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America Online practices
Posted by Mystiqmoon on 02/22/2006
I have some advice, as someone who worked for AOL, on how to handle them as far as cancellation issues are concerned. First of all, NEVER, EVER, get off the phone with these people without writing down your cancellation number!!! This is your only leverage!! After that, there are some steps to follow :

1). Just accept the fact that this is going to be a game. The name of the game is retention. At any cost. You will be transferred to the wrong department. This is intentional. Do not let the representative transfer you. You may yet again hit the wrong department. Also, as an aside, many of the cancellations representatives have been annexed to India and speak rudimentary English. This is not an insult, only a fact. Do not state your intention to the representative. Demand, nicely but firmly, to speak to a manager. Three times in a row. They are required to seek assistance after three requests. Make sure they have the manager come to their phone; do not let them transfer you to the managers' phone. You will be cut off. Make sure, also, that you are speaking to the department coach and not a point-of-contact on the floor; they do not have any authority to take action and will only argue with you. Get the coach's name, and call center location.

2). Demand that your account be cancelled. Do not let them transfer you. All coaches know how to access and cancel accounts. Once again, repeat yourself three times in a row. Do not let them cycle your account out; this leaves your account open for easy reactivation. Demand immediate termination. GET YOUR CANCELLATION NUMBER. ( Sorry to yell but you really, really need this!!) Record the time and date of the account termination. They will process and send out a termination letter that day. You should receive it in five days.

3). Request the address of the legal department. Again, do not let the person on the phone transfer you. All representatives have access to the AOL directory. If you let them transfer you to legal, you will get an answering machine to take your info but give you none in return. They will never get back to you. Compose a letter of formal termination to the legal department. Put your cancellation number at the top of the letter and several places throughout. This is/was your account number and will serve to identify you. Send it certified mail. Send copies to your banking institution/credit card company. When you get the cancellation letter from AOL, send those as well. This serves as your legal notification to these institutions that all indebtedness to AOL has ceased.

4). If you have not received the cancellation letter in five business days, you will have to call them back. Repeat steps 1-3. Believe me, everything that is done to your account is recorded in it and your demeanor and handling of the last call will be there as well. There should be much less hassle. Above all, stay calm. AOL has instructed its employees that they may terminate calls if they feel the caller is abusive. Never threaten a lawsuit, because if you do, your account will be blacklisted and you will only be referred to the answering machine in the legal department. Nothing will ever be accomplished. If the account is still open, demand it terminated immediately and demand a written log of all activity on the account. They have to give you that. The full names of all employees handling the account will be listed by their actions. This has to go through legal first, and believe me, they will take serious action on that one. They have gotten in trouble for that before. If they say the account is cancelled, make them give you the cancellation number. Compare it to the one you have. Make sure they match.

Once this is settled, still be on guard!! Place stop-pays on your accounts if they are being withdrawn from your bank. Place the stop on the COMPANY, not the AMOUNT. If your account has been tampered with they may have changed your billing amount. Inquire. If they try to draft, smile and let the bank handle it. Your account number/cancellation number from AOL will be part of the draft. With the letters you furnished them, they will have ample evidence for fraud. The stop pay protects you, and the bank does not take fraud lightly. Neither do the credit card agencies.

Above all, never have anything to do with AOL again. They are all about the bottom line and do not care what they have to do to maintain it.
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Posted by tander on 2006-02-22:
Excellent review and information!
Posted by spiderman2 on 2006-02-22:
I only skimmed this letter over, but it seems full of great advice for canceling AO-h-e-doubletoothpicks. Also, never, ever take the free 3 months they offer you. Just say no.
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How to stop AOL from charging you
Posted by Imperialleader on 12/19/2003
Canceling your account is not impossible, I went through the "games" with AOL when I tried to cancel my account. They were very rude when I told them I wanted to cancel (my customer service rep started yelling in a different language when she figured out I wasn't going to stay), and even after giving me confirmation numbers still charged my account. If you need to stop them just file an Affadavit of Disputed Charges with your bank/credit card company. They will put a stop to them real quick. Hope this helps those of you who have trouble in this area :)
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Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-19:
I did that and you're right, they credit your credit card for the charge. But then they send you a bill and threaten to file a collection report..although non filed yet.
Posted by apriljjackson on 2004-02-25:
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More info on AOL/Trilegiant Corporation
Posted by Purplethunder21 on 12/12/2003
For those who are interested, here is some info on AOL, and their fraudulent tactics. Seems Trilegiant Corporation has teamed up with AOL? Or is a division of AOL? Either way they are frauds at best, and here is some reading material. If you have already come across this info, accept my apologies.

(I had to laugh when I read this on Trilegiant's site) "We offer consumers a risk-free opportunity to sample and join our programs. We stand behind our programs with a generous free trial and a money-back guarantee." Keep in mind that Trilegiant heads up the AOL Credit Alert (Privacyguard.com), AOL Netmarket, Shoppers Advantage, and scores of other completely useless sites & "offers/memberships"...so now I am at a loss how to get a refund, but I know I never will, it was a battle just to get the AOL service cancelled , and every time I call to cancel the Netmarket or Credit Alert, they go on about how great it is and how I need it "blah blah blah blah" I "think" I got the "Great Fun" cancelled, and for my "inconveniece" he said,"we'll give you a 20 dollar food voucher" only problem with that is it signs you up right back where you started. I am now signed up on Netmarket...AGAIN!!I tried to cancel once again, they finally cancelled after I gave them hell, but once again they try to sign me up on that "free 20 dollar food voucher" so while they attempt to transfer me, I just hang up, but I can only imagine that a company as fradulent as this, will keep on charging my card. As of right now I think I have got the Great Fun, and AOL Credit Alert cancelled, but I can't get Netmarket cancelled, although I did mail in cancellations to the aforementioned 3, and also attempted to cancel by phone, so we'll see how this hellish battle plays out. I can't fathom how these people sleep at night, "knowing" they are such thugs.

Here is another site....


Another persons personal hell of AOL/Trilegiant
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Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-12:
I forgot to mention this irony here....Trilegiant (AOL Credit Alert/Privacyguard.com) hypes themselves to no end about the "importance" of knowing your credit report, who is looking at it, who/what/where something might be happening, if someone has stolen your information and set an acct up, ect , basically monitering your account (which is a wise thing to do anyways), herein lies the irony, Trilegiant is stealing millions of dollars from unsuspecting people, the very company who "prides" themselves on fraud protection for "you, the consumer" and good luck on getting a refund, I know I am still battling it out.
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-12:
it sounds like you forgot what companies do
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AOL Billing and Calls
Posted by Kingston on 11/04/2004
My story is very long but to make it short I had a 6 month free trial to AOL and when I cancelled they billed my anyway! I've since filed a complaint with the BBB and we'll see how that goes.

My question to you all is have any of you ever been told by AOL that you did not call when you in fact did?? I have been told this three times and they even lost the record of me calling to cancel. The rep rudely told me that if I had called there would be a notation on the account and there is no way AOL could lose or not enter a record of a call! And I KNOW that is not true! I'm just wondering if it happened to any of you. It happened to me AND my neighbor as well!

DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO AOL! AOL are into fraudulent business practices BEWARE the hundreds of complaints on this site should tell you how corrupt they really are!

Also one tip to get them to quit billing you...not only should you dispute it with your credit card company but after that is finished get a new credit card number!!
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Posted by TXRoadTrip on 2004-11-04:
Your not the only one -= they always bill you – even though you had free access and afterwards – called and canceled – they still charge your credit card, it’s been their on going practice for years now.

Make calls from your cell phones - if you have detailed billing - so it proves whom you called and when.
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2004-11-04:
YES! Just yesterday I called to verify my pricing plan. I am under an obligation with them for a year because they dropped my price from $21.95 to $14.95 with a one year commitment. When I called last month to cancel my AOL call alert (Because I now have DSL, and that doesn't tie up the phone line), I told them I didn't need it and when my 1 year expires I will be dropping AOL because I use another DSL service and I don't use AOL. I was told by a very friendly woman that I can use the AOL Bring your own access and still use the DSL service for AOL. She said it would only cost me $7.95 per month and I can use that to finish off my 1 year commitment. She went on to explain how to set it up. She told me that I would actually have to call another number to cancel the Call Alert, because they don't do that there, and she gave me the number.She also told me that the request for the change in my pricing plan may not get in in time before my next billing. She put me on hold and got everything confirmed and ok'd by her supervisor to change my pricing plan and switch me over. Well, when I got my credit card bill yesterday, I seen that I still was charged for the $14.95. I figured, as she said, it may not have been in time for the billing. So, I called them just to verify that it was switched and that it would only be $7.95 next month. This time I got a male on the phone. He told me there is no plan for $7.95, but the bring your own access is available for $9.95. BUT...he also said that is with a 6 month commitment. I told him the woman I spoke with never mentioned any commitment and it was $7.95 and it was approved by her supervisor. Well ... you guessed it ... he said there isn't any documentation on that conversation at all. No mention of any conversation about changing or requesting a change on my pricing plan. He did say there was a note on it that I called to cancel my Call Alert. Strange that this woman remembered to document the Call alert request that she said she didn't handle, but failed to document the 20 minute conversation about the pricing plan! I told him I wasn't commiting to any more months, and when my year is expired I am dropping AOL altogether. He actually BEG me to let him help me. He offered another free month, I told him no ... he said he would even credit back the difference from the $14.95 and $9.95, I told him no. Then he went above and beyond and offered to credit me an even $15.00 and a month free (WOW I could make out with a Nickle on that deal), I told him no. I told him to just leave it at the $14.95 until my time expires with them and don't make any changes. He said I should let him help me (again saying please, please and begging as if I was their last customer on Earth). He told me that I shouldn't let just one bad rep who didn't document my records, ruin my experience with them after being with them for 10 years. He acted as if this was my first problem with them. He wanted me to trust him to help me. I told him no because the other woman promised and was nice to and she screwed me over. I told him that this isn't my first problem with them, that I had trouble with them in the past. That is how I got into the one year commitment for $14.95, because that is what they offered when I called to cancel my AOL before because of problems getting cut off all the time. I also told them that I didn't care for their Tech Help when I have to call India an have people that I can't even understand on the phones. So, I stuck to my guns and ended the call with leaving my account as it stands and I will cancel in a few months when my one year expires. I wasn't falling for the "Let me help you, you've been a customer of ours for 10 years". They always make offers but they don't come through with them. Screw AOL!
Posted by trinitie on 2004-11-10:
don't worry, everyone will hit his or her turn of being messed by AOL. Now you, my surroundings, and I took it a valueable lesson.
But I think the regulatory agency has to do something with AOL, kick AOL out of the market.
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Posted by JackAZ on 03/21/2005
ARIZONA -- From reading your complaints about AOL Internet service, I appear to not be alone. I received six months free dial up service with my new Dell computer. I had lots of problems with the service primarily due to a language barrier in Tech Support communication by phone. Therefore at just over four months I told them to cancel my service. Then the REAL nightmare began. After the six month period the charged my VISA account with the months service. I complained to AOL and VISA and the amount was canceled from the VISA account. I continued to get information from AOL and the service was not canceled. Every so often I logged on to AOL only for the purpose to see if it were canceled. AOL could see that I had logged on and took the position that I was still using the service and wanted to charge me for that months service when in fact I had not used it other than to check to ascertain that it was no longer in service. This went on for a period of time and I refused to pay for their insistence that it not be canceled. Then I began getting letters from a collection company which I also ignored. Shortly thereafter I stopped receiving such notices and as of now I only assume that the service has been canceled as I had requested far in advance to all of this happening. I would never recommend AOL for Internet service. I believe that a big step to AOL improving their service would be to employ Americans that can speak fluent English to communicate with their clients.
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AOL cancelled my account of over 7 years ( a paying user) with no reason
Posted by Poverton123 on 01/25/2012
STERLING, VIRGINIA -- I have been a PAYING user of AOL for a good 7 years plus. I used AOl just fine last night and then this morning I tried logging in and it wouldn't let me. I also spent a lot of time on the phone with getting no where or no one that would give me a reason other than I "may have violated terms of use" even though I have done nothing different than I have the last 7 years. I was told to write a letter to CAT in Sterling VA to have my account reactiviated. So I did and went to the post office to overnight it $20.00. Once I left he post office the more I thought about it the more it pissed me off that I had been a paying customre for that long and no phone call or email as to why. So I called back again to get the same response and they couldn't give me a phone number for the people that choose to delete your accounts and she told me I needed to write a letter, but this time I got a different address and she said she had no clue why the 1st lady told me the wrong place to mail it. So I mail the 2nd letter (another $20.00) I could have sent it regular mail but all my banking, credit card statments, notifications, ect are emailed to my AOL account. Guess that does me no good now!!! What a joke that someone can delete your account of over 7 years, I mean if you were sending out spam, ect wouldn't you have been doing it the 1st part of the 7 years?? Funny you can write a letter but no way to contact them directly. AOL should realize you can get online and email for free, they should treat the people that pay a little better!!

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Posted by Weedwhacked on 2012-01-25:
AOL is still around?!
Posted by Anonymous on 2012-01-25:
Sounds pretty obvious to me by this review that AOL is still around. And their customer service is still as sub-par as ever.
Posted by Anonymous on 2012-01-25:
This review should serve as a reminder that we need to keep a close watch on how technology is affecting our culture and how our laws are not necessarily keeping up with it.

Cutting the OP off in only a matter of hours, with no grace period or warning, means he is no longer receiving his bills and other financial statements.

AOL can end their relationship with anyone, but they shouldn't be allowed to mess up your relationships with others as a result - the OP should have been given time to make other arrangements.

Sadly, I believe only *another* law would compel companies that offer email services to do so.
Posted by griffin21 on 2012-01-25:
With PIPA and SOPA, file sharing services that have not been shut down have clamped down significantly and ABRUPTLY in the past week. (Search for news on Megaupload, for example). That might have something to do with the sudden enforcement of AOL terms of service.

Couldn't you create a new email account, and update your financial accounts contact information?
Posted by Patrick on 2012-01-25:
Yes, I can just use yahoo and create an email address that is FREE. But I have many contacts over the 7 years and important information saved in emails that i can no longer get to.
Posted by If you accessed your mail via an AOL desktop clien on 2013-02-16:
If you accessed your mail via an AOL desktop client, you may have your old emails stored on your computer drive. If so, you may still be able to access them via the username mail files located on your AOL folder. The files use the username(s) in the file name. If you can create a new AOL account under a new username, you may be able to open the old username files via the new username by renaming the old files to the new username (changing the username only contained in the file name). This may allow the old file to be recognized as matching the new username and may open the old file, revealing all the stored email.

I did this on my old Mac G3 tower when I wanted to change my secondary email address due to spam. I was able to pick up with the new address where I had left off with the old one, no problem.
Posted by An AOL User on 2013-02-16:
Another thought...If you did use the AOL desktop client and you do have mail saved to your computer drive, you should still be able to access all your saved files without going online. They are saved locally to your hard drive. You may have to save each email as a text or PDF file or simply print them out to permanently preserve them. Your address book can be transferred that way, too. If you uploaded your contacts to another service like Facebook or another social site, you may be able to access them from there as well.

Also, don't forget the power of Bluetooth. You can send files to a cellphone and save them to the SD card, which can be removed from the device and read by a computer via a card drive.

Hope this helps. :)
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Posted by Spazz on 01/20/2008
KANSAS -- A few years ago, I got one of those free AOL CD's that supposedly gave you 1088 hours of free internet. I had a problem finding a local number that didn't charge me long distance, so I called one of their support lines and got a sales person. Since they couldn't find a local number for me, the sales guy tells me that there is an old international number(which charges by the minute) I can use for free. He said its no longer being used for that purpose. Wrong!! I got a bill for $175.00 dollars!!! For using their free online CD! I called them up and got some guy in India! After finally getting some dude in America, he refused to listen or believe me on my side of the story for why I used a international number, even though I live in Kansas, he refused to compensate me on the bill. I had to use my credit card company to battle the bill, and you know what? They took my side, so I didn't have to pay Stupid AOL their scam money.

AOL sent me a letter, explaining how they were going to report this to a credit agency. What a rotten company!
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Posted by jktshff1 on 2008-01-20:
check your credit report and dispute the issue.
there is a general around here that can tell you more, but I believe you can put an alert on your report and they notify you if there is an inquiry or information put there.
Posted by Spazz on 2008-01-20:
Cool, thanks for your input.
Posted by Ponie on 2008-01-21:
If this happened 'a few years ago,' what's the problem now? Or as jkt mentioned, is it on your credit report? I guess AOL has finally stopped sending out these CDs. I got sick of getting them in my mail box and just tossing them out.
Posted by jktshff1 on 2008-01-21:
We use to use them for target practice. Fling 'm in the air and shoot them with a shotgun. Lot's of fun.
Posted by babybear62005 on 2008-05-29:
I've realized with issues I've had with AOL that if I ever have to speak to any customer service rep from any company (especially AOL), I'm going to record the conversation for playback later.
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Groups on AOL - and AOL response to Customers
Posted by Febrile on 09/08/2007
GEORGIA -- I have had a "Group" on AOL for several years, which allows me to send group mail, post pictures, resources, etc. Apparently, AOL did some "redecorating" beginning last Fall, and I (and many others) have not been able to send "Group mail" to our Groups since last December ('06).

Despite repeated complaints, including a *snail mail* to Randy Falco, the CEO of AOL, which was never acknowledged, I have never received anything other than form emails in response ("We hope to have this problem fixed soon." (Is nine months anyone's idea of soon??? Go to:


to see what others are saying!

Paying $26 a month to have no working "Group" and no reasonable response to a customer complaint, especially from their Corporate Headquarters!) while continuing to stay with AOL borders on insanity. Goodbye AOL!
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Posted by Anonymous on 2007-09-08:
People still use AOL? Dump it, febrile.

Posted by BOBOLAMA on 2007-09-08:
i get free AOL Mail,with my AOL-Comcast ISP. i've been with AOL, since 1991. always love it!!
Posted by BOBOLAMA on 2007-09-08:
AOL...the only intranet on the internet!!..still very cool!!
Posted by familytravel on 2007-09-08:
We've been with AOL for years. First we paid the $26.00 for dial-up, but now we've upgraded for AOL w/ DSL and we actually end up saving money. I would really, really recommend you either get DSL with free AOL or find another dial-up provider. For $26.00, AOL's dial-up service is very poor. I would strongly recommend looking into DSL service. I pay about $14.99/month for basic DSL, and get the AOL for free. If you want, you can pay AOL $10/month for unlimited technical support, movie clips, and all the extras.
Posted by beanbagbritches on 2007-09-08:
Time Warner now offers a free AOL account with Road Runner service. Perhaps you can utilize this service & get quality assistance while using your old AOL contact?
Posted by BOBOLAMA on 2007-09-09:
i get tech support online with AOL,because i purchased,my cable ISP through AOL. i only pay cable service,and nothing to AOL. i get cable tv,phone service,and ISP all for $99.99 per month. it's the best deal i've had in years!
Posted by febrile on 2007-09-09:
Thanks for your comments, everyone. Bobolama, do you work for AOL?
I have had AOL for several years, and I have cable with my AOL, and the only reason I kept my AOL is because I am a Group Founder there. None of your comments address *my* issue, which is: AOL Groups are not functioning, have not BEEN functioning for 9 months, and Groups are the only way for a large number of people to communicate on AOL. Moreover, when I send a snail mail letter to Customer Service, I expect a response, which I have not received.

As for Tech support, their techs, after never being able to resolve the problem, kept saying they would pass it up to their supervisors. That produced a form email, saying they were "working quickly to resolve the problem." So even their own Techs didn't realize that the problem is with AOL beta, and not our computers.
I call that very poor service.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-09-09:
Since AOL can't fix the problem why not move to another ISP?
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Billing process
Posted by Mehgolf on 05/31/2007
NEVADA -- AOL bills on a yearly basis. I contacted AOL and asked them to cancel my account. They did so in March then sent me to a collection agency who told me that I had to pay the whole year, they would keep the money for 2 months, then refund the balance. I find this horrendous business practice and harassment vs someone from AOL calling me. I had an account with them 10 years and had I know they would act like this, I would have cancelled it earlier. I never have paid late, have excellent credit. I will send them the money but if they do not refund the remaining portion, I will take them to small claims in my state.

I will never deal with them again.
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Posted by Sparticus on 2007-05-31:
Nice. Not only do they offer a crappy service, but apparently they have a great post-cancellation service as well. Way to go AOL... If I were you I would NOT pay the full year with any expectation of a refund. Sounds like the collection agency is trying to scam you. Did your contract with AOL state you must pay the full year if you cancel?
Posted by tnchuck100 on 2007-05-31:
Listen to Sparticus! DO NOT send them any money. Never talk to a collection agent on the phone. It will never help you. Communicate with them only via Certified Mail/Return Receipt Requested.

Send a debt validation request demanding copies of anything you signed creating the debt, a complete payment history, and proof they own the debt.

I seriously doubt if this is a legitimate collection agency.

Posted by Anonymous on 2007-05-31:
Great comments Sparticus and tnchuck100... Good review mehgolf.
Posted by GWbiker on 2007-05-31:
I quit AOL when it was AOL 2.5 and I never looked back. I had to cancel my credit card for a new number card so AOL couldn't continue to bill me. CC company jumped in and disputed any extra charges that AOL tried to bill me.
Posted by southbaypaul on 2007-05-31:
I started using AOL probably 12 years ago, up until last year I was a paying customer.

I can't say that I've ever really had a problem with their service, nor do I use it any more. I honestly just hold on to it for the email addresses, as I had set up some for family members on my account.

They started to offer free service, if you had your own internet connection (which I had for several years). I went on line, changed my account to a no charge account. I had just paid my annual renewal that month, the following month they refunded the prorated 11 months of my fees.
Posted by jenjenn on 2007-06-01:
AOL is the WORST service I've ever had...billing being the MOST frustrating part of it!! They don't like it when you to cancel apparently...
Posted by CautiousConsumer on 2007-06-01:
That's probably in response to all the "Sign up for the free 30 days then cancel".. because AOL blows.

I used AOL 10 years ago. That is NOT the contract you signed, I KNOW for a FACT. This has to be a new thing. Make the 'credit agency' provide you with the paperwork you signed explaining the cause of this 'debt'!
Posted by Ponie on 2007-06-01:
I've never been with AOL and after reading some of the complaints about them, I guess I should consider myself lucky. However, I know some Internet users who have been with them for years (6-8) and have never had any problems. Do you have to sign a contract with them? If it's like with T-Mobile where I signed for 2 yrs. and after that it's month-to-month, I guess it's OK. But there has to be an expiration date on a contract, doesn't there? Just askin'.....
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Cancelled service; They kept billing me
Posted by Abacab on 10/14/2006
I cancelled my AOL service, and they continued to bill me. Mistake? The same thing happened to my parents more than a year later. They only agreed to give me 2 months refund(after much hassel), even though I was entitled to 3.
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Posted by Sparticus on 2006-10-14:
I think it must be listed as one of their primary revenue streams... to bill beyond cancellation for x months. Some genius at AOL probably got a bonus for coming up with that one.
Posted by Slimjim on 2006-10-14:
AOL is notorius for that. You may need to just get two dispute forms from your credit card company and take care of this and your Yahoo issue in one fax.
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