On January 25, 2003, our household was connected to high speed internet via Cox Communications. Our existing AOL account was slow, slow, slow. But, we felt it was prudent to keep the AOL account for a short period so that we would have time to clean up our AOL e-mail addresses on the many mailing lists and customer accounts we keep.
After an additional month of usage, on February 21, 2003, I called AOL to cancel my account. I explained to the customer service specialist that we had converted to high speed internet and had no interest in keeping the AOL service.
The customer service specialist offered two complimentary months of AOL service to me. He explained that it was customary for AOL to offer this service as a courtesy to their customers. This, he said, would allow us ample time to make any other necessary changes on our e-mail addresses. We would need to call back the customer cancellation number (888-265-8008) no later than April 23, 2003 to finalize the cancellation of our account or charges would resume. I sent myself an e-mail reminder to my new Cox.net account so that I would call promptly on April 23, 2003 so I would incur no additional expense.
Since the offer was complimentary at no charge to me I agreed to this arrangement, even though my usage of AOL at that time was to check for errant e-mail messages only. I was not concerned about using the account for e-mail checking purposes, as I was offered the two complimentary months specifically for this purpose.
Since I do not reconcile my checking account promptly when my statement is received each month, it was not until six weeks later, on April 4, 2003, that I discovered I had not received the complimentary service I had been promised. Instead, my account had been charged not once, but twice in the amount of $23.90 each time (Feb 27, Mar 27).
I called the cancellation number I had been given (888-265-8008) to inquire about this, thinking that it was an honest mistake. Instead, I was surprised and annoyed to learn that the notes kept on my AOL customer service screen (according to the new AOL rep, Brian) said nothing about the offer of two complimentary months of service. Instead, the customer service rep notes showed that he had saved the account.
Brian and his manager Gary were able to credit me $23.90 for one months billing on the account, stating that I had not used the service during that time period. They were unable, they said, to give me the additional credit of $23.90 because the account showed usage. Of course it did! I was offered the complimentary months to clear up any errant e-mail addresses. The only way to know if we were still receiving e-mail under AOL accounts and to notify the sender of correct addresses was to access the account and check our mail.
I discussed this with Brian and Gary in some detail, now becoming somewhat impatient with the Catch-22 situation I am now faced with. The resolution I was promised on April 4 was that my conversation from February 21st would be reviewed (they are taped, I was informed) to verify the accuracy of my statements. If I was promised the two months as I stated, I would be credited to the additional month. I agreed to this, as I was completely confident that my statements were accurate.
Brian & Gary informed me that a response would be forthcoming by e-mail within 72 hours of my call. Response would be by e-mail to my AOL account address. They were unwilling or unable to accept my new Cox.net account address for a response, even though I preferred they use that address. So, I was left again with a reason to use my AOL account to check on the response.
Having not received an answer to this inquiry as of today (April 16, 2003), I again called the customer service cancellation number (888-265-8008) to ask about the resolution of this problem. Today, the first thing I am told is that AOL customer service reps do not have access to tapes of conversations to review!
I had a very extensive conversation with yet another representative at the end of the line at 888-265-8008, during which the facts above were explained, explained, and explained again. No matter what I offered, the rep was unwilling to credit me the additional $23.90 because I a) accessed the account and b) did not cancel on February 21st - at least not according to AOLs own notes!
OK, now I am getting mad. I am lied to on two occasions, and I am not willing to let the matter drop. I will continue to pursue this in any manner I can, to be sure as many people as possible are "warned" about AOL's deceptive practices.
Bristol, Rhode Island
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on AOL