Tue Dec 14 14:00:25 2004 Goodbye, Posted by Tony Lawrence
At one time, way back in the mists of time, I had an AOL account. I never really used it - when I signed up, I already had internet access elsewhere. I just wanted it for the odd circumstance where they might have something I needed. Pretty quickly I decided that they never had anything I needed but I still kept the account so that I could see how my own web pages looked when viewed by an AOL user. As AOL improved their browser, even that became unnecessary, and honestly I thought I had closed the account.
Yesterday I happened to be sitting nearby while my wife was reviewing our Mastercard bill, and I heard her half-audibly mutter "AOL". Puzzled, I looked over and said "I thought I canceled AOL".
"Well", she said, "they're still charging us $4.95 a month. Have been all along.".
Ooops. First thing, damage control. It wouldn't be smart to admit that I thought I canceled this years ago. I'll try a little fib first: "Umm, maybe it just hasn't gone through yet - I'll check with them today".
Yeah, right. That won't fly. She looked me straight in the eye. "You should tell me when you cancel something so I can be sure they stop charging you".
Oh, OK. Caught dead to rights. I 'fessed up, and got the Pitiful Look reserved for idiot men. Then, tail between my legs, I called AOL. The answering bot wanted to know my screen name. Screen name? How the heck would I know? That was years ago. I muttered something, which the bot claimed not to understand. "Ayyy Beee Seee", I tried. The bot put me through to a live human. A very live human named Horace. Very enthusiastic. No problem whatsoever, he explained, all I need is the credit card number we are billing and you are all set. Well, that bothers me a bit, but what choice did I have? I have no idea what my screen name might have been, so I reluctantly coughed up the Master Card number. A moment later, he had my account on his screen. My screen name? "anthonyplawrence". Duh.
OK, so now I want it canceled. But Horace wants to know why. "Because I never use it". I should have added "anymore", because the lack of that one word gave Horace his edge.
"If you never use it, how do you know it's not valuable to you?". Ahh, well. Maybe because I'm clairvoyant? Maybe because it never was valuable and I know darn well it isn't now?
But no, Horace wouldn't give up. He pitched AOL top to bottom. "You like sports?", he asked. That didn't work because no, I really don't like sports. And I have no hobbies. Trust me Horace, I'm as boring as it is possible to be while still breathing. Nope, my wife is boring too. We're both just incredible boring stiffs. We have no life, no interests, we don't travel, we don't have any friends, we are just really uninterested in the wonderful world of AOL. Really. No, I don't need virus control. I run my own mail server, I don't go through anyone. No, Horace, really, I don't need it.
Horace must get paid extra to keep folks from canceling. "Tell you what I'll do", he said. "I'm going to make AOL absolutely free for you this next month. You say you've never really used it, so try it for a month on us".
Note to AOL folks who want a free month. Call 'em up. Tell 'em you want to cancel. I bet you can get away with it at least a few times.
Well, I realize now that Horace must be paid on commission. And he really has done a good job selling it. "OK," I agree. "Reset my password and I'll give it an honest try". Sure, I will. Horace can't see my fingers crossed behind my back. But, hey, he gets his little bonus or brownie points and he deserves them.
We hung up. I downloaded AOL and signed into my account. Went to the billing section, found the fax number I'd need to cancel, logged out, prepared a fax telling them everything they'd need to know, signed it, and faxed it to them.
Goodbye, AOL, and thanks for the memories.
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