AOL Watch reader Jon Parker reports that he wasn't able to opt-out of AOL's pop-up advertisements -- like at least ten others AOL subscribers...

But -- as is often true on AOL -- that was only the beginning...

Curious about the new Terms of Service that I read about in AOL Watch, on Thursday, I activated an AOL account. You can add me to the list of those who has found it impossible to set marketing preferences.

AOL asked me to confirm my registration information by telephone, calling an 800 line (that was answered by a real customer "service" rep on the first ring.... as opposed to tech support and cancellation requests).

After confirmation, I was told that I was eligible for an additional month of free time, but that I would have to speak to someone who was "authorized" to credit me with it. (Can you say marketing pitch coming up? Sure you can).

The transfer (also answered on the first ring) was a guy who, in best telemarketing manner, started rattling off the reasons for me to sign up with AOL's long distance service partner, Tele-Save. I interrupted, saying that I was perfectly happy with Sprint, my current carrier.

"But Sprint's best rate is 10 cents a minute... this is only nine," he yelled.

"I'm on Sprint's cash back program. Every year, they send me a check for 10 percent of my long distance. That means I only pay nine cents. But if I switch carriers in mid year, I lose what I've accumulated. I'm not going to do that. Besides, I've been with them for a long time, and they give me great service."

The salesman was becoming audibly agitated and angry by this time. Apparently refusing to sign up with AOL for long distance, and receiving a free month, just isn't done. AOL continues to do everything they can to make it impossible for you to refuse their marketing.

Given AOL's record of sleazy sales tactics, I'm half afraid I'll be switched anyway without permission.

Still more preference troubles
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