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Author Topic: On Tape: Rep Won't Let Customer Quit AOL
Spam & Cookies-mmm
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What customer Vincent Ferrari got when he tried to cancel his account was a lot of frustration.

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frogpond
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I believe the only reason I was succesful in closing my AOL account was that I closed down the credit card account they were billing me on.

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James of Maine
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This seems to be common with a lot of companies. I think reps are being trained to use almost any means necessary to discourage a customer who wants to cancel an account or disconnect a service: anything to make the customer feel guilty or second guess their decision. It wouldn't surprise me that some would take it a little too far, as in this case.

I went through something similar twice in the past year: when I cancelled my Geico auto insurance policy, and just recently, when I downgraded my cable tv service for financial reasons (vs disconnecting altogether---they should have been grateful, or at least understanding). Both times I had to endure badgering, guilt tripping, and delaying tactics such as repeatedly being put on hold before I finally got my way.

The thing is, I feel that I am less likely to ever want to come back to a company that treats me that way.

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nurple
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I went through something similar when I closed my AOL account, also. IIRC, it took about 15 minutes of pleading with the twerp before he figured out he wasn't going to convince me to stay with AOL.

I told him from the beginning that I was newly married and my husband had AOL and I was just going to go on his account (which was not true). He STILL tried to convince me to stay on! He asked for my husband's screenname so he can "check if I can offer you any special deals." Twerp. Like I was born yesterday. [flame]

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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About a year or so ago, I went with a girlfriend to South Carolina. We stayed at a somewhat dodgy hotel that did not have highspeed internet access, but did have those ubiquitous AOL CDs with a 30 (or 60 or 90) day free trial.

So, I got a disk, installed it on my computer, and set myself up an AOL account.

A few days after coming home from South Carolina, I called AOL to cancel my service. I was threatened that my home broadband access was more vulnerable to viruses and that only AOL had the tools to protect my computer. I told the representative that I would not keep AOL even if it was free, I got almost exactly the same "you're making a big mistake" script that Mr. Ferrari got.

On the Today show this morning, they read the letter of apology AOL sent to Mr. Ferrari, and said that this behavior was not tolerated and the rep was fired. I don't buy it, myself. I am of the opinion that, because the language used with Mr. Ferrari and that used with me was so similar, that not only is such behavior tolerated, it is standard operating procedure.

Although, nobody asked to speak to a parent.

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vanilla
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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When I finally cancelled my AOL account, just finding the number to call on their website was an issue.

Then there were the ads for AOL while I waited on hold to speak to a representative. Once I got a live person, and explained that I wanted to cancel the account, she tried to get me to keep the account by up-selling the product to me. I was also asked if it was a work or home account. I was told that I could keep my AOL account for cheaper, that I should get their faster running program, I was even quoted different prices all while I kept repeating that I just wanted to cancel the account.

Finally, after numerous times of repeating that all I wanted to do was cancel the account and not change the account, this conversation took place:

AOL: Well, I can change your account and you can get the faster dial-up for $X if you like.
V (me): Would I still have to pay AOL for that?
AOL: Well, yes..
V: Then no, I don't want that. I just want to cancel the account.
AOL: For $X, I can change your account to..
V: Would I have to pay the company for that?
AOL: Yes, but..
V: Then no, I don't want it. I just want to cancel the account.
AOL: We have this great new promotion running..
V: Look. I no longer want to do buisness with the company. Will this new promotion cause me to continue business with the company?
AOL: Yes, but if you like..
V: No. I no longer wish to give this business money. I no longer wish to have an account with AOL. Can I do this?
AOL: Yes, I can cancel the account..
V: Please cancel the account. Thank you.

I was pissed when I got off the phone. It got down to me being rude to someone who was not being paid enough to have to put up with my attitude. And then it didn't help that the actual process of cancelling my account took less then 3 minutes and by then she got a little snotty with me, apparently because I never waivered from my desire to sever all ties to AOL.

Although, when I cancelled my account, I had read somewhere that I would have to fight to cancel the account, and therefore I was prepared for some type of hesitation from the company. It took me 20 minutes before I got irate enough for that conversation to happen.

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Mistletoey Chloe
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I'm a big fan of answering everything I'm asked with "CANCEL" in my best robot-voice. It seems to work, and it's also fun.

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snopes
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quote:
Cancel the account. I don't know how to make this any clearer for you. Cancel the account. When I say cancel the account, I don't mean help me figure out how to keep it, I mean cancel the account.

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glisp42
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I must be the only one who didn't have a problem cancelling my aol account. Back in my younger(and broker) days I would stay online by using free trials, cancelling and then switching to another ISP. I called up to cancel, the rep asked me one time if I wanted to extend the free trial, then he cancelled it for me.

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Hubert Cumberdale
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When I wanted to get rid of AOL all I had to do was go into a chat room or message board and express my opinions on certain topics using foul language. Before long, I had enough TOS violations to get my account terminated. This was a couple of years ago though so I don't know how they handle TOS violations now.

And I bet the only reason that rep was fired was because he was unable to convince that guy not to cancel.

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tribrats
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Never had AOL but I like my Dad's approach. I love watching him do it.

When confronted with a company that doesn't want to cancel, he will then inform them that he will be recording the call and then does. He goes throught the whole "for the record, you gave me permission to record this call" spiel. Then he tells them that he wants to cancel. Asks what the total for the last bill will be. Says he will be sending in a check for that amount and will not send any more. Reminds them that the call is being recorded then asks for confirmation that the account has been canceled.

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vanilla
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Consumer Affairs has a long list of complaints from people who cancelled their accounts. Looks like we aren't the only ones who had problems.

Also, AOL looks like they have a few other problems - double billing, their " free hours", unauthorized charges, and AOL Shop Direct. Class action lawsuits have been filed for AOL Shop Direct's practices.

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Ophiuchus
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When I went to report a problem to AOL once, they signed me up with 'free trials' for services that I wouldn't even imaginably use. A year later charges for $128 for continuation of these services I did not even know about appeared on my credit card and knocked me above my limit...

I managed to get it all sorted out, but it happened 3 times to me within the span of those 3 months.

When I went to cancel my account they extended service for two months for free, I figured I'd use it to transfer over my Email, but since my brother started using it they just continued the service and I got billed again. When I went to cancel again they tried to sell me AOL for Broadband, which meant that I'd be paying exactly the same amount of money while not even using them to connect to the internet, just for access to their 'services' which I never used anyway.

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Lil' Molly
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FWIW, I used to work in telecom and we did train our reps to attempt a resale. In fact, they were reprimanded if they did NOT try to resell and were (if I recall) rewarded if they saved a customer from canceling. AOL probably has a similar policy and they may even have a monthly quota of "saves" a rep needs to make. This might be what caused the above rep's insistence. My job was Quality Monitor so I listened to these kind of calls all day and the above is pretty standard and tame. 3:39 was a SHORT call.

[hijack]I had a friend who has had his ISP (I think it is AOL but I'm not sure) for years and has never paid a cent for it. He originally got a three month free trial. When he called to cancel, they offered him a six month free trial to stay. When he called after that, he got another free trial, etc., etc. So at least there's one way to exploit the system.[/hijack]

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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And that is why customers get so crazy. 3:39 is entirely too long to cancel an account. (By the by, the 3:39 is only the talk time; his call lasted 21 minutes total). This rep was harrassing.

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cubbie
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I never had AOL, but my grandparents did. My grandparents started having all these charges added on their AOL account bill. When they called up AOL to find out what was going on, the person on the other end said it was a college student in Wisconsion. And they thought this person was their grandson/granddaughter. They told this person other wise and told them to start up another account for them, and they never did. The end result was they never payed the 2,000 plus dollars that this person charged and had AOL cancelled that way.

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NeeCD
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I have AOL, but I pay yearly (it still comes out to $19.95/mo that way). I haven't had any problems with double billing or anything, but I'm actually afraid to try cancelling it because of all the horror stories I've heard. I've had AOL for 10 years, and the only trouble I had was getting booted constantly. Now that I'm on DSL, I'm going to have it cancelled after the pay period is over, but that's almost a year away and I'm not in a hurry to play the phone game with a rep.

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violetbon
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It's been a while since I cancelled my AOL account... prob about 10 years. I cancelled it in writing. I don't know if the policy is still the same, but I sent a letter 30 days in advance of when I wanted to cancel my service. I did this because that's what was written in my account agreement. Well, sure enough, it wasn't cancelled. So I called, and the lady told me I had to put it in writing. I told her I already did. So then she said she was so sorry for the misunderstanding that she would allow me to extend my AOL service for three months at no cost to me. I refused, because I didn't want to have to remember to cancel it. She kept telling me that I couldn't possibly want to cancel because it is free!

And Lil' Molly, I know that you were just doing your job, and had to follow company policy. ButI really feel sorry for the customer service employees who are reduced to answering those calls. IMHO, that job is the lowest of the low. I'd have to be pretty darn hungry before I would treat people like that. I don't see how assuring that customers are harrassed can be good for business. I will NEVER use AOL again, no matter what bargain or service they offer. Never.

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zman977
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I had this same problem when canceling Dish Network. The CSR offerd me everything under the sun. Took almost ten minutes before he finally got the idea that I was cancelling. I agree. I thik this kind of thing is encouraged in many companies. Makes you not want to do business with them again.

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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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I had the same problem closing a credit card account. We hadn't used it in quite a while, and I had to finally, after about 15 minutes of arguing, get angry and yell at the CSR, who transferred me to another person, who started the spiel all over again. I finally asked to speak to a supervisor and was told the supervisor was in a meeting. "My, how convenient," said I. I then demanded that the account be closed and that I receive written confirmation. "No more arguing, just do it!" I screamed into the phone, and then I hung up. I was so embarrassed for acting that way, but it was infuriating, to say the least. Grrrrr! I did receive written confirmation about a week later.

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Sandman
Deck the Malls


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I had a similar nightmare cancelling my grandma's Discover card for her. After wading through 15 mintues of those damn voice recognition menus I FINALLY got a human being by shouting "CUSTOMER SERVICE" at the program. That wasn't a listed option, but it worked anyway and I got to talk to "Janice."

I will always remember "Janice." God is reserving a special cell in Hell for "Janice." She will be sharing it with Ann Coulter and a starving, ebola-ridden oranguatang with terminal flatulence.

Well, "Janice" wasn't listening to a damn word I said. She spent all the time I was talking preparing what she was going to say next to keep the account active. At first she refused to discuss the account with me, despite the fact that I had legal power of attorney. Eventually she accepted my relationship with my grandma, who wasn't in a condition to talk with "Janice" herself, and we got down to it.

She offered special payment plans.

She offered credit expansions.

She offered interest incentives.

Hell, I figured it was only a matter of time before "Janice" offered to drive over and give me a hummer.

FINALLY, "Janice" finally figured out what I had been trying to get her to understand for 20 minutes. I had power of attorney because I was the damn EXECUTOR of my grandma's WILL. She had been dead for 2 months, and let's face it, Heaven, like MOST places, doesn't accept Discover card.

Funny. I never knew that "Janice" was an Indian name, because THIS "Janice" sounded like she was working the counter at the Quickie Mart on "The Simpsons..."

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Spikey
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When I cancelled my BT Broadband, the rep asked why I was cancelling, so I told her. She asked if there was anything they could do to keep me. I politely said no, and she cancelled the account.

My parents, however, are with AOL...

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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My mom noticed a funny charge on her credit card one month for AOL. But she didn't have AOL. After a very long phone call, she found out she had been given a trial service that she had no recollection of agreeing to and then never canceled it.

It turned out that somehow when she had bought something else, she had unwittingly also been given the AOL account. Knowing her I can kind of see her missing a little box somewhere, but then, after she canceled it (after due arguing), it turned up again on her credit card the next month. IIRC, it happened three times before they finally stopped charging her for something she had never intentionally ordered or used in the first place.

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blucanary
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I'll never forget our one month with AOHEll. It was 1995 we decided to brave the information super highway for the firs time as a family. I was 16 and we set up a third phone line for the computer and set up our nifty account with a whole whopping 1,000 free minutes or something like that. Well that quickly got used up and so we suscribed for like $14.95 a month. Sounded great, but I think we used our monthly minutes in about a week. In the next three weeks we racked up over $50 worth of minutes. And we found out the number they gave us was long distance so we had a $200 phone bill. And what di our $264.95 get us in that one month? We got to talk in chat rooms with other AOL members, look at AOL members personal pages and read AOL's news. When we wanted to browse the WWW we got charged another $1 a minute. So now we were up to some $300 for one months worth of service.

Needless to say we droped it like a hot potato. Not sure if we had any problems with it or not. I was a bit frustrated because I had friends on AOL that I couldn't contact anymore except through e-mail. [Frown]

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Lil' Molly:
[hijack]I had a friend who has had his ISP (I think it is AOL but I'm not sure) for years and has never paid a cent for it. He originally got a three month free trial. When he called to cancel, they offered him a six month free trial to stay. When he called after that, he got another free trial, etc., etc. So at least there's one way to exploit the system.[/hijack]

I've got this at home (not with AOL) and I've never even had to call for renewals - it's simply a free ISP. You don't need to exploit the system to get it. I'm still on dial-up and paying for calls, but it's the normal local rate, no surcharge.
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STF
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quote:
Originally posted by Sandman:
Funny. I never knew that "Janice" was an Indian name, because THIS "Janice" sounded like she was working the counter at the Quickie Mart on "The Simpsons..."

I spoke with someone from one of the big computer companies about the Americanized names of their customer service people. He said that during their training they have them pick out three or so names from a baby book and then the company assigns them that name to use with customers.

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dfresh
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Lil' Molly:
[hijack]I had a friend who has had his ISP (I think it is AOL but I'm not sure) for years and has never paid a cent for it. He originally got a three month free trial. When he called to cancel, they offered him a six month free trial to stay. When he called after that, he got another free trial, etc., etc. So at least there's one way to exploit the system.[/hijack]

Like Richard, I had a free ISP when I was in Seattle for a year. The company's business model was to offer free net service, from a local number, but we had to pay $10 if we ever needed customer service. Of course, it was never worth $10 for most of us to get service, so the company slowly shrank their service area and are probably gone by now.
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snapdragonfly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Chloe:
I'm a big fan of answering everything I'm asked with "CANCEL" in my best robot-voice. It seems to work, and it's also fun.

HEH!! I'm almost sorry I don't have AOL so I can call and do that!

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"Wolves, dragons and vampires, man. Draw the nut-bars like big ol' nut-bar magnets." ~evilrabbit

(snurched because one of my nutbar family members is all about wolves and another one is all about dragons...)(with apologies to surfcitydogdad)

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snapdragonfly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Lil' Molly:
FWIW, I used to work in telecom and we did train our reps to attempt a resale. In fact, they were reprimanded if they did NOT try to resell and were (if I recall) rewarded if they saved a customer from canceling. AOL probably has a similar policy and they may even have a monthly quota of "saves" a rep needs to make. This might be what caused the above rep's insistence. My job was Quality Monitor so I listened to these kind of calls all day and the above is pretty standard and tame. 3:39 was a SHORT call.


You are correct, they do. My bf's husband used to work for AOL. (he was in the fraud department, but he knows what the other employees were told to do.)
AOL has really great benefits, but crappy pay. -(he has since finished going back to school for his accounting degree) - they still use AOL - heh.

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"Wolves, dragons and vampires, man. Draw the nut-bars like big ol' nut-bar magnets." ~evilrabbit

(snurched because one of my nutbar family members is all about wolves and another one is all about dragons...)(with apologies to surfcitydogdad)

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hoitoider
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I don't really get having to call someone on the phone to cancel something on the internet (but this thread seems to explain it - so they can harrass you with an obnoxious sales pitch).

I recently got a card for an on-line community in the mail. You're supposed to put your name & e-mail on the card and mail it back. Ummmm, if it's an on-line community shouldn't there be a web site or e-mail address??

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No man has a right in America to treat any other man "tolerantly" for tolerance is the assumption of superiority. -Wendell L. Willkie

Posts: 3833 | From: Virginia | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Unusual Elfin Lights
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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When I first moved here we could only get AOL or Aliant. Aliant was far more expensive than AOL, so I went that route.

When highspeed finally made it to my community I went to switch. AOL outright refused to cancel my service after 30 minutes on the line, so I put in a stop payment on my credit card. It cost me $8 but it was worth it.

AOL then sent me a letter demanding payment, even though they cancelled my account immediately. I ignored the letter (once I checked whether it was legal or not) and have not had any issues since.

Posts: 2064 | From: New Brunswick, Canada | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
abbubmah
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Way back when, with a limited choice of expensive dialup providers, I went with AOL's trial. After "cancelling", they billed my credit card for 3 months, and didn't cancel the service.

This was well over 15 years ago, and I can see their tactics haven't changed.

Also, they have brainwashed a lot of people into their product. I know people who use AOL on laptops, and are confused when you use internet explorer to browse the internet. They can't understand not paying for AOL to use the internet, even when they are on another service, or free on another system.

Sad.

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Fundamentally Unfundie since 1975

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woohmom
Remembrances of Things Bass


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Back when I had AOL, you'd somehow collect points that you could get free service with. Well I had 3 months free, they charged me for them and when I complained said that I had to pay. So I signed up with Earthlink because I was mad and I think they were cheaper at the time. Anyway, I call to cancel, and they keep offering me free months of service. My reply kept being that if they'd given me the free months of service before that I was supposed to get, I wouldn't be cancelling. Why should I trust them not to charge me for these "free" months when they'd charged me for the "free" months in the past?

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Give peas a chance.

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Bettie Page Turner
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by AnglRdr:
On the Today show this morning, they read the letter of apology AOL sent to Mr. Ferrari, and said that this behavior was not tolerated and the rep was fired. I don't buy it, myself. I am of the opinion that, because the language used with Mr. Ferrari and that used with me was so similar, that not only is such behavior tolerated, it is standard operating procedure.

"Send this SOB the bedbug letter." [Roll Eyes]
On a similar front... I've got to go cancel my cell phone today. Cingular. Can't afford it anymore. Pray for me to remain strong in the face of offers and incentives. [lol] I find that sometimes being straight with someone face to face helps. "Look, my husband is out of work and we can't afford it" is something most mall phone kiosk clerks understand.

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You fail to consider, for such is the tyranny of fashion, that the swan is not a slim animal... -Jincy Kornhauser, Melinda Falling

Posts: 1762 | From: Charleston, West Virginia | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Cervus
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Little Pink Pill:
My mom noticed a funny charge on her credit card one month for AOL. But she didn't have AOL. After a very long phone call, she found out she had been given a trial service that she had no recollection of agreeing to and then never canceled it.

It turned out that somehow when she had bought something else, she had unwittingly also been given the AOL account.

A similar thing happened to me once. I do have AOHell (and am soon switching to BellSouth) but one month I had an additional AOL bill charged to my regular phone bill instead of my Visa card.

I called customer service, told them I had not authorized that account or number, and told them to cancel it. They did. Total time on the phone, with holding, was less than 5 minutes.

The charge was credited back to my BellSouth account, and since it covered the cost of my regular phone bill, BellSouth didn't charge me for the next month's phone bill because according to them, it had already been paid. [Cool]

I'm probably the only person in the world who has had a positive, or at least easy, experience with AOL's customer service.

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"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

Posts: 8254 | From: Florida | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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