Why Do You Think I Call It AOfuckinghelL?  

MissAnnThrope 57F
11679 posts
8/9/2006 11:46 am

Last Read:
8/3/2007 6:44 am

Why Do You Think I Call It AOfuckinghelL?

Oh, it's not a good time to be this online service provider. It's even a worse time to be one of their customers. They've been making the news lately and for all the wrong reasons.

I dabbled with this online service provider (as opposed to internet service provider) about five years ago. I was in a battle with RCN, who was supposed to bill me automatically ever six months. Well, they claimed to have sent a bill, I said they didn't. Turns out they had, which I discovered later. The date on the e-bill was 1984. Now, this was before every ISP in the world gave you the option of reading your mail online. I had to download to a mail client. I still download to my mail client. I do so in date order. So, mail dated 1984 was way up at the top, where I never looked. Heh.

I needed a service provider fast. A disk for said provider had arrived a few days earlier and I hadn't gotten around to microwaving it yet. So, as beggars can't be choosers, I popped it in the computer and I was on my way.

After my free month, I tried to cancel, they gave me three more months free. Hey, who am I to argue? Then they gave me deep discounts for the next six months. Everything was going well. Until I noticed, they were charging me $5 extra a month for direct withdrawal from my bank account. Every other company in the world is willing to give discounts for that, as they don't have to pay service fees to credit card companies that way.

So, I call to cancel. I get the hard cell. I told them, I had already removed their damned software. They offered to send me another disk. I told them to cancel or I was taking legal action. They canceled. Then came the real fun. As I tried to configure gateways for my new ISP, I discovered even after uninstalling, their software left a bunch of crap that caused a conflict with setting up gateways. So I called them back, expressing my disgust. I was told, the only way to get all that crap off was to take my machine to a shop. Screw that. I did what any sane person would do. I saved everything to disks and reformatted.

Well, it would seem I had an easier time than two other users.

First, Vincent Ferrari tried to cancel his account. He reached a CSR named John, who did what he was supposed to do and gave him the hard sell. Ferrari recorded his conversation with John, uploaded it to his blog, made national news and the recording is currently available at You Tube. Mind you John the CSR, did everything by the book. You're supposed to give the hard sell and convince people to keep their accounts. The call is five minutes long and while Ferrari got his account canceled, the furor over the phone call got John fired. John received no severance pay and was told he'd best not try to apply for unemployment either. So some poor schlub becomes the sacrificial lamb because a disgruntled customer exposed corporate policy. Seriously. A site called "The Consumerist" got their hands on a copy of this online service's User Retention Manual. The picture is straight from the book.

In the wake of this, others who have been fired from this company have been coming forward, including one man who missed the morning meeting telling the CSRs that lawyers representing a class action suit against the company would be listening, so no trying to convince a customer three times to keep their account. Just cancel at first request, as the difficulty they give you while canceling was the basis of the suit. This one managed to collect, after telling his side of the story.

Well, the Ferrari story inspired Maxine Gauthier, as she was becoming more and more frustrated with trying to cancel her dead father's account. Her story became public just days ago. She would call and when she couldn't answer his secret question, both CSRs and management would hang up on her. One rep even went so far as to tell her to stop complaining and learn how to use a computer, when she tried to fax them her father's obituary. It took nine months to get them to cancel the account and take back all the charges to her dead father's credit card. NINE MONTHS! The ONLY reason they even canceled was, she got a consumer advocate from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch involved. Only then was her dead father's account canceled.

Well, just days after Gauthier's story, the really big news that's pissing off millions hit. AOfuckinghelL took a three month sample of 658,000 users searches. Then they put them up on a research site meant for academics, so they say, but it was VERY public. As a matter of fact, until they took it down, just anyone could go and download the 2 G of search data they compiled. Many took advantage, it would seem.

They claimed users were in no danger of being revealed, as they assigned each user a number. Seriously. That's what Andrew Weinstein, their official spokesman said in the following statement:

This was a screw up, and we’re angry and upset about it. It was an innocent enough attempt to reach out to the academic community with new research tools, but it was obviously not appropriately vetted, and if it had been, it would have been stopped in an instant.

Although there was no personally-identifiable data linked to these accounts, we’re absolutely not defending this. It was a mistake, and we apologize. We’ve launched an internal investigation into what happened, and we are taking steps to ensure that this type of thing never happens again.

Yeah, it was a big screw up. But when users started doing genealogy searches, social security look ups, names and addresses of themselves and friends, etc, it was easy for some to be identified. As a matter of fact, the New York Times tracked down user 4417749 with little trouble and she spoke with the reporter, saying those were her searches and she had no idea she was being tracked.

Then there's a site that's taking search data and putting together little slide shows, with some of the more disturbing data. Some data is really disturbing.

User 2281868 is featured in the side show, looking up everything from jazz to naked old ladies who look like Hillary Clinton, to gay black actors with overbites, to exterminating all the blacks in the five boroughs of NYC, to why are all white people racist. He also seems to have trouble with a voyeuristic neighbor.

But the scariest of all searches had to be user 17556639. This is the list of his searches that's getting around the internet:

17556639 how to kill your wife
17556639 how to kill your wife
17556639 wife killer
17556639 how to kill a wife
17556639 poop
17556639 dead people
17556639 pictures of dead people
17556639 killed people
17556639 dead pictures
17556639 dead pictures
17556639 dead pictures
17556639 murder photo
17556639 steak and cheese
17556639 photo of death
17556639 photo of death
17556639 death
17556639 dead people photos
17556639 photo of dead people
17556639 www murderdpeople com
17556639 decapatated photos
17556639 decapatated photos
17556639 car crashes3
17556639 car crashes3
17556639 car crash photo

Dude! Unless this user turns out to be Neil Entwhistle, there are some serious ethical questions to be asking.
AOfuckinghelL didn't get permission from any users to track them, they didn't know they were being tracked. The records were never supposed to be made public. But something like this, as they were made public, does law enforcement have the right to insist on this customer's records being released?

But wait, there's more!

One site that got it's hands on the records put up a searchable database, so you can see what people were looking for. From the records they have, which is not a complete database in the least, there were 2339 searches for child porn, 2096 for lesbian porn, 1952 for plain old porn, 128 for this site. Which blows my theory about 9/10 of the clueless n00bs here had just found their way off the Welcome page there.

I took a look at one of the users who searched for this site. User 17201595. He's really into football, porn, shemales, black ghetto ass, the bot sites, home improvements and the Dodgers.

0.36% of all searches were "how to" searches. One site has compiled a list of the top 20 searches:

1. how to tie a tie

2. how to

3. how to draw

4. how to write a resume

5.how to use printer

6.how to get pregnant

7. how to masterbate

8. how to install shift cable on a 140 mercruiser

9. how to commit suicide

10. how to have sex

11. how to do yo-yo tricks

12. how to give a blow job

13. how to gain weight

14. how to lose weight

15. how to build a catapult

16. how to write a book

17. how to pass a drug test

18. how to masturbate

19. how to make meth

20. how to grow marijuana

Take special note of numbers 7 and 18. Number 8 isn't a mistake. According to the webmaster of the site that did the list, it was the same user, who was too stupid to bookmark and had to keep searching.

I'm sure more people are going to be doing things with the data in the next week or so, until the glamor of it all wears off. I just wish I had known about the data when it was available for download. Even the bit torrent Slashdot tells you to visit has been shut down. This is a database I would have loved to have.

cuteNEway 42F

8/9/2006 12:49 pm

I had to use AOhelL for a month because for some reason my IE wouldn't work! Then a computer geek friend blasted out my comp and now I am safe from that evil enterprise YAY!

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/10/2006 11:12 pm:
I hope you checked the bank or credit card statements after that month. I honestly don't get why you had to use AOfuckinghelL because you had a browser crash. Especially since IE is built into their screen. (I never used their fucking IE. I continued to use Mozilla the entire time.)

haversack_smith 41M
6192 posts
8/9/2006 1:17 pm


Never used AOL although I did once make a wall-mirror out of their free CDs. I've been following this customer retention story for the last few months through various sites and it just blows my mind that the company could be so stupid - and as for that search data, wow.

And as for user #17556639 - clearly a psycho but it cracks me up that in the middle of all that he searches for "steak and cheese". (At least, it did until I just googled it and found that rather than a tasty dinner combination, it's some kind of "sick photographs" website. EUUURURUURRRRGGGH!!!)

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/10/2006 11:13 pm:
Did the mirror actually reflect back in pure evil? I have heard the stories...

Oh, I didn't realize people didn't know what the steak and cheese website was. I was amazed he didn't have Ogrish and Rotten on there too. But sorry for not warning you.

redmustang91 58M  
8924 posts
8/9/2006 3:39 pm

What did people do before the internet when they wanted to learn how to have sex or maturbate? Ask someone or just experiment until they figured it out? There are books, but self taught probably works for most... AOL is losing its mind...

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/10/2006 11:14 pm:
Well, there have been books for as long as I remember. But let's face it. Most of us learned to masturbate by instinct. I think it takes a special kind of stupid to not be able to figure it out.

real36CgirlPA 39F

8/9/2006 4:11 pm

I used to have Walmart Connect, which uses AOL portals to get online or something like that....same access numbers, etc. But since it was Walmart affiliated, I got to deal with a CSR in a foreign country that I could barely understand so I just wore him down saying "I am not sure what you are talking about but I still want you to cancel my account. No I do not want whatever deal you are trying to offer to me..." HE eventually got pissed off and finally cancelled my account...wahahhah

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/10/2006 11:15 pm:
So you had two evils in one!

Yeah, it would seem that these guys get a commission for every saved account. So of course they're going to get pissy with you when you cancel.

EroticaXTC 51F

8/9/2006 4:55 pm

LOL at Haversack!!

I hate aWol, their crap was loaded in this computer when I bought it, It's a pain in the ass to "terminate"..which I do every time I come across another feature planted somewhere...I came home from work one day and my son had downloaded their IM..I could've killed him...It's like a fungus that just spreads...I used aWol way back when, had to send in a written hardcopy request to cancel, and still ended up having to ditch the card that it drew from...
They always -always -always rob you of at least a month or two's fees..
Thanks for this post, it's great!

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/10/2006 11:19 pm:
Oh, every computer I've had since 1995 has come with AOL and others preloaded. It really is a pain. If I ever have the opportunity to just order one, instead of buying off the shelf and taking it home, I'm going to be very specific about what should be on the hard drive when it arrives.

As far as IMs, I tend to use Trillian, which manages them all at once, no pop-ups, no stock tickers, none of that crap. Just one simple client that doesn't use half the resources.

I actually told the bank I had cancelled and to not honor anymore requests for money from them. I have a friendly bank.

NickRules999 40M
9464 posts
8/9/2006 5:39 pm

I have never gone through AOL, and have no desire to. I keep getting their software discs, and they always end up in the trash. Now, after reading this, I'm glad I didn't take a job there. They fired a guy and suggested he don't go on unemployment? That is fucked up.

What's even more fucked up is that crazy fucker's search list. Makes me wonder if Jeffery Dahmer was an AOL customer?

AOL is an evil empire. I remember they joined up with Time Warner, but I heard the two split. I also remember reading that Ted Turner regretted selling his Superstation (aka TBS) and TNT to Time Warner after they merged with AOL. Even more people hate AOL, and it's not just us common folk. It's rich and famous people too.

Course, Ted Turner hates AOL coz they were instrumental in killing off his WCW, or so the rumour is.

Come into my realm! You aren't afraid...are you?

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/10/2006 11:22 pm:
You know, if you put them in the microwave for five to ten seconds, they explode very nicely and end up with a lovely crackle pattern. It's fun, you should try it.

Considering these lists were from March to May of this year, if there had been searches for this site and escort services on the list, I would think it was Neil Entwhistle. The cops did tell the press what sites he visited and what sort of searches he did. So this is another looney and if I was the FBI, I'd be taking a look at this user, as the records did become public knowledge.

I know nothing about the WCW, so I really don't know.

nightstalker172 38M
1258 posts
8/9/2006 7:33 pm

AOL is the DEBIL!

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/10/2006 11:23 pm:
Yes it is! (You know, your current pic goes really well with that comment.)

shylena256 43F
1967 posts
8/10/2006 1:53 am

Once again thank you for keeping me up to date.
YOU are my news channel.
Since I found you I am once again connected to what is going on in the USA, what makes the news, and what weirdness lurks. Don't get me wrong, I still tune into the BBC worldservice, but they don't always have an ear for the international side of the news that I want.
You are my CyberNewsGoddess.

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/12/2006 3:26 pm:
Thanks. I got this from reading a consumer's blog called The Consumerist, which I found by accident, looking for more links on the Darren Sherman post. I also found a site through them called aol stalker, remove the space, add a dot and a com, where they've uploaded most of the database that was made public and you can search by keywords. Not by user number though, which sort of sucks. Unless they've fixed that in the last few days. Of course, so many people have discovered the site now, it's very slow.

economickrisis 56M

8/10/2006 2:09 am

Stop scaring a bloke. If I close me eyes its not happening.

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/10/2006 11:25 pm:
Don't worry about it. Just remember the dying words of Hassan i Sabbah. "Nothing is true. All is permissable."

Seriously_Real 49M

8/10/2006 7:48 am

You know what might be the single scariest nugget of all in there?

There were more searches for child porn that just plain old porn.


(I'm too young to use AOfuckinghelL. Apparently you have to be retired and living in either Arizona or Florida.)


MissAnnThrope replies on 8/12/2006 3:29 pm:
This is odd. I can see the response I made to you from my account, but not from the outside, through the RSS feed link. So, this is what I said to you the other day, in case you can't see it either:

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/11/2006 2:29 am:
I know. That really skeeved me out too. Hey, the other user I mentioned had a really scary list. Everything from conspiracy theories, to naked Russian nuns, to racist propaganda, to underaged latino boys.

Now, now. The kids love AOL. A friend of mine who was using it from her teenage years on was very paranoid last night when I told her about it, as she's always used it. Nothing else. We spent a few hours last night checking to see if any of the archived searches were her, or her mother. We came up with nothing, but I have to tell you, using the search word scrapbooking to look for her mother, scrapbookers are some of the sickest people out there. Disney Porn? People search for Disney porn? DISNEY PORN???? I so don't want to see that person's scrapbooks.

flagg134 37M
1582 posts
8/10/2006 9:11 pm

Ugh I got rid of AOhelL a long time ago it was like pulling teeth. I got the hard sell the offer of 3 free months everything. Hell they could have tried to pay me and I still would have canceled rather than have to deal with their crap.

I remember hearing vincent's tape being played on the radio it was awful. They were telling him how often he had used their service and when he refuted it they basically called him a liar. Oh yeah thats how your gonna hold on to customers....sigh

Another thing interesting on that list....why would more people search out gaining weight instead of losing it????


MissAnnThrope replies on 8/10/2006 11:33 pm:
Yeah, I listed to it on You Tube. I would have been just as frustrated, especially when he started with my usage hours. According to the usage report, AOfuckinghelL was only not running when the guy was asleep.

The conspiracy theorist in me was intrigued with that service at first. The fact 23 was their magic number. As a lark, I even set up a chat room in there claiming it was a site owned by the Illuminati. Oh, the number of people who came in to tell me they were going to set up an accident for me, for revealing that...

Some people are naturally underweight and have to kill themselves to bulk up. I hate them all.

VCF1962 106F

8/13/2006 1:33 pm

Well my sub is coming up for renewal soon and the local cable people are now offering broadband at lower rates. I will probably sign up with them when it expires.

I also hear that they are shedding shit loads of staff on youe side of the Atlantic. Pissed me off when they started to charge for tech calls when that was the whole reason I stayed with them in the first place. Those calls can take hours - I don't mind paying more for a sub when the calls are free but to overcharge for subs AND charge for calls is one step too far. Can't wait till they expire !

Mistress Innuendo
Taking what you say and turning it into something naughty !!

MissAnnThrope replies on 8/14/2006 7:44 am:
I had heard about them dumping lots of staff. But I had no idea they were charging for tech support. They really have some nerve doing that. Their service is crappy as hell, the software can fuck up your machine massively and they want you to pay to talk to someone who will do nothing but read from a script until he gets to your problem? No wonder they're in trouble.

I would switch too. But back up everything on your computer, just in case you do have to reformat.

queenser 40M

2/26/2007 9:29 pm

Supposedly it was an MBA at Microsoft which came up with the idea to sell that e-mail system's users' personal information to advertisers, netting enough money to start a trend, this so-called information mining. Despicable really, but at the time---since it had not really been done before, at least not on that scale---not illegal, All I know is that if there is a corrupt admin on this site, a lot of us are up shyit's creek!

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