At AOL, 'cancel' just doesn't click
The Internet provider certainly isn't alone in its zeal to keep customers, but now its persistence has been caught on tape.
By SUSAN ASCHOFF
Published June 22, 2006
All Vincent Ferrari wanted to do was cancel his AOL service. But tales of AOL's reluctance to let customers go are legendary. So Ferrari decided to record his phone call.
Audio of the six-minute conversation, recorded a week ago between Ferrari and an AOL customer service representative named John, has been making the rounds on the Internet. AOL has issued an apology and says the employee is no longer with the company. On Wednesday, the Today show's Matt Lauer interviewed Ferrari and asked if he felt bad that John was fired. Not so much, he replied.
Ferrari's Web site, www.insignificantthoughts. com, has been slammed with traffic. To listen to the audio, go to http://media.putfile.com/AOL-Cancellation. The transcript below, with minor edits for length, comes from digg.com.
Customer Service Representative: Hi, this is John at AOL. How may I help you today?
Vincent: I want to cancel my account.
CSR: Sorry to hear that. Let's pull your account up here real quick. Can I have your name, please?
Vincent: Vincent Ferrari
CSR: 'K, Vincent . . . All right, thank you very much. Okay. You've had this account for a long time.
Vincent: I just don't use it anymore.
CSR: Okay. Well actually, I'm showing a lot of usage on this account.
Vincent: Yeah, a long time ago. Not recently.
(Here the service rep asks about another user name that belongs to Ferrari's dad.)
CSR: Well, what's causing you to want to turn this off today? I mean obviously, I mean . . .
Vincent: I don't use it and he doesn't use it, so we're canceling it. . . . I don't need it. I don't want it. I just don't need it anymore.
CSR: Well, on June 2nd, this account was signed on. It's been on for 72 hours. On June 2nd.
Vincent: I don't know how to make it any clearer . . .
CSR: Last month was 545 hours of usage.
Vincent: I don't know how to make this any clearer, so I'm just going to say it one last time. Cancel. The. Account. Please.
CSR: Well explain to me what's, wha, why . . .
Vincent: I'm not explaining anything to you. Cancel. The. Account.
CSR: Wha, what's the matter, Vincent? We're just . . . I'm just trying to help here.
Vincent: You're not helping me. Helping me would be . . .
CSR: I am trying to help . . .
Vincent: Listen! I called to cancel the account. Helping me would be canceling the account. Please help me and cancel the account.
CSR: No, it wouldn't actually . . .
Vincent: Cancel my account!
CSR: Turning off your account . . .
Vincent: Cancel! The! Account! Ca-
CSR: Would be the worst thing that . . .
Vincent: Cancel! The account.
CSR: Is your dad there?
Vincent: My dad? I'm the primary paying, I'm the primary person on the account.
CSR: 'K, 'cause I'm just trying to secure . . .
Vincent: CANCEL THE ACCOUNT! I don't know how to make this any clearer for you. . . . When I say cancel the account, I don't mean figure out how to help me keep it, I mean cancel the account!
CSR: Uh . . . I'm sorry. I don't know what anybody's done to you, Vincent . . .
Vincent: You're annoying the s--- out of me! That's what you're doing to me.
CSR: And that goes both ways, my friend.
Vincent: Good. Could you please . . . ?
CSR: All I'm . . . all right. Someday, when you calm down, you're going to realize that all I was trying to do was help you, and it was actually in your best interest to listen to me . . .
CSR: And when that epiphany happens, why don't you just give us a call back.
Vincent: Okay. Yeah, great.
CSR: As I process your cancellation request, I have to tell you about a free benefit available for valued members like yourself . . .
Vincent: Don't want it! I know the drill, I don't even want it. Don't even bother.
CSR: If you want me to cancel this account, you're going to let me speak, and give this paragraph. Okay? . . . But, you're going to listen to me if you want this turned off. So. Can I speak now?
Vincent: Go right ahead.
CSR: Thank you! Appreciate that. As I process your cancellation request, I'd like to tell you about a free benefit available to valued members like yourself . . .
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[Last modified June 21, 2006, 22:26:03]
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