Mega-ISP America Online reported that it lost 170,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2002, after of years of steady growth. Still, more people access the internet through AOL than any other source, but several factors have made AOL less relevant and more susceptible to competition in the past few years.First and foremost, AOL is traditionally a dial-up service, catering to casual home users. As broadband becomes more prevalent worldwide, AOL dial-up customers are moving to high speed services like DSL and Cable, which give a distinct advantage to entrenched cable and phone companies. AOL’s exclusive services saved it when it faced its first onslaught from the Internet and dial-up ISPs offering unlimited access.
While AOL was primarily a closed community with a gateway to the Internet and per-hour access fees, the internet was a vast and uncontrolled source of virtually everything AOL had to offer and more. The internet’s vastness was one thing in AOL’s favor, as it was intimidating to new users. AOL switched to unlimited service, and to virtually everyone’s surprise, thrived.
But now, casual home users are now not as common, as most internet users are becoming quite savvy and are no longer as interested in “wading in the kiddie pool.” They want speed, and AOL’s controlled environment increasingly means being bombarded with solicitations.
AOL Time Warner hopes that its exclusive content will keep people on board this time around too. They have announced plans to try offering news and entertainment from its CNN, Time, and Warner Brothers divisions, among others, on AOL exclusively.
How this works out for AOL will depend on how modern internet users think about their internet service providers. Are the interchangeable providers of bandwidth, or are they are community and portal to news and entertainment?
One of AOL’s biggest threats right now is Microsoft, which is seemingly willing to throw money at its MSN service until it attains critical mass. MSN is trying to out-AOL AOL, with its own email service, IM, content, and other services. MSN’s services, though, for the most part are available to non-MSN bandwidth consumers too, which is an interesting difference. MSN also has made a big push to partner with high-speed bandwidth providers, like Qwest, with aggressive promotions.
Will AOL surprise everyone again and triumph, or become a belated dot.bomb?
…but I say “It’s about time!!!”
Ever since I went with braodband I will NEVER go back to dial-up.
Furthermore, even if AOL offered broadband in my area I wouldn’t even think about giving them a try.
They treated me awful when I was a customer and I have been seriously jaded ever since.
if AOL does not develop a more effective broadband strategy and offer lower pricing then its days will be numbered. Control of the local loop that is the military high ground of the telcom/internet community. AOL actually was one of the funders behind skypilot (skypilot.net), an enterprise, to use mesh networking via fixed wireless to offer broadband. I’ve heard nothing of those guys lately though.
It won’t be long now before the cable monopolies and telcos are our leading ISPs here in the us. Sadly the monopoly net is growing.
If you ever use it you quickly change never to return in your lifetime… well, the technically inclide don’t anyway.
AOL sucks and it’s good.
Their internet service is not bad at all, we used it for 6 months before we got DSL here, and it was always working with no problems (unlike some other dial up ISPs).
BUT, I can’t unsubscribe from them now! I told them that for a whole year we haven’t used their service and they always keep asking me for more stuff to prove that I am who I am, and everytime we fall short of a telephone number or a fax thingie, or they tell us that their system is down for today and we should call back, or… So, after one year, we still pay that $20 per month, and we don’t even use AOL anymore. We are just not able to unsusbscribe from them. >:(
Oh, or they keep asking me for a special number that the AOL application is giving you when you login, and I don’t have that anymore, because simply I have uninstall that AOL crap application. I don’t need it anymore.
It is just a freakign pain to unsubscribe from them. I am really unhappy about this.
I assume they’re billing your credit card. Just call your credit card company, and tell them about it, how you’ve told AOL multiple times to cancel the service, and that further payments to them are not authorized by you.
Same thing with MSN. They too have a drop in subscriber base. They too make it very difficult to unsubscribe, asking for a special password you have never seen.
Unfortunately, it is a debit card they bill, not a credit card.
<<Unfortunately, it is a debit card they bill, not a credit card. >>
Close the account, open a new one.
I used my credit card to sign up a friend once, and she dropped service and they continued to try to charge for another year. I finally closed the card out and they went after my friend!
What a bunch of thieves! AOL will soon learn they can’t abuse the customers when people are dropping out left and right.
just tell your bank you want to be issued a new debit card. If they complain, call them back later and tell them you lost your old one, and they will issue a new card to you with new numbers. AOL can’t charge an unused debit card –
I just called them again. *This time*, after I provided them with all the other stuff they wanted the last times, they asked the 4 last digits of the debit card, and I don’t have it here, as my husband is at work. >:(
Such a pain in the @$$, no wonder it’s number one!
Sorry, you have to keep your customers happy. People that get runaround will tell their friends, and they will lose customers before ever having them.
Competition works both ways.
I went through the same problems with Cell One when I tried to cancel my cell phone. They had my social security number wrong in their system (by one digit!) and they refused to shut off my phone. I finally went bezerk and told them to either a) admit it’s my phone and let me shut it off or b) decide it’s not my phone and quit sending me the bill. After going back and fourth for a while about it they finally decided to go with the former.
The company I work for uses AOL because when travelling they can always get a local AOL phone number. But I can’t stand the crappy AOL user-interface that is crammed with junk. Perhaps it can be “fixed,” but I’m careful not to mess with company computers too much – I never know who “wanted it like that.”
AOL doesn’t offer anything of that much value that you can’t already do on the web anyway….usually for cheaper and more reliably..from a systems standpoint anyway. A few years back when I first tried it, AOL’s install buggered up my network settings so badly, that when I tried to uninstall it I basically had to reinstall windows to fix it. Also, from what I found out, most of their “tweaks” were totally unnecesary anyway.
Now, back to my point….AOL used to be a good tool to get newbies on the web. The web has spread now so much that most people have access to it, and with the information and tools available now, AOL doesn’t provide any more guidance or significant tools than anyone can get already…
It’s only natural that as more people learn about the net, they become les reliant on their “training wheels”.
… just call the bank and ask them to issue you a new debit card with a different account number, expiration date, etc… Or just say you “lost it” and they will cancel your current one and send you out a new one. I had the same issue with a different service provider. Just make sure no other service is using that debit card and that you never give out your debit card number again :-). That is what credit cards are for. I learned that lesson the hard way just like you are…
Eugenia, talk to your bank, NOT to AOL. IF you have already stated to
them that you no longer require or use their service, then the only
way they can keep charging you is by means of a contract that you may
have agreed to when you subscribed.
To make it simple, i’ll tell you how i stopped them from robbing me.
(though it was not AOL who did this to me, but the case is essencially the same)
I was subscribed with a dialup service. When i went for an ADSL upgrade,
my dialup provider reminded me that, when i subscried to them, i agreed
to a contract in which was written that i would have to pay the monthly bill
for three more months after discontinuing my use of the service.
Fair enough, i let them charge me three more times, and immediately after
that, i close all debits from them.
A year after that, there were still some printed bills being mailed to me
stating that no debit from the company was possible, and that i had
this growing debt i was going to have to pay. They even phoned me telling me
i was in debt with them. Looks like they “forget” you unsubscribed.
The funniest part was when they “demanded” me to provide some
kind of evidence that i did unsubscribe. Since i did it over the phone,
i had none to give and they knew it.
But if you deny all debits from them, then at least they can’t keep
robbing you. (hmmm recording the phone call next time you try to
cancel with AOL might be a good idea, huh? ;oP )
Eugenia: it doesn’t matter if it’s a debit card, as they still go through visa or whatever. Just like a credit card you can still dispute any charges. Least that’s how I understood it when I talked to my bank about it.
I left AOL in the summer of 2000. I know when I lived up in the Bay Area where Eugenia dwells, the service itself was not bad. Not so the case when I moved back to Southern California. Unacceptable speeds (even for dial-up) and, worst of all, a grossly oversubscribed user base. I literally was losing a connection every ten minutes, and it could take a half-hour to negotiate one.
I had enough of this after several months, got on board with a new service, and then made the call to AOL.
Fortunately, I’ve spent my whole life working with musicians, who are frequently stupid, obstinate, and egotistical. This turned out to be valuable life experience, for I ended up spending TWO FUCKING HOURS on the phone with these guys. Had to deal with the flunky, then the flunky’s supervisor, and finally the supervisor’s boss. Passwords, special numbers, all that. I’m pretty reasonable and patient, but finally ended up losing my temper and threatening to file a lawsuit. At that point they figured out how to cancel my service.
Some valuable tips that helped in this process:
1. Get the FULL name of everyone you speak to during the process. You will need that information later along the way.
2. Write everything down that they tell you. Read it back to them and ask for confirmation.
3. Insist on being faxed a written, SIGNED confirmation of your termination of service. I have heard that they will try to continue billing after cancellation sometimes.
4. Call late at night-I did mine at 10:00pm PST-the night crews seem to be more amenable to reason, as I suspect they are tired and/or stoned and seemed to not want a lot of hassle.
And good luck. Eugenia, I know you can be pretty forceful, so let them have it.
“Now is not the time for human decency”
AOL does this to lots of people – their cancel reps get bonuses for the number of people they talk out of cancelling. So, of course, a lot of them just decide to just tell customers “sure, your account is cancelled”, then not cancel it and rake in the bonus. And since this usually means more $$ for AOL, they don’t really do much to discourage it.
And while cancelling the credit card/account billed by AOL is often the most recommended course of action, I would be cautious – I recently read an account of someone going that route and having AOL screw up their credit.
The best method that I’ve heard of is to send AOL a registered letter (or better yet, have a lawyer do it) requesting that they cancel your account and refund you for the unused months you were billed. That way, you’re covered legally and have a clear record if they try to screw you around further.
I started with AOL when the www was almost empty, but switched to Earthlink when AOL seemed to be just so much lockin and spoon feeding. I didn’t have too much trouble dumping them off credit card.
I stayed with Earthlink for the longest time, but when I needed broadband, I had no choice but to take ATT or Verizon.
ATT sales guy offered me the equiv web exp for $25 when ELN was $22. I jumped at that. The sales guys lie and cheat and didn’t tell me the policies were about to change big time.
ATT originally said, if I bought my cable modem & took bundled digital phone, I would get 2 $10 savings hence the effective $25 a month. A month later, the $10 “own your own modem” discount is replaced by a one time $42 credit. The phone is almost $10 more than Verizon was in the 1st place, so net result is Broadband is still $50. I still keep it, but I detest the company, it customer service, even the TV Cable selection. ATT even locks out all those 1010 cheap long distance providers & they nickel & dime you to death.
AOL/TimeWarner recently lost $100B coz AOL was massively overvalued on the market. AOL has say $25M users, that makes each client worth $4000 in loss. They was originally worth I guess $6k or so. That is one hell of a fraud in any Case (hehe). None of the other ISPs could claim $4-6K per customer as company valuation.
The really funny thing is that over the last $10yrs, PCs have gotten cheaper & faster by say 100 fold. ISPs have gotten more expensive for minimal improvement in speed. I wish ill will on all these companies, but I guess we have to live with them.
Is the quality of editing here falling or does OSnews aspire to be another Slashdot? What on earth has AOL to do with Operating Systems?
And besides, AOL hardly concerns the rest of the world (For u blinkered Americans, the world doesnt mean the USA)