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Interesting Late Breaking News
Posted by KenPC on 08/24/2005
Home > Business

AOL to reform customer service in Spitzer pact
August 24, 2005

NEW YORK (Reuters) - America Online has agreed to reform the way it handles customers who want to cancel service, effectively ending "stealth retention programs," New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said on Wednesday.

Breaking News Alerts Spitzer, announcing settlement of a lawsuit, said AOL is also required to provide fee refunds for up to four months of service to all New York consumers who claim harm based on improper cancellation requests and pay New York state $1.25 million in penalties and costs.

"This agreement helps ensure that AOL will strive to keep its customers through quality service, not stealth retention programs," Spitzer said in a statement.

Spitzer's office, responding to about 300 New York customer complaints, conducted a probe into AOL's customer service policies and procedures. AOL, owned by media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. , serves about 21 million subscribers, of which 1.9 million customers reside in the region.

With the settlement, AOL, the world's largest Internet service provider, agreed to alter incentives it offers customer representatives who try to dissuade customers from canceling their subscriptions.

It also agreed to eliminate customer service quotas on the number of subscribers dissuaded from canceling before paying a bonus, and to record all cancellation requests.

Actions taken on cancellation requests will need to be verified by a third party monitor by June 2006.

Customers seeking refunds will need to submit claims to either AOL or the attorney general's office within 120 days.

"AOL is pleased to have reached an agreement with the state of New York on customer care practices that we believe will increase quality assurance and assist with the verification of certain member intentions online," an AOL spokesman said.

Time Warner shares fell 10 cents to $17.71 on the New York Stock Exchange.

© Copyright 2005 Reuters. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Reuters or its third-party content providers. Any copying, republication, or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.
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I tried to cancel AOL for six months
Posted by Jeffreyvaughn on 08/17/2005
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY -- I write regarding the recent attempts to close an AOL account. This account was the account of my elderly father who is age eighty-six and has not been able to use the Internet for nearly one year now. I, as his estate manager, have been trying to close his account and stop the monthly billing ($23.90 + $2.90) from his debit card for about six months now. My sister and I have been calling AOL Customer Service during these six months only to encounter various excuses for disconnecting this account. Four of our calls were "hang-ups" when we mentioned our reason for calling.

I was finally able to supposedly close this AOL account on Sunday, August 14, 2005. I am only hoping it was a valid cancel request.

My complaint, I have been trying to cancel this account for six months and encountered endless excuses. Examples; "We can't find his account under that screen name.” "You must call from his home number to cancel the account."

AOL customer service department must understand that not every customer has just one home. My father owns several homes in various regions of the country. It was impossible for me to call from each of his homes. When he leaves each home for extended time the home phone is inactivated to vacation mode.

It amazed me that AOL couldn't find his account during the many times I called but found his account each month to bill him during his final year of service. His account was inactive for nearly one year.

I regret that I did not document all the calls and time I spent over six months in trying to close this account.

I've since reviewed AOL complaints on the Better Business Bureau site (www.bbb.org) and see that my complaint is common & that AOL settled a class-action suit over this matter. I've filed my own complaint.

What I find a bit odd/funny is that an Internet service provider (AOL) seems to request a member cancel via postal or fax. I'm repeatedly told by AOL Customer Service Reps. that it's not possible to cancel via e-mail.

Thanks for your time.

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Posted by KenPC on 2005-08-17:
Why not contact the bank and put a blanket Stop Payment order on th eelectronic withdrawals? That will get their attention!
They suck!
Posted by fazie on 2005-08-17:
i recently called to cancel my AOL also, before doing so i read comments about how hard it was to cancel so when i called i insisted on a confirmation number. they disconnected me but i called right back and got my confirmation number and have not had a charge since, good luck!
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AOL is a good ISP until you want to cancel, THEN BEWARE!
Posted by Yourteammom on 06/19/2005
COLORADO -- On March 9th, I spoke with an AOL representative and advised the gentleman that I wanted to cancel my account. I explained to him that I no longer needed AOL because we have Comcast High Speed. He started to push your security services for $14.95. I told him that I did not need that either. He had a hard time taking “NO” for an answer. He pushed me and finally I had to be just as aggressive in a negative, angry manner to make him understand I no longer needed AOL. I accessed my Credit Card statement online today and discovered that AOL had charged me again on April 3rd for my monthly fee. I called AOL on April 6th and spoke with a lady named Samantha. She did have record of the phone call but no notes were made in AOL's system about my March 9th cancellation. Again, she pushed for me to agree to services for $4.95 that would cover another AOL feature. Again, she didn’t want to take “NO” for an answer. Finally, she cancelled my account and advised that I would receive a cancellation number via a recording. When I placed my first cancellation on March 9th, I did not know what AOL procedures was. But, I was billed another $24.95 because of AOL's pushy representative taking advantage of me being irritated by not following through with my cancellation request on March 9th.
Please note the following that I pulled from the cancellation information in AOL Billing Main
>>Tips for Managing My Account. There is nothing about receiving a “Cancellation Number”. The only thing I should have expected from my March 9th phone call was a cancellation letter. I obviously did not receive that because the cancellation was never processed by AOL's representative.

“America Online offers a number of pricing options, and there may be another plan that might best suit your needs. If you would like to review other America Online pricing plans, some as low as $14.95 per month for three hours, please click here

However, if you wish to cancel your membership you may do so in one of three ways:

1. Call us at 1-888-265-8008 and one of our Member Services Representatives would be more than happy to assist you.

2. Mail your request to us at:

America Online
PO BOX 17100
Jacksonville, FL 32245-7100

3. Fax your request to us at (904) 232-4879.

If you choose to write or fax us, please include the nature of your request and primary billing contact's full name, phone number, address, and handwritten signature. Additionally, for account security purposes, please provide ONE of the following:

-- the primary Billing Contact's AOL® Screen Name OR
-- the last four digits of the current payment method used for this account (for your security, only the last four digits please) OR
-- the answer to the Primary Master Screen Name's Account Security Question.

Cancellation will take effect within 72 hours of receipt of your request, and America Online will send you written confirmation. If you cancel near the end of your billing period, you may be inadvertently charged for the next month's fee. In that event, contact AOL® Billing at 1-888-265-8003 to have the charges reversed. No other refunds will be provided.

Please note that America Online reserves the right to collect fees, surcharges or costs incurred before your cancellation takes effect. Thank you for using America Online.”

We have been using AOL for almost 6 years. I no longer needed AOL's services. Prior to this cancellation issue, I had no problems with AOL. I do not appreciate being taken advantage of for a measly $24.95. Obviously this is how AOL trains their representatives because I had two of them treat me in the same manner. If a knowledgeable customer wants to cancel, just let them do it. The aggressive, forceful sales pitch did not work on me and I would assume that the majority of people do not appreciate it.
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Posted by Toula1021 on 2005-06-21:
wow! I agree with you 100 percent. AOL is so afraid of on person canceling on good terms that they are willing to irritate them so they would bad mouth them. I have been trying to cancel now for 4 MONTHS!!! NOTHING they keep telling me about pro rated cancelation fees and the fee changes from 50 dollars (in contract) to 240 dollars (in contract) I havent had a straight answer yet
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AOL are a rip off
Posted by Daddie on 02/18/2005
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Posted by greekguy7 on 2005-03-04:
Perhaps you can close out that particular bank account they are taking the money out of and just open up a new one?? The same would work i guess with a credit card too.
Posted by LegalCollector on 2005-03-04:
Theres gotta be something more to this...Try a little harder to cancel the account, geez.
Posted by xrayteck on 2005-03-11:
AOL is one of the hardest places to cancel from, I have no idea about anywhere else, but here, in memphis, tn you have to call to cancel, which they do everything to get you to just hang up before you get to cancel,,, long hold times,, then finally, when you get someone, they go thru everything to get you to stay. It should be quite simple. I want to cancel, whats your account number or handle. Thank you for letting us serve you. GOODBYE!!! Thats is,, no more, no less.
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They refuse to cancel my account!
Posted by Shellyw99 on 05/10/2004
I have called and emailed repeatedly to cancel my account and they refuse to cancel it! Every time I call they tell me that instead of cancelling they will extend my account for 3 months with no charge. My emails are ignored. So, at least right now I'm not being charged for service, but that charge will start up again next month. I just sent them a nasty email telling them to cancel my account again... now I will wait and see if they actually respond or comply. They have told me that they can't take an account cancellation request by email, which I find very very hard to believe. I can answer the same account questions via email that I answer over the phone, so I don't see what the problem is. I think AOL itself is good, very user friendly, unless you actually need help from (gasp) a human being!!! But they aren't the only fish in the sea, and I'm sick of them being completely unreachable and expensive!
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Posted by dvsmadcow on 2004-05-11:
SHELLY, DON'T WAIT FOR ANYTHING WITH THESE CROOKS!! if you wait, your credit card will be drafted until you finally notice it...if you don't call in and speak to a manager at least three business days before your cancellation date then they will charge you! BELIEVE ME, you don't want to wait for anything!
Posted by bill on 2004-05-11:
It is easy to sogn up with AOL, and difficult to cancel. They wont let you cancel by e-mail because they want you to talk to a rep who is going to try to convince you to stay on. Tell them you want to cancel and be firm. Don't agree to any extra free months.
Posted by -970.82 on 2004-05-14:
Since I am the $970.82 overcharged person here is my plan, hope it helps you...I called my bank and explained and she had heard it many many times before. I putting a stop payment on aol and also canceling my atm/visa so they have no access to my account, and I will recieve a new card in 10 days. Then I am changing to earthlink, canceling aol and removing every ounce of aol from my computer that I possibly can. I will probably not allow any company to automatically deduct from my account again.
Posted by dumpebay.com on 2004-05-18:
Go to www.1pau.com and read their ideas also about AOL before it is too late!
Posted by melly on 2004-07-16:
shelly i hope you got out of aol because when i wrote a letter to them to cancel, they still refused it and i am stuck again with another month of a service i don't use, but it's free, and have to figure out how to get out of this mess once and for all.
Posted by Big Red on 2004-08-19:
I too had the same problem with AOL - when I tried to cancel, they offered an additional month of free service - they assume that you will forget to call them back at the end of that free month so they can continue charging you. MSN wasn't any better - they continued charging my credit card and it took FOREVER to get a credit to my account.
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AOL Credit Alert Bank Draft Cancelled Last Year
Posted by on 10/22/2003
TEXAS -- I too have the same problem with AOL Credit Alert. On or about 11-9-02, I became aware that they had deducted $79.99 for AOL Credit Alert, & $69.99 for AOL Net Market. I called immediately to complain & demand a refund. I was refunded $69.99 for AOL Net Market, but have yet to be refunded $79.99 for AOL Credit Alert. Then again on 10-16-03 I received an insufficient funds notice from my bank, stating that there weren't sufficient funds to cover $79.99 bank draft. After a few phone calls I found that it was AOL Credit Alert who had drafted my account again. By this time I was FURIOUS. I called & got somewhat irate. I was asked if I had a refund authorization number, which I was never given one. I was eventually told that my account would be credited within 7-10 days. Then, I was hung up on without being given an authorization number, again. As of today my account has still not been credited.
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Posted by Charles5w8 on 2003-11-10:
I cancelled AOL on October 7, 2003. I revieved a daily planner in the mail which I did not order. AOL deducted $33.65 from my bank account and stated on the order sheet that I ordered this book on Oct 31, 2003. They caused my bank account to be over drawn and I was unable to talk to anyone to be refunded the bank fee I was charged for being over drawn. I will NEVER give AOL my checking acct number or checking acct number again. Plus they want me to return this book at my cost before I can get my $33.65 back.
Posted by Charly43 on 2004-02-09:
Have you contacted the office of the attorney general, Greg Abbott? How about the BBB. I really believe that if enough Texans complain, Abbott will do SOMETHING
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AOL Steal from people
Posted by on 09/10/2003
SUGARCREEK, OHIO -- I too tried AOL for free for 2 weeks, hated it, it took me 3 days to get through the red tape and discontinue the service, that was in June. Yesterday they withdrew $28.90 for service I no longer have. There seems to be enough people out there that they have done this kind of thing to that there has to be an Attorney who will file a class action law suit against them, I'm serching for one, anyone out there on board????
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Posted by Anonymous on 2003-09-16:
Try calling 1 800 307 7969 I posted a review about this titled "I Beat Them!" The number is for their Fraud department. They will help you.
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-09-17:
I too was billed by AOL after I cancelled "service". I literally had to close my bank account to stop these charges. Plus, upon initial sign-up, I was told that I was entitled to 60 days of free service. I was of course charged after 45 days and the customer service manager refused to refund my account, offering me more "free" service. I am still receiving threatening letters from AOL for two months of service I NEVER USED!!! I switched to Comcast Cable and was relieved of the incredible number of ads posted by AOL> this is something I have never understood, Why must I be subjected to advertisements when I am PAYING for a service? Class action law suit? YOU BET!!! I'M WITH YOU!
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Erroneous billing-no refund
Posted by Rayrakes on 03/20/2002
SAN MATEO, FLORIDA -- Customer Service at AOL refuses to correct billing errors in effect stealing my money. AOL mistakenly billed my credit card for High Speed Service that I have never received. The AOL Technicians could not get the AOL software to work with my system so the service was cancelled; two months later I got billed for High Speed Service anyway. AOL Customer Service (Jeremy, Supervisor at Broadband Services on day shift 03/20/02) stated that it is company policy to not give refunds even though the company billed my credit card in error, only credit for AOL services can be given. Jeremy stated this was the policy created by his superiors Bob Pittman, Ray Ovalthorpe and Steve Case and he had to follow their policies.

To help keep me as a potential future customer, I would like the following:

I expect AOL to refund to my credit card the two High Speed Service charges that AOL billed to my credit card in error totaling $59.98.

At the very least I would like a response from your company regarding this incident. Thank you for your time.
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Trying to Cancel
Posted by JD1945 on 08/28/2006
I found this service to be VERY slow. Although, the company makes a claim that their "Web Accelerator (allows) for up to 5x faster web surfing". That is a lie. It was slower than my "Plain Jane" service.

Today, I was trying to cancel a subscription with Netscape Internet Service. After being transferred to appropriate department, I was informed that if I cancelled my subscription, I would be charged an $89 cancellation fee. I asked why and was told I had a 12 month commitment.

Also, I was advised that if I disconnected the phone call, I would immediately be charged the $89 cancellation fee. They went on to tell me they had to read me some legal notice of my rights. What rights? You just told me I don't have the right to cancel.

Be very careful before signing up with this company. They will not get any further business from me.
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Posted by beanbagbritches on 2006-08-28:
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-08-29:
If you haven't already guessed it, Netscape is AOL.
Posted by Tracy M on 2006-08-29:
So, did you sign up for the 12 month commitment? It's so easy to sign up for things, and not realize what you're getting yourself into.

And as Ken said, Netscape is AOL...you will probably be stuck with them till the year 2020. :(
Posted by JD1945 on 2006-08-30:
Sadly, after finding my paperwork, I guess I did sign up for the one year committment instead of the month to month. My fault! I am going to see if this is not fraud since they are making false statements about faster web surfing.
Posted by ericjar on 2007-01-29:
I had a similar experience, the connection speed with them is awful. First couldn't get thru on phone to cancel, so tried live chat, that wasn't working, then I found out I had a cancellation fee, they truly suck.

I am back with 650dialup
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Losing a Customer
Posted by Dinkiecb on 03/23/2006
Well here I am, another unsatisfied customer of AOL. I have had any problems over the years with the usual billing problems and other horrors relating to that problem, yet I remained a customer until tonight when I went to log on and found I had been CANCELED. Repeated calls to reps who kept telling me a screen name I don't have on my AOL software at all did something against terms of service, and they canceled me, someone has somehow managed to get in either thru my own laziness or thru theirs is not the point. There was others using the account unknown to me and I'm unable to get them to realize it wasn't me, and I am unable to have an AOL account because of someone else not known to me.

Their security sucks and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, I've seen articles about the hackers, yet they refuse to help me with the problem, and refuse to give me access to someone who can.
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Posted by miketech on 2006-03-23:
What does one have to do for AOL to cancel them? THat might be useful information for some people who want to cancel and can't.
Posted by CAR7 on 2006-03-24:
For those who really want to be disconnected from aol due to how they bill you when you want to cancel here is the best way to get your account closed, Go to chat rooms cuss you will get tossed after 6 tossed your account will be closed. aol is famous for billing after you try or do close your account. they cant get me im way to smart
Posted by KenPC on 2006-03-24:
If you were really 'way to smart', you'd never have been using AOL in the first place.
Posted by ladylove on 2006-03-24:
I hope I don't have that problem with them, but It is hard to cancel with them,they never want to cancel your account. but after schools over I think I will.
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