For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: July 11, 2007
Refunds Available to Former America Online Customers
(Boise) – America Online will pay refunds to consumers who previously complained about unauthorized service charges following attempts to cancel the service, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said today. Wasden said a legal settlement with America Online, LLC (AOL), one of the nation’s largest Internet service providers, also requires AOL to change how it processes cancellation requests.
The settlement resolves consumer complaints alleging difficulties with canceling their AOL paid services. Previously, AOL required consumers to call the company to cancel their accounts. AOL employees were paid incentives for retaining customers. Consumers complained that canceling their accounts was difficult, if not impossible. Today’s agreement strictly limits this practice and requires AOL to record consumer cancellation calls. The agreement also expands consumers’ cancellation options by allowing them to cancel their accounts on AOL’s website.
The company also agreed to resolve outstanding complaints, facilitate a process for refunding consumers in the future, and continue to cooperate with the Attorney General.
When Idahoans decide they no longer want to purchase a service, they ought to be able to cancel that service without getting the runaround,” Attorney General Wasden said. “I hope this settlement will make Internet use a better experience for Idahoans in the future.”
Idaho residents who believe they are eligible for a refund should send their written complaints to:
Attention: Heidi Jongquist, Program Director
Regulatory Order Compliance
PO Box 65771
Sterling, VA 20165-8806
The settlement requires AOL to revise other billing practices to reduce consumer confusion. Specifically, AOL must change its disclosures regarding reactivation of terminated accounts and its disclosures for accounts billed through a consumer’s telephone bill.
AOL also must change its practice that allows consumers to create “spin off” accounts from the original membership account. In the past, consumers created spin off accounts online without knowing they would incur additional fees. Consumers now must call AOL to create these additional accounts, and AOL must record the conversation. The AOL representative must disclose to the consumer all costs of the spin off account.
AOL recently announced that it would begin limiting its role as an Internet access provider by allowing customers to convert their memberships to free e–mail accounts. The terms of today’s agreement should minimize the potential for consumer confusion during this transition.
The settlement also requires AOL to pay the states $3,000,000. Idaho will receive $45,000 as reimbursement for its attorney fees and costs.
The Attorneys General of 46 other states and the District of Columbia joined in the settlement.
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