AOL IS EVIL.
A few months ago I was at my mothers house and needed to access the Internet. She does not have an account, but like every other Earthling, she was in possession of a number of "Try AOL Free" CD's and since I was desperate my defenses were weak and I did the UNTHINKABLE!
I signed up for a free trial.
Of course, the stay at my mothers was short and within a few days I was back home to my high-speed wireless connection and I completely forgot about the AOL account.
Then this morning I was looking at my bank account online and noticed that AOL had billed me as of yesterday.
"Damn," I said to myself, "I needed that $23.95." "Oh well, I should have remembered to cancel the account ... I'll do it now."
Thus began my descent into the bowels of AOL HELL!
First, I went online to see if there was an option to cancel over the Internet.
The instruction say I can either call, fax or snail-mail my cancellation request.
I chose to call, that being the simplest and most direct route, and, of course, I got a cheerful robot that was able to pull up my account, but not verify that I am the owner.
What is the point of automated robot answering machines? They collect enough information from you to tell you that they can't help you and when they transfer you to a real person somehow the information the robot collected gets lost in the transfer and you have to do it all over again.
That's bad enough, but what's worse is you can't cuss out a robot. It's pointless! And frustrating.
After 5 minutes of robot wrangling I was passed (without my information) to a male customer service rep that did not give his name.
"Thank you for calling AOL today. May I please have your name?"
"My name is Loretta Nall."
"What can I do for you today Ms. Nall?"
"I would like to cancel my account."
"Well, I'm awful sorry to hear that. Could you tell me why you are canceling your account?"
"Because I don't need it."
"You don't need it? You mean you don't need Internet access?"
"No. I have Internet access. I don't need AOL internet access."
"You have high-speed internet access?"
"Yes. I have high-speed internet access."
"Well, your account doesn't show you accessing your AOL account through a high-speed connection. It shows you on dial-up."
At this point I start to lose patience with this guy. What kind of internet access I have is my business and if I no longer want yours all you need to do is stop billing me for it and that is all you need to know.
Deep breath. Don't lose it with this guy just yet.
"Yes. It shows me on dial-up because I was in a place that did not have a wireless or high-speed connection and I did not have a dial-up account. I found one of your CD's and in a moment of extreme weakness borne out of the desperation of needing to check my email I succumbed to your invitation to try it free for 60 days. My 60 days is up and I forgot to cancel it before this billing cycle and I see you have billed me for it and I want you to close my account and not bill me for it again."
"Ok, well I am showing that you owe a balance of $23.95 that needs to be taken care of."
"And I just told you that my bank account is showing a debit of $23.95 as of yesterday so I don't owe you anything."
"Well my screen isn't showing that."
"Of course, it could be that it just hasn't updated in our computers yet because you said it was only debited yesterday. Here's what I can do. You can access AOL high-speed with all the bells and whistles, including virus protection, for the next two months for only $9.95 a month. Most other high-speed service providers don't..."
"No. All I want you to do is close my account. I have high-speed wireless that I am perfectly happy with. I only needed your service when I had no other options and I no longer need them. Just close the account."
"But you don't want to be protected from viruses?"
"I am protected from viruses."
"Through your high-speed provider?"
"Yes. Through my high-speed provider."
"Who is your high-speed provider then?"
"That is none of your business. Do you want my drawer size too? I simply want you to close my account and stop billing me. Is that really so hard for you to understand?"
"Did my question offend you?"
"Yes. It offended me. It's none of your business who my provider is. I called to close my account and to have you stop billing me for the shit. That is all I want from you. Not a damn inquisition. JUST CLOSE THE ACCOUNT!"
"Well, why won't you tell me who your provider is?"
(This is utterly UNREAL)
"BECAUSE IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!! IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHY I CALLED YOU! CLOSE MY ACCOUNT! THAT IS ALL I WANT FROM YOU AND ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW!"
"Well most high-speed providers don't provide virus protection and maybe I just want to know for my own personal needs...maybe I am just trying to gain knowledge...is that so wrong?"
(Dear God he sounds like the "I only want to be loved...is that so wrong?" guy from Saturday Night Live)
"Well, you work at AOL... if you want to know LOOK IT UP YOURSELF! Close my account. NOW! Don't bill me again. EVER!
I know it is rude to hang up on someone...but one can only stand so much abuse when calling to "request" that a company whose services you no longer require stop taking your money for said services.
Who would have thought it would be such a problem?
After all, the advertisement states you can cancel at any time and it won't cost you a thing.
I suppose they think your sanity isn't valuable and that medical care after a stroke induced by one of their High Inquisitor customer care representatives is cheap.