Yesterday, America Online (AOL) confirmed recent rumors that they are dropping fees for broadband users. Anyone who accesses the Internet via a broadband connection can now use AOL's email, software, parental controls, and other features for free. That goes for existing customers and new members alike.
But if you still use dial-up and need AOL as your Internet service provider, you can't have a free account.
Neener, neener, neener.
I've been an AOL member since 1993. When I joined, I think there were about half a million subscribers. For the past five years or so, if not longer, my husband and I have rarely used AOL. We kept the account as a backup and because we'd given my mother, who didn't have broadband service, a screen name. We could have closed the account, but we continued to subsidize my mom's Internet access mostly because it was cheap: we stayed on the $9.95/month plan, which gave us five hours of service, for almost the entire 13 years. My mother was very conscientious about liming her Internet use until about a year ago, when she apparently started chattin' it up on MySpace or something and routinely going over the allotted hours, costing me at least as much as the $22.95 (at the time) fee for unlimited service. That's when I switched to the unlimited plan.
But now Mom has broadband (and cable phone service too — you've come a long way, baby!). Naturally, because it would save me money, she didn't want to give up her AOL account, even though she's paying for email and Web access through her cable provider. (Why do I suddenly hear her lecture long ago about buying the cow and getting the milk for free?) So a couple of months ago, my husband and I talked about just switching the AOL bill to my mother's credit card. But then we got busy with other stuff and forgot all about it.
Now, I can keep the account live without having to pay or make my mother pay. Oh, happy day. $1500 and thirteen years of AOL customer-hood, and I'm finally getting something - but I'm not sure what - for my inexplicable refusal to cancel the account.