the already rediculous situation you will find yourself in. Remain calm and allow the rep to make their speech because they have to do that. Answer their questions but be firm that you wish to CANCEL THE ACCOUNT.
    ******Realize that if you take them up on their offer of free service you are only delaying the inevitable. They already know you don’t want the service but if they can juuuuust keep you on for two more months they will once again get to smack your credit card or bank acct with a charge.

    5. If you’ve made it through the call without hanging up on the rep or chewing your own arm off in an effort to end the hell you are enduring then great but guess what…..you were most likely NOT successful in cancelling your account. There have been many, many ppl who went through all of the steps above and still had their card charged even IF they NEVER signed on again. But remember, you put a block on all AOL charges or you’ve cancelled the credit card they were charging so although they refuse to let you go, they won’t get anymore of your money.

    6. NEVER, EVER SIGN ON AGAIN AFTER THE CALL. Do not even use webmail through aol.com. Doing so after you’ve ‘cancelled’ your account can be considered a retraction of your cancellation and your service will be continued. Once you are through with AOL then be totally through. Do not be tempted to check your messages. Be done with them. Remove the software from your computer if you haven’t already. Use a registry cleaner to remove the old entries that the software made in your registry.

    7. Check your bank statement carefully for the next few months. You should not see charges from AOL because you called your bank in step 2. You would really be amazed at how many banks already know the AOL scheme and how many accounts they have to protect.

    8. Finally, IGNORE bills sent you by AOL. If you call AOL about a bill you will receive more frustration and run around. AOL will not turn you over to collections because they know they haven’t a leg to stand on. Remember, you cancelled the account and you did not use the service again (if you followed the steps carefully) so therefore you technically do not owe them.

    **There are some instances in which people are given a discounted monthly rate for their account being on a contractual basis. For instance, you might get the service for 9.95/mo if you agree to stay on for 12 months. That can be a little sticky and I don’t know if they could actually hold you to it if you didn’t physically sign anything. I’m not sure what the law is there but if you are not in a contract then what you are doing is perfectly ethical and legal to my knowledge. Of course, what is ‘ethical’ is subjective but remember, you paid for what you used. The block you’ve put on your account, or the credit card you cancelled will be billed for service you’ve requested to be discontinued.

    They really do not understand what ‘cancel’, ‘end’, or ‘discontinue’ mean. You cannot change the way they do things but you can make the experience easier for yourself since you already know you are dealing with dirtbag tactics.

    Good Luck!!!!!

  • Lucas

    I heard the conversation that you recorded. Did you ask John if he minded you recording the conversation? That’s sort of a felony if you don’t ask first.

    Yeah, it was definately a prick you talked to and while he was trying to do his job he didn’t do it correctly. He shouldn’t have been fired for a single mistake so there’s probably a history of that sort of behavior with this person. The part of the conversation I heard on TV was pretty straight forward, he didn’t use a lot of the techniques people in the business usually use, but none of that really matters.

    If you didn’t ask to record him that’s rude, illegal, and generally immoral.

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Vinny

    It’s not illegal AT ALL. It’s not sort of a felony. It’s perfectly legal, both in New York State and in 31 of the other 50 states. Please don’t call things a crime when you don’t know the law.

    Felony… Jeez… It’s not even a misdemeanor.

    And, just for the record, it’s not illegal in your state (West Virginia) either. They’re what’s called “one-party-states.”

    Now go read and educate yourself.

    Sort of a felony. Where the hell did you get that from?

  • Lucas

    Recording someone without asking their permission is illegal. Even if it’s not a felony it’s still rude.

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Vinny

    Recording someone is not illegal. Go read the link.

    You can read, can you not?

  • Lucas

    In-state calling is totally negated by a interstate call. Calls that cross state lines fall under federal juristictions.

    http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/recordcalls.html

    The fcc requires that all parties be aware, albeit, the fcc makes no statement that failure to comply with that could be in any was prosecutable, but still, let us return to the statement that recording someone without their permission is in fact considered by the fcc very rude and then let us move on.

    I was going on the basis that this would not be admissable in any court of law initally and that if AOL were very determined in a civil case they would have one because of the interstate nature of the call and federal guidelines for wiretapping… Regarless, it’s moot, no one is being sued or arrested.

    It’s still doesn’t change the fact that it’s rude.

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Vinny

    Hey Lucas…

    Ever call AOL?

    I have.

    Know what the first thing they tell you is?

    “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

    In doing so, they’ve informed me that the call is recorded, and their rep knows the call is being recorded. By whom is irrelevant as there’s no longer an expectation of privacy and there is an implied permission by staying on the line.

    Trust me. NBC’s lawyers GRILLED the producer of the Today Show segment before this went on the air and I had to be asked additional questions to determine the legality of what I did.

    If I had done something illegal, I’d be in jail by now dude.

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Vinny

    Oh, and one more thing.

    Read a link before you submit it.

    Currently, the FCC does not have any rules that prohibit consumers from recording wireline telephone conversations. The FCC does have some rules regarding the manner in which telephone companies may record wireline telephone conversations.

    I’m not a phone company. Just thought you should know.

  • Lucas

    Okay, so it’s not illegal.

    Address how rude it is?

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Vinny

    It’s not, especially when they’re recording you anyway.

  • Lucas

    How does the fact that you agree to be recording make it okay for you to record them? It really doesn’t dude. Not all calls by AOL are recorded. No call recorded by AOL is going to be available to this John guy, and most are going to be deleted to make room in their datebases. It’s just rude, and broadcasting it to the world, while wholly entertaining and perhaps a little kick in the ass of AOL, a company whose products are perversely moronic, is just short of bitching on TV. Maybe I just have a problem with one customer’s unsatisfactory experience being broadcast on NBC a slight bit disturbing. Whatever creams your twinkie I guess.

  • Will

    Rude? Rude?? Anyone that works in customer service has to check any expectation of courtesy (from the callers) at the door when they clock in to work.

    Vinny is too right when he mentions the disclaimer that the call may be recorded for quality purposes. Listen to the call, Lucas…that’s the quality of AOL. John certainly knew he was liable to be monitored and recorded by a third party at any time. It just so happens that the third party in this case is the entire world. Funny how things work out.

    To address those that think John got paid extra for retaining the account, they are completely correct. I worked for another ISP and they had a whole department devoted to this called “saves,” as in, save the account.

  • Lucas

    Not a third party, the second party actually.

    Yeah. It’s called customer retention, while John was not doing a good job, he was doing his job.

    I don’t expect John to think that Vinny isn’t going to be rude. I expect Vinny not to be rude because it is an expection that I set for someone who seems to be taking a moral highground in exposing the evils of customer service representatives who are rude. Especially hearing NBC list the number of minutes, FIFTEEN, Jesus…

  • eric

    I have been harashed over a bill, I have paid over 4 weeks ago. My check from the bank, said it cleared on May 12th. It is now June 24th, and the calls finally ended after an half hour agruement, after threatening legal action. The Aol collection department called me more than three times a day. Aol has no clue on how to run a business. Their practices are bs, I never use them again.

  • http://jrandomhacker.info Sy Ali

    I saw the TV spot you got. Nice work.

  • denise rowan

    I know someone who is in the same line of work as poor john. it’s hard dealing with numerous complaints on a daily basis when people think it’s the customer service reps fault for the companies shortcomings. all companies have a script for reps to follow and it is monitored and graded on a daily basis. john was not the only rep trying to be loyal to the company by giving customers a difficult time for cancelling. it was probably well known by company and accepted. it’s unfortunate john was the scapegoat by compay and you and lost his means of supporting himself and possibly a family. blame the company not the reps and don’t feel proud that someone who was trying to make a buck was canned and made known nationally. i hope john finds a different line of work where he does not feel he has to respond in such a manner. as for you,you had your 15 minutes of fame. hope you are proud of yourself because you now have made someones life difficult but on a much greater scale than he made yours.

  • Carrie

    Legally, do you have to inform AOL that you are recording the conversation?

    I was discussing this with a friend of mine, and he said he will be cancelling his AOL account soon. I urged him to tape the conversation, but I wasn’t sure about the legal ramifications of doing so.

    Any information on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

  • Derrick

    Thank you!!! I had a similiar experience when I left compuserve.

  • http://www.dumvivocano.com Buck

    One thing I’ve noticed in this comment thread is that a number of “apologists” for AOL and CSR’s harp on the fact that the call was taped. They then snarkily insinuate that it was a “crime”. In order for it to be a crime there must be some expectation of privacy. Since AOL tapes its calls as well as has them listened to for “quality assurance” there is no expectation on the part of either party – particularly the CSR of privacy.

    In short, you were only doing what they were doing- the difference being of course that your copy would be made public while their copy would simply be used to pump up the drones.

    I have zero empathy for CSR people who work for companies like AOL. By accepting that paycheck and saying what they tell you, you are implicitly agreeing with their tactics. As I recall, slavery was outlawed some time ago in this country. So, if you have a conscience and some moral compass you do the right thing – find another job. If enough left then they’d have to reevaluate their tactics.

    BTW: I went through a similar experience with AOL many years ago. They “cancelled” my account only to bill me again and again for almost a year! I finally had to contact my bank (I used ACH) and have them threaten AOL with bank fraud. It finally stopped after that.

  • alty53

    More than 12 years ago I ran into a real problem when I tried to canceled my AOL account. According to AOL I could not cancel my account unless I was within three days of my startup date. I started AOL on the 25th of the month several years earlier and could not cancel until the 22nd of the month. If I missed that cancel window, I would have to pay for another month. It took me two tries and about $44.00 to finally get it right. I got screwed by AOL and I will never,ever use their service again.

  • I H8 AOL 2

    I just wanted to let you know, like you didn’t already know, that you are not alone.

    I cancelled my account, or tried to, about two months ago. After BS-ing with the guy forever, I gave up and took the free month they offered, thinking I would come back and cancel when I had more time to deal with these tools. That was my second mistake, the first being when I subscribed to AOL.

    I am in the navy, so my ship went out to sea, and came back just before my time would be up to cancel. I got home pretty late, but made my call at just after 11pm, well before the 12-o-clock deadline, but I was wrong. Apparently the number I called to cancel was based in another time zone, and therefor I was “late” and was charged an additional month’s worth of service.

    I pled, not no avail, to have this refunded, and apparently no one has any span of control over these things. I guess AOL, in their infinite knowledge only gives these phone retards the power to grant a free month of service. After about an hour of me arguing about how I was not 20 minutes late, I gave up and went to bed. A week later, I receive a letter from AOL stating that “[I] would not receive any more charges after the 19th”, so I felt the issue had been resolved. That was until the 23rd when my account WAS charged.

    So, I proceeded to call their “customer service reps” to defend my case. Their answer was the typical legalistic, “the letter was sent before the draft went through”-type answer. I argued that I knew when the letter was postmarked, and when the transaction had occurred, but no mountain of evidence could help my case. I was ensured that I would not receive any MORE charges and that my account was cancelled, and I hung up in disgust.

    I hope that AOL is proud of themselves for having milked another month’s worth of payment from me over being 20 minutes late to cancel. I hope the 20 or 30 dollars for them was worth all of the negative publicity I would ensure they got. I have done nothing since then but bash AOL to anyone who will listen. The service is garbage. The people are garbage. Their practices are abhorable. They will be broke before they know it if they continue with this course of business. They think their little checklists of high-pressure, annoying tactics are bull, and they should be required to cancel accounts with NO QUESTIONS ASKED. I shouldn’t have to prove my damn case as to why the service sucks and I want high speed or whatever. I hope AOL takes a substantial hit in the pocketbook from all of the negative publicity, and I will see to it that I do everything in my power to help that along.

    As far as your comments with CNN about “did you feel bad the guy lost his job”, yes it was his fault, BUT, he was following AOL’s policies and tactics. If they disagree, they are just lying even more. If it was not their policy to harass, then so many people would not have the SAME STORY. I applaud you on your efforts and hope you can help bring all of this down.

  • Wendy

    :roll: Have you ever tried to cancel a subscription from a mailorder gourmet coffee service-My advice never join one just because they give you a free coffee pot doesn’t mean they won’t give you an easy time cancelling a subscription.

    Coffee Anyone?:lol:

  • Dennis

    I thought I was the lone “VICTIM” of AOL. I bought a computer from their advertisement, only to recieve a unit that was missing components described in ad, and stuck with a contract for 12 months that had NO LOCAL ACCESS number for me. All connections would be long distance charges. AOL was not at all willing to do ANYTHING but threaten me with damaged credit, and collection agencies if I didn t pay up! To cancel meant to return computer at a ridiculous charge, and pay all kinds of penalties. The cost to return unit was higher than origional cost. Everyone I spoke with at AOL passed the buck on and on till it was insanity! If they were to give the internet industry an enema, It would certainly be inserted in AOL. I have paid hundreds of dollars for nothing while fighting a loosing battle with the Greedy Giant. Is there any hopes of a class action suit?
    Dennis-6/25/06

  • Wanda

    I called AOL about a year ago to cancel my account. OH MY GOD! It took me forever…my blood pressure was rising…..the guy was driving me nuts! He absolutely would not talk about closing the account. Finally, I went into a fit! I screamed some profanity at him and hung up. I felt that MY account and MY money were at his mercy! Why should I have to go thru total HELL and Beg to put an end to something that I didn’t want? Closing an AOL account is total hell!

  • http://none barryman9000

    Has anyone taken legal action about this type of customer service? I had this same thing happen, except my experience was actually worse. The women kept saying outrageous things, then pushing the “mute” button on the phone. I could hear her co-worksers laughing in the background everytime she released the button to ask another question. I asked to speak to a supervisor and had to wait for 20 minutes. I had the feeling that I was actually transferred to one of her friends.

  • Lou Kraft

    Vincent’s story stirred old memories of my trying to cancel an AOL account. It’s a boiler room operation , folks. The apology he got is BS. I had the same attitude attack when I canceled “Earthstink”. Of course I had support problems with Verizon in Mississippi…I couldn’t understand what they were saying. They may all be related!

  • Regina

    We’ve never had an AOL account, but somehow our credit card was being charged each month. When I called AOL to cancel the billings, I was told that they could trace my card to the AOL account it was being charged to, but because I was not the account holder, I couldn’t cancel the account, nor could I stop the charges from being applied to my card.

    I CANCELLED my credit card and was re-issued another number, AOL traced the new credit card number and then back billed me for the two months it took to trace back to my new credit card number.

    My credit card company was finally able to get this to stop and issue me a credit for the 7 months I was charged!

  • Andy

    I also had a nightmare experience with AOL. Somehow I had two accounts, cancelled one and was still getting billed for the second. When I called to cancel the second and ask for a refund (naive me!). I go this CSR who was also pushy and full of questions. I told him I wanted to cancel and wanted a refund. He put me on hold and came back and began a spiel about how I needed to listen to a message and then my account would be cancelled. I interrupted to ask about the refund and he hung up on me, transferring me to the message. So after the recorded message I pressed the number to talk to someone if I had questions. I thought I’d get a supervisor type but instead I got the world’s worst used car salesman and had another 10 painful minutes before he told me I’d never get a refund. I’m 42 years old and it was hands-down the worst customer service experience I’ve ever had.

    AOL is lying when they say that this recording is an “aberration.” But will they truly change?

  • Judy C

    They did me the same way!!! Kept charging my credit card until I had to cancel the card then started sending bills to my home even tho’ I hadn’t been on AOL in 6 months. They never would return any of the money they took but the last bill I told them I was turning them in to the Attorney General and they did drop that. Compuserve which is owned by AOL is exactly the same way. They suckered me for 10 months before I realized they were still charging me, didn’t get that money back either. And yes, I was talking to somebody in India when I tried to cancel AOL. Why is that? They can’t understand us (they pretend) and we can’t understand them. I’m so glad somebody is finally letting others know to remove everything related to AOL from your computer. When I quit them I had 640 spam emails, now how do you think they got my email address? HUH?

  • John

    Im sick of reading this crap already

  • Brian Jaggard

    I’m glad CNN chose to report the story even though it’s an affiliated company.
    If AOL really did fire the employee, then they were firing him for doing what they told him to do. It took me several hours to cancel AOL two years ago – including the time it took to research the site and actually find out how to do a cancellation. It’s VERY obvious that AOL does everything they can to make it difficult to cancel.
    Even when I did cancel, they continued to charge me for another 3 months. I was finally able to get them to reimburse me for 2 of the three months. I was too exhausted from arguing to go after the final month. I’m sure this is part of their strategy as better alternatives to AOL continue to erode their customer base.

  • eileen

    I am so thankful that you have brought attention to this very serious problem with AOL and their cancellations procedures.

    The first time I tried to cancel AOL I had a female customer service representative who kept me on the phone for 25+ minutes trying to persuade me to change my mind. She tried everything in the book; the last 10 minutes or so of the conversation all I kept saying was cancel my account. I had to hang up on her because she just didn’t seem to comprehend the fact I wanted to terminate my account.

    So 2 weeks later I tried to sign onto AOL to make sure the woman cancelled my account. I was unable to log on so I figured everything was ok. I checked my bank statement at the end of the month and sure enough I had more AOL charges. I immediately called AOL knowing I was in for another fight.

    After bickering with their representative for 30+ minutes he accidentally let slip what AOL had done. Apparently when I tried to sign on, eventhough I never “signed on”, the folks at AOL just magically assumed that I wanted to reactivate my service account with them. Can you believe this??????? STAY AWAY FROM AOL!

  • jeff meyer

    I’m glad I wasn’t alone with problems with cancelling AOL – I thought I just happened to get a jerk on the other end. I spent 20 minutes trying to cancel – I actually felt like I was being terrorized or kidnapped as I felt powerless to do anything. It escalated to where I hung up and after I settled down called again waiting another 20 minutes just to get thru. It took me an hour of frustration to cancel. I stated the name of the person who was abusing my right to cancel and made my complaint. Apparently they don’t listen to people who are cancelling as this was a couple years ago and it sounds like it is still happening. I don’t twenty people my story. How many will not try AOL after it was on CNN? I only wish I had a recording device as well.

  • fred bauerle

    you brought back nightmares. It took me 25 minutes of holding a phone in my hand before I got a robot, then I realized I too must talk like one to get my account canceled. You need only repeatedly over a period of 20 minutes (that is how long the robot is required to be on the line with you) “cancel my account.” “Cancel my account.” Cancel my account.”
    The AOL robot after hearing this repeatly for 20 minutes will final get the message.
    PS..that robot you spoke to was never fired, promoted but not fired.

  • Nicki

    Three years ago my aunt and uncle tried to cancel AOL. They actually did cancel, not the “two free months” BS. About a year later, their bank account was billed for one year of service. After going to the bank to fight AOL, the bank told them they’d block AOL from billing their account, though they did not go after the money AOL snatched up. A few months ago, AOL billed their accout again for the time between the first fraud bill until that time. They got a new bank account and told the bank (credit union, actually) that if they had any problems with AOL in the future they’d just go to a regular bank and never deal with them again. 8O

  • http://www.transit-c-s.com Judy Van Houtan

    Daer Vincent, I decided to write because I have some knowledge of AOL’s way of doing business here. My son use to work at one of their call centers here in Spokane WA. He was instructed to do everything possible to make sure people did not cancel their accounts. He could even give them up to 3 months FREE AOL. He often gave 1 months free service to keep an acct. This was on a daily basis. He shared with a couple of people who could not afford the service that if they worked it right they could get up to 1 yr. free with AOL. That is how much AOL hates to cancel an acct. They use to be the largest provider as you know. They really hated losing that. I have a feeling John had been instructed to NOT allow an acct to be cancelled. He took the heat for AOL POLICY. He should not have been terminated. My son quit after a few months because he just could not stand promoting AOL any longer. I wish he were here to tell you this himself. He is deceased though. He would have had such a good laugh out of this. What is it the kids do, lol, rof. Thanks for the flashback via CNN. Best wishes for a bright future and don’t forget to hug your mom as soon as you can. God Bless, Judy Van Houtan

  • R Beyer

    I just wanted everybody to know that, in my opinion, the real people that are causing the AOL reps to be so pushy is a company called AON. See aon.com

    aon.com

    When I called AOL to cancel my service, it was painful obvious to me by the structure of the call that the reps (yes I called twice) were being monitored by AON and trying to achieve what is known as a 99.9% or what AON monitoring people consider a perfect call.

    AON has pushed their structure tainted product on AOL and other Fortune 500 companies as a way to oursource the call monitoring function. However is does not work because the reps are forced to consider AON as the target audience NOT the customer.

    BTW I listened the call, based on structure the call would have been scored a 99.9% by AON or darn close.

  • pastjax

    i used to work in this call queue–it was called “member retention” at AOL. they have changed a few things for legal reasons over the years, as you can imagine from your experience. but most of the words and direction of the call was all from corporate mandate. his tone and persistence WERE NOT. they encouraged highly competitive sales types to take these positions, the most coveted of the call center, and spent weaks in training to overcome any callers “objections.” this is supposed to include resolving member problems, mostly based on poor software, and long ago unfamiliarity with computers. today’s customer is more savy and has many other online choices. you did the right thing, for anyone who wants to cancel, politely (for brevity) “make like a broken record.” the rep has a call flow to follow to process your transaction, but they have been trained in how to proceed without assistance, but they do get evaluated and punished if they do not follow the script. i saw ethical folks trying to do the right thing, and a few sleaze wads, who generally washed out quickly, but there were always more to take there place. your average rep was somewhere between the two trying to earn a bonus on what was little over minimum wage. the bright side for you vinny: “john” spoke native english, unlike the indian reps. thanks for the laugh!

  • Darin

    I just cancelled my account about 3 weeks ago. It took 27 minutes and I had to talk to 4 different people to have the cancellation completed. I wish I would have taped it. I hope Steve Case is proud, what was once a good company is just a pile of shit now. It’s a shame that the only way they can keep accounts open is to just not let people close them.

  • Ace

    Comment 323: Your point?

  • http://WakeupU.S. Anthony Lemons

    Come check out the site that keeps Americans informed of important issues. http://anthonylemons.blogspot.com
    Screw AOL

  • steve case lol

    sadly steve case left aol that’s part of why things like this occur. there is pressure on aol by controling shareholders who would rather try to push aols stock value up instead of selling the stock and taking a loss aol will be a footnote in the history of the internet and vincent ferrari will probably be mentions somewhere as a footnote if you look up the decline of aol 10 years from now

  • FratBear

    I think everyone goes thru this with AOL. The really simple solution: Consumer Rights legislation that requires ISP’s to allow users to cancel their membership using the method used to sign up. i.e. If we can sign up online without talking to anyone, we should be able to cancel that way too.

    And then they need to have permission to contact us after cancellation – require an opt in to get a “why you cancelled”.

    They can ask us a survey about why we want to quit IF they ask us a survey about why we’re signing up. And they have to be the same length.

    They’d certainly have to rethink both ends of the equation that way.

    BTW: I think the CSR was simply performing to reach his goals of retention. I’m sure he gets bonsus for renewals – and they hire “go getters” some of them just turn out to be slick, jerks with no ethics.

  • Mike

    Yeah, he was just doing his job. Just like the Hitler Youth.

  • julie snell

    It took me THREE YEARS and many frustrating phone calls to get AOL to cancel my account. They kept insisting that I resign for the minimum of $4.95 a month and another years contract telling me that if I didn’t keep AOL I would lose all my virus protection and my computer would dump. When in fact it was because of AOL that I needed the virus protection and had to have my computer cleaned out yearly. Boy, do they owe me a lot of money. Good for you for exposing them.

  • Maxim

    You have to wonder if he was enjoying himself. I had a very similar experience with Microsoft this year that would make anyone’s head spin. Where are these reps coming from?

  • http://www.medimpact.com Fred

    I had the same thing happen to me at AOL. Some sand-niigger wouldn’t let me cancel my account. I felt like pulling it out and slapping him upside the head with nine inches of limp dick. Boo-ya!
    GW is God! Four more years!

  • http://possessky.com Chris P.

    :?
    My wife had an AOL account that we canceled about 18 months ago after getting a cable modem. My experience was nothing like that. The call took about five minutes and I got no crap from them. I wonder if this is a more recent phenomenon?!

  • http://www.myspace.com/ledatru Dat le

    John did not get fired. AOL mailed the letter, but they lied. John was actually promoted, for AOL actually requires their phone workers to never cancel accounts. In the event that the customer wants to cancel, they have to pretend to cancel it but never actually cancel it. They do not even possess the ability to cancel accounts.

    John was promoted for his “great” work. AOL does not care about its customers, sadly.

  • Pritch

    I cancelled AOL a couple of years ago. After actually telling them to cancel, the “supervisor” called me and gave me back-talk until I had to YELL and then hung up. That worked.

    And they they wonder about why their market share is shrinking.

  • Dave

    CNN has just reported that AOL has identified your experience as an aberration. An aberration!? Who are they trying to kid!? It is business as usual for AOL. And they fired the guy! Talk about a scapegoat. Have you ever tried to get technical service? Jeez!

    Watch me try to cancel the music download service I have never used and is being automatically billed.

  • KLD

    I cancelled my AOL account back in 1999 or 2000, and I got a lot of questions as to why I was cancelling, what they could do to keep me as a customer, etc. And the Rep didn’t just ask me those questions once; it went on and on and on. When I just kept saying, “I just want to cancel,” the Rep offered me two free months to stay. The cancellation process took about 20-25 minutes, and for months after the cancellation AOL letters and CDs, inviting me back, clogged my (snail) mailbox. I am so glad I left, no matter how long it took, and I’ve never looked back!

  • Linda

    I can’t believe that AOL is still doing this crap. I called to cancel my account on 12/12/02, but was talked into accepting 2 months free. When I called back in early 2003 to cancel the account I got a similar rude interchange about cancellation and a nasty comment from the Rep after she agreed to cancel the account. I will NEVER, EVER use AOL again even if they give me lifetime service. The suits at the top need to listen in on some of these phone calls directly to see how their business is being presented to the public. They should NOT make the mistake of delegating it out–that is probably why this crap is still happening.

  • Travis Bush

    I have worked for companies who support the likes of AOL, Compuserve and other proprietary network providers. They could care less if you want your account cancelled and usually rely on you to cancel your card or go through the dispute process with your bank. They have made millions and millions of dollars off of people who unsuspectingly sign up for their service and do not cancel or forget about it. That has been going on since the advent of the Internet. One certainly doesn’t expect AOL or any subscriber based service to actually do the right thing and either suspend the account and billing or just cancel unused accounts.

    BTW, it is not illegal to record phone calls in most states. It is called one party consent.

  • felicity smith

    Ah, yes. 4 years ago, 2 weeks after my husband of 31 years dropped dead at my feet, I tried to cancel our aol account. 3 months later, I was still trying to cancel it. Unfortunately aol was billing my visa account so I had to keep paying for it. They required a death certificate which I faxed and which they received, but to no avail. Finally, yet more phone calls to visa and aol later, I got a three-way call going, threatened that I was near having a heart attack, crying, I pleaded with aol to cancel the account. It worked. Never before in all my 73 years have I ever encountered anything like it – truly the stuff of nightmares.

  • http://digitalartphotographyfordummies.blogspot.com/ Digital Art Photography

    :arrow: :arrow::arrow::arrow::arrow:…You’ve Got Mail…

    AOL has snagged itself into the corporate line–”Do as I say, act as I do.”

    You don’t have to look any further than the headlines on the welcome page. Inane corporate babble that matches the web of media and news organizations all over the country.

    One of its tenants (and one that all corporate organizations follow) is that the bottom line is to get as much $ as it possibly can, following edges of the law that are not clearly defined.

    In other words–Don’t give money back if you don’t have to and if the client doesn’t say anything, charge for extras and list that the account will be charged within the little print that people usually don’t read, and place hidden charges wherever you can.

  • Jay Mouton

    Hey Vinny!

    Yep. I’ve noticed the trend for a number of years now, and not just AOL. The way many companies treat their customers when it comes time to cancel a service would give the CIA new ideas on conducting clandestine operations. I challenge everybody to select five randoms companies they deal/have dealt with on the ‘net, or elsewhere, and see just how difficult it can be to cancel a service, resolve an overcharge, return a defective/unwanted commodity, or, often, to talk with a person concerning just about anything except buying or purchasing a product/service.

    I just spent nearly 9 months, nearly 20 hours (including over an hour on the phone), about $10 in postage, and have a stack of papers (including threats to harm my credit)just under an inch high (in a folder) trying to get a major US communications company to right a wrong (I had ordered a service that they never provided, and then charged me for). They not only refused to rectify the situation, they got a legal firm involved. The message they gave me was this: You are guilty until you prove your innocence, you are insignificant, you don’t dare defy us-we are powerful; you are helpless. Amazingly, they persisted in their hounding until I got the FCC involved (they did their own checking out, and the company resolved to do what they could have done all along-leave me alone, and stop telling them I owed them something for nothing).

    I believe what happens a great deal is that many companies train their employees to nickle and dime customers. How many people have time to argue/write/worry about a $1.17 overcharge? How many people can afford to file a small claims case for $31.00? These companies know this, and use it to make tens/hundreds of thousands a year. Look at it like this. If a company has 12 million customers and they overcharge those 12 million customers seventy cents a month, all year long, (even if half of those people complained and had their money returned), we can see how much money they can make. Just like a company withholding a cancelation for, hmm, lets say 1 day, for 40,000 people, and it brings in an extra $10,000 a month. I could go on about how I believe this works with many companies. Maybe I’m simply paranoid because of my troubles (but it was not an isolated incident), but it does seem many businesses are run this way.

    One thing I did to fight back was that I made sure that none of my letters contained profanities, nor did I personally attack individuals (just the companies policies) per se. BUT, I did include in several letter a statement that, basically, told the reader that “anybody that works for a company that they know uses unethical or illegal/fraudulent business tactics is, simply, unethical or guilty of illegal/fraudulent practices. I believe it becomes too easy, when we work for a business, to get caught up in “borderline” practices. Things one knows might be “legal,” but are truely unethical, OR things one knows are illegal, but minute and “don’t really count.” We’ve all heard of the practice of taking home “office supplies” from work places, right?

    Anyway, I’m probably rambling a bit, so I’d better sign off.

    Thanks for following through, and posting your personal incident. No doubt, such postings will curb more of the unethical practices we all experience with many businesses.

    Three cheers for your efforts.

    Sincerely,

    Jay

  • Angie

    THANK YOU FOR EXPOSING THIS FRAUD!!!
    We also had major problems with canceling our AOL accounts. The reps are trained with scripts to discourage or frustrate customers from leaving. Canceling our AOL accounts in 2002 and 2005 were protracted affairs, We dealt with argumentative AOL reps who kept repeating the inane question of why do you want to cancel your account at least 20 times. The rep, a woman, got so rude that I slammed the receiver in her ear after 30 minutes. We had already switched service providers we wanted to save money and free up our land line.. Well those weren’t good enugh reasons. The rep said I didn’t answer the question to their satisfaction. It took us three more calls and I think additional 90-day notice to cancel. It took 2 more calls to supervisors to get it canceled. But they still didn’t cancel or back credit our charges. I can’t believe AOL has any customers when their employees are trained to treat us with strong-arm tactics.
    This wasn’t employee unprofessionalism. This is AOL policy. The rep was doing what she was trained to do. BTW, you will still be charged for it unless you watch your credit card statement like a hawk. I will never have another AOL account as long as I live!

  • Jim

    I could totally feel the frustration building while listening to it..I hear ya Bridget !

    I hope this incident makes AOL & other Companies realize that they can’t do this to people..way to go Vinny ! :)

    Jim

  • http://www.whitehouse.gov/president/ George W. Bush

    Vincent, I’m glad you recorded you cancelification of AOL. The strategery used by AOL is not good. Jon is possibly an al Qaeda operative. We will torture him until your account is cancelized. AOL does not stand for America. It’s only for putting food on your family.
    ~GW Bush

  • Jen

    I heard the Vicent AOL Cancel.. and I about fell off my treadmil.. it sounded just like the conversation my husband had when he called about a month ago to cancel… It wasn’t the same guy.. because the guy he spoke to was from India.

  • http://notmyrealdomain.com notmyrealemail

    :) Funny Stuff. Some people seem to be having a problem with the link. Here is a mirror for your pleasure :)
    http://notmyrealdomain.com/mp3/Cancelling_AOL.mp3

  • Jay Mouton

    Hi Lucas,

    You may have a point on the recording aspect, and maybe customer service reps should expect “rude” customers (I don’t feel people have to be rude, but I understand rudeness when they are attacked, harrassed, treated with some of the extreme condescendant attitudes one can receive from some reps).

    In the past I’ve went out of my way to be polite to customer service reps, because most have little power to make any decisions. If I feel myself getting angry, I tell the customer service rep that I’m getting angry and that maybe it’s better to put their immediate supervisor on (it has worked about 70% of the time). I will confess that once I received a phone solicitation (random) from some guy with what sounded like a Long Island accent; he was selling stock (this was 1997-98). I told the guy I had no money to invest (I didn’t), he went on, I tried to politely disengage from his pitches (I don’t think he believed that I didn’t have any money to invest), he continued, after a minute or two of his continued pitches and my insistance that I had to me the guy says, “What, are you yankin’ my chain, here?” Needless to say, I lost it here, I gave a rousing “F&#% You!!!” and hung up the phone; I felt pretty good about it, actually. Maybe, just maybe, more companies need even more “rude” customers – - – nah, maybe not.

    Oh well, such is life.

    Jay

  • Cheryl Spehar

    When I heard your tape, the conversation sounded JUST LIKE the conversation I had when canceling my Discover card account! Same lines, asked to speak to my husband, wouldn’t let me off the phone, wouldn’t take no for an answer. These guys must all get the same training. I wrote to Discover and complained. Guess what–no response! Maybe that guy got a new job at aol…

  • snowballinaohell

    It’s funny that this guy is getting so much press from one (what I sadly would consider a short) phone call. My experience with AOL was much longer and much uglier. There is no point in retelling the details as others have said it so much better; anyway if I start thinking about it again I’ll want to put my fist through my monitor (my poor fingers!)

    AOL Sucks and is just a very shady company. I’ve had similar terrible experiences with Comcast and Dell.

  • Teri

    hey George W. Bush,

    hehe…and I was just thinking to myself…I hope this gets out on ALL the internets….

  • mary gertz

    I have been trying to cancel aol since November of 05. They continued to charge my credit card because the account was “activated by someone” in my house by using aol software two days later. Apparently if you use aim with the same screen name it can reactivate your account. After several minutes (10) on the phone I get a nice gentleman from India who informs me that in order for him to pay me back for the charges since Dec. 05, he needs my bank account info, or another card. They do not mail checks. Funny…I used to pay with checks. It also is required to send copies of my credit card statements to them in order for them to verify they billed me…even though he quoted me of how much they billed and how much they owe me and his readiness to electronically send the money! Now I would be an imbicile to send or give any bank info…all I need is AOL accessing my accounts. I am going to try a $5.00 Walmart card and see what happens. AOL is a scam, next step is getting rid of my aim mail account.

  • catinhat

    How exactly did you record this? I’d like to know, because I’m being ethnically profiled by DishTV (a satellite TV company). They call from overseas, apparently thus escaping the do-not-call registry (I don’t know for sure – not a lawyer).

  • cricket

    Wow… I just heard parts of the tape on the news and decided to look this up… makes me not look forward to cancelling my aol account in the coming weeks…

  • http://www.cybamall.com/aohellsucks/ richard

    Check this site out.. I put it in table what AOL claims and the fact about their broadband connection.
    http://www.cybamall.com/aohellsucks/

  • Jo Jo

    Just wanted to post a quick comment after catching Vincent this morning on the news… I’ve never really dealt with AOL, but I have worked customer service. Yeah yeah…we don’t have souls, we all drink blood, worship the god of bland and evil, and we all have a choice of spectacular jobs and just choose to work in hell…all that jazz.

    One thing I do know, is that no matter how long you are on hold, or how frustrated you are with whatever service you are or are not receiving…the worst thing that you can do when you finally get someone on the phone, is get pissy with them. Customer service reps are drones/worker bees, they sit in little tiny cubicles all day every day, wearing business-casual, getting yelled at by their bosses for not following scripts word for word and having call handle times of -30 seconds, and at the same time getting yelled at by customers for working for crappy companies. A lot of people in this under-educated society have little other choice than to work at some sort of customer sevice–which is especially tough if they are trying to gain higher education, or support a family.

    It’s easy to lambast the first person you get to, I understand that. What most people don’t understand is that even though the lowly-knuckle-dragging-nose-picking CS reps have a script to follow and have shit that they need to do on whatever sort of call, they will do whatever they can for someone who is being nice to them. The opposite is also true of course. If you are a bastard, if you don’t catch the rep on a good day, watch out. “Oh what was that? What kind of an idiot am I? I see..here you go..an extra 30$ a month program. Didn’t want that? What was that I’m a bitch…road side assistance here you go! Transfer you to 30 departments that can’t help you…there you go…talk to you later, have a nice day.” You as the customer are ultimately at the Customer Service Reps mercy. Your CS rep has your phone number, your account number, your social security number, your address, your birthdate, and more often than not, your credit card number. (Think a moment on the serious gravity of someone– especially someone you are yelling at and creating an enemy of– having all of that information at their little human fingertips.–you sure are taking a gamble on their integrity) Don’t piss off your barber, your chef, or your customer service rep.

    CS people are just people. You don’t have a good day every day do you? Can you be expected to smile into a phone and titter and jabber at every old lady who wants to tell you about her 30th cat, angina, and sagging breasts? Grin like an idiot at every creep blaming you for all the evils of society or hitting on you with every sleezy slimey line in the book?

    There needs to be more understanding on both sides. If you want to yell at someone, ask for a supervisor (at least they are paid for it), but understand if the CS rep has to ask you why you want to talk to a supervisor before passing you along.

    Can’t we all be friends?
    Can’t we all just get along? *Sob*

  • B.

    Dear Vincent,

    Kudos on exposing what hundreds of thousands have endured in just trying to break free of AOL! Brilliant move on your part in exposing them…..WAY WAY overdue. But don’t think for one moment that their cancellation is the ONLY unscruptulous part of the company.

    There is so much more you, and others should know about AOL. I was in contract w/them a few years ago…what a joke. I completely met all obligations detailed in their contract but THEY didn’t. (A major non performance issue on their part — feel free to contact me privately for details.) When they offered to renew my contract, my attorney asked them what made them think I would renew if they didn’t perform under the first contract period??! Then came the amazing part: they actually acknowledged their non performance!!! then stated I should feel free to file suit against them in Vienna, VA, BUT they knew I was a small company and that they could break me on continuances, legal fees, etc) so to go right ahead. Of course they were right, I couldn’t fight the beast, I took a major financial hit…a meager amount to them, massive to me.

    I’ll be trying to dig out of the debt for many more years, maybe for the rest of my life. It’s only recently I can even speak about it without getting sick to my stomach.

    Before that nightmare, I worked in their Tech Support…I could write a book about that experience as well.

    Anyway, thank you for exposing the tip of a VERY large iceberg. If the public only knew…

    Bless you, Vincent.

    B.

  • http://www.jacoby-meyers.com Jacoby & Meyers

    BTW, for those wondering if you’re legally allowed to record phone calls with call centers (like Vincent did), the answer is almost always YES. That little ubiqitous disclaimer used in ALL customer service calls – “This call may be recorded for quality purposes.” – works both ways. They can record you, and YOU can record THEM. A few years back, there was a court case involving – you guessed it – AOL. Someone recorded the AOL service rep, distributed the recording, and naturally, AOL sued, trying to stop the distribution. The court concluded that the little “quality purposes” disclaimer is a two-way street.
    Also, if you want to be an ass, you can request that your call is NOT recorded. This usually won’t do anything other than confuse the flunkey working at the call center. But it is the law. If the call center records you against your will, they have broken the law.
    Now, as far as the government’s “do not call registry”, that is a joke. There are more ways around that registry than one could imagine. For example, AOL, along with any subsidiary of AOL (which is at least 100 different companies), can now contact Vincent for up to one year, even if his name and number is on the “do not call” list, because Vincent has initiated a “business relationship” with AOL (and its subsidiaries). This is only one exemption of about fifty.
    Yes, I am a lawyer. Yes, I work for a telecom comany. Yes, I am an idiot.

  • Tonie

    I too had a bad experience trying to get rid of AOL. I finally canceled the credit card so that they couldn’t bill me anymore. This lead to repeated phone calls from India, errrr I mean America Online Reps trying to get a new credit card number. Each time I told them I had canceled the account, and had no intention of paying for something I did not want. I told them to put me on the do not call list. Of course they still kept calling anyway. When I finally got so fed up I threatened to sue them for harassment and demanded to speak to a supervisor the IOL, oops AOL rep hung up on me and turned the account over to a collection agency. I have had to dispute the whole thing on my credit reports, un-freaking-believable!

  • Vinny for President!

    Oh great leader who was unveiled the stank corruption of AOL! All hail to thee! :D
    We bow down before you! Lead us! Lead us!

  • Amanda

    I heard about this on CNN, I just had to come check it out myself. Congrats on recording it. A long time ago when I tried to cancel my account I got a women who barely (thats being polite) spoke English. She kept repeating to me how I was breaking the law because I didn’t follow the terms of service. Umm, I used it say, 5 times, didn’t like it. I used a free trial, and I canceled before my trial period was up. I didn’t send spam or misuse the account in any way. All I did was schoolwork – all I ever did on the computer. How was I breaking the law? She even told me that AOL was going to come get me. Ha! I’m not in jail.

  • http://www.cbib.blog-city. LEFTY

    I work for MBNA credit card company and the most billing dispute calls we get from our customers are about AOL. We even had to set up a special AOL billing dispute task force in the spring of ’05 to handle all of the calls we receive. Basicalliy AOL would tell customers that the account was cancelled but would continue to bill them for months and even years. When the customer would call AOL they’d be told something to the effect of “we have no record of you ever having cancelled this account”.
    It got to the point that when a customer called me to dispute a charge on thier credit card statement I would say “lemme guess, AOL?”. We would even refund the customers money ourselves in some instances. This was not our olicy but we chalked it up to special circumstances.
    As far as the AOL rep who “helped” Vincent is concerned, if it is anything like the cancellation department at a credit card company, then it is very high preassure. The representatives probably have to save 75% of the accounts. Which means that thier job is to make sure that the customer ends up with the exact opposite of what they requested three quarters of the time. They probably answer up to 100 calls a day. If they fail to save 75% of the accounts in a given month. First warning. Second month, probation. Third month, fired.
    Somebody should make a Boiler Room type movie about a ficticious telecom or financial corporations insane practices.

  • Jackie

    AMEN ! Someone finally got their AOL account to stop. I have been trying for two months. :roll:

  • Mortain Lumpen

    We weren’t using our AOL service since last November. We weren’t using the account, not logging in since we switched the entire house over to MSN (A much better service by the way). Ok, I thought it was done and over with. So lo and behold.. in April of this year (2006) we get a yellow notice in the mail to “update your billing information.” Ok.. I was kind of confused as to why we would have gotten it and thought nothing about it. Now, since the account was in my fiance’s name, but the account credit card was from his father and paying for it, he ended up getting a 75$ overage charge from AOL. Wait a minute, didn’t they just tell us that they have to have updating billing information? So naturally Dad was pissed, and I mean really bleeping hot. Why where they billing us… So he called them, and they gave him the line of “Oh but we have no canelation requests.” Ok, so he puts in a new one. No big deal. 2 bleeping weeks later, we got a letter saying “we appricate your call to continue our service..” You have to be bleeping joking. So it took both dad, and my fiance and myself threatening a class action lawsuit against them to cancel our account. The incompetency at AOL customer service is outragious.

  • Tomeka Jackson

    I saw this on the news this morning and literally jumped up and down screaming “it’s about time!”. I’ve experienced the SAME problem trying to cancel my service. I was on the phone for about 30 minutes saying “just cancel it, just cancel it”. Kudos to you for what you did!

  • Equity Mike

    :twisted: This is nothing; I spent at least 40 minutes on the phone with AOL when I tried to cancel. They had this pitch that AOL was going to give me the next two months of service for free, I knew it was a bait. When I asked if the service would cancel after the two months I was told no…I would have to call in and re-cancel. Needless to say I told the guy no way…AOL is going downhill fast and they know it. I guess the exes there are a little pissed that their stock is not going to be worth the paper it is printed on in a few years unless make some major changes.

  • Maria in Florida

    I had the SAME experience with AOL 3 years ago. The reps name was Russel.(I’ll never forget it!) He kept trying to sell me on some broadband crap when I already had switched to my local cable company for net access.
    After a good 5 mins on the phone with Russel, I finally hung up on him! Called back and got another rep who politely apologized for Russel and promptly cancelled my account in less than 2 mins. It’s a shame that I only remember Russel’s name and not the kind man who finally complied with my request.

  • Johnny

    I signed up for AOL during a trial before they could charge my credit card. I had trouble with what sounded like a middle eastern customer rep. Hey tried his best with the sale angle but to no avail. After I went on with him for 10 minutes he gave me his opinion, “You shouldn’t be signing up for AOL then decide to cancel!” I was surprised at his comment. But now that I heard Vinny’s recording it all makes sense now. These AOL customer reps are the left overs of the TeleMarketers Industry Era. AOL brought them back into an ISP service that sucks big donkey d_ck!!! AOL S_CKS!!!

  • Cal

    I had the same problem. I tried to close an account I had for less than a week. It took me 25 minutes and 4 requests to speak with his supervisor. I must have spoken with the same guy. He was a real jerk.

  • John

    Yeah! I like it!

  • Dan

    great

  • MIke

    After several times of AOL not cancelling when I asked, I finally cancelled the credit card it was billed to. This was after I discovered I was charged $5/month for over a year on an extra little “free trial” service (AOL phone-something) that I cancelled BEFORE the trial time was up, but they charged me anyway, although I never should have been. I didn’t realize it until one day checking the fine print on my CC statement.

    Needless to say, I’ll never go back.

  • marian

    you were not nasty, you did good, I had to scream when they would not drop me, seriously, SCREAM, they heard me two flights up and two flights down at my building.

    AOL and Discover card ruined a week for me once.

    M

  • Peg

    Kudos for posting this for us all to hear. I never had AOL, but my mom did, and I talked her into changing to a local provider that I was using because AOL’s software tactics made me nervous and the windows interface was confusing. She didn’t like the idea but did switch; I recall that she did agree to one extra month, and I told her to be firm with them or she would be stuck forever. She did eventually get off AOL and they did not charge her additionally, fortunately.

    I wanted to add my two cents that I had a similar experience to Vince’s with DirectTV. I was actually bailing out of a one-year contract, and they did the same thing with condecending voice (Why would you want to quit? she asked. Lousy HD programming, I said shortly.) I gave short answers, indicated that I would listen to her stupid paragraph with barely concealed contempt, and basically had to use her own tactics by talking to her like she was the stupid one. When she indicated that I was still going to be charged $10 per month for the months I was going out on the contract, I said, “You’re going to charge me $60 for nothing? Okay, knock yourself out.” I fully expected to see that on my card statement, but I have never received a charge for that. So beware of DirectTV too, folks, and good luck.

  • http://www.whimseywear.com Susan Fields

    I may have you beat. It took me almost 5 MONTHS to cancel my AOHELL account about 3 years ago. One day a package came from AOL “shopping” with a digital camera inside. I called, told them I had not ordered it and sent it back. My account was credited. A few weeks later another camera arrived. I called again, told them to NEVER charge ANY “shopping” items to my account and sent it back. My account was credited. The next month another camera (all three were different prices too) was charged to my account, but I did not receive the third camera. I called again, insisted they remove the charge and asked for my entire account to be cancelled. I did get some flak and sales pitch trying to keep me from cancelling, but in the end the rep agreed to cancel my account. The next month, however, I was charged for the service. I called, explained I had cancelled , went through all the motions again and was assured my account was cancelled. You guessed it , I was charged again for a second month after cancelling twice. Lather, rinse repeat all actions a third time. This went on for 5 months. In the last two months I augmented my phone calles with countless letters faxed, mailed and emailed to customer service directly and through PlanetFeedback NUMEROUS times. In the end, I finally had to resort to cancelling the credit card that the account was being billed to in order to solve the problem!

  • http://www.whimseywear.com Susan Fields

    Oh my! just went back to read some of the thread. (I came on this through an podcast from KFI radio on the story) Geez! No time to read it all but a few comments. It seems like the Pro-Vinnys are way ahead..for a good reason.
    For some of you who criticized: Jim, you know, it really does not matter why they guy chose to cancel, he has the right to cancel at any time and does NOT have to justify it…or have the rep question his request. Whatever his father may or may not have done is moot, it was HIS account…and the word is “hearsay” not “heresay”…and does not apply in this situation anyway.
    For you staunch supporters of laws pertaining to taped conversations: If you are going to comment along this line then at least educate yourselves on the particulars of the laws and not just some tiny excerpt. It is not a blanket law. The laws pertaining to taped conversations and the number of parties who require notification vary from state to state, some states do not require that both parties be advised. Depending on the state and the situation taping MAY be perfectly legal without notification. This includes situations where training may be in place, for reasons other than evidence in a court proceeding, and often in the course of business…such as a CS experience with AOL. The Privacy act is meant to keep people’s private utterances over the phone from being used against them. Generally the conversations between an employee in the course of business and a customer is not considered private with regard to the employee’s side of the conversation. Essentially, the employee had no expectation of privacy.He was at work, everything he does while at work should be a matter of record. Regardless, Aol had admitted fault and therefore accepted validation of the act. I doubt if there are any worries about you getting sued in this particular instance.

  • Robert

    AOL is a thief. They steal revenues from subscribers. I had a similar experience. If it is a subscription service and you cancel then why are their strategies designed to prevent you from accomplishing what you want? They are theives; plain and simple.

  • Julia

    Wow, your recording is so similar to the experience I had the first time I called to canceled my AOL account. You were more patient than I was. I felt like I was talking to the Wicked Witch of the West and yelled at her to cancel my account. I finally got so angry I hung up.

    I knew it wasn’t canceled so I called again and got someone else. Before the person said anything, I told him in a very firm voice that I did not want any questions and to just cancel my account. He said ok, and it was canceled within a couple of minutes.

    I guess it depends on who you get and how firm your voice is.

    AOL scares me. I wouldn’t get sucked into them anymore if my life depended on it.

  • Dikfore

    You are the most retarded person in the world. Firstly, you signed up for AOL. Secondly, you’re too stupid to stop paying the bill. By cutting their income source, they would no longer provide you a service, thus concluding your problem.

    You are a Grade-A dipshit.

  • Karen F.

    8O Wow! I just saw on TV the story about your ordeal cancelling AOL. All I can say is what HYPOCRITES they are!! I had the same thing happen about a year or so ago. I had kept a limited hour account for when I was away from home and needed access, but I had stopped using it. I spent about 30 minutes with the rep, getting more and more angry as time went on when my request for cancellation was questioned over and over. Finally, I did get it cancelled, but it is bull to hear them say that they do not instruct those reps to keep customers at whatever cost. I’m sure many people just give up and hang up and woops, you are still a customer. Thanks for recording yours and thus having a record to make a point to them.

  • Greg

    If anyone’s organizing a class-action lawsuit against AOL, COUNT ME IN! Potential charges are

    - fraud/mail fraud (it went over a wire – right?)
    - harassment
    - Being lying sacks of horse cr**

    Seriously, there’s got to be some crusading lawyers out there looking to do a good deed.

    It takes someone who’s been through this experience to understand the reactions bere (everyone else probably doesn’t understand)

  • Sheila

    Wow! My experience cancelling my AOL account wasn’t quite THAT bad, but I did have to finally call back (so I could talk to a different person) and tell them that I had to sell my computer to pay a bill, so there was no reason for me to have the account. They still tried to get me to keep it. Do the employees get fired if they let someone cancel their account or what??

  • Carrie

    :?:

    So, does anyone know if a Class Action lawsuit against AOL is in the works?

  • Amy

    Definitely check your future credit card statements and make sure they aren’t still billing you – I cancelled my seldom-used AOL account years ago, and then noticed I was still being billed for it. I called them up and gave them the confirmation number the rep had given me when I first ‘cancelled’ – what a shock, they had no record of that cancellation, or the confirmation number. How convenient – for them!

  • John

    Hey, I saw this on CNN here in South Africa, wow, you kept your cool in the conversation. It’s quite funny, lol. how many times did you cancel the account?

  • Bobby

    The customer service guy was just doing his job.It was obvious that you had an attitude to begin with.WHY??Did he threaten you to keep that account for that long,and not cancel it?…NO!Blame that bu*ls*it “we gotta keep em’all,take NO for an answer”practice on the higher-ups.

  • Janet Russell

    Trying to cancel my AOL account was truly one of the worst experiences I have ever had. Because of it, I have spread the news far and wide (to anyone that will listen) that AOL is such bad news!

    Why would an organization train their staff to act that that? All they do is build a horrific reputation and no one in their right mind would ever return to the service…no matter what.

  • David

    how do I record a conversation on my Cell phone.
    the machines that work for line line don’t work on cell phones

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Vinny

    I read on Lifehacker that this works pretty well for cellular. I’ve never tried it myself so I can’t tell you one way or the other, but it’s worth a look for the price.

  • chuck

    Just heard your tape about cancelling aol. I know how it feels. I went through the same thing with a t-mobile cell phone account. I didn’t remain as calm and polite as you. It ended up with me yelling insults at him and telling him to cancel the f-ing account already. Do they realise that people tell others about how they were treated and they lose future business that way?

  • http://none Sue Allen

    I can do you all one better and folks who sign up to aol thru their checking account better beware. Several years ago, I bought my first computer. aol was part of the package so I thought I’d try them, and it would be another 6 months before cable was ready in our neighborhood. I set up the software and called customer service as instructed and they opened my account. I was told I had 145 hrs free before they started charging my account 14.95 per month, this was on a Tuesday. Wednesday my classes ran long and I didn’t get home til after 8 p.m. and didn’t feel like getting on the computer. Thursday I didn’t have class so I fired up the computer to check out the internet. But all I saw on my screen is my account had been disabled and to call customer service. When I called them they advised me that my check had bounced. I couldn’t understand how a check that was not going to be submitted until I had used my 145 hours had bounced because the only time I used the account was to set it up, possibly a total of 45 minutes! Needless to say, they couldn’t explain it either. After speaking with several reps and 2 supervisors, I told them to cancel the account and I would never use aol again. I have kept that promise.

  • redbear

    GREAT WORK!!!
    I didn’t have time to read all 897 comments but just wanted to add that when i tried cancelling they actually had the balls to tell me I needed to send them a letter in writing to cancel. In the age of computers and they are a computer generator and they want snail mail…

    YOU GO GUY!!!!!

  • Marie

    Nice job, Vincent! I hope someone in the near future comes to your employement gives you a hard time about doing your job and than gets you fired! You were rude and inappropriate! I am absolutely infuriated by this call. Learn some manners and stop talking over people and interrupting other human beings! Yes, just because this occured over the phone it does not give you the right to use abusive language with anyone. And for someone who claims he is over 30 years old and sees no need to speak to his “dad” you sure do have alot of maturing to do. Grow up and you owe this AOL representative a HUGE apology.

  • Kimberly Kelly-White

    Oh, Do I have a GOOD one. I’ve had AOL for years. High speed was costing me about $54.00 per month. Time Warner cable installed my high speed modem, and I paid AOL. I called an AOL rep to inquire about lower pricing plans. this was in September, 2005. AOL suggested that I use Time Warner cable’s Road Runner with AOL. I declined. AOL then cancelled my account, and stated I could not keep my current package, because they no longer offered that anymore. Pretty much, it was flushed and couldn’t be restored. I was IRATE, to say the least. On September 12, 2005 I enrolled with Time Warner cable for a SPECIAL. This special was Road Runner with unlimited AOL. This special package was for the low price of about $30.00 per month for six months. AOL would no longer bill me, I would pay Time Warner Cable for everything. This promotion was to last for six months. After the six months, the fee would be $44.95. Well, I was saving about $10.00 and could pay my bill locally. This was great!! NOT!!! Just about six months to the day that the special package price was to expire, my account with AOL was restricted. I was “unbundled” and they sent me an E-mail stating that now I was going to have to pay AOL $25.90 per month, then pay Time Warner cable the fee for providing my high speed. My AOL was shut off, and my bill was paid. I said, OH NO YOU DON’T, my bill is paid to Time Warner Cable, and my bill is current. You see, after my promotion period of six months was over, this “special” package was no longer offered. They were pretty much “booting” me. I went to my local Time Warner cable office–go figure, couldn’t get any help. Referred me to customer service, you know one of the 1-800 numbers. I said, oh no. I’m not speaking to someone, somewhere in the United States about my account. I’m handling it here, locally where I pay my bill, after all YOU ARE ONE COMPANY, AREN’T YOU. After much frustration, a Time Warner cable employee from Western Ohio area worked several days to straighten out this mess. I kept my AOL “bundled” and continued to pay Time Warner cable $44.95 per month. Now, here I am, exactly THREE months into having this straightened out and AOL sent me another E-mail stating if I didn’t update my billing method by June 23, 2006 my account would be restricted, CUT OFF. MY BILL IS PAID, again, I called, said I pay Time Warner Cable. I was pissed. I called Time Warner Cable, Western Ohio, and the rep was very nice. We were on the phone with AOL for at least 45 minutes while Time Warner Cable tried to once again, explain to AOL that I am not to pay them. AOL is trying to say this mail was SPAM. No it is NOT. I have kept my correspondence from them and it is all dated. They said it was SPAM when I stated I was contacting the Federal Trade Commission. This is purely fraud out of AOL. Now this e-mail was not SPAM, it clearly told me to go to KEYWORD Billing, click on MY ACCOUNT, and CHANGE MY PAYMENT METHOD. Get it, the key word is CHANGE. If I had CHANGED my billing method as I was being instructed by AOL to do, my package of $44.95 would have been flushed as well. That my friend, is not SPAM, it is how you check your billing statement on AOL. This is clearly FRADULANT activity out of AOL. It is an attempt to strip me of my package. Consumer rape. As I sit here this evening, I just know my account is going to be restricted very soon. My bill is current with Time Warner Cable. When this happens, note I said When, I’m going to raise ten different kinds of hell for sure. Has anyone else had this problem? Thanks for letting me sound off. This is a true story, and I can provide the documentation. AOL, they must have an acronym for those initials, America’s Office Of Lynching.

    Sincerly,
    Kimberly Kelly-White

  • Joseph Nerenberg

    NetZero:

    I cancelled my account 2 weeks ago. At that time, your rep never mentioned that my account still exists ‘as a free account’ and I assumed that people emailing me would get the emails returned to them.

    Today I find out that my basic assumption is wrong and that the account still exists.

    As you know, AOL was recently in the national news for making it hard for people to cancel their accounts. I suggest you change your policy asap if you do not want a similiar white hot spotlight shone upon NetZero.

    Joseph Nerenberg

  • Norm

    AOL cancellation policies defy any reasonably company’s “customer service” (or as I chose to call it, “customer dis-service”). I will have to cancel my account just to put their customer dis-service reps through my own level of hell. I only hope (for AOL’s survival) that they don’t need back any of the many long time members who have cancelled. Solution: Simply report, as stolen, the credit card that your account is billed to – that is much easier. Your credit card company will issue you a new card with a different account number. And never, never, never allow ANY company access to your checking account !!

  • T Biddy

    I had AOL for several years and was moving to an area that it would not work, so I tried to Cancel the account and was told I could have 6 months FREE, I tried and tried to explain that it would not work where I was moving, finally I gave up and moved, I was only there for 3 months and moved back, I tried to cancel the account again, and was told the same thing, 6 months FREE. I have a son that did not know it was cancelled and he did use it a little. But I was told it was FREE anyway. Well, about 3 months later, I got a notice that AOL had turned me over to a collection agency for the back money! I was SO mad and I still am after 4 years. I paid it so it would not hurt my credit, but I would NEVER recommend AOL to anyone!
    They are impossible to deal with!!!!! To them NO doesn’t mean NO!!!

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Z Arvids

    First, I feel your pain with the call. There was no reason for the fiasco the AOL rep turned it into.

    Second, to all the folks who are stating “he’s just doing his job”, “he has no choice, it’s what he’s being paid to do”, etc, let me just say I have been in customer service for YEARS and if any of my reps spoke to a customer like this rep did, he would be fired in a heartbeat. There is no reason for his tone of voice or bulldogged atempt to out talk the customer (note not talk the customer out of …) regarding cancelling the account. the customer gave a reason, the rep made an attempt to convert the customer, it failed, he should have left it there and continued with thte cancellation. As far as not having a choice, we all have a choice when it comes to deciding to do what is right or what is unethical.

    Third, am I the only one who noticed (haven’t read through the deluge of comments entirely, so I’m not sure) that the rep changed the amount of usage he was “seeing” not once but twice? It started as “71 hours since the 24th of last month”. It then turned to “the account was signed into on June 2nd with 71 hours of use”. Finally it turned into “545 hours last year … last month”. OK, last month would be May, 31 days or 744 hours. For the account to have logged 545 hours of use during May, it would have needed to be logged in for almost 23 of 31 days. Continuously. Or maybe it was logged on for about 17.5 hours per day each day for the entire month. Either way seems unlikely.

    This aspect of the call makes me firmly believe the rep was full of crap. Perhaps his numbers were down and he needed to bring them up, perhaps he was having a bad day in general, perhaps he jsut didn’t like the customer’s accent. Bottom line is this: none of that matters. A customer service rep should leave all their baggage off the phone call. Contrary to what one of the other posters had claimed, it is rep’s job to try and defuse the call if it escalates. This is how you retain customers. you listen to their complaints, you acknowledge their problems, you try to find a solution and you suggest options. If the only option a customer wants is cancellation, you give it to them. Without a major hassle.

    On the flip side, for those of you out there who like to say “I don’t want any upsell”, “don’t give me the spiel”, etc, please know that many times, the closing spiel is required. If you get to the closing spiel (typically a ‘special offer for valued customers’), just sit back and listen for 20-40 seconds and know your call is almost done. If you really don’t want to deal with the company any further, consider it nothing more than the death squeal of the company.

    And lastly (I know I have rambled here, sorry about that), for folks on both side of the phone, the best thing you can do is keep your cool. If you are a customer, please do remember that the people on the other end of the phone are just hard working folks and the vast majority of them are decent individuals who really are not making much more than a living wage. And if you are a customer who has had repeated problems with a company, the line I have found that works best with reps is to say, in a calm and pleasant tone, “Please put a manager on the phone. You are not getting paid nearly enough for the amount of s^!t I’m about to start handing out.”

  • http://leoninecomics.comicgenesis.com/ Evan W

    I am a former TWC’er and can tell you first hand, that is buisness as usual. I kinda feel bad for that CSR. He was nothing more than PR fodder and was doing exactly what they instructed him to do. They wouldn’t even let us tier 3 agents touch cancelation calls cause we didn’t go for the high pressure retention crap. I say I’m a former Time Warner employee. After 5 years of solid service they canned me for drawing and publishing a comic (the website above). They weren’t happy that part of my comic touched on my job.

  • http://n/a DEBBIE IS A BITCH

    Debbie, eat my ass, you aol worker.

    this guy did nothing wrong. all he did was record the call.

    why dont you go back to aol, you useless sack of crap.

  • carol hasaj

    Okay so I canceled the aol account back in March. First I had tried to cancel around Oct. and was told it would be best to keep the account till March since it’s paid for in advance and it wouldn’t be worthwhile to cancel then because it would cost the same and I wouldn’t be able to use the service (or at least this is what I thought he was trying to say). I was like I just want it canceled and he said he could have it canceled in March without me having to call back, so I was like FINE.

    Needless to say I didn’t trust that it would really be canceled, so I called again in March and was told it wasn’t canceled, but they would cancel it. My mother then received her credit card bill with the yearly aol charge on it (early to boot-on her bill for Feb when the account wasn’t even due until March). I told her NOT to pay it, so she called the CC and told them to stop payment. Now I called again and canceled. Now the rep told me if I wanted to keep the same email account I had to sign it within 3 days of canceling and sign up for the free aim account which would directly forward my old aol email for free. (Ha apparently this is the catch that UNCANCELS it)

    So I no longer have aol servcice on my computer and can’t use many of the aol features. I have aim which is supposed to be free.

    But them mom gets two letters from aol saying they are sending her bill to collections. WTF!!!!! What bill?! My service was canceled. It use to be that I could not log on through aol only aim, but now I can because the mail says aol and aim mail. Yet when I do sign on to aim there is a join aol icon. So lame. Mom calls aol and tells them we canceled months ago. The rep says sorry I can’t do anything its already been sent to collections!!! Great so now what? Fu@k up her credit because aol is a bunch of crooks.

    I don’t know what to do. I have been web surfing and found out what I should have done. Such as not logging back onto aol since apparently that reverses your cancellation, send your cancellation in witting which they have to sign for it. God I hope I can find all of the information from when I canceled, but probably not. They purposely let you think that your account is closed and then like a dumb ass you get rid of the confirmation numbers, reps and time and dates.

  • Bernard G

    Sure fire way to cancel AOL account.
    1- Look at your credit card account and make sure you know which one they charge for your monthly bill.
    2- Call your credit card compamy and tell them you lost your card. Your credit card company will no longer allow charges against the old account and send you a new card and transfer your old charges to the new card. AOL cannot charge your account for their services any more.
    Call them and tell them you want your account cancelled, your conversation is being recorded and that your credit card account will no longer accept their charges. If they bust your chops just hang up on them.
    3- AOL will write you and tell you that your credit card is no longer valid and will ask you for a new credit card number. Write them back and tell them to cancel your account.

  • http://ryancannon.com/ Ryan Cannon

    David Pogue posted a link to your web site mentioning this scandal, but your MP3 appears down. Perhaps you could publish an update letting the world know what happened to it?

  • http://www.insignificantthoughts.com Vinny

    Make sure you’re reading it from this link, not the duggmirror one…

    http://insignificantthoughts.com/2006/06/13/cancelling-aol

  • Ryan Zaninovich

    Wow, this exact thing happened to me a few years ago. I had AOLs high speed access through our local cable carrier. I was paying $43 a month and started to become more and more pissed at AOLs software, what a pain in the ass. So earthlink sends me a deal for $10 cheaper using the same line. I get hooked up with earthlink and notice immediately that my internet is hauling ass! I check AOLs bandwidth and then earthlinks and sure enough earthlink was twice as fast. Of course I assume it was all the CRAP that AOL puts in there software that was slowing me down. Anyway, I call AOL to cancel and I was nice as can be, just told the guy please cancel. He asks why, I tell him that I don’t like their software, am tired of all the strange little quirks that make it difficult on the internet and that earthlink is twice as fast. Of course he tells me no no no, it’s not us and thats not possible about the difference in speed. So I actually ran a test with him on the line and told him the results. At this point, he is harrassing me. Telling me my computer is going to crash if I don’t stay and how sorry I will be. I admit I get frustrated after about 5 to 10 minutes and start the whole “just cancel” thing. HE ACTUALLY HANGS UP ON ME!! I was astonished and a little amused. Anyway, I call right back and it was easy to cancel. They must note if you have called before and then let the cancel go through on the second try. That’s my story. Now, if AOL somehow miraculously came up with a product that looked attractive enough to switch to, I NEVER WOULD IN A MILLION years. How can a company be so stupid? Anyone overseeing that area of the company needs to be fired.

  • Brian

    Nice job, Vincent! I hope someone in the near future comes to your employement gives you a hard time about doing your job and than gets you fired! You were rude and inappropriate! I am absolutely infuriated by this call. Learn some manners and stop talking over people and interrupting other human beings! Yes, just because this occured over the phone it does not give you the right to use abusive language with anyone. And for someone who claims he is over 30 years old and sees no need to speak to his “dad” you sure do have alot of maturing to do. Grow up and you owe this AOL representative a HUGE apology.

    No he doesn’t. I just called to cancel an AOL account. I should first say I don’t even have an AOL account. Anyways just talking to someone takes over 20 minutes. – he was pretty direct. “I’d like to cancel my AOL account.” This should not take more then 1-2 minutes.

    Selling should not be part of canceling. Sure if AOL would like a reason for the cancelation thats find. reason why you are canceling your account. If they planned on using that to help fix the product thats fine.

    Just like world of warcraft when you cancel it asks for a reason and thats fine. Although unlike aol you can cancel online in your account page and select a reason from the drop down menu.

    AOL needs to add some online cancelation method. This is an internet program. Why do we have to call.

    Marie he did listen, learn to listen yourself and you’d realize that he simply stated he heard this speach before. I’m all for listening not times. It’s like when you go to best buy and they try to sell the magazines. I shop at Best Buy alot i’m a good customer, and still everytime I keep having to hear “With today purchase you recieve 8 issues of any of these magazines.” Well you know what I’ve heard that over 150 times. Just in the past two times, thats how often I go to Best Buy. Yes interupting is rude. Then again if it’s the only way to get someone to stop repeating themselves. Well then maybe they should stop talking.

  • Brian

    In the above alot was spelled wrong. Some words like find, should be fine, and time should be two years. Anyways i’ll fix it. Later since this box isn’t really big enough for editing.

  • Michael Pyles

    When I cancelled my AOL account, they also kept me on the phone about 15 or 20 minutes. I just kept saying no, please cancel the service. I’m guessing they’ve figured out if they can’t convince someone to stay after 20 minutes, it’s not going to happen.
    Also, Prestige Camera is running a scam online. You order a camera from them, then they require you to call to “verify your order” before they can ship. However, the call to “verify the order” is really a hard sell on accessories for the camera. Finally the guy said he would just ship my camera. Low and behold, he called me again the next day, left a msg on my answering maching, acting as if he never spoke to me and still needed me to “verify my order!” I emailed the co. to cancel the order and they responded I must “call to verify the order!” I finally stopped calling and after two weeks they finally shipped my camera.
    I ran into another one when I chose one of those pharmacies that pops up on the Google page. The pharmacy advertised “no prescription needed.” Once I ordered, they demanded my prescription before shipping. When I attempting to cancel my order, they charged my credit card a $20 cancellation fee!
    Beware of internet co.’s selling stuff, especially the ones that pop up on Google.

  • Jo

    I was expecting to relive some of the horror I went through, but that was MILD in comparison. It took me over an hour to cancel. I had to call 5 times because the first 4 times they disconnected me while “transferring” my call. So I’d call back and explain what happened and of course they were “very sorry” and then I’d have to go through all the same questions and then it would happen again! I have never felt so infuriated by anything. Except maybe netzero–they’ve got the same scam.

  • James

    I tried to cancel my Dad-in-law’s AOHell service before residential broadband existed and a 33.6 modem was beand new tech. Local ISP’s had jsut opened up and I got him an unlimited acct. for $20/mo. AOL charged by the hour. A couple months go by and he gets a gib charge on his credit card. We call and he’s still connected. I had uninstalled all the software months ago and they still said he was using it. Lies. After a long time on the phone for about the 4th time trying to cancel, I asked for all their information and stated we were going to contact boht out state’s AG and out lawyer to sue. Finally, they lemented and actually cancelled the account and deducted the false charges. Folks, this was in about 1996. A decade later nothing has changed. Will it ever with this “company?”

  • AJ

    Kudos to Vincent! Had a similar experience several years ago, it took many months to finally break free. We were intentionally super polite with the rep because we didn’t want to experience computer problems afterwards like some people we know. This is the way to expose this stuff. Right on!

  • Former AOL subscriber

    I send AOL a letter when I cancelled my account. It did take me some time to find the address — I couldn’t find it via AOL proper and had to search for it online — but the written cancellation was handled swiftly.

    The main reason I chose to cancel in writing was because I was already familiar with the nightmare that most others had gone thru. This was 3 years ago. Seems not much has changed.

  • http://www.capria.tv Frank Capria

    I remember cancelling, but it was clear to me that the rep had to read the script. At the end of it I just said, “I still want to cancel the account.”

    It took all of five minutes. Maybe I got lucky, but most likely it went quickly because I didn’t choose to make a big deal out of it. I had the rep on speakerphone continued opening mail and paying bills.

    Really not a big deal folks.

  • Cecil

    Thank you for bringing this excellent by unfortunate experience to light. This company is not far from many others with regard to their service and policies. I never used AOL even when they gave me a free trial. I simply had enough of their crap with their Executives making millions on stock options at the heingt of the internet boom.

    Who do you think is missing from all this?. They are the corrupt people we elect to legislate and govern. SOme call them Congresmen and some Senators. They in turn approve even more corrupt people in various arms of the Govermnment like the FCC. Remember, these are the people who take donations from companies for their election campigns and then frame legislation to favor the every companies that harbor them. Don’t be surprised when you see your bills being hiked every year.

  • http://aol.com Robert

    I tried to cancel my AOL account because they raised my monthly bill to $25.0 a month. Then after my call they lowered my monthly bill to $9.00 a month, so I kept it and I am glad I did

  • Steve

    It is similar to my experince of canceling the AOL account. Only difference is that they insisted that I continue to have 3 months of free of service and then cancel it if I did not like it at the end of the three months. They did not allow me to cancel it right away. After three months, I had the credit card charge again, because I forgot to call them again. It seems that the customer service reps get a bonus everytime they successfully turn down a cacel request.

  • http://n/a Lee Hurst

    I experienced a MAJOR problem with AOL! I used the trial software and called to cancel when the trial period was over. The told me I would get internet for $14.95 a month, and 1 month free. After all of the pressure…I stayed. They RIPPED ME OFF! (Ignorantly, I hadn’t been paying close attention to my bank statements). Five months later, I realize they have been charging me the $14.95, and an extra $29.95 a month! I looked @ my previous bank statements, and realized they had been charging me this since I set up the service! I for called to figure out why, they told me I had a “5 hour limit plan.” NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT ANY TIME LIMITS! I WAS USING A DIAL UP CONNECTION! IT TOOK WHAT SEEMED 2 BE 5 HOURS TO LOG ON TO THE INTERNET! They got over $250.00 outa me for basic dial up service. They refused to credit my account, but had the audacity to try to get me to upgrade my service! After a 30 minute conversation, he canceled my account. UNFORTUNATELY, I STILL RECEIVED 2 BILLS AFTER I disconnected my service! They charged my account for another $60, which they claim were for previous internet use overages…they still have me in their winback database…i give everyone representative that calls my horror story…i have to get irrate 4 them 2 get the point…AOL SUCKS!

  • Janet

    About four months ago, I started receiving automated AOL collection calls for a woman with a different name. These would come at 2 in the afternoon and 4 in the morning — over and over again.

    As I need my AOL account for business, once a week, I would spend up to an hour waiting to get through to customer service, point out they were calling the wrong person and ask them to verify my account was in good standing (which it was). Each time, the customer service rep said they would block the number.

    The calls continued.

    It took me four months to work my way up the food chain to finally reach someone who agreed to look at my account. She acknowledged my account was in good standing. When I asked that she check the account of the person they were trying to reach, to take my number out of that record, she refused.

    The auto-calls continued.

    Last week, I reached a customer service rep in Antigua who promised to block the number. He was nice and I believe he tried to do so, but the calls continued.

    I then reached a woman at a different service center. She agreed to take my number out of the non-payer’s record.

    An hour after that, the auto-calls started again. I finally spent two hours waiting to reach the collections department directly.
    After three different reps refused to help me, I was bumped up to a supervisor who finally took my number out of the other person’s record.

    That was two days ago. I haven’t received an auto-call yet, but I’m not counting on it being resolved…

  • http://cucinatestarossa.blogs.com laura @ cucina testa rossa

    i had the exact same experience with AOL. I was practically screaming at the woman to cancel my account.

  • Bill

    This is aol process and all the people follow it. Mine took 45 minutes and I had to ask for a supervisor/manager about 30 times.

  • Phil Tetreau

    Your efforts amount to a real public service. In fact, I think Eliot Spitzer should put you on his payroll, because you have gotten as much publicity as he did while prosecuting AOL, and possibly as much affect, and you didn’t cost the taxpayers of New York a penny!

    But perhaps you wouldn’t enjoy working for the government – you may be a bit too reasonable.

    Thank you.

  • Reed Fontenot

    All this is great. I canceled my membership back in January ’06 but was confused when I contined to be charged around $25 on my debit card each month. I figured out that it was my daughter’s account, however she had followed my instructions to cancel as she went to yahoo. Turns out to have been an active account I did not know about under my daughters name that we had NOT used since 2002! She called three times, I called twice, tried the ‘on-line chat’ section to cancel and finally faxed in a letter to cancel on 5/7/06. Four weeks later I get a postcard that I did not provide enough information to cancel and I had to call, fax or send another letter. %*#*$&^#*$^*#^$!!!!!
    I was finally able to get through on 7/1/2006 and after 20+ minutes (and less information than was in my fax) I was able to cancel. They did recognize that I was trying to cancel but never offered to give any of my money back. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!

  • Chad

    Exactly why I have never, and will never use AOL. Their customer service obviously sucks, their far-too-heavy software package sucks, and I would rather be set on fire and rolled over knives than rely on them for Internet service.

  • Dan

    if a customer service rep asks me why I’m leaving, I tell them my wife now works for a competitor and get their service for free. That usually stops them dead in their tracks. This also works for persistent phone co reps when I switch long distance service.

  • JB6092

    First, I want to say I had a similar experience cancelling my AOL account when I moved to roadrunner, and it seems corporate America has no clue to the long term damage these tactics do to their company. Like many posters have pointed out, when I get treated this way you can be assured I will not be back.

    Second, it amazes me that supposed ‘Yale educated’ posters would write in and support these tactics and imply that spending twenty minutes to cancel something you no longer want is not too much to ask. When will these people realize that the experience you have when cancelling a service is the last impression you have, and when it is painful and frustrating for the consumer it solidifies the chances that they will never come back?

  • willow hale

    How about this–I tried to listen to your Url link on AOL website, and they said it cannot be found.

  • Christine

    I had the “honor” (a term I will use loosely) of dealing with a similar situation with AOL about three years ago. When my parents passed away, as executor of their estates I had the pleasure of calling credit card companies and other services, including AOL, to close out their accounts. The AOL rep at first tried to talk me into reconsiderating not cancelling the account. Knowing in advance AOL’s reputation for persistance in keeping accounts at all costs, and being emotionally and physically overwhelmed with dealing with my parents’ passing and dealing with the aftermath, I cut to the chase and informed the rep that the account needed to be cancelled because the account-holders had passed away. The rep actually asked me, “Are you sure you want the account cancelled?” Incredulous, I reiterated that the account holders were dead. I think I also added something to the effect of “They won’t be needing the account anymore”! I was then asked if I would to keep the account and have it transferred to my name. I told them that my husband and I already have an AOL account, so we wouldn’t need a second one. The rep kept insisting that the account could be easliy transferred to my name, and I could have an account just in my name. I told the rep (again) that we already had an account, no I do not want a second account, please just cancel the account, which the rep finally agreed to do. I also asked for written confirmation that the account was cancelled for my estate records. (Wait, this gets better!) Instead of a written confirmation that I had requested,
    I received letters from AOL, addressed to my parents’ estate, requesting that my (deceased) parents reconsider and reopen their account with AOL. After about the third letter I finally wrote on the letter itself, in bold red letters, “Account holders are deceased!!! Please cancel account!!!” I didn’t receive any letters after that.

  • Shelly

    I had a similar experience. Tried to cancel because I got a DSL. Their rep said he would give me another six months free service and verified this by an e mail which I saved. After the first month I was billed, so I called to complain. AOL denied that I was given the free service and would not acknowledge the e mail, so I tried to cancel. That took about one half hour of my insisting but finally they said they would cancel, however they would not remove the one month fee. I called American Express to complain. They said they could not adjust because AOL refused. Amer Exp finally gave me a courtesy credit based on the e mail from AOL.

  • henry

    I also knew about the issues faced when trying to cancell AOL accounts. I sense that the policy has been established at the corporate level. the tactic is evident, just look at AOL wepages and see that it would be very difficult to just contact AOL… Maybe an action from the US gvt. would help’

  • http://Putfile.com Jayne

    I also tried to cancel AOL. Because it took me two months to check out my CC charges they were continuing to bill me. Called them back and they told me if I hadn’t received an “official cancellation letter” from them my service wasn’t cancelled! I cancelled it again, which they accepted. Shortly thereafter I started receiving threatening calls from their collection department wanting to sue me. I told them to go ahead – the total amount was $29.95 and they would “settle” with me for half that amount! They called about once a week threatening me and trying to make deals for me to pay up which I never would. I found an article in my newspaper about the NYS class action suit against AOL and filled out the paperwork. Just read in today’s paper NYS was awarded over a million dollars in that suit in August. I haven’t received anything and could care less but I successfully filed a complaint with NYS Attorney General’s office. I wouldn’t use AOL if it was the last IE provider left! I make a point of discouraging everyone I know from using them and will continue to do so. Everyone I know that’s ever tried to cancel them has been harassed and/or billed long after they thought they cancelled. They’re nothing but crooks. I can’t believe the US government doesn’t investigate this company’s fraudulent practices.

  • http://Microsoft Nanna

    :evil: I left aol in 1989 shortly after it bought applelink and had trouble, even then. I have avoided it like the plague since. Another communications co. had a similar customer service program. I do believe they have 20,000 sales reps. and 1 person that deals with customer complaints. I think corp. execs. have crossed once again into unethical behavior.:(

  • Troy

    :cry: I worked for AOL for 3 years and the worst part of my job was the saves dept. We had to maintain a 60% saves rate. This meant 60 out of 100 calls had to keep their accounts for 30 days after talking to us. If we didn’t keep this rate we were written up and had our jobs threatened. On a daily basis we had minimum of 1 ambulance a day taking some poor person, who was stressing so bad about their save rate, to the hospital with chest pains.
    Before the merge AOL was an OK service, but after the merge they really started pushing their employees to maintain the 60% saves rate. I am so glad that I don’t work there anymore.

  • jc

    when i first got my laptop before leaving for college a few years ago, it came with a free aol trial. so when my three months were up i got on the phone to cancel it thinking it would take me just a few minutes. HA HA. this lady was persistant, even after telling her i would be moving to a place where i would have FREE internet she continued to try to sell me deals. and isnt aol tricky by making you give your credit card number for a “free” trial. yes, these reps are just doing their job, but you cant make ppl need your service anymore. i thought it was especially entertaining when the rep made up those little facts about the account being used. also, ive worked in customer service places as long as ive had jobs. (not in call centers, but more retail oriented.) we were always taught, give the customer what they want so that they stay a customer.

  • Norman Holly

    My experience [prior to AOL's cease and desist agreement with the Federal Trade Commission] was precisely the same as Vinny’s. The AOL rep argued with me for half an hour, then finalloy agreed to cancel in this fashion: She agreed that my request came on the monthly statement closing day, but said that I had missed the closing by one hour. Hence, she would keep the account open for another “gratis” month and make sure I was not charged for it. The account, she said, would be terminated at the end of that month. In fact neither of those promises obtained. I was billed for the month following my cancellation request, and the account was not cancelled but in fact kept active after that month. AOL still owes my $22.95, but their refusals to refund have been stressfully nasty, so I finally gave up. If this is the way that Steve Case and his executives “earn” their huge fortunes, they ought to be jailed. In event any of them are reading this blog, my name is Norman Holly and I live in Silver Spring, Maryland.

  • “Twig”

    Here’s why they do what they do.

    AOL’s “Customer Retention Specialists” are paid based on performance, or how many people they can save, compared to how many they lose. They feel this method allows the CRS to work to his/her fullest potential, but they do not, however, realize that most people will respond like this when you hit them where it hurts the most…in the wallet.

    PS – This is posted anonymously. I will not reveal who I am, but let’s just say I can confirm this as an “inside source”.

  • Terri

    My husband passed away. Two months later I tried to cancel his account. His being dead was not good enough. Didn’t I want to keep it so people could still write to him. Didn’t I want to read the comments. I told them I didn’t look at his account when he was alive, why would I want to when he was gone. Then, to make it worse, he keeps getting renewal offers. (I had thought I had cancelled my own AOL months earlier because of software problems — I ended up paying an additional three months before I finally was able to sever the tie.) I think people stay with AOL just because it’s so hard to get rid of them.

  • Screwedbythebiz

    The crux of the matter is, however, that this type of behavior is not limited to AOL. I’ve had similar experiences with NetZero and Sprint Cellular. Even if you survive the call, you WILL continue to be charged. When you cancel the credit card attached to the card in desperation, in three to six months you’ll have collection agencies calling you at work.

  • lynda ready

    I am stunned that you got an English-speaking CSR. I have nothing against Hindus; I object having to repeat problems because they don’t understand English very well, to listening to PART of the problem and jumping to a scripted (non-responsive) response, and arrogantly telling me “Be silent, madam! I am telling you your problem!”

  • lynda ready

    please don’t delete my comments about non english speaking CSR’s. the first time i posted that i got an error message, so backed up and re posted.

  • Vee Zee

    way to go vinny. The part at the bottom, “if you don’t like any of these policies, tough. Start your own blog on your own host and then you can run it the way you want”. Attaboy. In other words, they can all go ****themselves. All right.

  • AllTooTrue

    I tried to cancel my deceased father’s AOL account back in 2004. After the first attempt, I was told it would be cancelled, but next month the charge was on the CC. I called again; was told last month’s failure to cancel was a mistake, and this time the account would be cancelled. Again next month, there was the charge on the CC. When a company won’t even cancel a dead person’s account, you know they are in trouble – I only wish I had shorted AOL stock then and there.

    Finally, after writing to a supervisor, the account was cancelled.

    Despite my requests to refund the extra months of service, they never did.

    Sounds like the are not any better in 2006.

  • Ryan

    I am on AOL and they appear to have blocked this clip. Yes, I still have dial-up, so YouTube won’t cut it for me. Meanwhile, I can’t access this clip from the original site, or from here. How’s that for S-U-C-K-S? They don’t call it AOhelL for nothing.

  • Ganesh Bavish

    The same thing happended to me when I canceled my AOL account.

    Back in 1997 I worked as a contract programmer at American Express in Phoenix and was required to have an AOL account because I wrote software that allowed AOL users to view information about their American Express credit cards.

    Since I was a contractor AMEX required that I get my own AOL account. I billed them every month for the account and AMEX promptly paid me. That practice was probably to keep contractors from running up huge AOL bills and getting AMEX to pay for it.

    When I quit American Express and went to work else where it took at least 6 months of letter writting to get AOL to stop billing me for the account.

    AOL sucks and I have never used it other then when I had to for my job at AMEX which was writting software so I had no need to use the account after I left AMEX, nor did I use the account. But it still took at least 6 months for AOL to stop billing me.

    I suspect AOL intentionally continued to bill me. And I have met other people who have the same experience trying to cancel an AOL account.

  • Kay

    I too experienced the AOL hounds! I had to hang-up on an irrate AOL rep when she insisted that I could not cancel a trial accout. I called back, and after a long conversation with another rep, cancelled the account. Needless to say I will NEVER try or recommend AOL again!
    p.s. Any ideas on what to do with thier advertisement CD’s? I receive about 10-15 a year and currently use them as border on my classroom bulletin boards.

  • Cam
  • Chuck

    My step-daughter was having the same problem cancelling her account. She finally called her credit card company and they called AOL and somehow got cancelled. They said they had had the problem a lot of times and knew how to take care of it. They did.

  • Chad

    Yes, I have a friend who also tried to cancel, he runs a site for men’s grooming http://www.thestylishman.com and didn’t need it and also had to go through alot to get anything to happen. With all the money they make you’d think they’d have better customer service.

  • Shabadoo

    The message sounds like whathappened to me when I tried to cancel my AOL account. I had gotten a DSL account and no longer had any use for AOL with their incessant ads and lousy service. It took me a good half hour to finally cancel. I will never do business with AOL again.

  • Shabadoo

    The message sounds like what happened to me when I tried to cancel my AOL account. I had gotten a DSL account and no longer had any use for AOL with their incessant ads and lousy service. It took me a good half hour to finally cancel. I will never do business with AOL again.

  • fred

    Had an identical experience about three years back when i cancelled AOL.

  • An Ice Cold Beer

    1st Google now owns 5% of AOL, so for all the people excited about getting off AOL and using Google, guess what your still going to be in AOL’s spider web.
    2nd You can keep AOL mail and IM screen names even if you cancel your AOL account.
    3rd Yes AOL trains employees to use a process to retain members, employees are monitored in may different ways, and fired for not following the “call flow”
    4th Yes they say this guy is no longer with the company, if it was for this particular call, it would have only have been for not making a “saves attempt”. However I suspect he was simply laid off when they closed the Jax, Fl call center.
    5th I can’t wait to see AOL crash and burn it won’t be because of this call, it will be due to thier slow reaction to market forces, they only just recently realized the importance of broadband, and are now offering AOL High speed with various partners, however check the speed, it is usually a slower speed than one would get by simply going to the cable or dsl provider.

  • An Ice Cold Beer

    oh yeah, to cancel your account make sure the CSR has your acount and has verified it, then simply hang up, they MUST cancel your account if they cannot give you the full disclosure at the end that tells you your account is still open.

  • Pissedoffpastor

    I had an account that was being billed directly from my bank account.. suppossedly a 19.95 a month account became a pay by the minute account that was as much as 450 bucks a month.. i didnt notice it right away.. when i called and went off they told me i’d get a letter from their office. Still havent.. how long has it been? 1997!!!!!!!

    FUCK AOL.

  • Andrew

    Thank you Vincent. You’ve done a great public service in embarrassing AOL for an annoying and dishonest business practice.

  • Shallon

    Putfile.com has the conversation now if anyone wants to hear it.

    And for the last time, no it is not illegal to record conversations. Using them in court without the persons concent is another issue. All he was doing was the same thing they were doing. Since the conversation was already being taped, what does it matter if he taped it or not? There was no privacy implied whatsoever.

    And if you feel sorry for poor John (who may or may not have been fired for all we know), you should just tattoo the word “moron” on your forehead. John is not even his real name. How would any other employer know that its the same guy who was recorded here? So even if he did get the pink slip, i assure you there are more jobs out there for him. Millions of people get fired every year for god sakes……

    If you lie down in the dirt, you get dirty, and if you get a paycheck for doing something you know is wrong, don’t cry foul when someone finally makes an example of you.

  • Gerald

    I closed My AOL Account 1997, but I knew it was AOL hell to close the account. So I went to my bank and sign a letter, I would refuse all future bills from AOL.
    Closed my bank account and open another it stop them cold. In addition, I had the bank officer call AOL to get an idea of want I was going through. After that, he was cool with it.

    But thanks for exposing them

  • Mark G.

    I worked for AOL from 1999 to 2003. The problem is that they got too damned big for their britches, and they are now so completely out of touch from Steve Case’s vision that it’s just a shame. They are rudderless. They are going away, more quickly than people realize.

    The call centers have been the joke of AOL for a long time now. I could tell you horror stories from the Ad department, through the Production department, to the Tech division, but it’s all a moot point. They’re dying and don’t even realize it.

    Sorry you had such a crappy time of it. :-(

  • Mindi

    This is why no one should use AOL. We had the same problem with NetZero though after opening a shared (traveling) account. They didn’t give us the pitch when we tried to cancel, but they did give us the run around however, and charged us even after canceling.

    Bad business practices really. When will these companies learn? I feel sorry for the CSR’s who have to do this stuff just to make a paycheck, but you don’t have to act like jerks either.

  • helper

    try nearlyfreespeech.net for the server problems… it would have cost you $12 for 12 gig. They rock. AOL sucks.

  • Blue

    You should make a Bittorrent of this audio file.
    I used to sell computer systems and set up customers new ISP accounts. AOL was notorious for being difficult to remove and literally being unable to get a customer service rep to cancel accounts. Our normal method was to put them on speakers phone let them blather for a bit and say “Just cancel it!” multiple times. Meanwhile we would be installing/setting up a alternative service.

  • Samuel Siahaan

    I guess I was lucky. I moved from Germany to Indonesia, and wanted to pay through my credit card. They asked for a fax of the card and even though I sent it to them several times, they kept asking and then cancelled due to nonpayment.

    I even phoned them and they admitted they got my fax, but at the end they told me I had to come myself again to Germany and give the fax to them…

  • Rick

    I never had an AOL account, but I spent months trying to report a Sprint phone that didn’t work properly. Oh the time I spent trying to talk to a customer service representative who had a brain and who didn’t accuse me of lying.
    I now live in Bangkok and get my Internet service provided by a company called True. I can attest that their customer service is worse than Sprint (much worse in fact. The stories I have about that company are much more comical then a rep simply trying to retain a customer), but I generally give them a pass because of the language and cultural barrier, and because Thailand is a developing country and the True staff members, including managers, are paid peanuts and therefore really don’t care much about their job. No such passes are given for Sprint, however. I anxiously await the day when they declare Chapter 11.

  • DD

    AOL, like the virus-infected magnet Internet Assplorer, can go die a thousand deaths.

    I went through pretty much on the phone what Vince here did not too long ago.

    Yes,