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Customer service reps beware

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TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: You know when you call customer service for some company and they tell you this call is being recorded? Well, how about if the customer also recorded the call and then put it on the Internet for everyone to hear how bad the customer service was. That's what this one guy did to AOL. Ethan Lindsey has the story.


ETHAN LINDSEY: Vincent Ferrari wanted to cancel AOL and stop spending $15 a month for an Internet account he didn't use.

He'd heard the company referred to as A-O-Hell before, so he decided to tape his call to customer service.

[ Phone ringing: "Hi this is John at AOL how may I help you today" ]

He sat through 15 minutes of recorded messages to reach a live human being.

And even then, it took the 30-year-old blogger five minutes of back-and-forth.

[ Vincent Ferrari: "I want to cancel the account"

Customer service rep: "If you want me to cancel this account, you're going to let me speak and give this paragraph OK"]

He posted the audio file of the call on his Weblog. And the Internet took over from there.

Nicholas Graham is a spokesman for AOL.

NICHOLAS GRAHAM: He took his case to the web and we read all the postings that were made to Vincent's blog. We really wanted to learn from it and do a much better job next time.

The audio got so much attention that the customer service rep was fired and AOL sent out updated phone instructions to prevent another PR nightmare like this one.

I'm Ethan Lindsey, for Marketplace.

About the author

Ethan Lindsey is the senior digital editor for Marketplace.

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