AOL Pricing Shenanigans — AOL has managed to get itself in hot water with its new pricing plan, which takes effect 01-Dec-96. The new plan offers unlimited AOL service (including Internet access) for $19.95 per month – not a bad deal for some users. But what AOL only mentioned in the fine print, tucked away in a special forum, is that AOL intends to convert all existing accounts over to this new plan unless a subscriber specifically selects a different option. In other words, unless you tell AOL you don’t want the new pricing plan, you’ll automatically be billed for it. For typical AOL users, this means a fee increase of $10 per month.
A group of state attorney generals have been examining AOL’s actions, and last week Washington State Attorney General Christine Gregoire announced a letter of agreement with AOL under which AOL will have to inform customers actively of the pricing change before they can access AOL services. Customers will have until 31-Mar-97 to make a positive assent to the new pricing plan, and subscribers who don’t access AOL before the 01-Dec-96 deadline will be credited the difference between the new pricing plan and their previous subscription option. Still, the bottom line is that AOL is changing its rates effective 01-Dec-96, and if you have an AOL account, your rates will probably go up unless you intervene. [GD]