AOL wouldn't let a subscriber block AOL's pop-up ads.

But that was only the beginning...

I have been trying since early this morning to access the sub-category, under "Market Preferences", which supposedly allows a customer to block incoming "Pop-Up" ads.

As you pointed out, two more boxes come up after "Market Preferences"; the last gives you instructions to check a small box which says "No...", and then hit "OK".

Hitting "OK" supposedly sends a command to accept this preference... but instead, up comes an hourglass. It hangs INDEFINITELY (bottom line: you **cannot** choose the preference, not to accept pop-ups)

A call to a faceless subcontracted tech support person in Tucson, AZ., kept me on the phone for about half an hour. After sharing my complaint with a number of other community helpers online, the tech had me perform the usual "AOL exercises": I had to "clear my cache" (an old favorite, accomplishing essentially nothing); I was asked in a suspicious way what "version" I was using; I'm surprised they didn't suggest that my modem was no good (also an old AOL tech advice favorite).

I expressed my unhappiness with this inability to block AOL SPAM, and the tech offered to send me a letter BY MAIL, ostensibly to start the machinery rolling for THEM to set my preference for me.

I suggested that this whole problem may be more intentional than technical. I told him I would be writing to your newsletter with an assessment of the problem, and that I would send him a copy, if he would pass the e-mail along to someone at a corporate level.

He assured me there WAS NO ONE available to him, to whom he could possibly forward this complaint... but that "maybe someone around here knows who to send this to". I pressed him to commit to following through on the process. He would not.

I always enjoy your newsletter (I find it it real interesting that issues you made public over a year ago about America Online's creative accounting practices, only made the mainstream financial news YESTERDAY!), and I now am of the mind that "technical problems" are sometimes CREATED by AOL to stifle a customer's ability not to be victimized. Keep up the noise. Maybe NEXT year, this particular problem will be addressed.

Or not.

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