AOL agreed to pay $1.25 million to the state of New York in penalties and costs. They also agreed to clean up their act and stop using low life practices and not honoring customers request to cancel their AOL account. The lessons and techniques which AOL used can guide all of us when we deploy a “cancel” with any third party.
Inside AOL: A culture of deceit.
Their is nothing wrong with trying to “save” a customer with a reasonable sales pitch. The problems occur when you pay commissions to your employees to retain customers and then fail to properly audit the actions of your employees. Spitzer says it better than I can:
“Under the system, consumer service personnel received bonuses worth tens of thousands of dollars if they could successfully dissuade or “save” half of the people who called to cancel service. For several years, AOL had instituted minimum retention or “save” percentages, which consumer representatives were expected to meet. These bonuses, and the minimum “save” rates accompanying them, had the effect of employees not honoring cancellations, or otherwise making cancellation unduly difficult for consumers.”
The AOL/NY AG agreement to stop these practices and clean up their act.
My “cancel” procedures with any third party.
These procedures apply to all types of cancellations. Your ISP, your hosting account, your Newspaper, your Cable TV, and numerous other subscriptions you have.
1. Prepare to take notes before you call or click. This means paper and pen, the full name of the person you spoke to, position, the date and time you called or clicked, and print any forms which are related to your cancel.
2. Conduct yourself in a VERY POLITE manner. Don’t use profanity, gutter talk, slang, or other socially repugnant techniques.
3. Expect a sales pitch in an effort to retain you. This is business and no one likes to loose a customer. Even if you hate their guts, try using a simple reason for leaving like, “I no longer require your services” and say no more. Some services like your dedicated server may require written notice as per the contract you signed. Don’t fight city hall, just do it and confirm receipt and save your paper work.
4. Get precise with these questions and write it down: Exactly when will my last charge appear on my credit card? What is the effective date of the cancellation? Are their any additional charges?
5. Save all your notes and documentation. Carefully monitor your credit card statements and insure that a new charge for a canceled service does not appear which is contrary to the question and answer you received in Item 4 above. If the vendor continues to bill you, just dispute the charge with your CC provider and don’t bother calling your service provider.