AOL Tries to Extort Bogus Fees From Wall Street Journal Writer

AOL tried to squeeze a little over $100 in fees from a customer for upgrades he hadn't asked for, hadn't approved, hadn't used and of which he hadn't even been notified. Unluckily for AOL, that customer is a professional writer.

Current Wall Street Journal writer Jason Zweig used to work for a Time-Warner-owned magazine, and when Time Warner merged with AOL, he and his colleagues all received free AOL email accounts. Zweig gave his to his wife, who used it up until last year.

But recently, Zweig started receiving phone calls from AOL's customer service reps in India, saying he owed $103.60 for an upgrade he knew nothing about. Turns out the terms of agreement he signed years ago may (or may not) have included a section allowing AOL to upgrade his service and charge him for it. Zweig point-blank refused to pay for any ridiculous upgrade that may well not exist, and AOL tried to bargain him down to $85.

The argument devolved into AOL insisting they would attempt to collect through legal channels, and Zweig welcoming them to, as he plans to file a fraud report before they'd be able to do anything of the sort. We guess when you've floundered as much as AOL has in recent years, all you can do is try to extort old customers. It's just bad luck one of their targets happens to write for one of the country's largest news organizations. [Wall Street Journal]