Question re. AoL Contract

  AngeTheHippy 18:57 20 Feb 2007

Hi Chaps,
My friend uses AoL as her BB provider. She's been with them 1yr 4 months. When the 1st year came up, she phoned to cancel the contract. They kept her
talking 40 minutes, telling her all the benefits, why she really should stay with AoL. They even agreed to lower the monthly charge from I think it was £14.99 to £9.99 for the coming year. She said she would agree to it as long as the service she got didn't degrade in any way.

The service HAS degraded - she gets disconnected, emails she sends never reach their destination.

She phoned them today, said she wanted to cancel the contract as they are not fulfilling their promise to provide a reasonable BB service.

Again, they listened then said she really should stay with them, she should phone the faults line 3 times in succession then get connected to an Engineer (other than a desk person I suppose ?)who wouldn't just talk to anyone on the first fault call.

All these numbers are 0870. I did however, supply her with an alternative number (an 0800 ).

During the past 16 months, she has PAID an independent Engineer to change external and internal cabling to her phone socket/PC. Purchased another adsl cable.

I understand she originally received paperwork via snailmail and signed the contract then, but it was a verbal agreement last October when they said they would hold the charge to £9.99/month for a year. It seems AoL really REALLY don't wanna lose customers!

Question is this. Is a **verbal agreement** legal and binding in this case? The original contract would (I believe) have been for a 12-month period in the first instance. They have NOT fulfilled their part of the contract - to provide broadband connection AND e-mail service. Both have proved faulty.

Thanks in advance - sorry I've gone on a bit with this...


  SLAYER 19:10 20 Feb 2007

With AOL,you normally get an confirmation email when there is a change of contract.I certainly did after threatening to move.I wasn't getting a bad service,just wanted a better deal plus a wireless router free.

I now have three PC connected to a router,not the free one,and never lose my connection.

On occasion AOL shuts down.But with a router your still connected so not a problem.

Doesn't answer your question though.They'll be some legal eagles out there to better answer that.

  AngeTheHippy 19:15 20 Feb 2007

Yeah, understand why u found them expensive. I'm with Eclipse (since July '04) and am surprised that I can't find any provider that doesn't impose 12 or 18 month contracts! Mine was and is 30 days I think!



  Forum Editor 19:19 20 Feb 2007

The short answer is yes, a verbal agreement has as much force as a written one, although of course it's that much more difficult to resolve problems with a verbal contract - there aren't any written terms and conditions.

Anybody who enters into an agreement to provide a service must do exactly that, or the other party to the contract may escape it. The problems start when one person says the service isn't up to standard and the other one says it is. Broadband internet access is a notoriously difficult area because there can be no hard and fast guarantees - no ISP can categorically state that a certain set of conditions will apply at all times, and there will be circumstances beyond anyone's control.

The thing to do, if you get the feeling that a service isn't being properly provided is to gather together some evidence. Record performance over a period of say, a couple of weeks, and once you have your facts, talk to the company. Tell them you're not satisfied, and ask them what they can do about it. If you receive a non-committal response record that, too. There comes a point when you feel that you've done everything that can reasonably expected of you, and still you don't have the service you're paying for, and that's the time to act. Give your provider one month's notice of your intention to terminate the agreement, and tell them why.

A service provider should take non-delivery of emails very seriously, and if that happened to me I wouldn't wait very long before jumping ship.

  AngeTheHippy 19:17 23 Feb 2007

sorry been off board few days. Thank you for your help with this one, have posted your answers to my friend and she gonna do as you suggest, F.E.

Thanks again, will tell you the outcome, but may take a few weeks.


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