Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 1997
WASHINGTON REACHES AGREEMENT WITH AMERICA ONLINE


January 29, 1997 - Seattle -- America Online today agreed to refund monthly service fees, make cancellation easier, and stop advertising for February until the network and system problems caused by the introduction of their new flat rate pricing plan are resolved.

Washington and 35 other states today entered into the voluntary agreement with AOL after thousands of customers nationwide complained about repeated busy signals and problems accessing AOL's advertised "unlimited service." Many of the nearly 50 Washington consumers who filed written complaints with the Attorney General's Office in the past few months were also unable to reach AOL telephone operators to cancel their service or ask for a refund.

"AOL's marketing clearly got out ahead of its technological capacity," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "The increased demand generated by their new pricing plan virtually locked some people out of the system."

In agreeing to the relief, AOL expressly denied any guilt or that any laws enforced by the Attorneys General were violated. The agreement requires AOL to provide customer refunds to its subscribers who had difficulties accessing their service during the December 1996 and January 1997 billing periods.

In addition, AOL must notify its subscribers of its cancellation methods, provide several ways for customers to contact them, and maintain adequate customer support operators to process all the refund and cancellation requests in a timely manner.

Customers requesting a refund or wanting to cancel their service should contact AOL by calling 1-800-827-6364 or faxing information to 1-801-622-7469. Consumers who want a one-month automatic credit should write to AOL P.O. Box 1600 Ogden, Utah 84401. Consumers who seek relief must choose between the automatic one-month credit and the refund policy which contains offsets for usage.

Consumers must complain directly to the company in order to be entitled to refunds. Those who have already complained in writing to the Attorney General will have their complaints forwarded to the company. Refunds or credits must be requested within the next 120 calendar days.

The refunds, which will be provided upon request to AOL customers billed for services during December 1996 and January 1997, will be given based on the following guidelines:

$19.95 Unlimited & $9.95 Bring Your Own Access Plan Subscribers

  • Full refunds of amount paid to AOL if the service was used less than two
    hours during December 1996 and January 1997 billing periods.
  • Fifty percent refunds of amount paid to AOL if the service was used for
    two to eight hours during December 1996 and January 1997 billing periods.
  • Twenty-five percent refunds of amount paid to AOL if the service was used for
    eight to fifteen hours during December 1996 and January 1997.



$9.95 Metered Access Plan Subscribers

  • Full refunds of amount paid to AOL if the subscriber used the service
    less than one hour during December 1996 and January 1997 billing periods.
  • Fifty percent refunds of amount paid to AOL if the service was used
    for one hour or more and less than three hours during December 1996 and
    January 1997 billing periods.



$4.95 Metered Access Plan Subscribers

  • Full refunds of amount paid AOL if the subscriber used the service for less
    than one hour during December 1996 and January 1997 billing periods.
  • Fifty percent refunds of amount paid AOL if the subscriber used the service
    for one hour or more and less than two hours during December 1996 and/or January 1997.



Prepaid Discounted Service

  • Subscribers who were unable to access their accounts during December 1996
    and/or January 1997 can cancel their contract and shall receive a refund for the
    unused portion of their term account.
  • AOL may subtract the difference between the discounted and undiscounted rate
    for the months in the term actually used.



Free Trial Offers

  • No refunds will be provided to subscribers who had their membership fee waived as part of a free trial offer.



AOL must also provide cancellation information online through a keyword search on "cancel" and it its Terms of Service. The toll-free telephone number and address to contact AOL to cancel a subscription must be included on all promotional materials, including software provided to prospective members.


- -

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo