Cancelling AOL – My Nightmare

So we had this AOL account a long time ago. We had kept it up until now because the points my wife had on a credit card basically paid for it and we were lazy. We decided to cancel the account. Big mistake.

I call AOL. Enter in name, credit card, screen name. It confirms who I am. Then the lady comes on the phone and asks me similar information. I ask her why she can’t just see what I had confirmed through the phone system. “We do things on a different system and I can’t confirm that way”. Whaattt? Lie #1. Her name was Lucia or something like that. Of course, it’s not her real name.

She then tells me that I will have to go online and log in and then call her back. No, she can’t search any more for the information she needs she tells me. Lie #2.

I try to login. It tells me the account has been shut down for a TOS violation. Grrr.

My wife calls back because I’m about ready to blow a gasket. I get Jeremy this time. He tells me he can’t find the account name either (that I just re-validated on the phone yet again). We figure out that the billing name had been updated to my wife’s name (it had been under mine earlier for some reason).

Jeremy tells us that our account had been locked due to a TOS violation for spamming. Then he accused us of being spammers. Good move, Jeremy.

We tell him it wasn’t us but we just want to cancel it. He tries to redirect us and tell us how to get our account unblocked. No, we tell him, that’s not why we’re calling but that if we’re spammers, why not just cancel our account anyways? Then he tells us he has to transfer us. Lie #3. He hangs up on us!!!

We call back. We’re not giving up. We get Shirley this time. She seems ready to do it! Yes!!

Not quite.

Now they want to go through this long series of questions on “how they can improve AOL”. The wife is polite but firm and manages to bypass the questions but it took almost as long to not answer them as it would have to answer them. Why do they make it so difficult?

And entertainment entities like TimeWarner wonder why their profits are dropping. Treating customers like this is no way to keep them in other areas. Or to get them back in the future.

By the way, they try yet again to keep us. I know it’s their script and the reps have to follow it (we were actually pretty polite but just very insistent on the phone…we don’t get abusive with the people doing their job although if they get pissy we will elevate it) but this script sucks…why can’t AOL just act right for once?

What does all this tell me?

AOL knows they have a defective and failing product. If you know your product is only getting better and more compelling (I mean, you believe, truly believe that) then you let people cancel without an issue because in a service that size some people will always decide to cancel service for some reason. And you hope they come back. But maybe it just wasn’t for them. But the way they handle it just tells me that they have a crappy product that they know no one really wants to pay that much for. Have fun trying to keep your customers AOL. It’s going to be fun watching you slide into oblivian.

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