I was horrified at my friend's experiences of AOL. I don't use AOL but my friend does and has had nothing but bother. He upgraded from AOL dial-up to broadband and for months now he has been trying to get connected to AOL but with no success (he is still paying monthly for the service!).
He asked me to help but when I 'phoned AOL they had no record of his account or 'phone number yet he can log-on and access AOL from an internet cafe or my computer etc. After months, still no satisfaction.
Interestingly, and this is the first time I've noticed this type of thing, on the blurb on the AOL installation CD cover there is the note in bold to the effect "...as this is an instant service there is no cooling off period as required by law..etc" To me, this smacks of sharp-practice because this infers if the service sucks then there is no redress!
If people find themselves in such a situation (paying for a service they have never/cannot use) contact their local Citizen's Advice Bereau (CAB) - if one exists near them due to funding cuts.
Otherwise contact the Consumer Council, first by 'phone then by letter. The Consumer Council has to act on the written query if you are fobbed off on the 'phone enquiry. If enough people write they have powers to curb this type of activity. To save you some time contact AOL first and include their response to the Consumer Council.
The consumer issues raised here are along the lines of "product or service suitable for purpose", "product or service fit for purpose" and "true and fair advertising of service".
You could also write to your MP. The good thing is that, under law, your MP has to respond within x days and keep you informed as to the progress of your complaint. This is extra work for MPs and they don't like it and if enough people write (say x hundreds) then legally he/she has to x hundreds of complaints individually - this is an excellent method of getting things done and making these characters work for their money!
This might seem a lot of work for you and sometimes service providers depend on this fact in that if you can't be bothered to complain and make them accountable then they can get away with it. My only advice is to be tenacious and persevere.