AOL: Once You Join, You Can't Leave!

Dennis Faas's picture has posted what appears to be an AOL customer service manual that details how company representatives are expected to handle users who wish to cancel their service.

AOL phone reps are allegedly required to wear customers down into keeping their accounts by employing various questionable tactics -- including assaulting the user with a barrage of annoying sales pitches and asking invasive personal questions to get more information on file.

One of the instructions listed in the AOL employee document: "KEEP DIGGING!!"

AOL has declined to verify the legitimacy of the manual posted online or provide any comments at all. (Source:

Either way, AOL's customer service shenanigans have been well documented.

In June, AOL user Vincent Ferrari called the company to cancel his account. What resulted was a shocking mix of consumer disregard and "keep them at all costs" tactics that could've just as easily come out of the playbook of the Mafia, a gang, or a cult.

Here's a partial transcript of the hell Ferrari went through to sever ties with AOL:

AOL: Hi, this is John at AOL. How may I help you today?

Ferrari: I want to cancel my account.

AOL: OK. I mean, is there a problem with the software itself?

Ferrari: No. I don't use it. I don't need it. I don't want it.

AOL: Last year, last month it was 545 hours of usage.

Ferrari: I don't know how to make it any clearer. So I'm just gonna say it one last time. Cancel the account.

AOL: Well, explain to me what is wrong.

Ferrari: I'm not explaining anything to you. Cancel the account.

5 minutes later...

Ferrari: Cancel my account. Cancel the account. Cancel the account. (Source:

AOL wouldn't relent. But the highlight, according to Ferrari, came near the end of the call, when the company's customer service representative (CSR) asked if his father was home. The question was wholly inappropriate, because -- in Ferrari's words -- "the account is mine, the name on the account is mine, and the card paying the bill is in my name." (Source:

AOL later informed CNBC that the CSR involved in Ferrari's call, John, was no longer with the company. "We're going to learn from this. We can do better, and will," AOL claimed in the statement.

CNBC reporter Matt Lefkowitz called AOL's customer service line to test the veracity of the company's promise.

As soon as Lefkowitz mentioned that he wanted to cancel AOL, he was disconnected.

The CNBC reporter called back, and AOL did eventually let him terminate his account ... but only after 45 minutes on the phone. (Source:

Not exactly the "better" customer service AOL promised to deliver. ;-)

The apparent AOL customer service manual can be found here as a PDF (Adobe Acrobat) file. An audio recording of Vincent Ferrari's phone call to AOL can be found on his blog.

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