Web firm caught in popularity net
Friday 31 January 1997
The telephone lines have been clogged ever since AOL hit upon what seemed in December like the brilliant idea of allowing subscribers unlimited access to the service for a flat monthly rate of $19.95 (pounds 12.30). But, because local calls in America are virtually free, web junkies have been staying on and on and on-line, sending e-mail, surfing the Web and nattering in chat rooms.
At peak hours, which means usually the evening, only the lucky few succeed in getting through. For it turns out, as AOL confessed last week, that only 3.5 per cent of its subscribers can be on-line at any one time.
In response to an outcry by customers the attorneys general of 36 states initiated proceedings to hold AOL accountable. "You can't offer something to a subscriber and then not be able to deliver," said James Ryan, the attorney general of Illinois.
AOL could not but agree and will now be offering full refunds to customers in the US - but not abroad - who used the service for less than two hours either in December or January. As part of the agreement with the legal authorities, AOL will also suspend advertising in February to try and stop its customer base growing beyond the present figure of 8 million.
Interestingly, AOL's stock rose by $2 per share after the agreement was announced, the calculation having been that the company will not be paying out much more than $25m (pounds 15.4m) in compensation but will more than make up the shortfall in the long run by demonstrating its determination to forge a responsible relationship with its customers.
The competition, however, is happy. CompuServe, which lags far behind AOL in subscribers, launched a new television advertisement on Sunday. The screen went blank and you heard a telephone number being dialled followed by a busy signal, then again and then again.
Then a message appeared urging viewers to subscribe to CompuServe by dialling 1-888-NOT-BUSY.
- 1 Ashya King missing: Police hunt five-year-old boy with brain tumour snatched from Southampton hospital by his parents
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
- 5 Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Ashya King missing: Police hunt five-year-old boy with brain tumour snatched from Southampton hospital by his parents
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
Californian drought is so severe it's 'causing the ground to move'
Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >
£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...
£400 - £500 per day: Orgtel: Test Manager - Banking - West Yorkshire - £400-£5...
£19000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have be...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: JOB DESCRIPTION - NURSERY ROOM LEADER...