PDA Fiction

Monday, June 26, 2006


OK, OK, I know. AOHell, Friends Don't Let Friends Do AOL, Training Wheels, blah blah blah. I know.

But the thing is, sometimes you are going out of town for a few days and that 90 Day Free Trial seems like a good idea. Trust me on this -- it is not.

My lover was going to a convention in Las Vegas and thought she might need dial up internet access. So she decided to try AOL's 90 Day Free Trial. Now, to most sentient beings, a "90 Day Free Trial" would seem to indicate that you have 90 days to try something, for free.

Sadly, no!

The credit card bill arrived today with a $25.90 charge from AOL. So I call them. Or more accurately, I used Google to find an AOL phone number for customer service since I couldn't find one on AOL, and then I called them.

On hold... hold... hold... hold ...

Automated answering system: "What's your..." ...dead air... "I didn't get that. Please repeat."

This was repeated about 5 times and then the automated system asked for my screen name. Which I gave.

"I didn't get that. Please repeat."

I repeated

"I didn't get that. Please repeat."

I repeated.

"I didn't get that. Please spell it, letter by letter."

I spelled it.

"I didn't get that. Please repeat."

This went on for about 5 minutes when, exasperated beyond bearing, I suddenly yelled "Jesus Fucking Christ!" Oddly, that must be a common screen name at AOL, because the Automated Answering System immediately said, "Please hold for the next customer service representative."

On hold ...hold ...hold....

So eventually, I'm explaining to this nice guy in Bangalor, India, that I signed up for a free 90 day trial but my credit card was charged within two weeks. The nice guy turns surly, and says - I'm not kidding -

"You agreed to a 90 Day Trial. You have not given AOL a fair chance to please you. If you cancel now, you will not be given a refund. These are the Terms of Service."

So my head explodes.

I question him. He says, "Yes, that is correct -there will be no refund."


We go back and forth and he tells me to put my CD in the drive and read the Terms of Service, he is not going to dispute this with me. Well, my CD says, "Your credit card will not be billed during your trial period," and I don't see anything saying that I cannot cancel before the 90 days. But, since my head recently exploded, maybe I'm just missing it. I ask (not very politely) to speak to a supervisor.

hold... hold... hold... hold...

The supervisor says, "Oh no, don't worry about that. I am cancelling your account now. I am issuing you a credit immediately." (This guy is in India, too, but he's quite cheery.) Then he says I have to listen to a message with the Terms of the Cancellation.

...hold ...hold... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... CLICK

I expect to dispute this bill through the credit card company.

But, perhaps someday, when I look back, it will have been worth the aggravation, just to be told, "You agreed to a 90 Day Trial. You have not given AOL a fair chance to please you. If you cancel now, you will not be given a refund. These are the Terms of Service."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Easy Aucton Photography

I'm the editor of a new ebook called Easy Auction Photography

It's an illustrated guide (over 150 color photos) to online product photography. If you sell online, on eBay or anywhere else, this book might be just what you need. If you'd like to support PDA Fiction and get something at the same time (sort of like a PBS Pledge Drive) - this book could be the way to do that.

I think the book came out rather nicely - but then, I would say that. Take a look at the web site and make your own decision.

$19.95 - with free first class shipping included.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fictionwise Resolution

It took over a month to get some resolution from Fictionwise on the scrambled eBook.

They immediately confirmed that the eBook was unreadable, that it wasn't my fault, and that I needed a replacement. Then they did nothing.

I complained.

They said, well, you can have a refund if that's your attitude.

I said, "Please, just replace the book. This can't be hard. Cancel the last transaction and replace it with a new one. Just replace the book on my bookshelf."

They said, "We'll see."

I waited a month! A MONTH for Fictionwise to replace a corrupted file with a good one. It never happened.

After 5 weeks, I just gave up and asked for a refund, which they processed immediately.

Now, to be fair, I am willing to believe the hold up was all from OverDrive rather than Fictionwise. But if this is what happens when a book has a problem - who wants to pay for encrypted ebooks? They already suffer from stupid DRM related problems that paper books do not. They have no resale value. They cannot be lent to friends and family. And, apparently, when the distributor screws up a transaction, they cannot be replaced.

Can you image going into a bookstore with a book whose pages were bound upside down or out of order, and having the bookstore tell you to come back in a month or two and they might replace it?