AOL has started attaching ads to email messages sent by paying subscribers (that ever-vanishing breed) who are using their AOL 9.0 software:
The change, which began Tuesday, affects e-mails sent from AOL accounts using the internet provider's AOL 9.0 software, which is available to AOL's 13 million paid subscribers and others who have downloaded the program.
E-mails sent through AOL's Webmail service, which is available for free on the company's Web site, have had the ads attached for about eight months, said AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley.
The 34-word tag suggests readers check out free AOL services at the company's Web site.
People understand that when something is free, you might have to put up with this; if you use Yahoo, you get an ad at the bottom of your messages. If you use Gmail (as I do) you have the contextual ads at the side of the screen (and your correspondents don't have to look at them; a major plus, I think).
The idea that people might not like having ads tacked onto their messages when they're paying for the service doesn't seem to have occurred to the folks at AOL:
Bentley said the ad is a reminder to people, especially those paying for AOL service, that many products like e-mail are now available for free. She said the current plan is to use the ads to promote AOL services.
She said AOL received "a smattering of e-mails" complaining about the ads but said the company plans to continue using them.
Yes, they're a handy reminder. This is somebody who's drunk the "ads are just helpful information" kool-aid and asked for seconds.
I'm sure they've only gotten a smattering of messages; after all, it's not their users who are seeing them, it's the people to whom they write. It will take a while before everyone notices it.
It's a stupid move that shows disrespect for customers.