Forget Walled Gardens, AOL May Go Completely Free For Broadband Users

from the didn't-see-that-coming dept

AOL has certainly had a lot of trouble figuring out how it fits into this whole broadband world. As their subscriber numbers keep dropping, the company has tended to make exactly the wrong move at each and every turn. Remember, for example, their plan to build up a new walled garden just as the online advertising boom was returning? Or how about not having any clue how to offer broadband services, despite being a part of the same company that is one of the nation's largest cable broadband providers? And is it even worth mentioning that the company had what was really the world's first and largest "social network" with its AIM property... and only realized it years too late. Anyway, with all those missteps, could the company finally be getting a clue? Apparently, they're considering dropping the subscription wall for broadband subscribers, and letting anyone who wants to have their AOL account for free (dialup customers would still pay ridiculous fees, however). If they go through with it, it's a bold move -- and one that might actually make sense if they want to focus on future business models rather than clinging to an obsolete one from the company's past.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 2:36am

    Horray! Finally, no more troubleshooting Mom's dial-up connection!!!

     

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  2.  
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    Rick, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 2:39am

    AOL has been free for RoadRunner users (TimeWarner/AOL is an owner) for about a year now. You just had to ask for it.

     

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  3.  
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    Just Me, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 3:19am

    AOL is Rubbish

    I have been a customer to AOL. Their software is full of bugs and most often I couldn't even connect to the internet.

    Free or for a small fee, I will never go back to AOL...even if they pay me to use their service. I just wouldn't want to install their spying software on my computer.

    And let's not forget their customer service, I would say its -10 out of 10.

     

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  4.  
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    Drew, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 4:22am

    I HAVE NOT USED THEM AFTER 1999 AND THERE SOFTWARE

    There is not a person in the world I hate or a person/ thing that I can not find one thing about them that I like. I enjoy all people but AOL is on the only one thing list and that is only that i dont hate so i like them but would never use them I did back in 1999 I think when i lived so far out that the city had not even ran water pipes yet. (they do now 1/2 year before i moved) Its like most computers come with AOL software on them and it is total hell to get it all removed it is like you uninstall it and two more AOL folders pop up. Yes I also think it is full of bugs takes up too much space and I see notes all over the web for AOL users to do it this way and they cant get but 3/4's there email. But they are good at asking you to buy something everytime you want to get online(well they did back then.) About the FREE, Free is one on the best marketing tools, if you know how to use it.

    I HAVE NOT EVEN LOOKED AT AOL BUT TO REMOVE IT SO I COULD BE SPEAKING OF THE PAST ABOUT THE AOL BUY IT NOW ( WHATERER THEY CALL(ED) I.)

    NOTE: AS I WAS PERVIEWING THIS I HAVE TO SAY THERE IS ONE PERSON WHO I AM STRUGLING NOT TO HATE I KNOW THERE ARE 1,000,000,000 WHO SHARE THIS WITH ME. HE HAS NO MORALS, PEACE, LOVE, ONLY CARES FOR MONEY, WAR , AND THINKS HE IS ABOVE ALL HAS BROKE MANY LAWS AND TOLD US TO F OFF!
    SORRY I JUST COULD NOT CONTROLE MYSELF I HAD TO GET IT OUT IT YOU KNOW WHAT I AM SPEAKING OF AND THINK I DONT KNOW WHAT I A TALKING ABOUT THEN READ THIS:
    KNOWLEDGE IS A PROVEN FACT!!!!!
    GOD BLESS THE WHOLE WORLD AND HELP US TO SEE THAT THERE IS HEAVEN ON EARTH HOW COULD THERE NOT BE?
    i AM DOING THIS FASTER THAN I CAN TYPEW SO I AM SURE THERE ARE ERRORS BUT LOOK OVER THEM IF THEY BUG YOU SO BAD TO RESPOND ABOUT IT FIND A HOBBY

     

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  5.  
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    randolei4.2678, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 4:30am

    Do I know you?

     

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  6.  
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    Q, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 4:33am

    Drew, your post doesn't make much sense dude.

     

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  7.  
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    grammar whore, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 4:34am

    coheisve though process. you should check into it sometime.

     

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  8.  
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    randolei4.2678, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 4:37am

    "NOTE: AS I WAS PERVIEWING THIS I HAVE TO SAY THERE IS ONE PERSON WHO I AM STRUGLING NOT TO HATE I KNOW THERE ARE 1,000,000,000 WHO SHARE THIS WITH ME. HE HAS NO MORALS, PEACE, LOVE, ONLY CARES FOR MONEY, WAR , AND THINKS HE IS ABOVE ALL HAS BROKE MANY LAWS AND TOLD US TO F OFF! "

    I'm not sure if he's reffering to me but to defend myself, I can say much for the morals part but I have plenty of peace, I do in fact Love, and although I love money, I do not supportnor am I against war and I do not swear.

    And even more so I do not swear at my friends....

    actually I think the drew I know is quite a bit nicer than this guy... so It's probably nto him...

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 4:42am

    Could I kindly suggest you check out this link?

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/11/03

     

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  10.  
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    Pesti, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 5:17am

    AO'HELL is such a waste of time and energy that they can't even hold the attention of people who start out bitching
    about them, even the simple-minded are starting to wise up!!...Thank you god for finally hearing my almost daily wails and moans as I struggle time and again to remove their pernicious and intrusive software from customers machines,
    after they beg me to "Please save all my Stuff"!! All I really wanna do after an AOL "Invasion" is FORMAT, FORMAT,
    and FORMAT again!!

     

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  11.  
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    Adiemas, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 5:21am

    Incentive to be with AOL?

    I'm sorry, but I would never go back to them. It took me too long just to cancel the account. The bastard tech just kept trying to find out why I didn't want the account. After almost a full year of not having an account there, I received a brand new bill from them. Took me about two hours on the phone to get them to understand that I had canceled my account almost a full year prior of this billing period of their's.

    I wonder why I haven't been hearing that "So easy to use, no wonder it's number one" slogan lately..

     

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  12.  
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    mcmac1, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 5:22am

    Re:

    Grammer whore - spell-check/grammer-check, you should check into it sometime.

     

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  13.  
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    eastside, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 5:49am

    What is Drew, like 8 years old and in Somalia?

    But he did delete "there" software.... LOL!!!

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 5:49am

    Grammer? Though process? Yikes!

     

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  15.  
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    Topher3105, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 6:51am

    Should have become Google, period

    Honestly AOL had the numbers and potential to have become Google like 10 years ago. If they stopped their subscription service and ISP access, and instead became a free web portal offering things like content filtering for children, better search capabilities, and consolidated content, then I think AOL could have become Google before Google even knew what to do with itself.

    I think it is too late now, with Google dominating the web as it has. AOL couldn't develop their own AdSense, AOL won't be an effective search engine, AOL won't be able to compete with both Google and MSN for being a free online portal.

    This is AOL's writing on the wall, something that began over a decade ago when broadband started becoming in the dominant method to connect to the Internet.

    What AOL should do now is mail out billions of apology letters for inidating us with bad quality products and services for so long.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 6:54am

    AOL remains to this day the only outfit that ever did chatrooms that actually worked.
    Other than that they are pretty worthless.

     

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  17.  
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    mikhail, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:02am

    Re: criticizing language artz

    i ughree - i luv it wen peepull reeply to comment on udder peepulls airors, only too make there ohn...

    (So others won't freak out, as I have nearly pulled hair out after reading these - not only is it bashing AOL, and rightly so, it has quickly merged into making more people twitch at reading these replies...so, here it goes...

    I agree with Anonymous Coward #1.92342x10^17. I love it when people reply to comment on other people's errors, only to make their own...)

     

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  18.  
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    Howard, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:11am

    Cancelling AO'Hell

    There was a national TV news blurb about a guy that cancelled his AOL account and recorded the 20-minute phone transaction, which he subsequently posted to his blog. AOL was sufficiently embarrassed that they sent the guy a written apology, in which they claimed that they fired the phone support operator on the call.

    ...and they probably had to give him a pretty good severance package in order to keep him quiet.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:16am

    Even if it's free, no way I'm installing that Virus thing they call the AOL client.

    Ever try to remove that thing?
    Maybe it's better now, but I'm not gonna find out! I haven't had to nuke and re-format for 2 years, not gonna start now! lol

    But you're right - AOL had a *lot* of potential.

    But seriously - if they do give out from freebies, like content protection and such, I might check it out. After I set a system restore point and ghost my harddrive, just in case... lol

     

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  20.  
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    ChronoFish, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:17am

    AOL has the best opportunity

    Because AOL has been the entry point for so many people, it's surprising that AOL doesn't have a suite of AJAXed-Web Apps.

    It seems to me that AOL is one of the few companies that could charge a premium for productivity tools (MS-office type tools - Word, Excel, Powerpoint), while giving away email, IM, etc. keeping user in the AOL "environment" without restricting access (in or out) I would think would really increase their leverage.


    -CF

     

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  21.  
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    Jeremy, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:17am

    The thing about internet products

    is that Rep plays a huge factor in success. And AOL has such a huge debt of bad rep to pay off it's doubtful that they will ever be able dig themselves out of the red. I can find anyone anywhere I go who has an AOL horror story. Yes Rep's on the Net can change quickly but AOL would have to invest in a WHOLE LOT of serious good will before they could overcome theirs. You would have thought they wanted to be the most hated Net citizen on the planet.

     

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  22.  
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    ChicagoMark, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:20am

    AOL Email

    I was paying monthly fee, and while reading email, I had flash graphics hit my face. When you pay for email, you don't expect to be bombarded with ads.

    AOL email is clumsy, and full of crawling ads. Talk about being arrogant. These people turned from delivering user-friendly service to delivering quarterly financial results--and the customers are telling them what they think.

    When I tried to cancel AOL, they would try to sell me more--attempting to cancel AOL is a job for Alexander the Great. They still call me occasionally to re-enlist. NEVER NEVER NEVER.

    I have been on AOL from 1995 to 2005, so they figured that they can get me back.

    They wasted their best assets, lost the edge, and squeezed their customers.

     

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  23.  
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    Furf, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:30am

    cancelling aol

    When i tried to cancel my aola few years ago it took 45 minutes on the phone with tech to talk them into canceling account. I figured the best way was let them give me thier pitch .. then have them repeat it not once but twice. before they themselves were getting aggravated, and actually hung up on me after saying they would cancel the account. of corse i got bill again next month and called back and talked to supervisor who said they will reprimand tech and immediatly canceled my account. do i beleive they reprimaned tech .. hardly but did get them to cancel account. the best way ive found to handle hard sells like that is through repitition .. let them repeat themselves till they give up .. sit back, watch tv, work on computer with 1 ear on phone on low headsets help..

     

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  24.  
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    NGUVU, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:35am

    AOL =

    A-llowed O-bstruction L-ately?

     

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  25.  
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    Seven, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:47am

    AOL....

    I, llike many other people, figured out in the 1990's that AOL was fast becoming irrelevant. I used them in addition to my normal ISP simply becuase I travelled a lot and at the time, there were not many national ISPs that reliably had a local dial up number in the towns and cities I travelled to.

    AOL wan't exactly relevant then. With out a new business model, I really don't see thier relevancy now, much less three years from now. And let's face it; Three real world years is like seven business life spans in cyber time.

     

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  26.  
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    Mike Mixer, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 7:51am

    AOL

    I just got an Email from a friend who can't get his mom to believe that AOL isn't the only way to access
    the internet. She came to visit from arizona for the fourth and saw him doing some browsing through google. He said she threw a fit. She told him that she raised him better than to steal. I don't know what crap AOL feeds old people but her reaction doesn't sound promising.

     

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  27.  
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    Dont forget CompuServe, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 8:01am

    Re: Cancelling AO'Hell

    I recently canceled my CompuSuck subscrition, the retarted cousin to AOL. Its all the same thing as AOL, just a different name. It took me 10 mins talking to the person on the phone to cancel my subscrition, they kept on trying to get me to pay $5 a month to still be able to use the software. Yea, like I would want to do that. Anyway, the indian woman on the other line finally hung up after a screaming match, not even trying to do a tagline like my names Tammy and our phone number is THIS and have a nice day.

    I refreshed my browser that had compuserves online email and this message from AOL popped up saying that I could still keep the email address FOR FREE just by clicking OK.

    I forget my point, but there is my story

     

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  28.  
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    Ricky Adams, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 8:15am

    Q-Link/AOL

    Maybe AOL can try and revive it Commodore 64 user base. http://staff.jccc.net/lcline/q-link/qlink.htm

     

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  29.  
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    Kratos, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 8:28am

    Cancelling AOL, other war stories.

    I read this either on SlashDot or somewhere else, but I heard that AOL once offered a commision to their employees for every customer they "saved" from canceling their accounts. Many of these employees, in an effort to boost their pay, would simply ignore cancelation requests. This practice ended a while ago, now, but it does explain some of the grief some people have with canceling their AOL accounts.

    As for the comment on AOL doing chat rooms the right way... I refuse to reply to that.

     

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  30.  
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    Chris, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 8:50am

    I don't like it either...

    It really sounds like no one likes AOL. Isn't there anyone under, say, 60 that likes AOL? Anyone,...Anyone,...Bueller,...Bueller,...

     

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  31.  
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    Bringer of truth, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:02am

    Re: I HAVE NOT USED THEM AFTER 1999 AND THERE SOFT

    What the heck are you smoking? While I agree AOL sucks (I haven't used them since 1996) any moron with even your brain should know how to use the Add/Remove Programs section of Windows. I find it so funny when people blame the computer, software maker for their own incompetence. You should find a hobby as well, clearly whatever you're doing now isn't helping.

     

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  32.  
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    Have one, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:03am

    AOL does suck..nuff said there....

    I'm not sure what's worse...Drew's ramble that makes no sense or Randole's paranoia that it might be about him.

     

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  33.  
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    Jake, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:08am

    AOL had/has opportunity but blew it

    Hi,

    Just my 2 cents after having rescued several people from AOL. They still believe their press releases, a lot like the people who still don't believe the Titanic sunk.

    For starters, AOL takes over the OS, browser, and email reader of the client computer and it's almost impossible to get their stuff off. When I get a question involving AOL, I refer them to AOL tech support????. They put it there, let them fix it.

    They are notorious for arbitrarily downloading and installing software without asking for permission. That's the long wait you have when you shut down AOL.

    Their opportunity. They could become a simple ISP, a la this rumor that broadband users can use them for free. But there isn't much profit in free. They could offer wireless to areas that are held hostage by the old time independent phone companies; there were ~700 of them a few years ago where one couldn't use DSL like at&t/SBC/??

    But then, there are the hard core AOL users that learned with them and won't leave them no matter what.

     

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  34.  
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    Kris, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:20am

    AOL Free

    1.
    by Rick on Jul 6th, 2006 @ 2:39am

    AOL has been free for RoadRunner users (TimeWarner/AOL is an owner) for about a year now. You just had to ask for it.


    Not anymore according to TW Columbus.. I signed up for an AOL account and called to add it to my RR account for the free access and was told that that was an expired promotion.. So of course I had to go through cancellation Hell...

     

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  35.  
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    icepick314, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:26am

    AOL Mail

    Actually I'm using Outlook to access AOL mail like my Hotmail account...

    I'm not getting any spam in that account so I'm thinking of actually using that address for my regular emails and others for my spam trap...

     

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  36.  
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    Daniel, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:39am

    Cancelling AOL

    The best way to cancel AOL or any other service for that matter is just to tell them you are moving out of the country (someplace where AOL doesn't have an access number)

    AOL's service is irrevelant today because of local ISPs and broadband services. Their email service is almost as bad as Hotmail. Gmail and Fastmail are infinately better alternatives.

     

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  37.  
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    Daniel, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:39am

    Cancelling AOL

    The best way to cancel AOL or any other service for that matter is just to tell them you are moving out of the country (someplace where AOL doesn't have an access number)

    AOL's service is irrevelant today because of local ISPs and broadband services. Their email service is almost as bad as Hotmail. Gmail and Fastmail are infinately better alternatives.

     

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  38.  
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    ken, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:51am

    Re: I HAVE NOT USED THEM AFTER 1999 AND THERE SOFT

    Informed consumers know better than to use ANY AOL product. There are choices, and AOL now realizes the fact they are not the only isp (Dial-up or broadband) available!

     

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  39.  
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    The Ska Boss, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 10:01am

    AOL horror story

    I work at a tech bench for a store and i recently had a customer come in and tell me that she has just signed up for comcast cable internet. She was attempting to access the free mcaffee that comcast provides its customers. When she went to install it, it had a conflict with the aol virus garbage that they load on there. She called aol to cancel them, and she was told that if she canceled that she would most certaintly get a virus.

    WTF.

     

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  40.  
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    Bell, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 10:04am

    AOL article

     

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  41.  
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    Chris, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 10:19am

    Re: Compuserve??

    1. Compuserve is still around?!

    2. There are still people using it?!

    I thought it was bad that I was still using Yahoo dial up 5 years ago.

     

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  42.  
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    Edu, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    AOL free for rr users? Cool.
    Do you know of any other cable companies that allow the free aol high speed?
    Thanks

     

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  43.  
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    Zeroth404, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 10:38am

    Re:

    Your mom's getting ripped off and she doesn't even know it. hahaha

     

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  44.  
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    dan, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 10:55am

    Re: AOL is Rubbish

    interesting... this comment to one of Mike's earlier posts referenced in his current post:
    Re: Saw it coming by tjcali on Nov 25th, 2002 @ 10:47am It's true their publications are general interest but you have to remember that publications such as Time are highly respected globally and have considerable readership. Their brands are obviously world-class. When AOL/TW pulls off smooth integratation (not a question of if) with minimal internal conflicts, it will be a most powerful media and entertainment company the world has seen and the only company that can be a major thorn in Microsoft's global plans.
    i wonder if this guy also predicted the terrorist attack against Tower Records on 7/11 2001? While i make morbid humor, i also point out that clearly the merger between clueless AOL and even-more-clueless Time Warner has been an underwhelming failure. Underwheming, as in most people don't care about the relative success of these conglomerates, seperately or combined. i however, could not be happier. The sooner AOL goes down the toilet for good, the sooner their (few remaining) subscribers will have to go to an ISP with a community which demands a modicum of thought and a semblence of electronic competency. -- dan

     

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  45.  
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    swashbuckler53, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 11:09am

    Drew

    Get some sleep dude...4:22 hours..go back on the meds

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 11:18am

    WTF, Why is this even being discussed.

    If I met someone on the street that said they worked for AOL, I would kick them right in the face, and throw them in front of on-coming traffic, and then laugh at them... But Im not holding a grudge or anything :)

     

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  47.  
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    Adam, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 11:27am

    I love AOL

    Seriously. I haven't had to buy coasters for years.

     

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  48.  
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    Geoff, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 11:33am

    AOl sucks I wouldnt use it even if it was free. There are lots of posts.

     

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  49.  
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    I'm smarter than you, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 11:48am

    use add/remove? well...

    to the person who think aol packs up and goes away with add/remove programs, check your registry lately? browse your program files folder? glance at your running processes? i didn't think so.

     

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  50.  
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    Neal, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 11:55am

    Re: use add/remove? well...

    My sentiments exactly!

    #48 - There are also a lot of sentances, words, letters and puncuation.

     

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  51.  
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    Vic. T, Jul 14th, 2006 @ 9:06pm

    AOL Ghost Accounts

    AOL definatelty sucks..I cancelled in 2001 after 3 months of wrangling with them because: 1) They wouldnt cancel my account 2) They created a ghost account that I would get charged for that I DEFINATELY didnt ask for.

     

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  52.  
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    W Lyons, Jul 19th, 2006 @ 6:43pm

    AOL

    Bring it on!!!

     

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  53.  
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    W Lyons, Jul 19th, 2006 @ 6:45pm

    AOL

    Bring it on!!!

     

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  54.  
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    qelmu@mail.com, Jul 23rd, 2006 @ 9:53am

    lcopa suot

    lutcyq cradn wqngfhdov vwgbmozal xmphtcb rbmkeufsj meotxp

     

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  55.  
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    Bob, Jul 28th, 2006 @ 7:40am

    Worked like a champ. Thanks

    Called billing. Got the Free Broadband plan. Customer support didn't know about it. Gave them this site and they confirmed.

    Thanks.

     

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  56.  
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    cheryl lynn tigner, Jul 28th, 2006 @ 11:02pm

    Re: AOL Free

    my aol is the best trustworthy internet provider in existance. There has been a lot of trouble with me and this computer. Having to figure out who is or you and who isn't. There is no doubt it is so rereshing.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    mike, Sep 7th, 2006 @ 3:57am

    Re: I HAVE NOT USED THEM AFTER 1999 AND THERE SOFT

    sorry to tell you , but i think some one needs to. you will most likely take offense, but i did not write this in a malicious spirit. Just one where I could inform you of my opinion , take it or leave it. If you read your postings carefully , you will find thenm disjointed , rambling, and not very rational. I don't know you and perhaps there aresome issues that you must deal with that make things difficult, however, I rarely write on the net and needed to say : "hold on bro, you need to take a look at yourself. Take care, no hard feelings I hope, Truly trying to be informative. Mike

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    Dan, Sep 10th, 2006 @ 9:37pm

    Re: I HAVE NOT USED THEM AFTER 1999 AND THERE SOFT

    God bless Bush. Drew, take your own advice. You need a hobby and stay out of politics because your ignorant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Gentleman, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 1:57am

    AOL is rubbish. Their customer service is very poor especially the technical team who have no experience whatsoever. Was calling them for over 1hour on the queue and eventually got told to read my users manual. If you call the new connections line, they pick up in less than 10 seconds.

    It seems they are only interested in getting new customers to join and can't be bothered about them once they signed up.

    In summary,try another provider before you get stuck with them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    blacknigger, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:37pm

    yo mother fuckers i aint bouts to be swingin on niggas n shit on here. But imma beast up in this piece nada mean. FREE AOL? yo yo man dont trip me out nigga i will definitely swing on a nigga round here talkin shit yall dont know me, yall dont know ME...... Yall DONT KNOW ME.

    thank you,
    blacknigger

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2007 @ 9:27am

    I am about to cancel my Sub to AOL -- KRAPP

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Igotaway, Dec 19th, 2008 @ 11:23am

    Got ATT broadband. Can't connect because AOL has eaten my computer. Going to try to desprender sus garras tonight. Wish me luck...I'm going in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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