I am a subscriber to AOL and I can thoroughly recommend it. But new subscribers should be made aware that there are three charge rates in operation at AOL: the basic five hours for pounds 5.95 per month with a charge per hour thereafter; 20 hours for pounds 15.95 per month with a charge per hour thereafter; or unlimited access for pounds 15.95 per month.
Option three first became available for a trial period to new subscribers at the end of last year. It was not available to existing users. When I found out about the unlimited access option, I e-mailed the AOL accounts department asking to put on to this rate. They refused, saying that it was only a trial offer for evaluation and to see if the feedback was favourable.
I explained that my monthly bill was the equivalent of the charge that would grant me unlimited access on many ISPs and asked for an explanation as to why only the most expensive rate was offered to new users. I did not receive an explanation.
Eventually, after much e-mailing, I managed to get on to the second rate option and I am now being billed accordingly. I still feel cheated that there are other users paying a fraction of my bill when I have been loyal to AOL for many months.
There has been a lot of discussion on the message boards and the live chat pages about the unlimited access. Some of the people on the unlimited access rate are people who cancelled their subscription earlier in 1996, but were offered the new charge scheme to lure them back. You can imagine the anger this causes to the thousands who would like to be on the new rate but are being prevented by AOL.
Perhaps someone from AOL can explain what's going on with the different rates and when we can expect one flat rate for unlimited access.