I’m about to go off on AOL.  AOL is not my favorite person right now.  I’ve got a pent up rant that I need to get out about them.

I discovered yesterday they’ve been charging me $20 per month for a service I never purchased.  A few years ago when I worked at eBay, AIM was the defacto IM for the company.  Somehow I’d had a paid account but I wanted to drop it.  So I called them up and they said that in order to keep my screenname, I’d have to pay $4.95 per month, otherwise, they’d lock the screenname and I could come back in a few weeks or whatever and try to reclaim it.  That would mean a few weeks without AIM, which I couldn’t do.  So I said, OK.

Fast forward to yesterday.  My wife and I were going through our accounts and we noticed a $10 charge from AOL.  It was a secondary account that we don’t check very often so we hadn’t noticed it.  I went and logged into AOL for the first time in…um…forever?…to see what was going on.  Turns out they’d been charging me two times per month for some premium account.  That’s $20 per month!  I have no idea how long this has been going on because they’re account center only lets you go back 5 months, so I’m going to be wasting some time on the phone with them today to try to find out how much they have fraudulently charged me and try to get my money back.  I’m guessing they owe me around $500.

And in another case of AOL incompetence, the AOL Mail Blog posted an Open Letter to Gmail on Halloween mocking Gmail for copying features.  This coming from the same AOL who copied Yahoo’s front page practically pixel for pixel.  It was a really dumb move and the blogosphere let them know it by making it the most commented blog post they’d ever put up.  The comments were virtually 100% negative.  So what did AOL do?  Did they write up a follow up post with a mea culpa?  Nope.  Did they reply back in the comments?  Nope.  They turned off and hid the comments!  Horrible move AOL.  But I guess that’s par for the course around there, eh?

Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 rip Time to get on the phone with them.  I’ll provide an update here later and let you know what they’re doing to make this right–if anything.  In the meantime, feel free to share your AOL horror stories in the comments.  Maybe someone from AOL will read this and try to help me out.

UPDATE: After 37 minutes on the phone here’s what happened.  I sat on hold for 22 minutes.  Then a very friendly rep, Reisa, told me that there was a price increase in May that doubled the price of the account (apparently they switched me to the Basic Dial Up Account.  WTF?).  They sent an email to my AOL mail account, which I didn’t even know that I had.  Then, since I didn’t check my email (because I didn’t know that I had it), they automatically deleted the email, leaving no record of it ever being sent.  Apparently, their policy is that they can only credit back three months.  I asked to speak to a supervisor.  Desi came on the line and reiterated their policy of three months credit and insisted that just because I never got the email, doesn’t mean it wasn’t sent.  They claim my email was “active” even though I’d never logged into it.  Which raises the additional question about how they count the “active” email accounts they manage…the number is likely much lower than they report.  Desi credited my account for $15.

Good riddance, AOL.

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