Interesting article in today’s New York Times about Vincent Ferrari’s “ordeal” in canceling AOL. As you may recall, this is the guy who had the good fortune to record his phone call with AOL and got way more than 15 minutes worth of attention over it.
The attention wasn’t due to Mr. Ferrari’s unique situation. It was due to the fact that his situation magnified a problem that has been there all along. Everyone who has ever tried knows that canceling AOL is torture, now there’s recorded proof that we who have braved the waters are not alone.
The New York Times reports that despite the fact that many other companies allow subscribers to cancel easily, even online, AOL still refuses to change their practices in a substantive way:
After the embarrassment of Mr. Ferrari’s call, an internal memo was issued that outlined a new “streamlined offer sequence” for handling cancellation requests, but the protocol still called for pitching two offers, if circumstances permitted.
I’m still waiting for word of John’s “wrongful termination” suit. If this is a “new” procedure, that tells me the “old” procedure wasn’t so streamlined.
How about AOL let people cancel online or in a quick (under 2 minute) phone process, but then follow up in email with the enticing “we want you back” offers tailored to whatever reason they checked online for why they were canceling? They canceled because they weren’t using the service? Then send an email telling about a new feature. They canceled because of price? Then send a six months free offer or something. But when they call up to cancel, that’s what they want to do. Period. Let them. Wait a couple of weeks until they’re living without it to start the pitches. Let the body cool a bit. I’m much more likely to give in to such offers if the company hasn’t made me furious by stalling me in a phone call.
And this is funny:
A company like AOL must now submit to unceasing accountability. On the Monday after the public debut of Mr. Ferrari’s call to AOL, Scott Falconer, an AOL executive vice president, sent an e-mail message to company employees alerting them to Mr. Ferrari’s blog post and warned, “On any interaction, you should assume that it could be posted on the Web.”
Hello?!? This is a life lesson, people: “On any interaction, you should assume that it could be posted on the Web.” It’s hysterically funny that it took this for AOL to figure that out.
Another life lesson: The easiest way to cancel AOL is not to start in the first place.