18 Aug

How to Cancel AOL

A couple of days ago, I was at my mom’s house, helping her set up her new computer, a mac mini. In the process, we switched her from AOL to Earthlink. I don’t know much about Earthlink, but it was the quickest way to get her off AOL since it comes with new macs, ready to activate. And the switch away from AOL has been long overdue. Since it sucks, that is.

Unfortunately, if you want to cancel AOL, it’s a little difficult. On AOL’s website, there is no link to account information or to help. We googled “aol cancel account” and came up with a list in 0.11 seconds. The first page listed was an ad for a different ISP. The second site listed was AOL’s help page, which hadn’t been accessible to us from AOL’s page. We clicked on the help page link, but we got this message: “There was an error processing your request. Please return to AOL Help and try again.” Ironically, if you go back to “AOL help,” you end up at the same page telling you about the error. If you keep clicking it 666 times, a portal to hell opens up in your browser.

We didn’t do that.

Instead, we went back to the google page and clicked on the third link, which was a page from a website named “lifehacker” with an entry titled, “How to cancel your AOL account” and included this introductory sentence: “An AOL dialup account has always been notoriously easy to sign up for and hard to cancel.” Perfect.

The post gave us step-by-step instructions on how to call AOL, say “cancellation,” and then talk to a live person. I followed the instructions to a tee — up until step three, which warned, “Just repeat: I didn�t like it. I didn�t like it. Don�t be any more specific, or they�ll go off into a tree.” Boy were they right.

AOL Dude: Can you tell me why you didn’t like it?
Me: I just didn’t like it.
AOL Dude: Was there something specific?
Me: Um, ease of use. (< ------note mistake)
AOL Dude: Yous of use?
Me: Ease of use.
AOL Dude: Use of use?
Me: It was diff-i-cult to use!
AOL Dude: Oh, ok. And do you have another service provider in mind?
Me: Yes.
AOL Dude: Who would that be?
Me: Earthlink.
AOL Dude: Ok. And have you tried other service providers before?
Me: Yes.
AOL Dude: Which ones?
Me: Charter, SBC, Earthlink (here, I proceeded to name every service provider I’ve ever even considered using to scare him off. He switched tactics.)
AOL Dude: What version of AOL did you have?
Me: I don’t know.
AOL Dude: Well, how long have you had it?
Me: I don’t know.
AOL Dude: Ok, can you hold on for a second?
Me: Look, I. . . (he put me on hold, no doubt to look up our account history, which he had to retrieve from hell).
AOL Dude: Looks like you’ve been with us for a long time. Why haven’t you cancelled before?
Me: My mom uses the computer here and she’s not that into computers, so she didn’t really have the know-how. Plus, as we’re finding out now, it’s very difficult to cancel.
AOL Dude: It’s not difficult to cancel. I’ll do it for you. But I’m curious why you had the account for so long if it’s difficult to use.
Me: It’s all my mom knew. And as I told you, she’s not very computer saavy.
AOL Dude: Well, I just don’t understand. You seem to be saying two different things.
Me: And what would that be?
AOL Dude: You’re saying she was used to it, but it’s difficult to use.
Me: I didn’t say she was used to it. I said it was all she knew.
AOL Dude: Ok, well, that just doesn’t make much sense to me.
Me: God. Look. I just want to cancel the account. We don’t like AOL.
AOL Dude: Ok. That’s an easy thing to do.
Me: No, it’s not.
AOL Dude: I’m doing for you right now. What’s not easy about it?
Me: You’ve just spent the last two minutes scolding me for wanting to cancel.
AOL Dude: Scolding?
Me: Yes.

There was actually a little more to the conversation than the above, if you can believe it. AOL Dude eventually did cancel the account, but only after putting his high school forensics club experience to work in a nice, hearty debate about whether or not we had a good reason to cancel. For anyone out there who tries the same, follow this script:

AOL Dude: Was there something specific you didn’t like?
You: I didn’t like it.
AOL Dude: But what exactly didn’t you like?
You: I didn’t like it.
AOL Dude: Look, help me out here. I have to write in a specific answer on this form.
You: I didn’t like it.
AOL Dude: Ok, fine. Can you at least tell me how long you had the service?
You: I didn’t like it.
AOL Dude: What version of AOL do you have?
You: I didn’t like it.

Get the idea? Say nothing more than “I didn’t like it.” The only other thing you’re permitted to say is “In the name of Jesus, get behind me Satan!” Keep a bible near you.

Good luck.