View Full Version : AOL sucks...why not get an ISP?
09-23-1999, 07:16 PM
Other than a "free" trial period that I signed up for 3 years ago (you know, some kinda xx free hours crap) that ended abruptly when AOL started charging my credit card for monthly services, I've not been a customer of AOL.
Why do people pay them...what is it?...close to 30 bucks a month?...when for 20 bucks or less they can get Internet connectivity through an ISP. ISPs offer email, webspace, unrestricted newsgroups, etc.
Why would someone continue to be a customer of the AOL service? Please tell me...I'd really like to know!!!!!!!!!
09-23-1999, 07:28 PM
AOL costs about $22 a month. It's easy to use. It's great for people who don't know much about computers or the Internet. My whole family has it. I like it.
09-23-1999, 08:20 PM
Yeah, we just pay $22 a month, too. I get sick and tired of the porn spam, but other than that I've had no complaints. I don't think they enforce the TOS that strictly, because I sure haven't gotten busted for anything. I mean, I'd heard horror stories that they read all your e-mail, monitor your activity in newsgroups and on the web, are really strict about what you can say in instant messages, etc. But I've forwarded all the dirty jokes, cussed in instant messages, forwarded chain letters, and received and forwarded all the joke e-mails bashing AOL, and never so much as received a warning. AOL seems to like me, so I like AOL.
Unless they're just saving everything up to hit me all at once... now I'm feeling paranoid :(
"I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it," Jack Handy
09-23-1999, 08:30 PM
I have two daughters, eight and six. They both have screen names, and AOL is the easiest way I have to keep the younger one from hacking the Defence Departmant computers. The eight-year-old is now at "Mature Teen" access, because nothing lower allows her to view the Bill Nye the Science Guy website.
AOL is easy, and except for not being able to view the bestiality newsgroups it lets me do everything I want to do.
Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
Homo vult decipi; decipiatur
09-23-1999, 08:38 PM
Well, shit. I was hoping this was going to turn into a good-old-fashioned AOL roast.
Since itís all nice-nice, I can provide some answers. (Provided everybody understands that I am not a customer, neither endorse nor disavow the product, may or may not hold a long or short position in AOLís securities or that of its competitors and about ten other things Iím too lazy to type tonight)
First, inertia. Many computer sellers pre-install AOL on disk drives, and youíve obviously seen the disks. AOL is most peopleís first entry to on-line anything, and they stick with it. BTW, did you know that fully 1/3 of the households in the United States never switched from ATTís basic rate plan after Ma Bell broke up? Inertia, sadly, is one of the most powerful forces at work in American consumerism.
Second, cost of switching. For most people, the cost of switching isnít much more than a mass email telling everyone about your new address. But a surprising number of computer users never install anything on their computers, and most of the rest of the users need their hands held. Many smaller ISPís donít have good "first-time" interfaces.
Third, size. Everybody else is on AOL, so if you use the internet primarily for simple communication, AOL can be the place to be. This is why AOL is defending its proprietary IM system so rabidly. If you can IM an AOL user from elsewhere, why be on AOL?
Fourth, content. AOL pays for exclusive and semi-exclusive content (including, until recently, this MB). They do a pretty good job of categorizing it for the novice user who wouldnít even know where to start with a search engine (even Yahoo).
Fifth, protection. This is kind of a canard because it doesnít work, but users of AOL and other content-added companies can generally set up "accounts" so that Dad can go to the smutty stuff but Junior is supposed to be locked out.
Sixth, consistency. Some advanced users have had their ISPs go out of business or get absorbed into a larger company. This means the whole e-mail address hassle. You can be confident that your AOLdotCom address isnít going to change.
Sorry this post is too long.
Now let the flaming begin!
Livin' on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine
09-23-1999, 08:50 PM
My problems with AOL:
1. the killtimer.
3. almost 30$ a month.
4. lock ups.
5. any mail I got in my AOL account would be lost after I read it, then rebooted.
6. When it wasn't crashing outright, it would lock up.
I now go through Netzero, wich forcess you to have a banner ad bar on your screen at all times...but I'm gonna put up with it for now, because this ISP hasn't crashed or locked up once, and it's free.
You say "cheesy" like that's a BAD thing.
09-23-1999, 09:09 PM
Still begs Con#3's question . . . Why don't more people buy into local ISPs? You get cheaper pricing, more competition, and you don't have to pimp for some megacorp who wants free advertizing.
There's always a bigger fish.
09-23-1999, 09:59 PM
I also use Netzero- love it! http://www.netzero.com
Anyway, people usually use AOL because it seems easier for them. I'm a computer instructor and frequently hear people say they love AOL because you sign on (which is a simple process itself), and everything is right in front of you- e-mail, news, weather- whatever. So for people who lack computer training/confidence AOL seems like a good choice. Also families like it because of it's "blocking" features like IM blocking, attachment blocking, website restrictions, etc.
That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
Run for the hills, folks! Or you'll be up to your armpits in martians!
09-23-1999, 10:12 PM
I am now more enlightened than when I posted this topic. Some of you have provided reasons for using AOL that seem to benefit you and additionally, I guess I was wrong about the price. It must have really come down! They were hitting my credit card for $35 a month 3 years ago before I noticed and ended my "free" trial.
As far as the point that someone brought up concerning one's email address and the hassles of changing it when switching ISPs, my solution to that is to use Hotmail and Yahoo mail. In fact I DID have to change ISPs when my former ISP decided to limit your connect hours, or penalize me with per hours charges beyond the limit. I then changed to Earthlink who offered truly unlimited service and a lower price, but since I was using Hotmail instead of my ISP-provided email account, I wasn't adversely affected. That's the great thing about Hotmail and the like, they give you total email portability.
There is so much content on the WWW that I couldn't possibly surf a fraction of it in 10 lifetimes if the Web stopped growing today! I wonder how much longer AOL will be able to use "exclusive content" as a selling point?
Oh well, enough AOL-slamming for me...if anyone else would like to pick up the torch, go ahead...
09-23-1999, 10:59 PM
Let the flaming begin?
I am getting thoroughly fed up with your well thought out, intelligent posts.
Knock it off!
My first ISP was AOL, but I eventually came to my senses and got a cable modem.
Unfortunately, not everyone has that option.
Sometimes, AOL is the only game in town.
Too bad, because I think AOL sucks.
If you're an optimist, you haven't been paying attention.
09-24-1999, 08:20 AM
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention...
That creppy voice that AOL uses...
"You've got mail."
Boy, that "goodbye" is the most fun, especially when you hear it three or four times while your system crashes. It's not bad enough AOL has to be buggy as shit, it also has to taunt you?
You say "cheesy" like that's a BAD thing.
09-24-1999, 10:12 AM
We fixed the crappy voice by seeking out the .wav's and replacing them with our pre-recorded voice(s). Of course that was during our free trial. We lost too much mail during freeze-ups to ever seriously consider keeping aohell.
09-24-1999, 10:25 AM
Manhattan once again hits the nail on the head. Although your first point "inertia" seems to explain it all.
Look at cell phones. Nearly every woman I know got one 'cause they need it for emergency. Yet they are so convenient that you use them. Thus the bill goes up.
I bet if you ask any non computer owner what ISP is they can't tell you but they can tell you what AOL is.
Me mum uses it because she's living in a small town and its the only ISP available.
09-24-1999, 04:45 PM
C-3, there was a story a few months ago about how easy it was to hack into hotmail. I don't know if MS was able to address that yet or not. Anyway, if you have kids, you gotta have AOL. In fact, that's one way I get them to listen to me. "I'll delete your screen name in 1 minute if you don't....". You can get a killtime program from download.com for free and it works great.
My good friend WallyM7 has a cable modem and that may work good for some, but down here they say that there are some serious security problems with those types of connections.
09-24-1999, 04:52 PM
Cause it's completely free for me. :) (No, I don't steal it, either.)
It means I don't have to spend money to talk to my mother long distance (who's one of those not bright enough to install anything else) or my sister, who is just as bad as my mother. These are people that would never download ICQ, or IRC, or any other method to converse, but have no problems with AOL.
Why should I put out money I don't really have every month to "upgrade" when I don't have to spend anything in the first place?
Now, if money wasn't a concern (yes, I've tried NetZero, but the stupid bar drove me bananas since it took up a good portion of my screen -- and no, I can't change my resolution or I couldn't see to do anything anyway), I'd have a "real" ISP in a heartbeat, just so I wouldn't have to deal with the few unpleasant features.
And for the record, I've had no trouble with email getting lost (the Filing Cabinet is your friend) or sounds crashing my system -- since I replaced all of them anyway -- or any problems other than the fact that the system, like any other, goes down every now and then.
For a free service, t'ain't bad a'tall, McGee.
09-26-1999, 07:39 PM
my Erols account is up in mid-October; $179 due for another year. Cheaper than AOL. I have Netscape, MSN, ICQ, AOL's IM. Although I confess my son (the techie) set it all up for me. If I had to start up myself, I guess I'da gone with AOL too. I've heard AOL sucks. some of you like it, some don't. I'm inclined to stick with Erols, unless you can recommend another ISP. I have Netzero too, but I can't stand the ad - you can move it around, but what a pain.
09-26-1999, 11:27 PM
Since you're in the area, I'll just say that CAIS Internet is a great outfit. I haven't done dialup with them, but I've heard good things about them in that regard too. They have a close link to MAE-EAST, and I have been thrilled with the service they have provided for my server.
09-26-1999, 11:51 PM
but down here they say that there are some serious security problems with those types of connections -- Therealbubba
The security prob with cable modems is real, but not as serious as some might make it sound.
The prob is that you are essentially on a single LAN with your neighbors. LANs are normally expected to be a little more trusted than the Internet at large. MS network resource sharing security is very poor. So basically, the risk comes down to this: If you share network resources (like say you have several computers in your house that are on an ethernet, connected to your cable modem, and you access drives or printers across the network), then it is possible that one of your neighbors will be able to access those shared resources as well. So you need to both open up your computer for sharing and have a malicious person in your neighborhood to get hurt.
09-27-1999, 12:37 AM
As Suzeanne said, you can set your mail to save a copy of incoming and outgoing mail into your PFC and you won't lose any more mail. Second, you can use another email provider, yanno. I have AOL, though I only use it as my connection when I travel, but my email address is (and has been for years) firstname.lastname@example.org (before that it was email@example.com) and I have always used something like Eudora (or before that, Pegasus) to check my mail. THere are plenty of free email services out there (yes, even POP) that email shouldn't be an issue.
Many people use it because they just arent' that 'hardcore' about the internet and it is easy...sort of everything in one place. Why should they get a different ISP if AOL does everything they need? My mom has a limited time plan that only costs her like $6/month.... and you can always do the bring your own access plan ($9/month) and have netzero... then you can benefit from AOL but not pay the higher rates...
Netzero wasn't very reliable back when I used to use it (as a backup when my ISP would croak) but maybe it has gotten better.
Me, I like my cable modem.
"Cluemobile? You've got a pickup..."
OpalCat's site: http://opalcat.com
The Teeming Millions Homepage: fathom.org/teemingmillions (http://fathom.org/teemingmillions)
09-27-1999, 10:19 AM
Just some info on Netzero and AOL. I was doing the bring your own access using Netzero and it didn't work. The advertising screen keeps popping up to the front of my screen and I can't type in my password for AOL. It's hard to explain, but I havn't been able to make it work. I use Netzero and love it- I love anything that's free!!
I'm very lucky. The only time I was ever up shit creek, I just happened to have a paddle with me.
09-27-1999, 02:54 PM
OkayÖ Here's the scoop - I hate AOL. I will admit that their pricing is more in line with other ISP's than they used to be and they are really simple to use. Plus they offer some exclusive content aside from just internet access.
Now then - the bashingÖ Their software is woefully inadequate for a lot of things. Such as downloading large files. Also, they are notorious for having slow connection speeds. They are equally notorious for being hard to access at times because they sign up everyone who comes with no regard to updating the areas covered with new technology and local access numbers. That means lots of busy signals. AOL also likes to disconnect you after being on-line for 45 minutes - even if you're still doing stuff - because they are so overburdened with customers. Java is also tough to run on AOL. And AOL Spam bullshit is intolerable! You can't go anywhere without running into an ad, and I hate that shit!
Also, their newsgroup access sucks, and they are heavily into censorship of content if it doesn't conform to their wholesome little ideals. Those complaints are subjective to the individual, needless to say, but it pisses me off anytime someone I am giving money to tries to tell me what I am allowed to see, hear or say.
Your best bet is to go with a local ISP. Most ISP's that are local offer better customer service than the huge conglomerates, and they are not hard to use with Windows or Mac, even without massive technical know-how.
I use Prodigy right now, but I am not thrilled with them. I previously used Cable & Wireless, but they sold out to Prodigy. I got some perks to transfer over to Prodigy + they are keeping my price plan - $14.95 for 150 hours a month billed monthly to my credit card. 150 hours averages out to 5 hours a day, so I don't need anymore than that. Unfortunately, Prodigy disconnects too easily, I do not like their software or Spam, and I get goofy connections far too frequently.
I might change, but I'm too busy to look into it right now. That said, I would NEVER use AOL at allÖ
10-02-1999, 10:42 PM
AOL sucks. There is even a web page for that. http://www.aolsucks.com
I had it for about 2 months before it constantly crashed my PC, wouldn't let my web page work, downloading was a pain - I felt this weight of opression when I thought of it. I signed up for Earthlink for a while before I actually ditched AOL. I found myself loving EarthLink, and wondering why I kept the damned AOL account.
When I finally did leave AOL, I had to do battle with the AOL guy on the phone. He argued, told me that all my technical problems were MY fault (including the web page - which is a lie - I saw thousands of messages on AOL's boards of other people having the same problems.) I felt like the AOL phone guy had the philosophy "Death will not seperate us." Yikes. I also hated the calls at home from AOL - where they tried to sell me something. And all the spam, and ads. I am SO glad to be rid of it, and all it's busy signals and slow connections.
10-03-1999, 02:31 AM
I have AOL. I want to move to a local ISP, but all of them (where I live that is, in Central CA) turn out to be the same or worse quality than AOL (more busy signals, no local phone access, slow speed). So I'm stuck with AOL, for now, until I can afford the cable modem, or wait for the DSL to come here. *sigh*
BTW, it saves a lot of headaches if you use a seperate browser instead of the AOL browser. I never experienced anymore crashes when I started this.
10-03-1999, 02:33 AM
"no local phone access" should be "no local phone access numbers".
Oh yeah, and if you're not too careful, AOL will delete your web page for no reason, then bring it back up the next day. Fuckers.
10-03-1999, 03:04 PM
He argued, told me that all my technical problems were MY fault (including the web page - which is a lie - I saw thousands of messages on AOL's boards of other people having the same problems.) -- yosemitebabe
Well, I don't know what the problem you had was, so I don't know if it was the fault of AOL or a problem on your system, but I just want to point out the poor logic here.
I used to work in tech support. I have seen the patterns that often come up in computer problems. Phone techs vary greatly in their ability, and some definitely do suck. That aside, the fact that there were "thousands of messages" from people having the same problem means absolutely squat. There were calls with problems unrelated to our software that were so common that the problem would get a trite label in conversation between techs, and we'd get the same problem virtually every day. Some of these problems were simple, and so we'd fix them for the person (problems like misconfigured modems and network settings). Some of them were not something we could take care of (dead modem, missing Windows files).
My point here is that the fact that a problem is common says little for the cause of the problem.
10-03-1999, 07:48 PM
I see I should have clarified myself on the technical difficulties thing! ;)
While it is true that my first PC likely had some sort of conflict with AOL software,
the fact that my new PC (fresh out of the box) also crashed within minutes of installing AOL software made me think that there was a bad trend there... Obviously not all computers have a problem with AOL, but considered all the other strikes it already had against it, I felt no need to call tech support AGAIN to try to fix something that I didn't want anymore. I never get such conflicts with Earthlink's software. I don't even install EarthLink's software anymore, anyway - I just configure dial-up networking, and use Netscape. No muss, no fuss. SO much easier than AOL.
The web page error that AOL had was AOL's fault. It was with their online web page program - that would automatically generate your web page for you. (Hey - I was a still stinkin' newbie! I still am a newbie, but no longer a stinkin' one... ;)) The online web page program did not work. You would try to publish something you had created with their online web template, and you'd just get an hourglass for about 20 minutes, until they bumped you off for being idle too long. AOL's message boards were full of other users who described the exact same problem with the web publisher. AOL's response on the message board was something like "We are aware there is a problem with our software, and we are working on a solution, and it will be fixed shortly." They kept on giving this same canned answer to all of us THOUSANDS of people for about a month, (maybe longer, it still wasn't fixed when I left.) Screw that.
So, when I finally called to cancel, and the AOL guy told me that the problem was with my PC, I didn't believe him. After all, AOL itself had admitted that it was their problem. At the time I was a newbie and didn't know anything about creating web pages, so I was really counting on their web page software to work properly. I tried AOL's regular uploading process, followed the instructions to a tee, that didn't work either. I just wanted OUT at that point, and the AOL guy had me argue and struggle with him for a long time before he finally gave up. I don't know how many times I said "What part of NO don't you understand?" The guy was a pit bull.
Sigh. (All that strife and in about a month I had figured out how to do the web page and ftp thing with EarthLink. So much for AOL. Phooey!)
10-03-1999, 08:24 PM
Given that, it's pretty obvious that you were right.
It definitely wasn't uncommon for AOL to have probs with areas online not responding. I'm sure that a lot of people here can still remember all of the fun that went on when they converted the old AOL SDMB to newsgroup format. :)
10-06-1999, 01:49 PM
Why do people stay with AOL?
1) 2nd best is still O.K.
2) My kids at college can use my account and not have to pay extra.
3) My wife is computer illiterate, and this is easy for her to use.
4) My family's email addresses have been established for years, and I wouldn't want to go through the hassle of telling everybody my new ones.
5) I'm using their long distance service, which costs me more if I leave AOL
6) I use BellSouth ISP for internet stuff, but use AOL for Online SERVICE stuff.
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