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AOL Wants You Dead Or Alive

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-06-21

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You would think being dead would get you out of your AOL account. Not so, apparently, unless you can be a ghost in their machine and possess a customer service rep. The daughter of woman killed in a car accident tells Consumerist.com that an AOL rep requested her dead mother call in and cancel herself.

"I told them that if they could reach her that they should let me know how they did it," writes Brenda on the Gawker Media-run blog focused on customer complaints.

Brenda's story adds to another that attracted national television news coverage this week. A man trying to cancel his AOL account recorded his phone conversation with an AOL representative who browbeat him until the man had to shout "cancel the account. I don't know how to make it more clear. You're annoying the sh*t out of me."

Vinny Ferrari tells the tale on his weblog "Insignificant Thoughts," and a video rendition of the recorded call can be found at YouTube. The customer service rep told Vinny that annoyance to the point of bowel evacuation went "both ways."

"I knew [the recording] was going to be good, but I had no idea it would be the abusive disaster it was," writes Vinny.

Vinny received an extensive apology from AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham, who informed him that the employee had been let go and that AOL had "zero-tolerance for customer incidents like this."

Zero tolerance implies that if it happens once, it doesn't happen again. But the accusations of how difficult it is to cancel an AOL account don't seem to have subsided remotely since New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer fined the company $1.25 million in August of last year for making cancellations "unduly difficult." The company was forced to reimburse NY customers for up to four months worth of service as well.

Back then, Graham asserted that "the cost is secondary to doing right by our members."

But nearly a year later, AOL customer service is apparently not doing right by its members as the complaints keep piling in - like these collected by consumeraffairs.com - or one of several websites giving how-to tips on canceling subscriptions.

It is unclear why it is still an obstacle to cancel an AOL subscription, especially after the agreement with NY required the company to abandon its minimum quotas for customer retention bonuses. However 800,000 members in the first quarter added their cancellations to the millions that have dropped the service over the past few years, so it's seemingly not impossible.

"Inexcusably poor customer service" was just one reason PC World named America Online as the worst tech product of all time. It looks as if the company is trying to retain its crown.

AOL did not respond to a request for comment.


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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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