View Full Version : Why all the AOL animosity?

Darth Cruel
10-29-2002, 07:00 PM
I am curious as to why there is so much animosity toward AOL. What is it about the service that makes people hate it so much. I have been an AOL user for...welll... a heck of a long time (7 or 8 years). And other than the problems with signing on five years ago, I have had no problems with the service.

I realize that other services are cheaper. But when I watch their commercials, I don't see them bragging up any services that are better than AOL. They all just brag about lower prices.

Can somebody fill me in on what the other ISPs offer that is so much better than AOL? If there are better ones...I will be happy to change. In fact the only reason I keep AOL over cheaper services is that I simply like the interface better. I don't really see any difference other than that.

I am curious, though, that if there are other ISPs that are so much better, why are there still so many people using AOL?

Boba Rhett
10-29-2002, 07:18 PM
Because AOL is extremely, well... idiot "friendly" and advertises like crazy.

There have been many known problems with the internet and its servers, though by far AOL has been the worst. Not only are there problems with the service, software, and rules, but there are many legal issues which they have been facing, that they have not done anything about. AOL's sign-up kit claims that they are the fastest, easiest, most reliable Internet service out there, but as most of AOL's members have noticed, not much of this is true.

Though AOL may be the top selling, and most used internet server, it has the poorest service. The first major problem with America Online, is connecting to the service. Last fall, AOL came out with an unlimited usage pricing plan. In most cases, this would be a good thing for the users and the internet server, but AOL was unprepared for the masses of people which were expected, and could not supply enough modems. This problem causes paying customers to call AOL multiple times, and repeatedly receive a busy signal. Even if these users are able to "log-on" to America Online, the service is slow and often fails to respond due to the mass amounts of people that are using the service.

Sometimes, if the user is lucky they will not be disconnected, but they will still have to put up with slow service, and a web browser that rarely works. These problems cause even more due to the fact that it takes so long to connect to the service. After a user spends an hour trying to get onto the service, once they are connected, they are afraid to disconnect from the server, and this creates busy signals for even more customers. Basically, America Online has created problems that they cannot handle, and are paying for it.

And the software, oh gah... it's.... it's horrible. Absolutely horrible. :cry:

Darth Cruel
10-29-2002, 07:30 PM
I'm still at a loss. Most of the things you mentioned are generalities. What problems with the software? Service? Rules? Legal issues that they are not addressing?

EVERYBODY claims to have the fastest, easiest, most reliable service. That's what advertising is all about. And I have been on the unlimited use pricing plan for...like three years...and I have had no problems with it.

This is the reason I have not switched. Everyone complains, but nobody complains about an addressable problem.

This reminds me of the animosity toward Packard-Bell computers. Everyone complained about the components being integrated onto the motherboard claiming it made upgrading harder when, in fact, it was easier because instead of having to remove a component and install the new one to upgrade it, all you had to do was install the new one and switch a jumper. Now MOST of the big name computers integrate components and nobody notices.

And what is wrong with being "idiot friendly" I thought that ease of use was the goal. Seems to me, that would be the strongest selling point. The most intelligent people in the world understand the importance of simplicity (if that is what you mean).

The one thing you touched on in detail...the log-on problem...was solved 5 years ago. At least, I have not had or heard of problems with it since then.

Mr. JabbaJohnL
10-29-2002, 07:34 PM
AOL is allright. I have it myself, and it has some cool features (like free websites, multiple screennames etc.). I can't stand the fact that new versions come out almost twice a year, and there was no difference between 6.0 and 7.0, except for the radio which I never use. I have yet to get 8.0, but will soon just to be up-to-date.
The commercials are hilarious, while it's not intended. Everyone is a zombie when they talk about AOL, and they hardly ever list the benefits of it over other ISPs. I also get a kick out of when they say, "There's never been a better time to join," which they've been saying forever, and how MSN says "There's never been a better time to switch from AOL." Ha!

Jedi Master Silas
10-29-2002, 07:43 PM
AOL is very user friendly but in my area when I had it I got booted right and left and it was so freaking hard to connect that you could hit the connect button go take a shower, clean your house run to the store and still not be connected. Most folks here had that problem. I like windows better personally...and I like my cable modem. Looking back AOL seems like it was made for first time PC users or kids...thats merely my opinion. I do like the IM but you can have that w/o being an AOL user. BUT! Everyone has an opinion on everything..if you like it stay with it..dont fix whats not broken :)

10-29-2002, 07:44 PM
I used to have AOL, but two simple words caused me to get rid of it- HIDDEN CHARGES!

Darth Cruel
10-29-2002, 07:55 PM
HBH - What hidden charges are they nailing you with? I pay a flat rate of 21.95 a month plus 30.00 for DSL. I don't find any other charges ever.

10-29-2002, 08:08 PM
Why on earth do you pay for AOL if you have DSL??????

I quit using AOL when they double charged me for a month, and wouldn't refund the difference.

Also, Their connection rates are very slow.

AOL is fine if you like the chatroom, etc.....but if you don't use those, AOL is pointless.

10-29-2002, 08:36 PM
Originally posted by Darth Cruel
HBH - What hidden charges are they nailing you with? I pay a flat rate of 21.95 a month plus 30.00 for DSL. I don't find any other charges ever.

1- AOL billed us for the first "FREE" month
2- they charged us extra for using the chat rooms
3- after terminating our account three months ago, AOL continued to bill us

Besides the hidden charges, there was also the lowsy service- busy signals when signing on, consecutive disconnections, countless uneccessary junk mail, and the inability to access certain sites (even though my AOL screen name was registered in the 18+ category).

10-29-2002, 09:08 PM
I think AOL is great for beginners, I used it to get my mom and my mother-in-law used to the internet. It is really user-friendly for older people.

I have used aol for 6 years now with no problems.

Darth Cruel, did you know that since you have DSL, you can switch to the 'bring your own access' service for only $14.95 per month?


Jedi Master Silas
10-29-2002, 09:17 PM
Whoa..I wouldnt pay for AOL and for DSL too. Have you ever tryed life without AOL???????? I would if I were you just to see if you like it...besides you'd save 21 bucks a month too.

The 'Xir
10-29-2002, 10:23 PM
I'll tell you the biggest problem JUNK MAIL!!!! There's no easy way to dump Junk Mail! In one day, I got almost 700 junk emails! What the heck am I gonna do, sitdown and block 700 return path addresses so I wont get them again? I don't think so, I have a life(atleast I think I do), but when you call AOL and complain this is their only suggetion! So then you gotta sit there click delete 700 times, No wonder people get Carpal Tunnel! Oh, and I gotta pay them 20+ bucks a month for these headaches and others! Not anymore!


10-29-2002, 10:29 PM
Yeah.....if you set foot into one chat room, you get spam for life.

Horrible. That problem has plagued AOL for years, even when they charged an hourly rate.

10-29-2002, 10:37 PM
I'm not a computer expert, so I can't be extremely specific, but from friends and relatives of mine who are, they claim that there is something in the AOL programming code that is fundamentally at odds with most operating systems. In the past, when I've had difficulities (crashing, etc), one of the first bits of advice I always got from practically every tech support and or expert friend/relative was to delete AOL from my system. As I said, I can't be specific as I'm not that computer savvy, but that's what I've heard anyway.

But I do have AOL still despite the warnings. I've recently upgraded to WinXP and have a cable modem. I keep the AOL account for business continuity and easy access when I travel.

Jedi Clint
10-29-2002, 10:42 PM
I remember the AOL commercial advertising "you've got pictures". I thought "Big f n deal, I've been getting pictures in my email for years now. " The internet is a utility that is continuously changing and evolving to meet the needs of an ever growing and increasingly diverse market of individuals. Limitations imposed upon this utility in order to simplify the nature of the beast might make a buck, but it will never catch on with those who push the envelope of utility for the world wide web.

Darth Cruel
10-29-2002, 10:48 PM
JJ77 - Thanks for the tip. I will check in to that!

10-30-2002, 06:11 AM
AOL is a cancer that infects your operating system and hides stuff all over your computer. Just you TRY to eliminate it all...IMPOSSIBLE without re-loading software.

Continuous unwanted advertising...here's an advertised feature by a competing ISP that you WON'T see on AOL...pop-up blocker!!!

As if that's not enough, how about..........s..........l..........o..........w service. If you don't believe me just check your ACTUAL download rate. When I had AslowL I could download at around 15K a second on a GOOD day, that's on a "56K" line! I called about their new "high speed" service, not available in my area...big suprise!

I now have Bellsouth high speed internet and download at a SUSTAINED rate of 150+K a second, with burst rates of 200-300K a second!!!

My wife had an AOL account when we lived in Hawaii. We cancelled her account when we moved to Kentucky back in June of 2001!

Then all of the sudden she gets a bill from AOL back in June of THIS year. To make matters worse, they just TOOK the money from her account, THEN she got a nasty note from her bank saying that she was over drawn and they were charging her an extra $20.00 for overdraft!!! For an account that had been cancelled, and paid in full, a YEAR before.

Needless to say I was HOT when I called AOL!!! They credited the money back to her account, and luckily for AOL the bank was understanding about the mix-up. So, no harm no foul. But it makes me wonder how many other people have had the same problems.

And guess what, a short time later it was announced that AOL would be investigated...gee, I wonder why?

So YES...I HATE AOL!:dead:

Darth Cruel
10-30-2002, 09:00 AM
SK99 - The pop-up blocker that comes with AOL works perfectly for me.

And the vast majority of programs that are out now put files all over a computer. But I have never had one of them adversely affect my computer...well...that is not true...KAZAA is wreaking havoc with my system, but that is because I installed it with bone-headed options...totally my own fault.

And do you remember where you got the info about AOL being investigated? I would like to check it out.

And of course you are going to get much faster download times with high-speed access. The slow downloads you were getting on your 56k modem had more to do with bad phone lines than AOL's server. I don't know ANYONE who brags about downloading speed on a dial-up. Even I could brag about speeds that are faster than DSL is supposed to be able to achieve if I were to believe a little number telling me how fast I am getting my file.

The way I judge if a file is coming fast enough for me is to play/view that file as it is downloading. As long as the download keeps up with the playing/viewing of the file...I am satisfied. And I can watch movies as I am downloading without interuptions so I am cool with that.

Those ARE amazing download speeds, though. What is your connection? At those speeds I am guessing cable (satelite?). If that is the case it is not surprising at all.

10-30-2002, 11:10 AM
The news about AOL Time Warner was on Fox News a little while ago. They haven't said much about it since. I remember it clearly enough because I had made the comment, to a co-worker, that AOL would probably be looked into in the wake of Enron and the trouble's I was having with AOL specifically.

Less than a week later it was mentioned in the news, and the same co-worker and I laughed about the whole thing, he had seen it as well.

As for the pop-up blocker??? I admit, I haven't used AOL in quite some time, so I am a bit unfamiliar with all of their current features, or versions. I think the last version I used was 4.0-5.0 something like that.

I tried to upgrade on-line and ended up crashing my system. I called AOL and they told me that they were having trouble with the download version, yet they STILL had it on their site! They sent me a new disk. I went back to their site thinking...they must have taken the download version off their site. NOPE! In fact it stayed up for a long time after that.

I have had my share of heartburn with AOL.

My uncle, on the other hand, LOVES AOL! He's been with them since 95 or so. Before the big "Unlimited usage" fiasco. And he still swears by them. That's great...for him.

Me on the other hand, I've been burned by them on more than a few occassions. I can only speak to MY personal experiences.

When I called AOL for tech support it took FAR too long on hold. Yet when I signed up by phone I had a rep on the line immediatly. These are customer service issues that stick out.

Now, my current ISP (Bellsouth) is fantastic. I have only had 2 major problems with them and they helped out immediatly with no major headaches. Once I had issues with my new OS (Win XP) and the other time was a problem with my modem, they sent me a new one, NEXT DAY AIR MAIL!!! Can you believe it? Amazing!:eek:

So, yes I LOVE Bellsouth.

I am running IDSL! When I was connected via USB port I was hitting download rates at about 100K and sometimes less. Now I am running through my Ethernet card and POW 150K sustained! Cable is a bit faster, but speeds depend on how many people are on-line in your area. Too many people=too slow download. IDSL works great for me. When I download I can run video uninterupted...at good high end resolution.

I can hit "download" on a 200K-300K file and have it BAMB that fast. I downloaded Service Pack 1 from Microsoft in a matter of a minutes. SO I am fairly confident that the little box that tells me my download rate and current progress is accurate.

As for the blame being with "phone lines"? I am running IDSL through my phone line. I can surf the net and recieve ALL of my phone calls at the SAME time.

As for AOL, hey whatever works for a person works for THEM. AS I said, my uncle loves 'em.

I happen to like Bellsouth...of course I pay almost $50.00 a month for internet access.

10-30-2002, 11:30 AM
cable is actually a LOT faster than 200k... i've uploaded stuff to my website at 1Mbps... downloaded at 900kbps...

all DSL is based on copper - phone lines. they have optimized the way the info is sent to make it as fast as possible, but it will never have the bandwidth of cable. i live in the 'burbs of NY, where there is a lot of dense population, and the cable is still BLAZINGLY fast... plus, with cable 'net, you get cable tv - i'm subscribed for one cable modem, and at this point have 2-3 computers and 7 tv's hooked up to the line... sure it's a lot of drilling from room to room, but that kind of hookup would normally cost a bundle if done by the company - as it is, i pay $50 for all of that! and their customer service has been top notch. haven't really had any downtime for a while now, and whenever i do encounter a problem, i can reach somebody to fix it almost instantaneously. of course, that all depends on your cable provider, but most likely they will all be a lot better than aol's service...

Darth Cruel
10-30-2002, 12:46 PM
Just a note: I am online IMing my fiancee. And we are both online at the same time with the same account. Now THAT is something I just found out I could do.

El Chuxter
10-30-2002, 02:14 PM
Well, one thing that bugged me about AOL is that (unless version 8.0 has corrected it), the stand-alone AIM software is more advanced. Also, it's next to impossible to communicate via IM with a non-AOL user unless you're on one another's buddy lists.

AOL sells information like crazy, and a lot of spammers go looking for ANYONE with a profile. A profile = a functioning AOL e-mail address.

You often don't know whether a feature (such as a news article) is on AOL or will connect you with some random site, since there's no way to check the destination of a link before clicking it.

AOL decides to update rather often when you log off, thus tying up your phone lines longer. Rather annoying if you log off to make a phone call and can't for ten minutes or so.

Parental controls are useless. I tried helping my niece with a project, and she couldn't even go into AOL's own encyclopedia! (Of course, games and chat were available.) And yet it didn't block pop-up ads.

AOL's customer service leaves a LOT to be desired. I'll give you the story of when my girlfriend cancelled her account.

When asked why she was cancelling, she said, "I'm sick of the junk mail. I don't want to log on every day and find fifteen messages about 'Live ****ing', and you offer no way to block these messages."

"We have parental controls if that's what you're--

"I'm thirty years old. I shouldn't have to set up a parental control on my account to keep that garbage out."

Several months after cancelling, she received a notice that her account was three months overdue and would be handed to a collections agency. Mind you, there'd been NO statements received in the meantime. It took her several calls to finally speak to a manager, who refused to refund charges for the few days after her account had supposedly been cancelled--even though he verified it had been closed on that day.

And the commercials--they're seriously annoying.

Darth Cruel
10-30-2002, 05:29 PM
El C - That IS horrible. And you are about the first person who has specified reason to dislike it. I have to agree that when I was on a dial-up I did get a little irritated at the post-session updates. My own experiences with customer service has been different (and much better) but if I got that kind of service I would disconnect to.

Invariably...when I call with a problem, it is dealt with immediately and sometimes they give me a free month to boot. I have been the victim of horrible customer service with other businesses, though. I do not shop at Best Buy as a direct result of the horrible customer service I experienced there.

10-30-2002, 05:43 PM
Best Buy is the anti-christ!

10-30-2002, 05:44 PM
DC, how can you both be online with the same account at the same time?

I haven't seen that as an option!

10-30-2002, 06:20 PM
That makes sense, if you can have multiple user accounts, then each user should be able to access the account. One can access from home and another could access from a remote location, as long as you have a dial-up line. :D

That's pretty clever.

One of the drawbacks to my bellsouth account (or cabel I would imagine) is the modem. You pretty much have to buy a seperate, EXTERNAL modem.:( This sort of limits usability. Therefore, I only surf this account from home, but, it works for me.;)

10-30-2002, 06:25 PM
I have bellsouth, and I didn't have to buy a modem, thankfully.

But I LOVE the service.

10-31-2002, 08:14 AM
I had AOL for 7 years and really liked it alot. But decided to cancel because I just faded away from using it like I used to and decided to cut expenses. I used to work for AOL and the problems that people have had with their billing is due to AOL becoming WAY................ too big for their britches.

Darth Cruel
10-31-2002, 08:16 AM
JJ77 - I am not sure if you are supposed to be able to or not. But we each have a screen name on this account and she was at home on the DSL under her screen name and I was at work on a dial-up under mine. I didn't know she was online until I went home for lunch and saw the ISP running. When she told me it had been on all day I told her that I was online about an hour before. When I got back to work we tested it out and sure enough, we were able to log on at the same time and IM each other under different screen names on the same account.

I used to open a second account when I was away working...nice to know I no longer have to do that.

BTW We are both using AOL 8.0. The im box even tells me when she is typing. I guess so we know if a slow typer is responding.

11-01-2002, 12:11 PM
We had AOL for about a year and a half,which I must say was the worst year and a half in my life!We didnt want AOL,but our LISP went out of business.Luckly we now have WalMart Connect(Similar to AOL,yet better).

For starters,the parental control features.My younger brothers had a "Pre-Teen" account.I thought this would get rid of most spam mail for them.Nope,they still got "See Girls $%#@ Their Pets",:dead:"Young Violated Teens":dead: and the like.This leads onto their next problem,Spam.I didnt have an AOL profile in hopes that spam wouldnt reach me.I was again wrong,I dont want to sift through 20+ spam mails just to get to one I actually wanted.:mad:

Next would be slow download times and the absence of JavaScript into their browsers.I believe the download times werent attributed to AOL itself,just its lack of management because of too many users.More steps should have been secured to insure good download times and less busy signals.Addressing the JavaScript problem,it wasnt a big deal for me,since I use a Netscape Browser as well,but it would have been nice to have it.
Finally,unwanted downloads.AOL numerous times "Updated" my service without my permission!!:mad:I didnt want their crap on my computer,but no matter what I tried,it still happened.For all I know,they could have been implanting a virus.:mad::mad:

AOL Service needs a serious upgrade if they want people to stay.However,people will continue to get the service because teens think the chat feature is "cool".Newsflash-there are other chat rooms beyond AOL,many of great quality.:D

11-05-2002, 07:53 AM
Originally posted by Quite-Long Dong
I have bellsouth, and I didn't have to buy a modem, thankfully.

But I LOVE the service.

Best Buy is the anti-christ!

I assume that your BellSouth is not in correlation with MSN since Best Buy hounds you to sign up for the service. Just curious QLD, post some details of why you hate Best Buy.

11-05-2002, 10:57 AM
Gee.....where to start....

Their customer service is horrible.....if you inquire about something in stock....they usually just say, we don't have it. Then I have to say....could you at least LOOK.......

They have "sales" in which they only have one or two of the item in stock, so they can get you into the store, and not have to sell you the item at that price, as odds are, you might just buy something else instead......

You can NEVER get help in the store, not without setting a bear trap, and hoping someone walks in it, and THEN hoping they know SOMETHING about the department you are in.......

They never have HALF of the floor models displayed in stock.......I swear, everything I inquire about, they don't have, or don't carry anymore.....

Their customer service 800# is a joke. They are more rude than their store employees.....

They force their employees to hock their worthless warranties for everything you buy. Their employees don't make commission, but you wouldn't KNOW it by the way they are begging you to buy a warranty. In fact, my friend worked at Best Buy, and knew people who were fired because they didn't sell enough warranties. And they belittle you if you don't get it.

Also, after acquiring Media Play, they are now using that store as a "premium" store. They jacked their prices way up, to make Best Buy look much better. Even though service and layout are much better at Media play. When I worked for Media Play, their prices were compatible with best Buy, now.....they aren't even close. They ruined one of my favorite places to shop.

I could go on.....but I won't

James Boba Fettfield
11-05-2002, 11:12 AM
I understand the part about pressuring employees to push things onto customers at whatever cost. My friend caused a lot of trouble at a Best Buy in Cincinnati because he got tired of pushing, what he knew to be, useless things onto people. Such as the warranties, service plans, MSN service, etc. Now he works for commission at Circuit City, where more surprising than not, many former Best Buy employees work.

11-05-2002, 12:06 PM
Oh....and no, bellsouth and MSN are totally seperate.

Darth Cruel
11-05-2002, 12:08 PM
I am in COMPLETE agreement with QLD about Best Buy's attrocious customer service. I cannot say that I know it to be bad all over the US, but I will NOT shop at the one here in Victorville, CA. My story is long. It concerns a 4 day period that I tried to buy an out-of-box computer because it was the last Packard-Bell they would ever have to sell.

I tried to pay by check, but it was after 5:00 and the service they used to verify them was closed, so they would not take it. At the time, they did not take ATM cards. I had to wait for the next day, at which time I drew out cash to save further problems and bought it. Then they didn't remove the password or the display software and would not tell me what it was on the phone. So I took it back down and they kept it overnight to complete the reinstall of the software. When I got it home, It had not been done. When I called demanding to given the password so that I could do it myself, they gave in and gave it to me...but had failed to return the restore disk. I took it in again and after leaving over night again. The work was still not accomplished. So I demanded a refund and after I went through all of trouble to pay cash...they would not give me a cash refund. I had to wait 10 days to get the refund check in the mail AND 2 more for it to clear MY bank. And during the whole ordeal THEY copped an attitude like it was all my fault.

This mixed with a story I saw on TV about the Best Buy in Indianapolis, Indiana firing an employee because he nailed a Middle Eastern man buying computer equipment with a phony credit card just because a passerby helped him catch the guy when he ran outside. Even after the police determined that the guy had already sent $20,000 worth of laptop computers to Iraq(it is illegal to sell Iraq technology) and had about $10,000 more ready to send. The guy was a hero and they canned him because a non-employee helped him catch the guy.

Best Buy is a loser of a store in my book.

11-05-2002, 02:13 PM
Originally posted by Quite-Long Dong
Oh....and no, bellsouth and MSN are totally seperate.

Well I know that in my area, the local phone company would sponsor the MSN service for like DSL. When I sold AOL DSL for the BellSouth area, they would get the DSL service through the BellSouth junctures and use the AOL service. It seems like alot of these places that are hourly are almost becoming straight sales, even customer service on the phone. When I worked for Sears Credit and we took repair calls, we needed to try to sell the extra maintenence check for the washer or dryer. I'm glad I am outta there. QLD you said plenty. I was amused.:D