This is a cautionary tale.
AOL has a reputation for being impossible to cancel. So in this day and age, you’d think they’d go to hurculean efforts to reverse that negative image. The reason they should go to such efforts began to play out on June 15th. That’s the day that Vincent Ferrari posted a long explanation of his exhausting efforts to cancel his AOL account on his blog, insignificant thoughts, complete with an audio recording of the experience.
After posting to his blog, Ferrari told consumer advocacy site The Consumerist about his post and they promptly blogged about it. Ferrari submitted the story to Digg, as well. It got dug and the blogosphere was off and running with the story.
Here’s a Technorati chart showing blog posts tagged with the word "AOL" May 24 to June 22. That spike is June 15, the day Ferrari posted. The spikes of June 21 and 22 proably represent mainstream media coverage:
The buzz in the blogosphere lead to calls from the media and soon enough, Ferrari was doing TV interview after TV interview about his expeience. Here he is on the Today Show:
AOL quickly issued a statment saying that they do not tolerate such treatment of customers and that the Customer Service Representative in question had been fired, but the damage had been done. The stereotype had been writ large and reinforced dramatically.