America Online Settlement
SAN FRANCISCO -- Averting a looming court battle over how it has handled the exodus from its Internet dial-up service, AOL has agreed to make it easier for its remaining customers to leave as part of a $3 million settlement with 48 states and the District of Columbia.Hopefully AOL will live up to its end of the settlement. A year ago I told of my experiences when trying to cancel AOL. It was a @#%^! joke, and I only got resolution when I called Corporate HQ in VA rather than talking to the 1-800 idiots. Don't forget what happened to this fellow either. I compared compared canceling AOL service to quitting the mafia. That may have been unfair to the mafia.
The resolution announced Wednesday was driven by a deluge of complaints from AOL customers who said they tried to close their accounts, only to be thwarted in their attempts or discover they were still being billed for services that they thought had been canceled.
The outcry triggered a multistate investigation that would have culminated in a lawsuit if AOL hadn't agreed to ante up and change its ways, said David Tiede, a deputy attorney general in California.
California was among the states that played a leading role in the settlement. New York and Florida were the only states that didn't participate in the inquiry.
AOL, the Internet division of Time Warner Inc., didn't acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement.
As part of the settlement, AOL agreed to maintain an online channel for processing cancellations. Although it has long been one of the Internet's best-known companies, AOL didn't set up an online cancellation system until last August. Previously, all cancellation requests had to be made by fax, mail or telephone.
Subscribers who phoned AOL to cancel their service sometimes were greeted by aggressive customer service representatives who were paid bonuses of up to $3,000 if they found a way to retain the business, according to the multistate settlement. Customers complained that AOL's incentive system created an obstructive culture that made service cancellations difficult.
The settlement requires AOL to issue refunds to consumers who can show they were still charged monthly fees after trying to cancel their services. AOL's fees currently range from $9.95 to $25.90 per month. Tiede said the multistate investigation didn't estimate how much money AOL might have to refund.
Now I have Bell South DSL. It was long overdue.
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