Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- Wednesday, January 29, 1997.

Miller: AOL Agrees to Refunds and Other Measures
to Solve On-line Access Problems

Des Moines-- Attorney General Tom Miller said Wednesday afternoon that America Online has agreed to make customer refunds to consumers who had difficulty getting access during December and January, and to curtail advertising and change cancellation procedures in order to help solve the problem.

"It's a big step in the right direction," Miller said. "The problem isn't over, but this will help reduce the problem and make it right for people who haven't been able to get on-line."

Demand for access to AOL soared when AOL moved to an unlimited access pricing plan for most customers late last year. AOL has stated that it is making every effort to upgrade its system to accommodate the high volume of traffic.

Miller said at least 35 states reached an agreement with AOL Wednesday afternoon, and that other states may join as well.

Miller said: "Our main objectives were that AOL should curtail any advertising that might recruit even more customers, sharply improve its cancellation procedures so people don't have to wait and aren't cut off, and to provide some kind of fair refunds to customers who are unable to use the system effectively."

He said AOL is halting several advertising campaigns until its network and system capacity can meet expected demand. Any other advertising must conspicuously disclose that "availability may be limited especially during peak hours."

Cancellation will be possible by fax and mail as well as by 800-number -- which many customers had found frustrating. The toll-free telephone number for cancellation is 1-800-827- 6364. The fax cancellation number is 801-622-7969. Cancellations are also accepted by mail at: America Online, P.O. Box 1600, Ogden, UT 84401-1600.

    Refunds or credits will be available to consumers who qualify under the following conditions:
  • AOL has offered a one-month "no questions asked" credit to any subscriber for future use of AOL. Consumers interested in receiving the one-month credit should write to: AOL, Box 511, Ogden, Utah 84402-0511.
  • OR AOL has agreed to provide graduated refunds to customers for December and/or January billing periods depending on which plan consumers are on and how much access they were able to use --
    • For consumers on $19.95 per month unlimited access plan:
      • less than 2 hours of access -- full refund;
      • 2 to 8 hours of access -- 50% refund;
      • 8-15 hours of access -- 25% refund.
    • For consumers on $9.95 per month metered access plan: less than 1 hour of access -- full refund; 1-3 hours of access -- 50% refund.
    • For consumer on $4.95 per month metered access plan: less than 1 hour of access -- full refund; 1-2 hours of access -- 50% refund.
To request one of the graduated refunds for complaints about access problems during December and/or January, consumers should call AOL at 800-827-6364or write to: AOL Member Refunds, P.O. Box 511, Ogden, UT 84402-0511. Consumers may lodge a complaint and request refunds for oneor both of the months.

Consumers may request either the one-month credit or a refund under the above plan, but not both.

"AOL is making a serious effort to solve the problem and provide appropriate restitution to consumers," Miller said, "but we still will be watching this situation."