The Problem, How To Take Action


June 8, 2006
UPDATED October, 2006 
(See the bottom for the update-please 
read before doing anything)

Hi, Everyone --

This page and posting is for anyone who uses AOL mail, anyone who has an AOL screen name.

With their latest "upgrade," AOL has put MORE advertising in -- NOW they're putting it at the bottom of your READ MAIL windows!

I don't know about you, but to me this is UNACCEPTABLE.

Look, WE are paying THEM money, not the other way around. We are paying them for their service NOT to advertise to us. The way I see it, if they want to advertise to me, they should be paying ME!

 Not only is this an intrusion and greedy, but it has several other negative effects.

1. It slows down your computer. This ad is a dynamic ad, meaning it keeps changing. This means they have to keep downloading content to your computer, using up your bandwidth (which you are paying for also). I have a friend who tells me this new ad has actually locked up her computer several times.

2. It forces your READ MAIL window to be a certain width. If you prefer to have your read mail window somewhat smaller (as I do) to leave room for more things on your desktop, then your REPLY and FORWARD and REPORT SPAM and the other buttons down the right side disappear!

3. It moves the focus off the message. Before, when you received a long message, you could instantly go to the end of it by pressing your END key. Now, with these new ads, you have to first click in the text window before this works. It's a terrible slowdown, and a pain in the sitter we shouldn't have to put up with.

4. I just heard from a friend who has set a lower resolution on her screen that it takes up a HUGE chunk of her Read Mail window, leaving very little room for her to see the actual text of the email. People with less than perfect eyes, such as almost all older adults, need to set this lower resolution so they can see the tiny text on screen sometimes.

But the biggest aggravation is that we are already getting too many ads. We don't need to see any more, ESPECIALLY for a service we are PAYING for!


First, spread this message. Send the address for this web page 

to all your contacts who have an AOL address, even those who don't, and ask them to pass it on, and post it on any forum or bulletin board you have access to.

Second, COMPLAIN!!  If you have an AOL account, open AOL, press Ctrl-K (or I think Cmd-K on a MAC), then type in the keyword TELL US MORE.  In the window that appears, TELL THEM you don't like this new ad and you want them to remove it. You can be as gentle or as vituperative as you like, but tell them!  

Here's a sample of one I've sent. Feel free to use it yourself, but modify it so they don't think they are getting a cookie-cutter letter campaign.

These new ads you have put on my READ MAIL window are HORRIBLE! I feel they are a betrayal of our relationship, and I wish you would REMOVE them. They get in the way, they slow down my computer, and they force me to have my READ MAIL windows wider than I want. I am not paying you this fee every month to advertise to me, so PLEASE REMOVE THESE ADS!

DO THIS SEVERAL TIMES A DAY. If you have more than one screen name, do it from EACH screen name. Several times from each, if you have the chance.

YOUR ALTERNATIVE is to endure ever-increasing advertising from this company. Is this what you want?

Okay, everyone, get busy. Start complaining.  Perhaps if enough of us complain, they'll listen. Shall we hold our breath?



Okay, it seems AOL has finally done something right! As of September, they have made most of their services ABSOLUTELY FREE!

To me, this is a crazy maneuver, but hey, if it makes them happy... 

I guess they were getting far too many complaints (Did YOU complain, as I suggested above?) about having too many ads on a service that people were paying for. Maybe we all had an effect on them.

Whatever, AOL has decided to go to an AD-SUPPORTED revenue model. 

All of a sudden, I don't mind all their ads any more. When I was paying over $23 a month for their service, it incensed me no end to have to watch their ads. I mean, how many customers does AOL have, anyway? 25 million? 30 million? Many of them were paying the outlandish $25 a month, and many were paying less. 

If we say that on average, their customers were paying $10 a month (I bet it was lots more!), then AOL's average MONTHLY revenue would have been $250 million. That's $250,000,000 a month. That's an annual gross revenue of $3 billion -- "Billion" with a "B". I don't care HOW big your business is, or how many employees you have, a monthly income in that range ought to make ANY business the roaring image of success. 

So it puzzles me why they would move away from that and into the advertisement-supported model as they have... unless ... Unless they can make MORE money from ads than they did from subscriptions. 

There's always the possibility that they wanted to downsize, to cut back, to reduce the number of employess (I can't imagine that), and so were quite willing to downsize their income. 

Not being privy to the inner workings and accounting practices of AOL (who bought Time-Warner, remember), I imagine it's not for me to say why they did what they did.

But I'm GLAD they did! 


The way I understand it (and if someone knows more accurately than I do, please let me know and I'll set it straight here), AOL service is free if you bring your own internet connection. If you need to use AOL for dial-up, then you still have to pay. Is that right?

Ubiquitous dial-up access is the main reason I signed up with AOL in the first place. I traveled a lot, and I needed to send and receive emails wherever I went. There were only two places I went that I couldn't get a local AOL number. Of course, with multiple screen names, I gave one to each of my kids, one to my father and one to my mother-in-law, and that became their email address that everyone knew, so I was pretty much locked in. 

And when things really started getting irritating, I couldn't get out without a major hassle for my relatives.

But now, with every decent hotel offering internet access, and the decent ones offering it as free wireless in the rooms, I don't need dial-up access any more.

So this move by AOL was a very good thing for me. And, I hope it was for you also. 

So there we have it. 

Suddenly, everything that was so infuriating about AOL when we were paying for it, is now not so bad now that the service is free. 

Don't you agree?



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