Why AOL Sucks
so, what else is new?

've been trying to find a one word adjective that best fits AOL. The best I can come up with at present is "cloying".

cloy(kloi) v. cloyed, cloy·ing, cloys. --tr. 1. To cause distaste or disgust by supplying with too much of something originally pleasant, especially something rich or sweet; surfeit. --intr. To cause to feel surfeited.
We should begin here with the understanding that many companies involved with the Web also share this attribute ... but AOL ... has got to be the worst.

I first signed on in early 1995. It was quite easy to do. For some time I enjoyed the service. But when I became computer-web proficient, I realized that there were many deficiencies actually (and consciously) designed into their business model that were insulting ... such as their original refusal to let a browser be used independently outside of the AOL window.

Let me list some of their crap as best I can remember.

  • The AOL ftp uploader ... This "toy" is an embarrassment requiring the user to upload each and every file ... one at a time ... and ... type the name of each and every file not once but twice to complete the drawn out process (about twenty clicks per file ! ... plus typing). I found later that buying and configuring WS_ftpPro solved this problem. But ... It was painfully apparent that AOL did not want its users to make heavy use of their free megabytes of storage space.
  • The URL of every AOL user page is http://members.aol.com/joe_user , rather that something less lengthy such as mb.aol.com or m.aol.com ... why all the extra letters? ... I inquired about this but got no reply and finally moved my site off AOL's servers and onto Verio for reliability and my own domain. You see, AOL can't offer you a personal domain name (even if you pay for it) because it would carry no advertisement for AOL.
  • Currently, every user page is http://home.aol.com/Joe_user ... PLUS ... you are forced to display an AOL banner (they supply it as an Ask Jeeves type frame).
  • They still kick you off at unexpected intervals. I've found myself logged off for inactivity after as little as 5 minutes, i.e. log on and go to the Web and 5 minutes later ... hasta la vista. Reason: You're only supposed to look at their stuff. They actively hinder your exploration of the rest of the web.
  • My step-daughter downloaded AOL 5.0 (as a favor to me). She chose the "default" option and caused many problems because doing so gives AOL the right to overun your hard drive. They run amuck resetting everything to their advantage. They battle their competitors using your hard drive as the battlefield.
  • They "hijacked" my icons so that all HTM files would open ... AND ... connect to AOL when clicked.
  • I had AOL 4.0 on my hard drive but couldn't use it until I found out how to disable 5.0.
  • I had Freei.net on my desktop but couldn't use it because ... to AOL ... the use of another service is forbidden even if you don't have AOL loaded at the time and click on another company's icon !
  • Why would anyone have the gall to do this even if you chose them as your default browser? I call this semi-legal manuever ... "spiking" in deference to Ty Cobb who would slide into a base and try to injure the oposing fielder.

    Expect to see many more examples of spiking in coming years ... including actual criminal debilitation or outright destruction of a competitor's software during installation of a new program (on your hard drive).

  • I tried to uninstall 5.0 but AOL's uninstaller can only be used to uninstall older copies of AOL software. I didn't dare use the Windows uninstaller because neither of these companies is trustworthy today. I suspected that I would have been left with no ISP service at all and would be facing a possible reformat.
  • I located a file in AOL's software that looked suspicious so I deleted that and could then use Freei.net.
  • Whenever I opened IE5 ... AOL started as well and tried to connect to the internet. I disabled this screwy crap in IE5's preferences. But the question remains as to why that option exists in IE5. It takes three clicks to open IE5, AOL and go on line ... Why would anyone want to default themselves into no option to open just IE5? To save two clicks? ... This is collusion. Tying one piece of software to another using the specious argument of saving mouse-clicks, is patently absurd.
  • AOL will not allow it's members to use another email program. If you click on a "mailto:" tag on a web page, you might have, say, Outlook Express open and ask to be configured ... but ... you need a mail server, i.e. info from AOL which they won't give out. I tried to get an answer from AOL techies and got a reply which offered a means to use another email program but it was so abstruse that I would have had to take an email configuration class to figure it out.
    Thus, AOL members must have an email address if they wish to email someone from the browser (outside of AOL's window) ... and go back to the AOL window to use it's mail program. Sometimes I've had to examine the html code for a page to find the email address which is not always shown on the web page ... and God help you if it's embedded in a frame.
  • AOL's truncated version of IE5 or 4 or whatever the hell it is ... is really quite inferior to the others when used independently. And I don't like that big fat tool bar, which I don't use, taking up my real estate.
  • I made the mistake of using the AOL Visa Card to pay my monthly bill. Later, I decided that the interest rate was too high and wanted to use another card. Well, would you believe it ... once you have chosen AOL Visa there is no way out. You're stuck with it. I've been all round this ... and there is no way to do it and no explanation. I wonder what the explanation is? Well, my only out was to pay that card in full every month to avoid interest. Also, they have a "rewards program". When you get enough points you get a free month ... well, HOW you do this is very well buried so that many people will just give up. I dug it out.
  • Lately, I've been getting cut off all the time just like two years ago. But then ... who doesn't? I don't find this service reliable at all.
  • Sometimes I click on an item in AOL's opening screen and get treated to 63 images to load . They have more graphics than content. Is it any wonder that I want to go out on the web independently? Who wants to sit and wait for minutes to see buttons & pics when all I want is the football score? And ... the first window that comes up (eventually) rarely has anything to do with the what you clicked ... It's just another step along the way to that info (including more ads).
  • I got email the other day from AOL stating that my preference to not see their pop up ads is due to expire soon ! ... Is that gall or what? And I pay for this ????
  • Addendum 11/29/99 : As for AT&T ... it sucks too. I loaded their old software and it ran fine. Then I (more or less involuntarily) downloaded their "upgrade" and AT&T hijacked my Registry ! I have a setting in IE5 for Tools-Internet Options-Connections = "Never dial a connection". Every time I reboot, that setting is changed to "Always dial my default connection" ... and of course, AT&T made itself the default on MY HARD DRIVE ... without asking. Now, to defeat this viral attack, I must go into the registry and manually "unf__k" myself from their depredations. Needless to say, AT&T will NOT be my ISP. I can only hope that I don't have to reformat because of the quack operations performed on my machine by these "reputable companies".

    This crap should really be illegal. It certainly is unethical in the extreme. It's another form of B & E.

    There are plenty of other things that I find objectionable about AOL but if there were not something of general interest here I would not bother to make a page of it.

    What we have here is an instance of something I have touched on before ...

    the production of income
    as opposed to
    the production of goods and services.

    The fundamental process at work here is the capture of eyes to view ads. AOL, Yahoo, Excite, Netscape, etc. are no longer interested in offering a needed service to the consumer ... rather, their primary concern is to produce income ... as an end in itself.

    There is a line of demarcation. Everyone wishes to obtain income. It is the byproduct of either productive or criminal activity (in these cases neither of two - a balancing act!). The deciding question is "What good is offered to civilization in exchange for looking at your ads?". All that can occur is a shift in lateral buying habits. We're not going to buy more or less ... just from somebody else. Therein lies the real goal ... increase MY income while giving you nothing in return. (Just ads)

    This is an economic bubble no different that the "Tulip Bubble" of centuries past. It will burst soon enough ... they always do ... and many will go with it (not necessarily those who currently benefit).

    Every man has an exalted opinion of his own worth.

    Give him a billion dollars and he can convince himself that it's actually true. He's a superman! Hence, Steve Case, Bill Gates, etc. is going to drive the market rather than be driven by it. He knows what is good for you rather than offering what he thinks you might want. The economy is his "bull" to be lead by a ring in the nose (just look how many already have a real ring there!).

    A billion dollars brings out the larceny in any man ... and the self-delusion.

    Information is not the valuable commodity that you are being lead to believe. You can't eat it, drive it or be warmed by it. At least 99% of the information being collected and disseminated on the internet is simply worthless ... as worthless as the paper fortunes now being "produced".

    If you are gambling you life savings on some internet "idea" ... take back half of it ... that way if you get caught with your pants down you won't have to contemplate suicide.

    This has all happened before.

    This happened also after this page appeared.

    Attn: AOL Visa Card users

    The AOL or Amazon.com credit card database has been hacked.

    OR ... Either AOL or Amazon has sold AOL Visa numbers to third parties.

    Reason: During the past few weeks, having decided to get away from AOL, I installed AT&T's software, as well as Freei.net, and Altavista.com. These ISPs were not given my card number. I ordered one book from Amazon.com and pay regularly my bill from AOL. On 11/28/99 ... $19.95 was charged to my AOL visa account for a fraudulently set up Sprint/Earthlink ISP account. This was set up and billed to me from somewhere outside of my home without my consent. I have cancelled the fraudulent Earthlink account and am in the process of cancelling my AOL Visa card since the number has been compromised.

    Because the Earthlink account was set up in my name with my personal data it could only have originated with AOL or Amazon and because it was done in my name (for my "benefit") I suspect Sprint since they have been implicated in other frauds in the past. No one else has had access to my data. If you have one of these cards ... check your balance regularly for fraudulent charges.

    Go to AOL Sucks II for update.

    Good grief ...

    Addendum 12/25/04 :

    12/14/36 ----------------AOL still sucks
      I had the misfortune to try to help a co-worker fix his DVD player on his computer (the software one). Having failed to fix it with "restore" on my first attempt last week, I went back today and tried to download a fresh copy of WinDVD. Unfortunately, he had AOL 8.0 and I spent my limited lunch hour trying to get through that mess to get to Google ... then to a download site.
      I couldn't start the download because of time constraints. It took twenty minutes to get online and to the download site but I didn't make it to the download page itself. What got in the way was a continuous stream of ads, search options and general "AOL takeover garbage". As soon as I x'd out one interloper ... another took its place.
      It was exactly like that ad on tv where the guy is zapping pop-ups like it's a video game. I was getting really frustrated and started cursing ... "Get out of the way! You shit" ... "Die, mutha' fucka'". But they just kept coming. With only a dialup connection of about 8K per second, this garbage was yanking off 7K at least (probably more) to send me whatever I didn't ask for. The adware and spyware on his machine ate all the bandwidth ... and AOL was the biggest "gulprit".
      Finally, I had to give up the enterprise. Downloading something in the presence of AOL is just not feasible. I tried to minimize AOL and just run IE on its own, but AOL wouldn't let me. It insisted that I needed 75% of the screen taken up with AOL options. The internet, on AOL, looks like the picture in the corner on CNN's Headline News (which is owned by AOL). And when I tried to go off-line, AOL didn't even have the decency to die properly. I had to resort to control-alt-delete ... three freakin' times to kill it. It stuck around like freaking Rasputin. F--k AOL.
      Let me repeat that ...

    F--k AOL
    and Steve Case too.

    Addendum 3/27/05 :

    From: Bruce, in so ca
    Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 22:48:47 EST

    I went to google.com and typed in "WHY AOL SUCKS". If you are the author of the first article that came up; Thank You. You said everything that is true about AOL. You forgot to include the fact that if you need AOL customer service, or "TECH SUPPORT", you are calling someone who has their donkey tied up outside, in India. Not only do I want my money to go to U.S. citizens, The people who you get hooked up to SUCK. I am not as educated as you are in the computer field, but understand most of your article. I cancelled AOL, and they won't go away. I tried to hook up to an AMERICAN ISP dial up, and good 'ol AOL interferes with my decision to hook up to someone else. Why this is not illegal, is beyond me. The more I tell them to FUCK OFF AND DIE, OR THEY SUCK, it seems they like it. I ordered Verizon DSL, it's on it's way. If you get to this message, will I be able to be free of AOL? Or do I have to buy a new hard drive or computer? AOL also scans E- mail for marketing purposes. I hope they read this one too, AOL SUCKS MORE THAN EVER!

    To be finished with AOL may take months like a drawn out divorce. You can erase your hard drive and reload the operating system to accelerate the process. I advocate deleting anything AOLish from any new computer you might buy before loading your programs into it. Don't give them a foothold anywhere. Also, don't go near Netscape ISP or that browser. It's AOL's and probably contains all sorts of adware and spyware. [Note: I don't mean Mozilla Firefox which is eminently usable and which I endorse and use about equally with IE.] - EBTX 3/27/05

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