'Your AOL Account Could Be Suspended.' (Are You Satisfied)

"Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 8:59 pm

From: Payments@aol


Dear Valued Member

We were unable to process your most recent payment. Please verify that your billing information is correct to avoid interruption of your AOL Services.

To ensure that your account is not interrupted, please update your billing information by clicking here:

If your information on file is not updated within 48 hours, we will temporarily suspend your AOL account.

Thank you

Michael Baldger

AOL Billing Center"

My wife and I conferred.

The facts:

  • "unable to process your most recent payment" -- hmmmmm. AOL is a free service and we made no recent payments.



  • This was the second notice in a couple of days -- the first intimated suspension; the second threatened retaliation.

  • We hoped the threat was an aberration -- until the arrival of the second email.

  • The URL appeared suspicious: scramble the URL "id0toi and it spells "idiot."

  • The biller's name -- Michael Baldger -- seemed spurious; rid the "L" from his last name and you have "badger."

    Cowards that we be, we acquiesced. We could not afford to have our lifeline terminated.

    The plunge into the rabbit hole:

    First Name

    Last Name

    Screen Name


    Confirmation of Password

    Method of Payment:

    Credit Card


    Credit Card Information:


    Expiration Date,

    Special Code (CV)

    Bank Name

    Account number

    (PIN) Personal IdentificationNumber.

    Filled out all fields.

    Clicked on Submit.

    Error message popup: We cannot complete your request.

    Try again. Same error message.


    My wife closed all personal information screens.

    I panicked.

    My wife said "fleeting expletive" them.

    Couldn't sleep. Cold sweats. Recurring nightmares: disconnection.

    Snuck down to home office middle of the night.



    AOL Billing office closed.

    Waited til dawn. Re-called.

    Lied to AOL automated guide. "Yes, premium service."

    Representative answers -- long winded, correctly articulated "English" response: "You have nothing to worry about. We, AOL, have spammed you."

    A day later:

    "AOL Member Satisfaction Survey

    Date: Tues, 28 Apr 2009 7:18pm



    Dear mhoscar:

    As you may recall, on Monday Apr 27 you contacted AOL. Our records show that Srikant, one of our customer Care Consultants, assisted you concerning a support issue. We continually strive to improve our customer service. One way we do this is by asking members like you for an evaluation of your most recent experience with AOL and the level of service we provided you. Please take the next few minutes to complete the survey located below.

    Click here to take the survey.

    Please respond within 7 days of the date this invitation was sent so we may provide timely feedback to the consultant who assisted you. After 7 days, this invitation will expire.

    However, if the information in the first paragraph of this e-mail does not look familiar, it means we have sent you this e-mail in error, so please do not take the survey - and accept our apologies for the inconvenience.

    If you have any questions or need additional Technical or Account Service help, please go to

    Thank you for your time - and choosing AOL.


    AOL Member Services"

    Perhaps Buffalo Springfield said it best:

    There is something happening here.

    What it is isn't exactly clear.

    There's a broadband Internet access service over there

    Telling us we've got to beware

    I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound

    Everybody look it's AOL going down

    Paranoia strikes deep

    Into your life it will creep

    It starts when you're always afraid

    You step out of line, and the provider will come and take your connection away

    I think it's time we stop, children, demand our rights

    Hopefully the Obama Administration will support our privacy fights

    What's that sound

    Everybody look it's AOL going down

    There's battle lines being drawn

    We're never right if the broadband provider's never wrong

    People speaking their minds

    Getting so much customer service resistance from behind

    I think that it's time they stop, what's that sound

    Everybody look it's AOL going down.

  • 8 comments about "'Your AOL Account Could Be Suspended.' (Are You Satisfied)".
    Check to receive email when comments are posted.
    1. Tom Fraticelli from The Roanoke Times, May 5, 2009 at 12:46 p.m.

      This is a joke right? No one would fill out all of that personal information, would thay?

    2. Linda Lopez from Independent, May 5, 2009 at 12:48 p.m.

      What?? And what's an AOL?

      Seriously, I almost double-deleted this right out of the box, since it had all the earmarks of a phishing email. Surprised you didn't do the same.

    3. Art Salisch from Hearst TV, May 5, 2009 at 12:59 p.m.

      Hey Mitch-
      Please paraphrase correctly...
      "What it is Ain't exactly clear..."

    4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 5, 2009 at 1:01 p.m.

      How about a Happy Trails, too?

    5. Janis Mccabe from jmod35, May 5, 2009 at 7:54 p.m.

      You can get AOL free now, but you know that already -- Don't you?

    6. Betty Pumpian from Pumpian Media, May 5, 2009 at 9:54 p.m.

      Mitch, it sounds like you've been phished! I've received this type of email several times and forwrded to AOL who advised it was phony.

    7. Mitch Oscar from HocusFocus, May 7, 2009 at 6:27 a.m.

      Interestingly, when I called AOL about the email they explained to me that they had sent out the spam. It was from them not anyone else. Figure that.

    8. Aaron B. from, May 7, 2009 at 12:01 p.m.

      I'm only reading this article now because my gmail account marked this message/column as spam....

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