Please let me cancel AOL. No, really.

Ok let me begin by saying a few things.

My husband worked for AOL for almost 4 years, during which time I had a free account, so I’m well aquainted with their services. I was also part of their volunteer staff and for a while there was even an employee-access-only “Keyword: OpalCat” full of goofy shit I’d created. Rob (and the whole company) got a free AOL jacket when AOL membership hit 5 million.

AOL moved us from AZ to VA (our escape!)

AOL company parties kicked ass (this was before the dot com bottom fell out).

I haven’t had an account in ages, however. When we moved to VA we used a local ISP and connected to AOL via TCP/IP if/when we wanted to use it. Once my husband no longer worked for them, we dropped the accounts. When we got a cable connection, even having a regular ISP became pointless, especially since my husband worked for a local one and had an account there that he could use when we needed to. His current job is with an ISP that doesn’t have a local dialup presense, however, so we have no dialup at the moment.

Jump to November 2002.
I was going into the hospital to have surgery, and really wanted to bring my laptop and be able to connect from the hospital. The answer was simple enough: pick up one of the many free AOL disks that litter our junk mail and sign up. Just for the free period, mind you.

So tonight I call to cancel and spoke with a pleasant woman named Amy in India. I have no harsh feelings toward her since it was obvious she was reading from a script and just doing the job she had to do.

She asks me why I wanted to cancel, and I said that I’d only needed it while in the hospital, since I have a cable connection from home.

She says that I can use AOL with my cable connection for just $9.95/month. I’m not really interested, I say. I just want to cancel the account, I say. She leaves for a moment.

When she returns she says “You can continue to use your AOL account with your cable connection for just $9.95 per month. As we will be changing you to this plan we will handle all of the billing.” and then she said something about how I could change my mind in 2 months and cancel then.

Er… you are changing me to this plan? Didn’t I just say I didn’t want that? Was this supposed to trick me into not paying attention and actually agreeing to keep an account I didn’t want? Did they hope I’d just say ‘yeah ok’ and not notice that I was still being charged?


I told her, very politely, that thanks, but I really just wanted to cancel. I’d not even logged in since I left the hospital and that was a month ago. She confirmed this in an excessively formal way, no doubt for the recording that was being made of the call, and then she wished me a happy new year and we ended the call.

All in all it wasn’t an unpleasant transaction, but it REALLY BOTHERED ME that they seemed to be trying to bait & switch (with cancelling! I didn’t know you could do that!) and scam me.

I’ve heard other people complain that it was hard to cancel their accounts, but my memory was from a day when “Keyword: Cancel” actually let you cancel your account online and so I didn’t understand. I now fear that I’ll find out later that my account is still active and being billed, as per various horror stories I’ve heard…

…when did AOL start doing this? And apologies for the soft-toothed rant.

I can’t answer your question, OpalCat, but since they sacked my sister I have nothing good to say about them. I still use CompuServe but am seriously reconsidering after CS 7 zapped my computer and tech support said, “Oh, we’re telling people not to install that because it’s too buggy.” Then why are they advertising it and sending it out? These are further unanswered mysteries.

Yeah they sacked my husband about 3 months before his stock vested. It would have been worth about $300,000. sigh

AOL acquired CompuServe a long time ago, Shoshana. :frowning:

I still like eWorld, dammit.

Yes, but CompuServe is still my address and all of the features (that I don’t want) are CompuServe as well. They’ve acquired it, but they haven’t finished digesting it.

Happened to me. Keep a close eye on that credit card statement, Opal.

I have a theory that AOL attaches itself to existing “competitive” ISP’s installed on your computer and causes them to malfunction.

AOL did this same thing to me in '98, when I cancelled. “Death will not separate you.” I think that is their motto.

The last time i’ve used one of those AOL disks i just sent in a FAX like it said on the cancellation page… no hassle there, as long as you send it a reasonable time before you think you’re gonna start getting billed.

I did the same thing as you last week, *OpalCat *, while on vacation at Lake Tahoe. I could have used my regular ISP (if I could have found the software to put onto my daughter’s laptop). It was easier to use the free AOL software.

When I canceled yesterday, I refused to answer any questions about why. After a while, the lady from AOL gave up asking and processed the cancellation.

Frankly, I feel a bit guilty at taking advantage of their free offer, but of course it was their decision. They made the offer knowing that some of us would take advantage of it with no intention to permanently subscribe.

I had no problem cancelling my late mother’s account. Of course, using the phrase my late mother in the request probably did the trick.

AOL has always been an asshole company but they used to be an uber-giant that could afford to act like an asshole. They didn’t realize that their asshole tactics were effectively shooting themselves in the asshole until the tech crash and the sudden and widespread popularity of broadband. I haven’t kept up with them too much lately but that have to be pretty far along in their death-throes by now, aren’t they?

[BTW Opal, how are you feeling now at the 1-month mark? Have you lost any weight? Had any side effects? I’m sure you’ve posted this somewhere but I’ve somehow missed it.]

I called a publishing company a few weeks back to inquire why my friend hadn’t received any copies of “Yahoo Internet Life” magazine that I had ordered for her birthday. Turns out the magazine is no longer being published. In fact, it was out of business a few weeks before I sent in the check.

Did they send me a letter of explanation along with my returned check? No. Did they send my friend a letter? Nope. They just cashed my check and sent nothing and did nothing for 13 weeks. The CSR assured me that eventually they would have sent her a letter with a credit for the amount I paid along with an invitation to subscribe to one of their other magazines. Uh, no thanks. I nicely asked for my money back, which he assured me they’d do “within 8-10 weeks.” Gee, thanks.

And then, knowing from the tone of my voice that I’m already incredibly pissed, he went into a sales pitch. Do I want to get 5 magazines for FREE for one year? All I had to do was pay a low $1.25 a week for shipping and handling? You all know the scam and you all can do the math. I couldn’t believe it! I guess they figured they robbed me once, maybe I’d be up for another round.

Incredible chutzpah. I hung up the phone and am hoping they’ll send my money back.

Open a bank account with visa/atm card. Switch the billing to that card. Empty account. Alternately, just move the billing to an account that is empty, or a credit card which is maxed.

You’re AOL will be shut down in no time at all, I promise. Personal experience speaks.

Congrats on the surgery etc. Opal, hope that all works out well for you.


Sure thing, Billy, but then they begin calling you, wanting to know what the deal is.

Of course, you’re right, though… they WILL cancel your account. I guess it’s better to have them on the honker, trying to sell you more, than to have them merrily charging your bank account every month, while assuring you “Oh, sorry, clerical error, we’ll get that cleared right up.”

I must know ten people that’s happened to. One of them had to have the bank de-authorize them before they quit charging her.

I use Time-Warner’s Roadrunner high speed access. Not cheap, but not bad. My only beef was when I got hooked up, they told me that as long as I had a USB port, I was fine.

They never told me that the installation software wasn’t formatted for Windows 98… which was, at the time, the most-used operating system on the planet… wound up spending the better part of a day on the phone with tech support, who talked me through the process, bitching the whole time about the sales department, who merrily sold this stuff to the whole world, not caring about angry guys like me who called up screaming at the Tech people…

I’m feeling great, thanks!
here is what I’ve lost so far

I am not and I resent the accusation!!

You just wait for the calls to start.

For six months after we cancelled AOL we’d get a call about every other month or so asking why we cancelled. Gee, brainiac, the same reason we told you when we cancelled–your service sucks and we could get good, cheap dialup through my school. The reason why we cancelled, surprisingly, hasn’t changed. Then they gave us the whole $9.95 dialup pitch. I guess they missed the part about their service sucking, so I told them again. (Not in so many words, natch–I’m too polite with telemarketers 'cause I feel sorry for anyone with such an awful, humiliating job.) Any way, five more minutes of saying, “Thanks, not interested,” and they’d finally hang up, reminding me that if I wanted their more expensive, sucky service I could sign up again at any time.

Repeat three or four times.

Finally, I got disgusted and told them that we cancelled because we were becoming Amish.

No more calls.

I heartily recommend this strategy.

If they call me, I’ll just say “I’m sorry, but I’ve passed away.”

And the letters that start out “We’re sorry you’ve decided to cancel your service with AOL…”

I’ve been half tempted to scan that, photoshop out everything after the word sorry, and send them a letter back prasing them for finally owning up to being such a sorry assed company.

But then I figure it’s not worth the price of a stamp.