May 10, 2006


Can I see the hands of all those who hope the staff reductions announced by AOL are the beginning of the end for the company? If that seems mean or uncaring to you I certainly understand, but I have my reasons. I have a technique I use to exact my revenge as a consumer upon companies that cheat me, screw me in some way, or just generally provide lousy service. I tell everyone I meet about my experience, whether they want to hear it or not and I am giddy when trouble visits them. I have had a grudge against AOL for about ten years now. They sent one of those trial sign-up disks in the mail that my son opened and decided to try out. He borrowed his mother's credit card to "validate" the account. These were the bad old days of the internet, when everyone had dial up. My son immediately discovered that our internet connection was so slow that he didn't have the patience to actually use the service. He logged on one time and never again, a fact AOL confirmed later. Several months later my wife mentioned in passing that she was still paying our son's AOL bill on her credit card. I told her he didn't use AOL. She pulled her account statements and we found that we had paid for 5 months of service, about $100 worth, as I recall. I called AOL and explained to the representative that I thought a mistake had been made. I was told that we had not canceled the service at the end of the trial so we were billed. I asked for a refund, no dice. I asked that they check the usage to confirm that we weren't using it, no dice. So I canceled and we were stuck. The conventional wisdon in business is that a satisfied customer will tell two others and an unhappy one will tell ten. I have told a hundred or more. AOL cuts 25% of its operating staff? Terrible for the workers. AOL going completely out of business? Priceless. AOL keyword? "bye-bye".

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