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AOL Users Will Need to Pay $2 a Month For Phone Support

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the dear-mom-and-pop-send-money dept.

America Online 202

destinyland writes "8.7 million AOL subscribers face a new 20% fee increase next month — unless they agree to never call AOL's technical support lines. They'll have to use AOL chat for support or the online help "portal" unless their issue is a failed connection — and they're being enrolled in the program by default unless they opt out. Ominously, AOL used the exact same wording as when they quietly changed their terms of service to allow them to sell subscribers' home phone numbers to telemarketers. 'Your continued subscription to the AOL service constitutes your acceptance of this change.'"

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8.7 million? (5, Funny)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050199)

Wow. I'm surprised AOL still has that many customers.

Come on guys, let's get grandma off AOL.

Re:8.7 million? (1)

byteframe (924916) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050269)

Well, let's see here: How many slashdotters here are using aol? i challenge you to reveal yourselves.

Re:8.7 million? (2, Funny)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050311)

that's one step worse than asking those ./ers without wives/girlfriends to reveal themselves...

I'm guessing there will be no takers on this one.

Re:8.7 million? (3, Funny)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050397)

that's one step worse than asking those ./ers without wives/girlfriends to reveal themselves... I'm guessing there will be no takers on this one.

I have plenty of wives/girlfriends

Re:8.7 million? (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050431)

notice the 'without' ...

Re:8.7 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050741)

Hi, I'm Anonymous Coward and I'm here to refute your claim.
I do not have a wife/girlfriend.

Re:8.7 million? (4, Informative)

clampolo (1159617) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050845)

How many slashdotters here are using aol? i challenge you to reveal yourselves.

While I use DSL at home, I pay for AOL service for my mom and dad. They are old and find AOL to be the simplest thing for them to use, and they never do anything that would require them to use anything faster.

Re:8.7 million? (5, Funny)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050317)

This surprises you after so many voted a potted plant back into the presidency after such obvious failure in 2004?

Re:8.7 million? (0)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050361)

Touche, salesman.

Re:8.7 million? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050369)

This surprises you after so many voted a potted plant back into the presidency after such obvious failure in 2004?

Speaking as a potted plant, I find that remark deeply offensive to our species.

Re:8.7 million? (4, Funny)

spazdor (902907) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050605)

I am a bush, you insensitive... etc.

Re:8.7 million? (3, Funny)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051107)

Go on, say it. Call him a "clod". You know that term is derogatory to us potting soil (the very potting soil that nourishes you).

There was only one burning bush, or shrub, or whatever that was in the desert... and it only had sand!

Re:8.7 million? (3, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051391)

Like the Knights Who Say Ni!, they demanded a shrubbery.

Re:8.7 million? (1, Informative)

paulius_g (808556) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050405)

AOL actually has some benefits.

For one, it gives you free and unlimited dialup Internet access in the world. Many places have wifi in this day and age, but the places where my family travels to most do not.

The family members using AOL have the broadband service at home, and then they use the 56K at their cottage. Without this, they would normally be required to buy two Internet packages.

Obviously, AOL's software is terrible and causes tons of issues whenever I need to fix their computer. Fortunately, the Mac version is better and doesn't take over the system as much as the Windows version does.

Holy Maligned Priorities Batman! (4, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050761)

The family members using AOL have the broadband service at home, and then they use the 56K at their cottage. Without this, they would normally be required to buy two Internet packages.

they can afford a vacation home, but can't afford internet for it?

Additionally, if it's in another country, and that country is in western europe or the pacific rim, they could probably get broadband there for half the current price of AOL.

Either way, they're paying a "tax" for that level of stupidity.

Re:Holy Maligned Priorities Batman! (1)

paulius_g (808556) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050851)

Both their house and country house are in Canada.

AOL's price is around $70 a month.

A regular broadband package here is around $50 a month, and 56K is around $30 a month (most ISPs are trying to get people to move off of 56K).

Okay, so you're not saving that much if you were only using AOL for two houses, but must I remind you that they travel a lot. They'd be spending tons of money if they had to find an Internet provider for 3 weeks in all these countries.

Re:Holy Maligned Priorities Batman! (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051129)

Don't people who have 2nd homes rent them out for part of the year?

You'll have to pardon me because I don't know anyone who has a "summer home" or what have you.

Re:Holy Maligned Priorities Batman! (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050939)

they can afford a vacation home, but can't afford internet for it?

Additionally, if it's in another country, and that country is in western europe or the pacific rim, they could probably get broadband there for half the current price of AOL.

Either way, they're paying a "tax" for that level of stupidity.

That really depends on where they are and how they use it. Broadband is neat but not portable, so AOL gives the ability to connect at a far greater number of places.

So they are paying for portability; although there are US ISPs that offer dialup for a lot less than AOL.

I use my cell phone and tether for the same reason.

Not really. (2, Interesting)

pavon (30274) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051221)

Paying for a utility that you aren't using 90% of the time is just money down the drain, whereas property almost always increases in value, usually by enough to offset taxes and maintanance.

Furthermore, depending on how trendy of a vacation spot the cabin is, it may not be all that expensive (ie much less than their main house in the city).

Besides, having dialup on the road is really useful. Motel internet service is a complete rip-off and many of them don't have free wireless.

Re:8.7 million? (4, Informative)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051031)

ATT DSL comes with free unlimited dialup. And you can get it for $10/mo.

Re:8.7 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24051297)

My Verizon DSL offers the same feature, but doesn't suck.

There is no reason for anyone to use AOL, ever. AOL isn't even the real internet. It's a proxy service.

Re:8.7 million? (2, Funny)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050627)

Then you have to teach grandma how to use Thunderbird. OK, you'd probably enjoy doing it, but most grandmas don't have a friendly geek handy. Hence the 8.7 million.

Look at it this way: after all the CDs and floppies they sent out, they have a retention rate of 0.00000000001%!

Re:8.7 million? (1)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050775)

I'm a grandma you insensitive clod!

AOL "scam" e-mails (5, Insightful)

Phairdon (1158023) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050877)

You aren't kidding about grandmas.

In addition, it seems to me that AOL is tricking people into accepting this $2 increase. Let me explain:

My wife's grandma uses AOL and she told me that she got an e-mail that said that her bill will go up by $2 every month unless you click this link and answer some account security questions. I immediately thought this was a fake e-mail to get grandmas account information. I looked at the e-mail and it looks just like the false bank emails that I receive all the time. However, I called AOL and it ended being a true e-mail.

We have been trained to ignore e-mails with wording like this, how many old people do you think will just delete this e-mail and end up getting charged an extra $2?

Re:AOL "scam" e-mails (4, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050971)

If I had mod points you'd get an insightful for that.

Here in the UK I got a final demand, big red letters and everything, for about £12 from N-Power, a electricity supplier. Strangely, I didn't have an account with them. Reading the small print (very carefully) revealed that it was in fact a "final chance" to pay a £12 fee and have your power supply *switched* to N-Power. It's a despicable way to operate, and seemingly becoming more common.

Re:8.7 million? (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051003)

Wow. I'm surprised AOL still has that many customers.

I'm not, though they were at 9.3 million at the end of 2007.

http://www.isp-planet.com/research/rankings/usa.html [isp-planet.com]

They bought out Compuserve IIRC, which i'm sure is included in those numbers. In fact, the solution to Vista was to switch to AOL.

AOL has been around a long time. It's been well, a decade since I looked into it, but for number of access numbers they rivaled Compuserve, and compuserve was huge in the 1980s. If you were a world traveler, and needed to access your e-mail, AOL was a legit option.

Another AOL perk is keeping your old e-mail address. Ok, most ISPs will be happy to forward e-mail, or maintain a mail box for a nominal fee, but this certainly adds to their numbers.

Yet another factor is the fact that you can get an AOL & Cable bundle. Earthlink is rather the same, though I've only heard of this offering over Dish.

But likely the biggest factor was their flood of floppy disks and CD-roms to anyone and everyone.

who needs AOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050229)

nice doing business with you

AOL? users? who would have thunk it. (1, Redundant)

swschrad (312009) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050241)

probably lose half of them with this price hike.

Re:AOL? users? who would have thunk it. (0, Flamebait)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050355)

I would imagine we're dealing with a sort of online Darwin Award group here. Those who remain with AOL at this point are probably the kinds of people that like to pick their nose, jab pencils in their eyes and actually think American Idol is a legitimate talent contest. Everyone with an IQ above 90 abandoned AOL a looooong time ago.

Re:AOL? users? who would have thunk it. (1)

ianpm (787890) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051301)

I like to pick my nose, but I have an IQ of 91. So bang goes your theory.
Seriously though, why would anyone NOT just use mobile data these days, surely it's AS easy to get a grandparent using a simple HSDPA dongle as it is plugging in a phone cable.

Re:AOL? users? who would have thunk it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050477)

probably lose half of them with this price hike.

You can have half of a customer?

The death spiral (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050255)

as they descend in AOHell; desperate grabs at revenue are being made. It was tough to cancel before; no you can't do it on weekends or holidays.

After creating eternal September they are sliding to obscurity.

Some things never change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050259)

Its been 13 years since I first heard the term "Friends don't let friends use AOL". Its amazing how that company is a model of consistency.

Wow, 8.7 million still (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050263)

All easy jokes I could make here aside, that's pretty amazing that AOL still has that many (presumably paying) subscribers.

Re:Wow, 8.7 million still (5, Funny)

tilandal (1004811) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050499)

Most of them tried to cancel but AOL wouldn't let them.

Re:Wow, 8.7 million still (2, Interesting)

Ares (5306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051113)

my wife had aohell before we moved in and i addicted her to broadband. at the time they were still charging $2.95 a month for the email address, which we tried fruitlessly to cancel, and they perpetually billed her credit card $2.95 a month for the next few months after which the card expired.

needless to say she received paper bills for about 3 months threatening to cancel her account. they never did and subsequently decided to pass out @aim.com email addresses for free. there really is a bunch of nuts at the helm of aol.

Re:Wow, 8.7 million still (1)

FrameRotBlues (1082971) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051317)

First, *bows down to 4-digit ID*

Second, I agree, they're nuts. Probably more desperate than anything. "Desperation is a stinky cologne."

Re:Wow, 8.7 million still (2, Insightful)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051291)

You got modded funny, but it's actually very true. Before my area had ANY broadband, we had AOL. The local dial-up ISP started charging outrageous rates, so we switched out. (This was in early 2000.)

Anyway, after years of promises, we finally got broadband from our local cable company, and I called to cancel our AOL service. I was greeted by what sounded like a computer with an Irish accent. Even funnier was that he would literally sing the last part of every line he would say. "Hello, thank you for calling AOL, what can I do foorrr youuuuuuu."

I couldn't tell if I had reached AOL customer service or some mental asylum by accident. (Cue jokes.)

When I expressed that I was calling to cancel my AOL service, the man / computer nearly broke down and cried. My attempts at being stern about wanting to cancel were continuously brushed away with what sounded like begging not cancel, the promise of up to four free months, and extreme guilt. This man or whatever it was I was talking to was not going to take no for an answer.

I finally got out of it after nearly an hour of "Please don't cancelllll; You can continue to try AOLLLLLL for a month for freeeeeeeeee, and call back to cancel if you're stilllll not satisfieeeeeeeed."

I think cheating Death out of a contract on a loophole would have been easier.

Correction (5, Funny)

Tx (96709) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050265)

"Your continued subscription to the AOL service constitutes your proof that you are a fool and deserve to be parted from your money."

There, fixed it.

Keep getting billed (5, Informative)

Bomarc (306716) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050285)

My grandmother decided to leave AOL. AOL however, would not leave her. She kept getting billed, and could not disconnect for MONTHS after the fact. I never did find out what the end result was, but (in the past) it was normal for AOL to 'not' disconnect your service when you asked them to...

Re:Keep getting billed (5, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050383)

The best thing to do is to call your credit card company and inform them that AOL is still continuing to bill you after you've already quit their service, and that you want to block any further attempts by AOL to bill your credit card. Unfortunately, for the money you've already paid, you're probably going to have to see a lawyer, and it just isn't worth it, despite the fact that fraudulent billing is actually a pretty serious offense.

Re:Keep getting billed (2, Interesting)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050619)

Actually, I had a situation where a dating website suddenly billed me almost a year after I had cancelled my subscription. It was probably the yearly premium for highlighting the profile or somesuch (the actual subscription fee was monthly, which had stopped when I cancelled), and since I did not actually have an active account at the time, there was no profile for them to highlight for this premium charge. I told VISA the situation, and they did a chargeback to the company that billed me. I was not required to show them any proof, in fact I barely even described it to the level of meagre detail above. I simply told them that I had cancelled awhile back and that I did not authorize this new charge. I didn't even try to contact the company first to get them to correct it, just VISA, who gave me my money back and then presumably sent the dating site a bill. Nice and tidy.

Re:Keep getting billed (3, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050967)

just VISA, who gave me my money back ...

This is the big difference between using a credit card and a debit card.

With a credit card, VISA isn't giving you your money back. By LAW, you don't have to pay a disputed charge. You don't give them the money in the first place so they can't "give it back".

With a debit card you are unprotected. Your money is gone. IF the bank wants to give it back to you, they can. If they want to run you through the wringer and make you jump hoops, they can. And then they can say you must have authorized the charge for it to happen, and sorry, your account is now overdrawn.

Not enough people realize this difference. A local university is trying to push a combined debit card/id card onto the students and they are telling the students that their debit card will be protected just like a credit card. They're being told that it won't matter if they HAVE to carry the card every day to use Uni resources and happen to lose it, their bank accounts will be safe. Yes, you can safely hand the dweeb behind the library checkout desk your id/debit card to get that reserved item. You can safely hand the work-study student at the gym your debit card/id to check out a basketball.

All those who want the "convenience" of one card for everything will soon learn the inconvenience of dealing with a debit card fraudulent charge. Maybe it's just a way that the uni is teaching; teaching people to mistrust all government.

Re:Keep getting billed (2, Informative)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050837)

Unfortunately, for the money you've already paid, you're probably going to have to see a lawyer

Nope; dispute the charges, the card company will issue chargebacks unless they can give proof of delivery. Good luck doing that with a service.

Of course you shouldn't do this unless you've exhausted other channels, but it's exactly the right thing to do if you keep getting billed and customer services won't help.

Re:Keep getting billed (2, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050943)

The best thing to do is to call your credit card company and inform them that AOL is still continuing to bill you after you've already quit their service, and that you want to block any further attempts by AOL to bill your credit card.

This doesn't actually work, in my experience. They can't permanently block a recurring charge like this. What actually does work is if you tell the credit card company that AOL is being unresonsive, and therefore you want to change your credit card number. This sounds like a big deal, but actually it isn't. They send you a new card within a week. You have to contact any other companies that have recurring charges on that card, and give them the new number (or switch them to a different card, if waiting a week will take too long).

Unfortunately, for the money you've already paid, you're probably going to have to see a lawyer, and it just isn't worth it, despite the fact that fraudulent billing is actually a pretty serious offense.

No, you just have to do a chargeback. You call the credit card company and tell them you want to do a chargeback. They send you some paperwork, you respond with information on what happened. You may or may not succeed. It may depend on the quality of the documentation you have.

Re:Keep getting billed (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051097)

Actually, you're wrong about the reoccurring charge thing. They can EASILY block all charges from a company, and I've had it offered to me (and taken them up on that offer). This was with HSBC.

Re:Keep getting billed (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051025)

Unfortunately, for the money you've already paid, you're probably going to have to see a lawyer, and it just isn't worth it, despite the fact that fraudulent billing is actually a pretty serious offense

Let's assume AOL is $25/month after taxes and surcharges. 1 year is 12 months * $25 = $300. For 2 yeaars, $600. For 5 years, $1500. All are well within small claims court territory. If she could prove she called to disconnect, such as having received a disconnect confirmation, having phone records, or having sent a disconnect notice by registered mail (and still having the receipt), it'd be a slam dunk case.

Re:Keep getting billed (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050459)

I had clients who tried for literally months to abandon AOL to no avail.
  They disputed the charges, and got threatening letters from AOL.
  it turned out that AOL was rewarding employees for NOT canceling subscribers.
http://www.betanews.com/article/AOL_Settles_Cancellation_Policy_Dispute/1124905172

NY fined them, but to the best of my knowledge, AOL is still doing it.

Fax Them. (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050883)

Seriously. The people who man the faxes aren't paid for customer retention, and certainly aren't going to fax back a note that reads 'R U shure'. Plus, there's the added benefit of having a receipt for the paper trail.

If you don't have a fax machine, you should be able to do it from your local copy shop or anywhere else that offers fax-for-fee services.

Re:Keep getting billed (1)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051235)

That's a common story. My advice? Call your credit card company and tell them your card was lost or stolen. They'll change the account over to a completely different number, and AOL can't charge you anymore. When they call to complain that they can't get their subscription fee, you remind them you cancelled..

Re:Keep getting billed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24051393)

What part of "We'll see you in court." doesn't AOL's customer service not understand?

Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050291)

What is this "AOL" of which you speak?

Re:Ummm (2, Funny)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050467)

i think what they meant to say was "LOL"

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050479)

What is this "AOL" of which you speak?

A company once best known as a great source of free backup diskettes.

You thought it was bad before... (5, Funny)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050293)

Will calling them to cancel your service constitute technical support? If so, this plan is ingenious!

Instant Messenger (5, Funny)

quibbs0 (803278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050299)

Rumor has it that the once free IM service is now going to a $.10 per sent or received IM message.

Re:Instant Messenger (1)

SiriusStarr (1196697) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050771)

Not to doubt you, but [Citation Needed].

Re:Instant Messenger (1)

svank (1301529) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051131)

Rumor has it that the once free IM service is now going to a $.10 per sent or received IM message.

Advertised as .10 cents/message, no doubt.

Wonder how they're able to violate the law (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050319)

I bet a savvy lawyer could have a field day with AOL's blatant violations of 47 CFR 68.1002 et al, i.e., the Telecommunications Privacy Act, by selling subscriber's phone numbers to unrelated third parties. I'm sure the FCC, FTC, DOJ, and various state agencies will consider this "policy" to be a blatant disregard for the various Do-Not-Call lists.

Maybe we should all call AOL's 800 numbers to ask them if that's their intent or not, and what their lawyers think.

Cost-shifting and blow-back (1)

Hambone_dot_exe (963408) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050321)

Aw, c'mon. You all heard the MP3s from the folks who recorded their calls trying to get out from under AOL -- you knew they'd have to try and build a revenue stream from that.
  1. Opt-in user to extra $2/mo for phone support
  2. Force users to call in to cancel their account.
  3. Profit! No, seriously.

What can you do? (1)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050327)

You can just call them and complain that you don't agree with this. But while the call to support fee is US$ 2, the call to complain fee is US$ 10. Well, what a bargain!

The best way to cancel AOL and probably the.... (1)

rtr1212 (1192941) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050353)

fastest way to cancel your account is to get yourself banned. I got banned when I was 13 from using proggies (it was the 90's come on) and have not since even got so much as an AOL cd in the mail.

Re:The best way to cancel AOL and probably the.... (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050509)

Funny, I wasn't banned back in the 90s (I was 13 as well funny enough) and I was using IM punters, phishing schemes (yes, actually logging into other peoples accounts), and a few other very bad things. Yet, I was not banned even though they knew all of this, had the account locked for a good whole day, said I was sorry while I got a lecture from their tech support (now I think back and laugh a little about it). What type of "proggie" were you using exactly?

Re:The best way to cancel AOL and probably the.... (3, Funny)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050659)

One of those evil ones which, according to AOL Time Warner executives is the biggest contributing factor towards the twin evils of child abuse and terrorism.

Think it was called "Napster".

Re:The best way to cancel AOL and probably the.... (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050685)

My service wasn't even shut down when I used Napster with AOL...

Actually may be a smart move for AOL (1)

A_Lost_Frenchman (1034456) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050389)

With everything AOL has done in the past to drive out it's customers, no one in his right mind is ever going to suscribe to them now.
Their only option is to get more money from people who have already demonstrated that they are too lazy, too stupid, or too obnoxious to find an other ISP : their customers.
__
Just passing by

Get a consumer watchdog!! (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050419)

For crying out loud! How can you Americans keep accepting this load of BS?

Stuff like that would never fly here in Denmark, what happened to the customer is always right etc?

Re:Get a consumer watchdog!! (0, Flamebait)

tilandal (1004811) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050471)

In America the saying is the Corporation is always right. If the corporation is for some reason wrong they will just get their lapdogs to change the law retroactively. Welcome to America where our motto is "Liberty and Justice for the Rich".

Re:Get a consumer watchdog!! (1)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050599)

what happened to the customer is always right etc?

I've not held a job in a long time where that was management's philosophy. That phrase died in the 1950s as far as I'm concerned.

It's no longer "the customer is always right". It is now "the customer is a continuing revenue stream".

Hell, at one of my ISP jobs, the manager's philosophy was "the customer doesn't need to know".

Case-in-point, the company was bought and moved to a smaller office as the servers were moved offshore. He put a sign in our first office saying "temporary closed for remodeling, service still available, will be re-opening soon" even though there was no intention of opening that storefront again.

Cut to our new location, where very few actually know where we are, and a deluge of angry customers call in wondering why they've been disconnected for non-payment. Turns out they kept using the mail slot because no other location was given for payment drop-offs.

I had to transfer one of these understandably angry callers to the manager, who actually told the customer "Well, it's not any of your business where we have our office".

The customer simply got mad and hung up, but continued paying for the service. I couldn't believe it. I was glad I left the company when I did.

Re:Get a consumer watchdog!! (2, Interesting)

stretch0611 (603238) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050707)

Unfortunately, the philosophy of "the customer is always right" went out the door with "congressmen listen to their constituents."

The good corporate citizens started screwing the system at the same time they learned use lobbyists have congressmen look the other way. Legislation made it harder for new companies to compete and the existing corporations said fuck you customers, there is no where else for you to go.

There are still a few good companies out there but they are unfortunately hard to find in this day and age.

Re:Get a consumer watchdog!! (1)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050711)

The customer has rarely ever been right. That little catchphrase was the ploy of a desperate business during the Great Depression, to get people to come in. It was stupid then and it's stupid now.

Re:Get a consumer watchdog!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24051019)

"The customer is always right" is a nice slogan. However the customer is NOT always right. Anyone who has *shudder* worked in retail management can attest to that fact. There ARE customers who try to get something for nothing, or who are generally unreasonable (shocking, I know).

Of course the customer isn't always wrong... and the corporations do more than their fair share of shenanigans like this from AOL.

Re:Get a consumer watchdog!! (1)

joeboomer628 (869162) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051227)

Ralph Nader is too busy running for president.

Why the hell should we care? (3, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050429)

Nostalga is okay but in this case who gives a flying fuck? AOL is irrelevant. They are a internet portal and dialup provider. I'm with the posts that say "hey i didn't know AOL still had users!" but I take it a step further in that I don't want to know either. Back when they had a huge market share they were relevant and their pricing practices deserved scrutiny, even if 99.9% of slashdotters thought it's service was foul. Now they have to compete for the scraps of dialup users who don't want to upgrade to broadband, and that market is neither vibrant nor growing. We don't post pricing practices of Juno or netzero, do we?

C'mon it can't be that slow a news day can it?

Re:Why the hell should we care? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050703)

I would mod you up so hard.

Re:Why the hell should we care? (-1, Offtopic)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051041)

I would mod you up until you squealed with delight all night long! And then, with our comment scores quivering at an average of 4.1, when you didn't think either of us had any more mod points, I would hit +1 insightful, sending your karma squirting into excellent and beyond.

Using even after broadband (3, Interesting)

Scutter (18425) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050441)

What's astonishing to me is the number of AOL users I encounter who continue to use AOL even after switching to broadband, not because they like AOL's features, but because they think that's the only way to the internet.

"You mean I don't have to use AOL to browse the intarwebs? I don't understand!"

Re:Using even after broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050665)

That's ridiculous...Just for saying that I'm going to report you to AOL and have you banned!

Re:Using even after broadband (4, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050697)

I was doing tech support for an ISP back when AOL started its "Bring your own interet" program, where you could use AOL through other providers. I remember getting a call from a woman who complained that "Once I log on and start AOL, all I get is AOL. What do I need you for?"

I explained to her how once she'd opened AOL she was just using us to get to them and that if she wanted all of the Internet, uncensored, unfiiltered, all she had to do was not connect to AOL, just open her browser and have fun. She decided to cancel her service with us.

Re:Using even after broadband (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051165)

I've had that happen to me as well at least once. People who have been on AOL for years can't separate AOL from the internet, instead operating under the assumption that their little walled garden is the internet. It's unfortunate, really.

Re:Using even after broadband (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051285)

their little walled garden...

It's interesting that you should use that phrase. Back in the day, I'd explain that if you were using AOL, it was like being in a big building. You could use anything in the building, and there were windows in the walls so that you could see what was outside, but you had to stay inside. With a real ISP, you were out on the streets and could go wherever you felt like and do anything you wanted instead of just what we thought you should do.

Re:Using even after broadband (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051287)

So how did she get to her precious AOL after she didn't have any service?

Continued Subscription? (3, Interesting)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050453)

'Your continued subscription to the AOL service constitutes your acceptance of this change.'"

You mean the continued subscription because AOL has a retention pool designed to endlessly throw offers and incentives (including months of free service, if necessary) to keep their customers?

I've known people who have had to report their Credit Card as lost to get out of paying for AOL.

AOL? (2, Funny)

sizzzzlerz (714878) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050465)

I haven't heard of them before. Are they new? You'd think they'd advertise to drum up business.

Running true to form (4, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050501)

Years ago I got the impression that AOL was walking around carrying a pair of hand guns pointing at their own feet. At random intervals, they pull one of the triggers and shoot themselves in the foot. Once in a while, they pull both at once. AFAIC, this new policy is just AOL running true to form and shooting themselves in the feet.

Hello, I'm robbing you at gunpoint. (2, Funny)

mmell (832646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050543)

Give me your watch. Right, then . . .

Your continued presence within my eyesight constitutes acceptance of the assertion that I have a right to take everything of value you have. Wallet, jewelery, cash please?

AOL (1)

Typingsux (65623) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050613)

Alot of losers

Hmm... (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050655)

Could I just start sending a company bills? I've changed my terms of service. I'm their customer using their service, but now they must pay be $50 for the privilege of me using their service. That I'm still using their service means that they accept the terms of my customer license agreement and they must now pay my bill otherwise I'll cancel my customer service with them and that'll be a $500 disconnection charge.

I don't have balls enough to try that. I'm sure some else here does. I'd almost want to know what would happen if we all decided August 1 to fight back and we'll start by faxing a customer license agreement to every service provider that we do business with... (Electric, water, sewage, trash, cable, internet, cell phone/telephone, and anything else that you pay on a monthly basis.) We put in there at the fine print that acceptance of our money and providing us with service means that they accept said terms of service.

The good part is that you don't have to be ugly unless they try something, and then if they do, well then you use that customer lic agreement to club them... Ok. that and a website of other customers of said service that you could post your complaint and if they've tried stuff on a wider scale.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050897)

"That I'm still using their service means that they accept the terms of my customer license agreement"

You would want to change that to:

"Continuing to provide service to my account means that you accept the terms of my customer license agreement"

Remember, it's what THEY do that signifies their acceptance. I don't see why this wouldn't be valid, as long as you are not already in a contract. Of course if you are, THEY can't change the contract either.

My guess is that any business you were dealing with would just cut you off. Of course, with AOL, that would be a good thing. In fact, that could be a very effective way to cancel if they try any shenanegans. Just notify them that by charging your account that they are agreeing to terms that would be unacceptable to them.

Re:Hmm... (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051211)

For the most part, Accounts Payable pays any bill they get. Unless it's super weird, they won't question it. And even if they do, they're likely to send off payment before investigating.

Keyword: Vaseline (1)

DustoneGT (969310) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050811)

Just go to AOL keyword Vaseline...it will make the whole process far less painful.

$2 Per Month? (0, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050879)

$2 Per Month?
Isn't that the going rate for a dedicated support "tech" in India?

Assholes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24050913)

I hope someone from AOL reads this.

ISPs in other countries already do this (2, Insightful)

XMLsucks (993781) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050921)

It's amazing how prejudiced the responses have been. Try thinking about it. If AOL charges nothing for tech support, then all of their customers subsidize the ones that require tech support. Should the technically savvy have to subsidize the people that abuse technical support?

Plus this is nothing new. Telephone-based customer service is at the customer's expense in lots of places around the world, because the person making the telephone call pays the bill. So it is typical for an ISP to charge a euro or so a minute for the phone call, billed via the phone company with the monthly telephone bill. Someone has to pay the salary of the tech support person. Of course, this can lead to abuse, since the ISP earns more money by inspiring people to call technical support ... but that is fraud. The American-style system, where the ISP generally foots the bill for the technical support, might lead to better service since it is in the ISP's interest to lower tech support costs, but in my experience, it doesn't work and instead causes across-the-board higher costs for customers (e.g., with Verizon). My experience with 1&1 in Germany, despite their high cost per tech-support incidence, was fantastic --- they make the U.S. look like they are decades behind.

Re:ISPs in other countries already do this (2, Insightful)

xxRamielxx (904849) | more than 6 years ago | (#24050989)

they make the U.S. look like they are decades behind.

That's because we ARE decades behind....

Hmm Interesting (4, Funny)

BuckaBooBob (635108) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051051)

Write on the back of your next payment to AOL

By cashing this Cheque AOL agrees it is their fault I am downloading Music/Video's and accepts full responsibility of my actions on the internet.

It would be quite humorous to see what they would do. or if they caught it at all.
   

What the hell is this AOL thingamajig anyway? (1)

Antwerp Atom (1306775) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051055)

As a european i've heard lots of bad things about aol and the service they provide (mainly through /. ) but i never really understood what it is.
I presume it's a piece of software with a dumbed down interface to connect to the net, is this correct or is there more to it?
And if it is, why is it so popular?!
Anyone care to explain?

Re:What the hell is this AOL thingamajig anyway? (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051303)

This [bravenet.com] audio file explains AOL better than I could.

In other news.. (4, Funny)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051101)

In other news.. apparently AOL is still in business. Who knew?

AOL: Now with 100% more terrible customer service! (Because you have to PAY for it now)

Me Too! (0, Flamebait)

PingXao (153057) | more than 6 years ago | (#24051243)

There are plenty of ex AOL users infesting the net. Some of them are too young, actually, to have ever been AOL users, but the mindset is still there. I guess most of them are using Macs.

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