The AOL Hate Bandwagon

In 2003, I made the fatal mistake of joining AOL. I didn’t realize how grave this mistake was until over a year later. I recently parted ways with this company, and I wish I would have done it much earlier. There are many reasons to hate AOL. The company claims to care about its “members,” but I am pretty convinced they only care about the revenue.

My parents were kind enough to give me their old computer. I was just starting out on my own, and I couldn’t afford to buy my own. It was their 1996 Gateway. It was slow and very outdated, but it was better than nothing. I needed an ISP. I looked around the house and found a lone AOL disk. I installed the software, and I went on my way.

I only had thirty days of free service. I had every intention of finding a cheaper ISP and switching before my trial was over. Then life happened, and my trial period was over and I still did not have another provider. Pretty soon I am used to the direct debit payment, and I have no real motivation to take the effort to look for a new ISP.

At first I was okay with the service. I had some problems with connectivity, lagging and having my computer lock up. I just assumed it was because my computer was old. Even when I wasn’t online, programs would take ages to load up. I didn’t know any better, so I just dealt with it.

All if that changed in late December. I finally saved enough money, and I bought a new computer. New AOL software came standard on the computer, so I set up my account through that. Then my problems began to surface.

First, my software kept crashing. I would get these error messages saying it had encountered some problem. They would suggest I run auto fix. I would run it, and it wouldn’t fix the problem. I tried trouble shooting myself, and I never saw a change. Then I would finally break down and contact customer service. I would contact them by e-mail with my questions. I would wait for days, and then they would finally reply. Instead of helping me, they would send me some scripted e-mail they had obviously cut and paste. In the e-mail they told me to call a 1-800 number.

I would call the number. After waiting on hold for a good thirty minutes, I was finally connected to a representative. Oh, wait, the rep is really in India, and he speaks broken English at best. He is rude and barely intelligible. After trying to work with him, I give up. I hang up and try again. This time I get another guy. He is also in India. His English is a little better, but not much. I understand outsourcing helps with the bottom line, but would it kill them to hire people who can at least somewhat speak the language? He tried to help me, but I could hardly understand him. I kept asking him to repeat himself. This only made him more angry. Eventually I went through the whole process with him. I rebooted my computer, I logged onto the internet, and things were good for a few days. Then without notice, the software failed again.

If that wasn’t enough, I also had to deal with AIM. I had put in my settings that I did not want my info to be searchable. Still random people found me. Even more annoying than the high schoolers who wanted to be my friend, were the sex ads. Yes, every once in a while you would get SPAM IM’s. SPAM e-mail is bad enough, this was too much.

Speaking of SPAM, AOL gave you a fair share of that. Most of them were from AOL. If that wasn’t enough, they would bombard you with these pop ups advertising AOL services. Like that would make me want to buy more services. If anything it made me less likely.

Have you ever noticed how many processes the AOL software runs on your computer? When I would boot up, I would already have forty-three processes going. That was before I opened the software to connect with the internet. With Earthlink, I do not have this problem. I can be online, have my outlook express open and Mircosoft word going, and I will only be at thirty. I would have so many AOL processes running, other programs began to lag. The lagging was annoying, but the locking up was a nightmare.
Programs would start to load and then die. Webpages would do the same. If I tried to multitask I was running the risk of the whole computer having issues.

As if they don’t already have enough things going on with your computer, thy feel the need to make a back door to your computer. Pretty soon, you will find your computer accepting downloads with out your consent. That is unacceptable. Maybe I don’t want the computer receive things I do not approve.

The program itself is a mess. Trying to change settings was a nightmare. I spent over an hour trying to figure out how to clear my cache and delete cookies. I searched help topics. I used keywords. Still, I found nothing. I am not computer illerate. Give me any other browser and I’m just fine. Making those simple changes should not have been such an undertaking.

Finally I gave up. I was sick of the headaches. I just wanted good and reliable service. I took up an offer from a friend, and I cancelled my account. I called in, wrote down the confirmation number and thought I was home free. I was wrong. Apparently there have been quite a few people ripped off. They would cancel the account, but they would conviently “forget” to stop charging you. Then when you called to complain, they would refuse to refund you unless you could provide a conformation number. Now I have to watch my account like a hawk, or go through the trouble of contacting my bank and blocking payment to the AOL account. Some banks charge for this!

AOL is pure evil. I had to deal with all of this, plus additional risks. AOL is targeted for lots of viruses and Trojan files. The list could go on and on. Before you choose an ISP, do your homework. AOL Charges nearly thirty dollars a month for their services. NetZero may sound safer with their low montly cost, but the fail to mention one thing: It is owned by AOL. It may be cheaper, but it comes with all the same problems.The software has problems. The settings are nearly impossible to change. When you need help, they ignore you. If you call in, the people on the other end are many times rude. Most times they do not speak English. If you don’t have a problem with any of that. AOL is still for you. For the rest of us, try and find another ISP. My new ISP (Earthlink) is helpful. They may outsource their customer service, but you can at least understand them. Plus, they call you back to make sure what ever they helped you with is still working. There are other options out there. In the end it is up to you.

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