AOL reforms cancel policies for customers

Averting a looming court battle over how it has handled the exodus from its Internet dial-up service, US Internet giant AOL has agreed to make it easier for its remaining customers to leave as part of a $3 million settlement with 48 states and the District of Columbia, an Associated Press report said.

The resolution announced was driven by a deluge of complaints from AOL customers who said they tried to close their accounts, only to be thwarted in their attempts or discover they were still being billed for services that they thought had been canceled, the Associated Press report said.

The report said the outcry triggered a multi-state investigation that would have culminated in a lawsuit if AOL hadn't agreed to ante up and change its ways, according to David Tiede, a deputy attorney general in California.

California was among the states that played a leading role in the settlement. New York and Florida were the only states that didn't participate in the inquiry, the report said.

AOL, the Internet division of Time Warner, didn't acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement, it added.

The Associated Press report further said company spokeswoman Amy Call downplayed the impact of the settlement, saying AOL had already voluntarily improved the way it handled cancellations during 2005 and 2006.

As part of the settlement, AOL agreed to maintain an online channel for processing cancellations, the report further said.

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