Friday, July 13, 2007

AOL Settles Suit

AOL has just settled a U.S. suit for $3 million bucks. The money will be awarded to customers who claimed the company continued to charge them for service even after they canceled their accounts.

Apparently it was difficult to cancel an AOL account. VERY difficult. The first thing that comes to my mind about AOL in Canada is the massive marketing promotion it held back in the dial-up days. I’d be surprised if there’s anyone out there who doesn’t recall having received an AOL installation CD through the mail, or some other promotional means. The CD was clearly emblazoned with the promise of a “free trial”. The only exception was that you had to provide a credit card number, and, unless you called to cancel before the trial period was up, charges would begin incurring each month. Fair enough, as long as the rules and regulations were clearly stated. Ahh, memories...

Anyway, back to the U.S.: according to the suit, which was settled with 48 states and the District of Columbia, AOL will, in addition to refunding money to subscribers, ensure that customers are able to easily cancel an account online.

The Globe & Mail report cites one particular consumer complaint as helping to get the wheels of this suit in motion. One Vincent Ferrari not only wrote about his cancellation woes on his blog; he also recorded and posted audio conversations he had with reps trying to cancel the account! This led to a swarm of commentary from others, as well as a slew of TV and radio interviews.

It’s safe to assume that AOL call centre reps in the States have been provided with updated training on dealing with account cancellations.

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