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America Online

AOL Settles Class Action Suit Over Client Software 162

An anonymous reader sent in news that AOL is settling a class action suit over their AOL 5.0 software, which usurped people's dial-up networking settings when installed. There's a website for the suit and a news article about the settlement. Of course, you have to admit you use AOL.
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AOL Settles Class Action Suit Over Client Software

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  • Just claim it is the only ISP you can get in your area, then its OK.
    • Just claim it is the only ISP you can get in your area, then its OK.

      Then what other Dialup settings would it 'usurp?'

    • I use it, with a byoa connection. I wanted to see what web pages looked like in an AOL browser. I do use the AOL ftp server, so files can be downloaded as required by visitors to my site. I have to block all AOL mail, due to excessive spam. Same thing with MSN explorer. Spend too much time cleaning out the inbox. Encouraging news, that AOL will be using Netscape products for the browser, and I understand that the Mac's get first crack at that, in AOL for Mac OS X. Can't wait till we get a Linux version, but do not have anything I know about on this. I have an AOL instant messenger that runs on Linux, but that's all. Worse thing about the AOL setup is that if you lose the network connection, your pictures of Brittany vanish. With an ordinary dial up, and Netscape, the connection can go down, and the browser will remain, with whatever page you are viewing...
    • How can this be serious? Loads of software that people install screws up there system but the eula always says that the company take no responsibility for any damaged caused. Out of all the things that software could do to bugger up you system, changing a few internet connection settings doesn't seem like that big a deal. Then again this is America, where people sue at the drop of a hat.
      • It can be serious if an AOL install wipes out a work-related conenction. During my first stint on helldesk, for a major medical research university, I spoke to a woman who ran into this. her kids had installed AOL 5.0 on the home PC, selected it as the default, and it wiped out her other dialup configurations and we couldn't recreate them - it would no longer dial anything but AOL. For security purposes certain databases are only accessible to users dialed in to the campus modem pool (no VPN, they had enough trouble with modems). With only an AOL connection, she couldn't work remotely anymore.


        She had one of the best cases against AOL I've heard of. Her kids can't be held to the waiver of liability and AOL did prevent her from connecting to anyone else than AOL. She suffered damage to her property and an inability to perform her work, plus she would have to have her PC repaired, possibly by an expensive house call (mine $ure are for Win98). All of this adds up to tangible losses caused by a company that isn't protected by a waiver of liability.


        I told her there was a class action already underway, and that she was basically hosed until a tech can get to her machine.


        Good thing she was on the research side, rather than the clinical side...

      • AOL's target market is "Non-brilliant people" (sorry, but it's a generalization that is normally true) who do not know how to copy/paste let alone restore the settings that the tech person set up that allowed them to sign onto their work computer. To top it off, if someone was using BYO access and paying the $9.x/month that AOL charges for that--and then 5.0 killed their real account settings, then they would end up paying a premium for AOL service until they were able to figure out how to restore their settings.

        How is this not damaging?

        -Sara
  • I hate AOL as much as the next guy, but there is no way it screwed up dial up settings as much as Netzero did.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I guess even first posters don't want to admit they use AOL!
  • by gripdamage ( 529664 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:43PM (#3540383)
    I'm torn about AOL. I used to want their complete destruction. But now I want to see them reinstate Netscape in the browser market, and then I want their complete destruction.
    • Netscape IS reinstated - haven't you seen the completely wonderful in every way I can think of Mozilla 1.0 (rc2) ?
      • The damage M$ did was to the Netscape marketshare. I want to see their marketshare reinstated, and then...marshmallows anyone?

        BTW I have seen it, and it is completely wonderful.
    • I wonder what you'll think of them after you listen to the crack squad [collegesucks.org] of savvy motivated personnel [collegesucks.org] that work at AOL support [collegesucks.org]. Nothing like a few prank phone calls to brighten your day. The first one is the best.
    • I'm torn about AOL. I used to want their complete destruction. But now I want to see them reinstate Netscape in the browser market,

      It looks like you may get your wish. It was announced yesterday that AOL will be dropping MSIE from its Mac OS X version beta [com.com].

      The change virtually ensures that AOL for Mac OS X will be Gecko based. AOL claims that beta results so far have shown significant improvements in speed and compliance with HTML standards by using Gecko. One can only assume that future Windows versions will at least have the option of a Gecko based browser as well.

  • by wrinkledshirt ( 228541 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:43PM (#3540387) Homepage
    Jon: Hi everybody. My name is Jon and I use AOL.

    Everybody: Hi Jon!
    • Hello Jon
      • Seriously in the U.K. pretty much every ISP's install CD changes your dial up settings - doesn't mean anyone's taking them to court over it though!
        • The complaint was not about AOL changing the settings.

          What AOL 5.0 did that was so terrible was that it installed tha "AOL Dialup Adapter" in the user's "Networking Components" and twiddled the Windows Registry so that it (the ADA) would be used to the EXCLUSION of Microsoft's own Dialup Adapter.

          This configuration rendered connection to any other ISP impossible, and, to make matters worse, merely uninstalling AOL did NOT remove the AOL Dialup Adapter.

          I wish I had a dollar for every time I took a support call like this:

          User: Your system's down, I can't connect to the internet.

          Me: Have you installed any software recently?

          User: Just one of those AOL Free CDs.

          <then follows approximately 20 minutes of walking User through uninstalling AOL 5 and manually removing the ADA>

          Me: Now, don't EVER install AOL again because you'll be right back in the same boat.

          User: Uh ... okay ...

          <Wash, rinse, repeat>
    • Damn!

      Why can't I think if these "funny" posts?

      How do you guys do that?

      I wish I was more funny :(

  • They deserve it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scrag ( 137843 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:44PM (#3540389)
    It's about time big companies realize that they can't just take over someone's system because their software is installed. It's not just AOL; programs like Realplayer and Quicktime do this also. Hopefully this settlement will discourage this type of behaviour in the future.
    • Man, I wish there was another player that could play real video/audio stuff. I'd switch so fast it would make their head spin. Quicktime is just as bad lately, I can't count how many times I've had to reboot because of that sh*t.

      If anyone knows of software like this, please reply to this post! Of course if I decided to really "get rid" of realplayer I'd probably have to reformat my Hard drive..
      • Sounds like it's time you:

        a) switched operating systems (Windows is easily the worst offender for controling what application own's what file types, and for uninstalling software due to it's underlying file extention and DLL paradigms respectively). Removing installed Applications on every other mainstream OS is easy (no 'Uninstall Wizards' required).

        If your not convinced - Real Player on Mac OS, Linux and Solaris (and the various other Unixes it runs on) is a fine system citizen, as is Windows Media Player on Solaris and Mac OS and as is QuickTime on Mac OS.

        or

        c) Paid more attention when installing software!

        BOTH Real AND QuickTime ask you which files you want them to take ownership of. They do NOT take ownership of filetypes without asking.

        If you DO insist on using Microsoft Operating Systems and THEN installing inferior streaming software like Real Player (or AOL's software for that matter) you should know *exactly* what to expect.

        Lastly, as for rebooting because of QuickTime:

        If QuickTime crashes, it's possible it is at fault (though Apple have been making QuickTime for Windows since Windows 3.1, and it's extreamly widely used, so unlikely).

        BUT

        If you have to *REBOOT* then YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM IS THE PROBLEM!

        Media Players, such as QuickTime do not have low level access to your hardware, they are regular Applications that for the most part simply make calls to lowerlevel API's.

        Why on earth would you use an operating system that let's mere applications crash your whole computer, or force you to reboot (and is *renound* for crashing)? And *THEN* complain about it?! There are so many alternatives!

        Quite frankly I'm baffled. It's a bit like someone buying a Lada with 3 wheels and then publicly complaining that it's slow, doesn't take corners very well and keeps veering to one side! Well YEAH, DUH, that's why everyone keeps slagging it off!

        • Granted Windows is part of the problem. I agree. But this crashing doesn't happen except with a couple of programs on Windows, everything else runs fine. Should I blame the OS for everything, or is the application somewhat responsible also? I personally feel that both are responsible.

          If QT can't figure out how to write an application on windows that doesn't crash, that IS their fault - in addition to whatever instability the OS adds.

          I could switch to Linux or whatever, but I don't want to turn this conversation into the ever-so-common slashdot OS flamewar. I do have reasons for using Windows, and that is my choice to reboot every few days.

          I said nothing about file ownership in my post, why do you bring that up? And besides, they do take ownership by default, you have to go through and turn everything off if you don't want it to take over. If you select "easy install" you're hosed. Have you ever tried to "uninstall" these applications from your system? They just don't go away once they are in.
        • Why on earth would you use an operating system that let's mere applications crash your whole computer... There are so many alternatives!

          If MOO3 is released with Linux support I'll happily celebrate with a Windows bonfire.

          -
  • Sick Numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) <bittercode@gmail> on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:47PM (#3540404) Homepage Journal
    Settlement 15.5 Million
    Amount to consumers - 8.7 million
    the rest goes to lawyers!

    Almost half- goes to lawyers the rest get split up between everyone who claims. So fill out your claim form and sit by the mail box waiting on your check for $1.00. But don't lose the check stub! You've got to pay taxes on that money next April.

    This kind of crap just burns me up. AOL throws 15 mil at a problem (I guess they skip sending free CD tins for like a day)- a few lawyers make a killing and everybody else gets jack.

    Real victory for the consumer here. And did the lawyer balk at settling? Of course not- they just hit the powerball and won 7 million.

    .
    • I had to deal with this shit as an ISP tech back in the day, can I sue for stress?
    • Re:Sick Numbers (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )
      exactly why I feel lawyers fees should be preset by tha bar. as an exapmple, lawyers would get 30% of the settlement, or an equal share, which ever is less.
      Class action lawsuit do not benefit the consumer. Imagine if everyone who installed AOL 5.0 got a shot in court? lets say each one got 50,000 dollars, plus expences, that would total up to a hell of a lot more then 15,000,000.

      Now itwhat? 6 million divided by 20,000,000 million users? and its a tierd pay off.
      Which really piises me off. because I fixed my own problem, I get less money.
      • 30% of the settlement, or an equal share, which ever is less.

        That's right up there with "Heads, I win. Tails, you lose."
        • 30% of the settlement, or an equal share, which ever is less.

          That's right up there with "Heads, I win. Tails, you lose."

          No, no, no. He means an equal share to say 'the same as each individual client', meaning about three dollars, or whatever each AOLer got. Which would be ridiculous, but would also serve as a deterrant to such mass groupings for a lawsuit... Probably a bad thing, as the hundreds of smaller ones would tie up the courts even further.

    • Settlement 15.5 Million

      I'm sure that was part of the business plan behind all this. It was a cheap way to get perhaps $100,000,000 of customers hooked (at least!)

      So, AOL won this case for a small price.
    • Re:Sick Numbers (Score:2, Informative)

      by jonblaze ( 140753 )
      True, the lawyers do make a killing, but don't forget that the class representative must front all of the costs associated with notifying members of a Rule 23(b)(3) class of the suit and (proposed) settlement. Of course, few class representatives can afford to notify hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of people, so this cost is usually paid by the class representative's lawyer. Thus, a large part of the award that goes to the lawyer is compensatory in nature.

      But anyway, if you don't like the terms of the settlement there's a simple option -- opt out and sue on your own.
    • While it is only $1 per person, how much should it be?

      Your computer isn't worth all that much, neither is the software on it.

      AOL didnt't really harm them.

      While their practices may be disgusting, how much in damages are you looking to exact?

      The only thing that this does is put a bunch of AOL employees in the unemployment category.

    • Almost half- goes to lawyers the rest get split up between everyone who claims.

      So what do I get if I'm a lawyer who also used AOL 5.0? I mean, besides being the butt of lawyer AND AOL jokes?
    • I read your post and also the reponses. And I have to admit, I'm a little confused.

      I always thought courts are about law. But as it seems it's just another way to make money.

      That's what I call sick.

      • There are 2 points to this. One is to make it cost AOL more than it benefitted them to break the law in the first place. $15.5m is NOT enough to discourage this behavior, given how much it must have netted them. The second point is that the lawyers are making millions while the people the case was supposed to actually benefit get effectively nothing. This will be, at best, a few dollars per person in reparation for exceptionally slimy tactics. You don't find it sick that the lawyers are just in it for $6.8m but you do find it sick the plaintiffs want some money for their troubles?
  • Damn, one mouse click away from $1000! Why did I have to go and install it so efficiently? Well, thats not quite true, I'm in the wrong country but why can't something like that happen to me! Now, wheres that screwdriver, I think I'll go and poke myself in the eye.
    • Don't worry you didn't lose anything.

      When they divvy up the 8 mil that goes to the people who actually were harmed it will break down to a miniscule sum. Noone will be getting a check for a thousand dollars.

      Then they have to claim that little bit on their taxes and Uncle Sam takes a bite. So really by the time you would have filled out the paperwork and payed postage to mail in a claim you would have been losing money.

      .
    • They said in the article that the maximum payoff was $250, so don't worry about the $1000 that you're getting ready to poke yourself in the eye about...
  • since when? on a more serious note:

    Of course, you have to admit you use AOL.

    well... i wager that 98% of the people here uses AOL -- in some way or another. Just think AIM; besides... all thoes turner movies -- do they count?

    • I use it when I'm on the road. It might be perceived as a crappy client, but the fact is its wonderful for road warriors. AOL has dial up connections just about anywhere in the world and once you're logged in, you can minimize AOL and run with any browser you like.
  • We need to see more of these kind of lawsuits IMHO, if major software companies can be held accountable for glitches like this then we are a step closer to having better software produced. Support your local class action lawsuit.

    Of course I've never personally used AOL, although I've had similar problems with lots of other software, anything from Microsoft for example. I wonder, could the subject of a new similar lawsuit be the many instances of covertly installed spyware along with other software? Hmm.
  • By completely screwing with a customer's windows installation, they were just innovating, providing the customer with what they want. I mean, who'd want to use anything other than AOL's default settings? /sarcasm

    No, this proves exactly what happens when you cater to the lowest common denominator in computing. You try to make it so the customer can't fsck it up, and you end up fscking it up worse than if you hadn't made it easy.

    It does, however, seem wrong to me that AOL is paying damages -- if the contention is that the software wouldn't let them use AOL (which they pay for), that's one thing. But a person wouldn't be able to collect from, say, a piece of shareware that screwed things up. "THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDE AS-IS...."


  • Customer: I found a real Internet Service Provider. But I can't use it because AOL keeps popping up whenever I get online!

    AOL Tech: What're you talking about?? AOL is the Internet!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2002 @05:57PM (#3540449)

    From the earlier article:

    "The suit seeks damages of up to $1,000 for each of the 8 million consumers estimated to have installed the software."

    From the later article:

    "America Online has agreed to pay $15.5 million... Under the plan, consumers would be paid about $8.1 million, with the rest going mostly to the attorneys."

    That's about $10 per consumer. Looks like two orders of magnititude were lost in the shuffle. Maybe the plaintiffs should consider a class action lawsuit against their own counsel?

    • I think you mean $1 per consumer. This is why it's such a great deal to be a class action lawyer :) The trick is to settle as soon as you get a big number, and who cares what your clients get. If only the represented could choose whether or not to accept a settlement offer...

      btw, IANAL, my dad is. So I'm sure i have a skewed view of the legal system somehow :)
    • I'm no fan of lawyers, but it seems to me that most of the complaints here are unjustified.

      First of all, who really would have gone out on their own and filed a lawsuit against AOL? Many people are complaining that consumers will only get 10$, $250... that's more money than they would have gotten without the lawsuit, and they don't have to do anything but sign onto the claim.

      Besides that, one of the most important effects of such a lawsuit is to make software makers realize that they can't get away with stuff like this, which will hopefully make them a little more careful in the future. That too is a benefit that all AOL users receive for free, without having to go through the hassle of suing AOL themselves.

      Finally, if you really feel the fees are unfair, you can waive your participation in the suit and take it upon yourself to sue AOL. I doubt many of the complainers on this list would turn down fifty bucks in order to pursue this option...
  • Or is it just me? I personally hate AOL, but what is wrong with it being the "default" program. Especially since you have the option of changing that! All kinds of competing software does this. Quicktime vs. Windows media, Netscape vs IE. What got me about this article was the little line "consumers would be paid about $8.1 million, with the rest going mostly to the attorneys." Ahhh... sudently the light goes on! To me this is nothing more than a way for some lawyers to get rich at the expence of someone else. Even if the "someone else" is a large company that most informed computer users hate, that doesn't make it right.
    • the problem was there was no option of changing it. If I remember correctly you could confirm if you wanted to make it default after you installed it, but once it was default it stayed. And it modified your registry so much that even uninstalling it wouldnt remove its settings. If you tried to use a different ISP after removing AOL, your browsers wouldnt detect a connection and you couldnt browse the web or read email. I also remember installing AOL on a friends PC and it never even asked me to be default, it just did it by itself.
  • Damages (Score:4, Insightful)

    by palme999 ( 82528 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @06:01PM (#3540474)
    The settlement page indicates that you have to prove damages by producing a receipt showing that your computer was screwed up / unstable / unable to dial any other isp / etc. and you had to have it fixed. What money does a person get if they fix it themselves, or their granddaughter comes over and makes it all better?
    • No one said a kid can't bill his relatives for 'on-site technical support'. I believe the going rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of $75/hr. Make out an invoice and date it a year or so ago and then it's all good.

      --Huck
    • I'd happily fill out a bill for my parents to submit. I do all of their tech support anyway, I might as well make some bucks from all those years of helping them. :)

      Please don't hate me for saying this:

      AOL actually does serve their target audience fairly well. For those who know NOTHING about computers (or those who want to know nothing), AOL is a fairly easy path to the Internet.

      It does have some issues as we all know: bad e-mail and silly user interface and obnoxious marketing practices being at the top of the list. I retch every time I have to do anything using the AOL client.

      But in spite of all the problems, most people just don't want to know about dialers, and modem strings or DNS servers. AOL just got a bit hamfisted with the AOL 5.0 install...

      Basically, AOL is the McDonalds of the Internet.
    • According to the settlement, you get different amount of money based on how much proof you can show. If you can show both evidence that you use another ISP in addition to AOL and proof from a third party (computer technician, etc) that the problem existed, then you're eligible for a maximum of $250.00 You're eligible for a max of $167 for 1 piece of proof, or $83 for no proof.
    • Considering the work the person, granddaughter, son, dog, hooker, etc does on the system has a value of as much as $100 per hour in some cases, then it doesn't matter if ther service was paid for or not.

      Now, you and I, able to do this work ourselves, see it as no big deal. But I know people who regularly pay $50-$100 for simple tasks as memory installs or hard drive reformats/OS installs.

      It's not much different from the the guy that has a 4 acre lawn and hires the guy with the tractor down the road to come mow the whole thing and pays him for the services. The only real difference is some people have tractors, and some people have computer skills.
    • "The settlement page indicates that you have to prove damages by producing a receipt showing that your computer was screwed up and has to be fixed"

      Sounds like an ideal case to cite when we all take Sony to court for f---ing people's iMac CD drives.
  • by Artifex ( 18308 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @06:01PM (#3540475) Journal
    and who had to do dialup support back when this came out, and had customers bitching and moaning at US because they were dumb enough to pop a CD someone mailed them into their computer... as always, there will be nothing.

    I swear, we should have kept track of the hours spent, and then billed AOL or something.
    • I swear, we should have kept track of the hours spent, and then billed AOL or something.

      How about a lawsuit against M$ for letting it happen? It's their googey system that boned everyone. They built a userless OS with a flimsy registry that any software can stick any old binary crap into but will break your computer. They did it so they could force MSN, AOL used the exact same mechanisms. The whole Hell Desk thing is a direct result of this kind of intentional push. Is is AOL's fault M$ spagetti coded everything to break if you want an ISP that is not M$?

      Look at the numbers. Are one in ten techs at your ISP on standby for Apple calls? How about Linux? No? How about the number of acutal calls? Apple, Linux, BSD, Solaris, not giving you problems? Hmmmmm, that's a wide spectrum of users that don't have this and other kinds of problems. What do the majority of calls have in common? NEXT!

      • Is is AOL's fault M$ spagetti coded everything to break if you want an ISP that is not M$?

        Did you read the article? DUN (Microsoft's Dial Up Networking applet) isn't the problem, here.
        DUN works fine with non-MS ISPs. Other ISPs are not on trial here for screwing up settings with their broken proprietary software.

        Or is your idea of a real ISP someone who forces you to install a proprietary dialer and other software that tracks your usage and tries to market to you, and also uses proprietary protocols for mail, etc.?

        This isn't talk radio. Get a clue, or at least read the article, before you spew. It is definitely AOL's fault, not only for releasing buggy code, but for denying that it was a problem for days and weeks afterwords, after it became public knowledge and we began warning our customers. You would be all over Microsoft if they did this; why are you defending AOL?

        Look at the numbers. Are one in ten techs at your ISP on standby for Apple calls? How about Linux? No? How about the number of acutal calls?

        *nix installs, with the exception of OSX, are not sufficiently end-user-friendly enough for us to do much troubleshooting for customers. Just think of where all your RPMs might be, whether your permissions are set properly, etc. Oh, yah, and do you think maybe the reason that a huge number of our calls are for MS Windows boxes is because almost all of our end users use MS Windows, anyway? Mac users would know to delete and rebuild if things get "corrupted" (they "corrupt" more often than our MS users) and *nix users either know how to administer their systems or have admins on staff.

        • You would be all over Microsoft if they did this; why are you defending AOL?

          Eh? I am over M$. Their crap banished to a network blind computer in the corner of my room that talks to cameras and a scanner. A real OS is used on the same machine to transfer files off it.

          The reason that is so is because I got sick of rebuilding broken M$ garbage. M$ built a flimsy OS so that it would easier to replace than fix. Face it, most people who actually use and rely on M$ junk have to rebuild their computer once every two months or so, or it gets all slow and broken. If AOL's stuff broke M$ it's M$'s fault, period. If M$ had a reasonable OS it would not be broken that way, all the time. If every M$ software maker was held to this standard, they would all be hit, especially M$. Show me one Win95 or 98 box that has been used that has not required a rebuild. Don't tell me w2k is any better, I'm forced to use that buggy junk at work.

          Oh, yah, and do you think maybe the reason that a huge number of our calls are for MS Windows boxes is because almost all of our end users use MS Windows, anyway?

          I think 10% of your users have macs, and at leat 7% use Linux. If 1 in 6 of your calls are not about mac or linux problems, you can be sure that what people say about M$ being crap is true.

  • were used to make AOL's drink coasters?

    --Blair
  • Worthless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by da_Den_man ( 466270 ) <dcruise&hotcoffee,org> on Friday May 17, 2002 @06:10PM (#3540500) Homepage
    This claim is worthless to me. The claim form says I need receipts. I handled my own system and the only thing I lost was time and access. Why would I bill myself for working on my own computer?

    Yes, I used AOL at that time, because it was the only service in the area I was living in that would allow me access. The only connection available was dial up, as this was rural area. Did the connect to AOL work? Yes, but it also prevented me from dialing into my work and connecting to the local system there.

    I guess it doesn't matter at this point. This suit only allows for people who willingly used the AOL service, yet did not know anything was wrong with their system. Funny how the only people who would be able to know something was wrong are the same persons being excluded (because they are able to provide their own solution).

    • This claim is worthless to me. The claim form says I need receipts. I handled my own system and the only thing I lost was time and access. Why would I bill myself for working on my own computer?

      Looking on the bright side, you've avoided a double whammy. If you had billed yourself and kept receipts, thereby enabling a claim against AOL, you would have paid tax on your "income" then and you would have to pay tax on the compensation for that expenditure now

    • The claim form says I need receipts.

      Well, if it says you must have receipts, it may be a mistake in the claim form. Read the actual terms of settlement here [50softwaresettlement.com]. You can get up to $83 with no receipts (just a sworn statement).
  • Looks like John will be compensated for his time dealing with the unpleasant AOL account cancellation staff.

    http://features.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/0 5/ 14/0138249&mode=thread&tid=95

    ~Alexander
  • by coene ( 554338 )
    $15M suit. $8M after lawyers fees. Maximum take per customer that files is $250 (DOLLARS). This seems like the kind of lawsuit that serves no purpose whatsoever. Software modifies your computer, thats all there is to it. From what I gather, there's nothing malicious going on by AOL, they just got users that complained that the aol software:

    -made itself default on the system. netscape tries todo this, hell even mozilla does this.

    -makes computers more instable. last i knew, AOL runs on windows. if you install ANYTHING, ittl make windows less stable. thats part of the game.

    -didnt allow users to connect to remote ISP's. this sounds like a DUN/RAS problem. so, readd the other ISP.

    I'm probably oversimplifying the small details, but all in all, this is plain stupid.

    People arent going to be taken seriously when real problems occur if people sue for this kind of stuff.

  • I work at a ISP (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcstimm ( 556797 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @06:28PM (#3540572) Homepage
    I work at a ISP as a Tech support rep, the isp I work for is a 56k provider, any one that has Windows 95, 98 or ME, will have problems with AOL software 5 and version 4. This is what you do to fix it: 1. R&R Dial up Networking (DUN) Say no to version conflicts (in the control panel go to add remove programs) 2. R&R TCPIP and remove all AOL clients installed in your "Network" in the control panel. Make sure when you are done you have Client For Microsoft Networks, Dial Up Adapter and TCPIP. I normally reinstall everything But Dial Up adapter. Save and it will ask you for your windows cd or cabs, supply them and MAKE SURE YOU SAY "NO" to all version conflicts. It will ask to reboot say "No" 3. GO into msconfig and remove AOL from the startup of your computer!! Press yes and reboot! Now you should be all set! No more curruption. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO CLEAN YOUR SYSTEM! And if this doesnt work you have alot of registry hacks to do... P.S. DO NOT OPEN AOL AGAIN or it will recurrupt your system! :)
    • After all that removal of "corruption", your client now wants to access their AOL account, but can't. What do you tell them? "AOL sucks" or "AOL is not internet friendly" is not the answer. So your instructions are relativly useless.

      A tech actually told the latter line about Mozilla when I asked how I could access my mail account with a user name like "Erris@mycoputer". I ended up using fetchmail to get around the stupid set up, and the blocked incomming port 25, but the tech did NOT help me.

      AOL has to go to all of these lenghts because M$ will break their client if they do not. That fact makes this whole lawsuit a bunch of BULLSHIT. TWO PIECES OF SOFTWARE DID NOT WORK TOGETHER. ONE OF THEM REFUSES TO WORK WITH SOFTWARE FROM MANY OTHER COMPANIES, AND OLDER VERSIONS OF THEIR OWN SOFTWARE. WHICH PIECE OF SOFTWARE DO YOU THINK WAS AT FAULT IN THIS CASE?

      Yes, I'm an AOL user. I've had an account for freaking ever. I access it through AOL anywhere with Mozilla on any computer with a browser. My OS preference is Debian. There is much AOL could do better, but there's not much they can do about their M$ client software.

  • I work at a ISP as a Tech support rep, the isp I work for is a 56k provider, any one that has Windows 95, 98 or ME, will have problems with AOL software 5 and version 4. This is what you do to fix it:

    1. R&R (Remove and Reinstall) Dial up Networking (DUN) Say no to version conflicts (in the control panel go to add remove programs)
    2. R&R TCPIP and remove all AOL clients installed in your "Network" in the control panel. Make sure when you are done you have Client For Microsoft Networks, Dial Up Adapter and TCPIP. I normally reinstall everything But Dial Up adapter. Save and it will ask you for your windows cd or cabs, supply them and MAKE SURE YOU SAY "NO" to all version conflicts. It will ask to reboot say "No"
    3. GO into msconfig and remove AOL from the startup of your computer!! Press yes and reboot!

    Now you should be all set! No more curruption. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO CLEAN YOUR SYSTEM! And if this doesnt work you have alot of registry hacks to do...

    P.S. DO NOT OPEN AOL AGAIN or it will recurrupt your system! :)
  • Is still the comsumer. This is the first major lawsuit I can think of against a software developer that takes care of that ridiculous "we're not responsible for any damage our buggy POS software does to your PC" clause.

    VIVA LA VICTOIRE!!!
  • I reckon we all deserve hefty compensation for having to the flood of morons AOL has unleashed onto the 'Net over the last five years.

  • "Yes, well, we were planning on increasing our price by $2 per month starting in July, so in lieu of sending out checks we'll only charge everyone $1 more for the month of July. From August on we will be charging the planned $2 increase."
  • It's a small comfort to those of us in Tech Support for and ISP, but.. man.. it's good to see that it didn't TOTALLY go unnoticed.

    That stupid AOL Dialup Adapter caused us more headaches then all the people who couldn't remember their e-mail passwords in the history of the internet ever did.
  • . .

    Okay, it's 5am and I may not be 100% :)

    What strikes me is that this settlement is irrelevant :

    From discussion above, (Settlement - Legal Fees) / Complainants does not amount to a whole hill of beans for any individual, let alone even real compensation for the time and effort involved in fixing the settings which were hijacked. I agree also that the way that the complainants have to get a "receipt" for their troubles from another ISP is bumkum.

    Okay, that notwithstanding, none of this has any benefit to the consuer _at large_ because it was a settlement between private parties.

    If it had been a _ruling_ and some case law / precedent were set, then other companies planning this might have to take note and stop hijacking people's configurations.

    Maybe I'm missing something about US law, but this strikes me as just a payoff to a few lawyers and a bunch of complainants who bothered to do their (pretty ridiculous) paperwork. If it's just a private settlement, there's nothing to say it will discourage anyone from using the same unplesant practises in future.

    Oh well, since when did "public good" pay anyone's bills . . . .

  • What the!
  • I used AOL for nearly 5 years. I am not a fan of their service, but still maintain an account because my girlfriend prefers it. I used to do tech support at a call center that supported several major laptop manufacturers. Every night I would fight the very problems (not as many as an ISP fights I'm sure) described in this suit and then go home and sign onto AOL myself. However, I had several reasons:

    1. I'm not sure of the limit today, but they used to allow you to send up to 35 meg attachments you could also do this multiple times. On more than one occasion I had over 100 meg in my inbox.

    2. they were very early in their implementation of web based email (yes, i used hotmail and places like that too in the past, but the file size limitation often got in the way.)

    3. In the old days (I definately can't say this anymore) the junk mail, for some reason, seemed to be a lot less on that account compared to hotmail, yahoo, etc.

    4. Uptime - i don't think i can remember a time that the main AOL service being down caused any problems for me.

    5. admittedly, dial-up to AOL can be somewhat problematic depending on the quality of the local number, but AOL combined with a local ISP for a BYOA (bring your own access) account provided a lot of flexibility.

    6. this point is not near as valid as it used to be, but the AOL only content that used to be offered was much higher quality overall than a lot of what was offered on the internet in general. (I'm pretty sure I'm going to hear about this one)

    My main point in all of this is not to say AOL is great... far from it. I am saying that it has merits that can benefit the advanced user as well as the novice user that thinks AOL is the entire internet.

    anyone remember the commecial where the guy says "My friend told me to get AOL, I said why I've already got a computer."
    that one always cracked me up:)
  • I am one of the poor souls that had to switch to MSN thanks to Qwest for my dialup support (rural MT, and Qwest was fast and stable for a 56k connection.) The required M$ software totally ursurped my dialup networking, I cannot find any way to uninstall it when I change to a new provider, of course I can't check email with mozilla and have to use wonderful Outlook, and along with several other annoyances, I can't even close msn messenger down because it is used be other programs. How is this really any different than AOL? We have less and less control of our rights every day while these large organizations try to manipulate everything we do with our lives.....shrug, welcome to corporate america I guess.....
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @06:12AM (#3542129) Homepage
    I'm trying to remember when it began. Which version of Windows was it that detected the presence of OS/2 on the hard drive and offered to remove it "to free up disk space?"

    I'm sick to death of competitive installations. When I put my mouse over an "upgrade software now" button I feel like I'm playing Russian roulette and am just about to pull the trigger.

    What are the chances that I'm going to disable something else I use? Yes, there's a huge grey area: sometimes the effect is innocently (bad SQA). Sometimes it's semi-intentional, the software equivalent of the car rental clerk saying "sign here" over a page of 50%-gray type on a 33%-grey background. You know, what does this gobbledegook about 'making the the default application for opening your media files' mean? I guess I'll just push the return key and take the default....

    Sometimes I think it's intentional. Hey, we're just sharp, competitive businessmen, kicking competitors in the groin is what made this country great...

    I think needs at the very least to be a "truth-in-installation" law. The installer should disclose clearly, in plain language, EVERYTHING it's going to do in terms that are meaningful to the consumer. ("Increase stability, and, oh, yes, enforce the license agreement by technical means and, by the way, send information to us over the Internet which, according to our just-changed privacy policy we can share with our trusted partners...)

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