The impossibilities of dealing with AOL

  [DELETED] 23:07 24 Aug 2003

I have an AOL account. Or, rather, I did. For I have had my account suspended by the thought-nazis in the COS department.

Now, the difficulties in dealing with AOLs rather eleastic Conditions of Service can give you brain ache.

Firstly, if someone makes a complaint about a posting that you've made you get a warning e-mail together with the text that has breached their COS rules. However, the text is always yours, and it doesn't show what you've been responding to. Thus it's taken out of context.

Secondly, the standards applied are anything BUT standard. AOL seems to have a set of movable goalposts, such that one user can post the most appalling material and get away with it, and another user posting exactly the same material will be suspended. The rules seem to be heavily biased towards the left-leaning political perspective, which given Ted Turner's politics is hardly surprising. However, the application of American 'political correctness' in the UK is not welcome.

Lastly, there is the difficulty in dragging from the AOL COS staff exactly what was 'offensive' in one's posting. Thye won't tell you, either, who made the decision. They also refuse to tell you the address for AOL in the UK, or a telephone number for the head office. They refuse to tell you the names and e-mail addresses of the managers of the various department.

In short, AOL acts as judge, jury and executioner, as well as behaving like the secret police organisations of totalitarian sates.

It seems quite perverse to me that a customer is denied access to the people whose services are being bought.

Has anyone else experienced this sort of thing? Are any other ISPs better in this respect?

  Forum Editor 23:56 24 Aug 2003

but I can't see how we can help. When you sign up with AOl (or any other ISP for that matter) you agree to accept their conditions of service.

If you breach said conditions you are liable to have your account suspended or terminated - it's their decision. AOL online moderators make decisions based on their own judgments - I do the same in this forum - and there's no rule that says those decisions have to be explained or justified.

My experience in this forum is that everyone who has their access terminated feels a sense of injustice, and I suppose that's only to be expected. What one person calls "apalling" may be acceptable to another. It's impossible to edit or moderate an online forum based on a strict set of rules, and to a large degree you make editorial decisions on the fly. In my case the overriding principle is that of common decency. I will not tolerate personal abuse, racially offensive comment, religious intolerance, sexually explicit remarks, incitements to boycott suppliers, or statements likely to be libellous.

Forgive me, but calling people "thought-nazis" is offensive in the extreme, and if that's a sample of the tenor of your forum contributions it hardly surprises me that you are in suspension.

  [DELETED] 00:57 25 Aug 2003

Without wishing to comment on the merits ro otherwise of your claims, the full details for contacting AOL ore on their main page under Contact Details - Including addresses and telephone numbers.

I have to say that I and several of my clients have experience of their somewhat arbitrary approach - when they cut off access to aol email addresses from one of Spains largest ISPs - on the grounds of "excessive spam" emmanating from addresses on that ISP.

However, on mine and several other peoples complaints, we did get a civil email response from them, inviting us to try again "in a few days" - at which time access had been restored.

Not an entirely satisfactory situation, but at least resaolved.

I suggest if you approach them in a reasonable manner, you might get a more reasoned response.

However, at the end of the day, the FE is absulutely correct - forums are private arrangements, and access to them is under the sole gift of the forum provider. If you feel their contract terms are unfair/unreasonable, there is a legal remedy - but i wouldn't try to take them to Court if t'were me!

Email is somewhat different, and more akin to a public service, and should be governed by more transparent rules, IMHO.

  [DELETED] 01:27 25 Aug 2003


The forum is populated by fellow computer users, and if you act upon any advice you are given in the forum threads you do so entirely at your own risk. The opinions expressed by registered forum users and the Forum Editor are not necessarily those of IDG Communications Ltd., and the company will not be liable for the consequences of following advice given in this forum by other registered users.

  [DELETED] 02:44 25 Aug 2003

I'm sorry to hear your account has been suspended by AOL, but, if you have stepped over the mark in one of the forums, it must have been pretty serious to even receive a bar from the forum itself.

To have your account suspended is most unusual, they are losing money for every day you are not on-line. I have been reading through my contract, and can only find suspension being used after several warnings. Are you sure your account has been cancelled? Not just a suspension from the AOL forums. Regards. j.

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