This is my latest letter to AOL, which describes the problem:
November 29, 2005
PO Box 17200
Jacksonville, FL 32245-7200
Attn: Billing Operations and Services
To Whom It May Concern:
On June 28, 2005, I accepted your offer of a free 30-day trial of your services via a disk I received in the mail. I signed up and used your services until July 17, at which time I decided that AOL did not meet my needs. I followed the directions on your website for faxing a cancellation notice (see attached).
On September 16, 2005, I noted on my credit card statement a charge from AOL for a month of service. I called AOL and explained that I had tried the free service but had cancelled by fax. AOL responded that they had no evidence that they had received the fax, therefore I was liable for the additional time on the account. They did, however, acknowledge that they could see that I did not use the account after July 17.
The next month, AOL attempted to charge my credit card again. When the charge was declined (since I had advised my credit card issuer not to accept any charges by AOL), AOL again contacted me and requested the payment. I spoke to a person named Indy on October 21, 2005, who, after hearing my story, agreed that AOL had billed me in error and that she would send a letter to confirm our conversation. I did not receive a letter.
On November 23, 2005, I received a letter from AOL stating that my account had been referred to the collection department and that I should call 800 284 8925 to discuss it, which I did. I spoke to a person named Vicky and again relayed my story. Her explanation of why I owed the charge was that, even though I opened the account on June 28, the BILLING CYCLE for that period began on June 11, so my free trial actually only lasted 30 days from June 11! I asked her how I would have known that the billing period began on June 11, when I signed up on June 28! She had no response to my question, instead suggesting that I write this letter.
So here I am, nearly six months after trying AOL's supposedly free trial, spending my very valuable time defending my principles. Certainly at any time during this process, I could have written AOL a check and made them go away. But it rubs me the wrong way that AOL seems to be using this badgering process in the same way that some lawyers file lawsuits in an attempt to coerce people into paying just to get rid of them. Furthermore, it causes me to wonder how many other people are out there, fighting with AOL. Maybe the $47.80 that AOL wants from me is multiplied by hundreds or even thousands of people fighting a similar battle with AOL. That might be an income stream for AOL that is disguised as a free trial.
I hope there is someone at your organization who can put an end to this senseless waste of time. Thank you for any help you can provide.