Is AOL Breaking the Law?

May/19/2011 16:07PM
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Google, “cancelling my AOL account.” You will find pages of horror stories about the process AOL has established to keep subscribers from cancelling their AOL accounts.

I just had first- hand experience. A family member asked me for help when they found they couldn’t cancel their account. It was a paid subscription that was established in 2002. The payment was an automatic withdrawal from checking and had been overlooked. The account had not been used since 2002.

If you have a paid account on AOL, you can’t cancel on line. You must cancel by phone. The subscriber could not even remember the login name it had been so long since it was used.

After 45 minutes in an on-line chat with Mellanie, that’s right, two l’s, she was finally able to find the screen name. It was no problem to bill every month for 9 years, but finding the source of the billing took 45 minutes. Every possible question was asked and answered, mother’s maiden name, driver’s license number, bank account number, bank, credit card number, address, phone number, etc. Finally, Mellanie was able to come up with the screen name on the bill. But, Mellanie couldn’t cancel the account. That had to be done by phone.

That phone is only available during business hours.

Mellanie tried at least four times to keep the subscriber from also cancelling a free account. This is what you find when you google AOL cancellations. Their phone respondents are trained to virtually refuse to cancel. Only under duress will they finally do it.

When the call was made during business hours to cancel the paid account, it was an automated system. It asks to give the first three letters of the account to be cancelled. It is tied to your telephone number. Since the forst three letters for the paid and the free account were the same, it would only allow the cancellation of the free account and would not give access to the paid account.

To get this done it was neccessary to ask for reactivation and then beg the customer service person to handle the cancellation.

There is so much noise about the practices AOL is using to keep subscribers from leaving that it appears there is a possible class action lawsuit brewing for AOL.

I remember when Delta Airlines would not let anyone use their free miles. They got hit with a class action, I got 5,000 free miles and a letter that there would be no further black out dates for me.

When a company works this hard to save lost business, it’s time to stop the mokeybusiness and make it as easy to leave as to come.

It should be three clicks and you are gone. Not 45 minutes on a chat line and 6 frustrating phone calls to do the job. Watch out AOL, in addition to all your other problems, some enterprising attorney is going to stumble onto to your act, and it will be over, with compensation for those you have put through the wringer.

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