A tale from 2014. Back then, as today AOL still exists and collects fees for dial-in access. They offer their email for free, but will let you pay for it as well. It takes financial persistence to rid yourself of these forgotten services. You may not even know you are paying for it.
Yesterday I was relentless in reaching my goal of erasing from my monthly bills. One of the most embarrassing charges, as a High Tech Financial Blogger, is paying for America On Line services.
It all started in 1993 when I first joined AOL, and I got e-mail address awhit34109 AT aol.com . Back then we needed dial-up access to get to the Internet. Back then, it really wasn’t the Internet, it was just a bunch of Newsgroups and Forums all complaining about things (so not much has changed really). Then AOL used to send you a CD often, in the mail so that you would sign up with their ISP software. It was a magical time, and I have used the e-mail accounts from there for a very long time.
Time passed, and the Internet changed. Suddenly I had Internet access that didn’t rely on a phone line and a modem to get connected? What? How is that possible? I was part of the initial trials of the Nortel 1 Meg Modem, which was in ill-fated product that got bulldozed by the Tech Standard DSL. Nortel missed out big time on that, but I had unlimited, always up Internet access.
AOL saw this change and they introduced a “bring your own access” solution. It was much cheaper, so I chose to stay with them, paying about $8 a month. I also got some emergency dial-up access if I needed it, and some other free stuff, and the AOL interface too.
Time continued to pass, many different e-mail providers appeared, and when Google introduced Gmail. AOL had already started to die (remember AOL/Time/Warner?) but I kept paying AOL, mostly because I was lazy and just never got around to it.
Finally yesterday, I called 1-800-AOL-HELP to cancel my fees based AOL, but evidently I can keep my AOL E-mail accounts too. After 140 minutes on hold (I kept track of it, on my phone, I had to wait that long to get through on the “I want to cancel my AOL” hot line), a nice young man tried to cajole me into paying $3.95 for some other odd service (basically for a version of McAfee that AOL would supply), but I stuck to my guns and said, “No, I want to cancel my AOL, but keep my e-mail addresses“. Evidently I succeeded, but I will see if they continue to keep charging me for this.
Why is AOL Still Here?
This AOL service is evidently what is keeping AOL afloat, as there are countless
lazy uninformed stupid folks like me that have just never cancelled their AOL and continue to pay $11 a month for a service they don’t need to pay for? Many folks think they are paying for their mail services with this, but no, you can keep your e-mail for free (it has been that way for a long time), you are actually paying for Dial-up access, McAfee software, and AOL service line, none of which I have used in years (yes, I should be derided and ridiculed for this).
Hopefully, I think after a lot of persistence (and a lot of Muzak on hold), I may have succeeded.
Congrats on finally ditching a useless monthly charge. I believe most monthly charges are the equivalent of ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ I’ll join Netflix, just $8 a month, dollar shave club, tampon if the month, sure I can spare it, coffee of the month, etc. etc. $5 here, $3 there, $7 there, etc. all these small monthly charges that we don;t think of or feel but continually drain our accounts. Here’s to saving about $100 a year going forward. Every December 31 you should have a nice dinner with your significant other “on AOL.”
I think a more common example is paying to rent a hi speed modem or router for 5 years or more. I called my Voip provider and bitched about paying $4 a month for 6 years for a $100 modem and they at least stopped charging me for it.
And that is a good thing I was embarrassed, but at least now I am embarrassed with $12 more in my pocket a month!
I think I remember those CDs? 🙂
Muzak does help kill time, always some great 80s tunes on those playlists.
This was classical Muzak so not as good as you’d hope, but luckily it was on a speaker phone.
I remember those AOL disks! I wonder just how many $$$ they spent sending dozens to every person in the country? I know a lot of them were used to make crafts especially tree ornaments with two glued face to face.
And congratulations on facing one of those long-put-off financial nuisances. 140 minutes is a LOT of time to spend on getting it sorted but hopefully it feels good to know it’s done.
When I don’t see the charge on my credit card, I will then know I have succeeded. I wonder if there is some pop art sculptures made out of the AOL cds ?