UPDATE: Hey everyone I do have a Gmail account and use that 95% of the time. I also have Yahoo, Hotmail and what ever else there is. Please take all this energy you have to help me and use it to shoot scud missiles at AOL headquarters.

This morning discovered I have a backlog of about 8 week’s worth of unsent email in my AOL account, which explains why so many people have been rudely not answering my emails. IN reality I have been rudely not answering my emails. If you suddenly get an email wishing you a happy Thanksgiving, that is why.

At home I have used a program called AOL Communicator for many years and when I started it was a very useful program. I could bulk delete message with drag and drop, do the same with moving messages to folders, search everything globally and it created handy archives. The program was made for MAC and of course AOL stopped updating it five years ago or so. Since they stopped updating the actual AOL software itself for Mac with OS X, I can’t say I’m surprised.

You may be asking why do I even keep AOL around? I ask myself that, as well. It’s really just nostalgia for having the same email I’ve been using for 15 years or so. However, there really is no way to use AOL usefully any more. The web interface is unbearable — you have to keep clicking on menus to read mail and deleting is a pain in the ass. I keep trying to set it up through Mail, the Mac program, but keep getting SMTP errors (which seems to be the source of the problem with the unsent mail, as well.)

In desperation I decided to send an “Away” message to the friends who still use my AOL account to let them know what was going on. Logging onto the online interface I see you cannot edit your away message.


I could try to actually contact AOL, but I know from experience that that will mean over an hour on hold while I’m shuttled around and in the end no one will have any answers and say that they don’t support Communicator any more.

AOL is truly one of the most incompetent companies that ever started out with a good idea and never knew where to go from there. So many times I think that Warners deserved what it got when it bought this piece of crap company.

So thank you AOL. And fuck you, too.


  1. Drop ’em Heidi.
    I went through the same thing. Can you believe I was an hour on the phone just to cancel my account? No good no good.

  2. I’ve been trying to wean myself off my AOL email account for nearly 2 years in the hope that my Dad will switch ISP to someone less annoying – it still gets emails from a few persistent types even now though. I have never had much trouble setting it up to work through Mail.app though, so I just have a signature and manually reply to all emails sent there telling people to update their address books.

    Hope you get it sorted though, they are a pain to deal with.

  3. I left AOL years back.

    I’d recommend something like fastmail.fm. It’s free (although I’ve upgraded to $50/year for extra features). Great support, and I can pull in email from accounts like AOL and hotmail so I don’t lose them. Add a domain for a few bucks a year, and my name is my email (ray at raycornwall dot com).

  4. Like Heidi, I have had my AOL email accounts for over 15 years, so I am loathe to get rid of them, even if I only use them now for signing up for mailing lists and filling out required forms on blogging sites.

  5. Like others, I dropped my AOL account a long time ago. Especially since, A. they charged you for it’s use and B. it’s ‘associated’ with the government. Basically, everything you do through AOL can be found out by the gov, without your approval. AOL is more than happy to hand over your personal info to whoever wants it in the gov’t.

    I worked for the gov’t and I didn’t feel safe with AOL.

  6. As one of the millions employed by Time Warner, I’ll let you know that we’ve been ignoring this portion of the company since we dropped the AOL from AOL-TW. I don’t know how many/what they do down in Virginia, but we don’t really care anymore. It was a big sigh of relief when the CEOs who made the crappy deal flew the coop. Can I suggest setting you up with RoadRunner?

  7. As one of the millions employed by Time Warner, I’ll let you know that we’ve been ignoring this portion of the company since we dropped the AOL from AOL-TW. I don’t know how many/what they do down in Virginia, but we don’t really care anymore. It was a big sigh of relief when the CEOs who made the crappy deal flew the coop. Can I suggest setting you up with RoadRunner?

  8. Here’s a story I enjoy telling about how I shed AOL. I had an AOL account many years ago, one of those free 6-month trial periods (I eventually went with another cheaper ISP). Everytime I tried to cancel (by phone only of course), they would talk me into extending another free 3 or 6 months. Of course, they made it less of a hassle to extend than to try to cancel–they were trying to keep their subscriber numbers up, even those who weren’t actually paying. Anyway, the third time I needed to call before the period expired (at which time I would be charged), I came up with a plan that would prevent them from trying to talk me out of canceling: I simply told them that I got rid of my computer. The service rep (who usually are monitored by their supervisors and are required to fight to keep customers) read between the lines and said sarcastically, “Oh, so you upped and threw your computer away?” I simply replied, “Yes,” and they promptly canceled my account. I had AOL for a year without ever paying before I finally could cancel it.

  9. i believe the Internet Jesus breathes life into any leprous technology with a healthy dose of whiskey and curses.

    i’d be mad as snakes about that crap AOL pulled, too. i can’t imagine that huge a backlog of emails left unsent in my folder.


  10. I don’t use AOL anymore. I do still have a mail account with them, because, well it’s free.

    You can hook up your Gmail to take messages from AOL and put them in your Gmail inbox. You can also make it possible to write e-mail as if it was coming from your AOL account on your gmail account. I have everything but yahoo and Hotmail connected in my one Gmail account.

    Yahoo wants you to pay for pop3 and Hotmail doesn’t even work with Gmail, as far as I know.

  11. Your last few lines gave me a laugh. Seems I never go a week without another AOL horror story – either in my inbox or seen online. If you want to cancel AOL there’s pages on my blog (yes, pages) that explain how.

    AOL Communicator is one product I never got into at all, not even to test it. I might have to download it now (do they make it for Windows?) just to see how much it sucks.

    Did you get any replies to your belated emails? Amazing – even snail mail gets to people about 54 days faster.

  12. The Beat said:
    “The real question is how on earth does Warren Ellis manage HIS account!”
    It’s magic; he doesn’t have to explain it.
    This explains why I never got a Thanksgiving, Christmas, or birthday greetings from you. Or Independence Day, or Memorial Day, or Easter, and worst of all Valentine’s Day. I am heartbroken. Especially about the Valentine’s Day greetings. They used to mean so much to me. I guess this means our imaginary relationship is over. {{sob}} {{choke}}

  13. I keep the free email account because it’s free, I’ve had it since 1995, and they do an excellent job of filtering spam and viruses. I keep my Yahoo address because AOL didn’t save messages longer than a month, and i file stuff there for future use.
    Most of my email use is via an internet browser, so I don’t use AIM or Messenger or any other program. I keep things simple. AOL was rather helpful when i changed from paying to the free status.
    AOL’s internet mailbox does allow you to go with the modern version, or switch to the classic. I’ve got some old 3.0 floppies lying around, but you would need to find a disc drive for your MAC and run it on Classic.
    ah…the good old days when you had to dialup at 14k, pay by the minute, and download your mailbox for working offline! now i do all that faster on my cellphone.

  14. can’t i cancel it and still keep the email address? i feel like an idiot..i only log onto it to check email. but i’ve had aol forever…