Cancelling troublesome accounts

I never understood why AOL would still be getting new customers, but many of those will decide they’ve made a terrible mistake. But cancelling once registered, for some people, would seem like climbing Everest.

Of course, a lot of people are already familiar with Vincent Ferrari‘s horrific experience. While he’s done a great service to bring this kind of nonsense to the spotlight, it isn’t really necessary for the rest of us to go through it.

And AOL is not alone in engaging in this behaviour though they do get the most flack for it. The same is true for many other ISPs, phone/cable companies and other services.

Those customer service people are specifically trained to behave this way. It is their job to frustrate you as much as possible until you give up the cancellation and continue to make payments (regardless of what a company says is their criteria for acceptable behaviour for employees). Don’t let them do that part of their job.

They can only engage in this if you get into a conversation with them. Always remember… This is not a conversation. It is a command. You are telling them to cancel your account. You are not suggesting they do it or ask for ways they can convince you to stay. As such, no conversation is required.

Of course, you will still go through automated welcome messages, being on hold for half a century, and other automated nonsense, but that’s not something you can control. However, you can control your own actions.

If you want to cancel your account for whatever service and you believe you will be frustrated by the experience, the following procedure will work with any type of account, any type of company and prevent such frustrations. It’s simple, direct and will save you a lot of agony, time and money.

First…
Tell your credit card company that you want all payments to the service to be stopped.

Then call up your service to be cancelled and tell them this…
“I’m calling to cancel my account. I no longer need it. Please cancel it.”

And if they keep talking…
“I’m sorry, but I’m not interested. I’m hanging up the phone now, and I expect the account to be cancelled. I have notified my credit card company to cease payment from today.
Thank you. Have a nice day.”

Don’t be angry or mean; just be direct.

Now if they still haven’t cancelled your account and you get a lovely letter telling you to make back payments, send a succinct reply. Preferably under 400 words.

I suggest the following format. Feel free to edit as necessary :

Dear [company]

I am a former user of your services and my account was [name/number]. I have cancel this account. I called customer service and spoke with [name of sales person] on [date of call] and made it clear I wanted to cancel this account. It was my understanding that [he/she] had done so.

As far as I am concerned the account has been cancelled on that day and I have not used [services] since. I have notified my credit card company to cease all payments to you following the above date. If your records do not reflect the cancellation, then it is an error on your part.

Please rectify your records to reflect the above cancellation.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

That’s it…

No emotion, no frustration, no cursing or flailing. There’s no point, since none of that will move them anyway and you will only succeed in shortening your own life. If they insist on sending you more mails, send them one more reply mentioning your lawyer. They should keep silent from then on. If not, send every subsequent letter from them directly to the shredder.

The only thing a company will really care about, consistently, throughout its entire existence, is money. That is why they have “customer service” in the first place. Not to placate you, but to lull you (or frustrate you) to get your money.

Customer service is there to do what you tell them to do or to fix something that you need fixing. If nothing needs fixing, there’s no need for conversation.

2 thoughts on “Cancelling troublesome accounts

  1. “The only thing a company will really care about, consistently, throughout its entire existence, is money. That is why they have “customer service” in the first place. Not to placate you, but to lull you (or frustrate you) to get your money.”
    So true. Many big companies put out people to calm down enraged customers, until HR can get the problem under control, so they can continue getting the customer’s money.

    -John

  2. Pingback: Christian Bale Cancels His AOL Account « This page intentionally left ugly

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