I had a year's subscription included with my laptop. The following year, my folks kept my monthly fees paid as a gift to me. Then, I had the option of staying with AOL or going with another ISP.
I went with another ISP in Feb 05. Why? Because it was cheaper. Although AOL does have lots included in their package deal, like the email, virus/spam protection, easy-to-use features, etc.; for me, I couldn't afford $25/month.
So, I have another ISP with wonderful connection abilities (I have dial-up and the "new" ISP is faster than AOL was on it's best day). I use mozilla's firefox as a browser (it's free and it is fast and I hate MicroSoft's Internet Explorer for a variety of reasons). I use changenotes.com or bookmark sites as favorites if I want to keep up with pages. I use AIM and sometimes Yahoo! IM.
I had an AOL journal from Sept 04 through Jan 05. Then I tried Blogger and Blogspirit and some other blog space-providers so I could see what was what and what worked for me. When AIM journals were offered, I established another journal in May 05.
Happy to see folks again and be a part of the J-land community, I read and considered the angry voices AOL customers were issuing over AIM journals. That died down. Now I do understand to a degree the dissention amongst the ranks about the banner-ads.
I feel you should have been warned. I feel there should be disclaimers set forth. However, I also know that there is more to the service than simply the journals.
Also, since banner-ads have been running on my AIM journal since conception, I am used to simply ignoring them. I don't even actively "see" them, unless folks draw my attention to them. Which is what folks are doing increasingly.
You see, when you point out to someone those ads (even if it is to protest), you are doing them a wonderful service. You are promoting them, you are making them more noticable, you are drawing attention to them. So, even negative publicity is still publicity.
Most of these companies are large, well-established corporations that either folks use or not. If they already use them (ie Verizon), chances are slim to none that the individual is going to go through the hassle of terminating their usage and employing another. If they don't already use them, then is this fuss going to make that much of a difference anyway?
Now I know that someone is going to get all blown up and indignant over this post, feeling invalidated or trivialized. But the bigger picture is that there are more services that AOL provides their customers than just the journals. And there are more things worthy of taking a stance over besides this.
Yes, AOL should not have made this move with out proper research marketing on how it would affect their customer base. Yes, I think they should use disclaimers. No, I don't think that it's been worth all this fuss.