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Kim Klaver


  • My dearest AOL…

    Kim thanks for bringing that up,


    I had to take them to court a few years ago on the exact same matter, read on…

    I tried to cancel my account and they continued to charge my credit card for… two years.

    It started with a free trial, (a contract with no minimum term, you can bail out when you want). You try one month for free, you give them your credit card in case you want to continue with the service, and you can ring up any time to cancel your trial or your account.

    So after 2 months, I decided to cancel my account, I couldn’t stand the software and how it was forcing me to read all their messages and advertisings. They really ate up my brain space. At the time, the information read: simply ring this number (a toll line) if you wish to cancel your account.

    So I did. Several times. And this is how they figured out how to increase the revenue per customer, a very clever up-selling technique if I may. Read on…

    Their automated voice system would park you in a giant queue of unhappy customers for well over 45 min – that’s the longest I ever tried – on that toll line. So you could speak to a sales rep who can take only new orders in 5 minutes, but you for the cancellation rep…

    I tried about 5 times in total over a few months. It must have cost about $50.00 in calls to listen to “how AOL is different, how great their service is and how important I am to them”

    … and I never got to talk to any rep. So I sent them a letter…

    And the response showed on my credit card balance the next month…

    Over $300 later, I purposely cancelled the credit card, and I sent them a second letter via registered post.

    Now at this point of the journey, there is a fork in the road. 99% of the service companies out there usually decide to cut off your service or cancel your membership (you can try with your own utility company).

    AOL is different: they chose to continue to bill…

    This time, their charges were getting rejected by the bank, so they mailed regular reminders threatening to send the debt collectors… I don’t know which frustrated copywriter they used to write those templates but let me tell you, it says a lot about how AOL really thinks of their customers…

    The debt collectors came pretty quickly.
    And with that pressing matter, it was the time to have some fun, just like Mr Ferrari.

    Their usual jurisdiction was an hour flight from my local town.

    So instead of waiting, I directly assigned them to my local court. I lived in a small town with old fashion mentalities, rainy, with run down gray streets.

    I couldn’t wait to see the face of their lawyer having to fly to the deep end of the Country. That’d be a cultural shock for a corporate lad… And there are not many flights to our town and few taxis when you arrive. Hehehe.

    The lawyer made contact and published what AOL was asking for: to recoup their initial loss – the handful – they jacked it up with extra penalties + the costs for flying down and entertaining a lawyer.

    The stakes were getting higher, but still not worth hiring my own lawyer.

    And so on the day of the hearing came. I met the lawyer early that morning, an arrogant righteous young lady. She had to fly down the night before. She was tired – not many hotels to choose from, certainly nothing above two faded stars.

    Our little conversation was to the point. I asked her if she liked her job and she said she did very much. She asked me if I knew when we would be called, and I said to her we were last on their list… We’d be done sometimes in the afternoon unless they needed to defer our hearing.

    Which they almost did, and I saw her jump out of her chair and beg the judge to make a decision the same day…

    It took 10 minutes.

    …and AOL did not win the case… Hehehe.

    But the funniest thing of all: she left irritated and disappointed: her last look was that of a humiliated corporation ripped off and abused by a nasty customer!

    On the other hand, a friend told me this incredible story: how the sister of her friend of a friend had applied for a job at VirginBlue. This was when Richard Branson launched VirginBlue in Australia. Of the thousands of applications, only a few hundred got a job, and she didn’t. The thank-you letter was by Richard Branson. It kindly thanked her for taking the time to apply and enclosed a $20.00 voucher for Virgin Records. The one thing I know is that a couple of years later, my friend continues to tell this story, just like I just did…

  • I had a similar experience when I tried to cancel my AOL account just last month. I had signed up for what I thought was a free trial (against my better judgment), and it turned out that it was a “risk-free” trial which meant they charged my card. So, the next day I immediately called to cancel and must have tried to get through to a rep three times, and had to stay on hold for 10 minutes. When I finally got a rep, I had to tell him I wanted to cancel over and over again. I must have told him to cancel my account at least seven times. He implied that if I would just keep the account until my first 30 days were up, that I would get my refund more quickly. In other words, if I didn’t keep the account, I would have to wait a long time for my refund. I finally got him to cancel the account, and I could hear in his voice he was angry.

    But I don’t think it is his fault. I think AOL is training their reps not to let customers cancel, and somehow it seems that not only do they offer their reps incentives to prevent customer cancellations, I have a sneaking suspicion that there are penalties for each cancellation that the reps let go through. That is the only explanation that I can come up with for the consistent persistence of AOL’s customer service reps.

    I think AOL’s customer service is horrible, and I will never sign up with them again. Besides that, their software is extremely invasive and even when you uninstall it, AOL leaves its tracks all over your hard drive.

  • Incredible! So, they fired the rep. Did they also fire the trainer who trained the rep to say what he said?


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