AOL SABOTAGES SMALL NON PROFIT 501c3 ORGANIZATION
From: Joyce Sica and Uptown Concerts Inc.
As many of you know I, Joyce Sica, run a non-profit, 501c3 organization, Uptown Concerts Inc. Uptown Concerts is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of American and world Folk Music.
For the past thirteen (13) years we have been a paying customer of AOL for our on line and email service. For more then ten (10) years we have used bulk emails to notify the press and our patrons of current and upcoming events. Our patron list consists of people that have signed up at concerts to receive our information or email me to be put on our list. Our list goes out blind and is sent thru Uptown Concerts. To be removed from our list a simple 'please remove' in the subject line does the trick. For addresses that bounce back we attempt to reach each address individually to notify the receipent of the problem. If the address continues to bounce back and we don't hear from the person, that address is removed from the list.
Thru all these years AOL understood our purpose and allowed us to send bulk mail thru the screen name mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.(My personal screen name was email@example.com). Now, since they are 'free' they have decided we are spam. I signed up again as a paying customer (since they won't even speak to you if your not a paying customer) and I was assured I could continue as before. Not so. I was sending, to our press contacts, updated information for March 2007 on the evening for January 31, 2007 when AOL not only knocked me off line but TERMINATED my account. Not just my Uptown Concerts account, my personal account as well. They told me I had no recourse, my business was not welcome and my contact lists had all been wiped out.
I asked how can you do this, it's not spam when the folks receiving the information have requested it. My personal address book has the email addresses of all my friends, family, grandchildren, artists, agents, associates and doctors. That my husband, Tony, is very ill and under the watch of doctors at John's Hopkins, Bayview and The National Institute of Health. They have cut me off from my world of contacts in a single stroke. His illness is so rare that Hopkins and NIH request his brain for autopsy upon his death. I was on the phone with AOL for hours. Every person I spoke with gave me another phone number to call. All in all over seven (7) different phone numbers. One person even told me to fax a letter to the Community Action Team at 1-904-232-8942. That number is no longer in service. When I called the appeals department they told me that number was closed and they do not have any fax numbers. One person sad to me. "...how could people get their work done with faxes coming in all the time."
I pleaded with them...."all my contacts for over 13 years are in my address books on AOL. People will be emailing me and not be able to find me. I have musicians coming into the country from Ireland, Scotland, Canada and email is how we communicate. All their contact information is in my AOL address books. Can't you even set it up so they can be told to email me at a different address like gmail or yahoo?" I received a FLAT NO. I was treated like a criminal.(I know I shouldn't write this but I've never received so much as a speeding ticket.) I went on begging, pleading, I did nothing wrong. All the real spam mail they have allowed thru to my screen names over the years that I've reported as spam never gets stopped...........emails selling drugs, wanting to enlarge my male personal parts, wanting to start a business with me in some foreign country. That trash does not get stopped. But a small innocent, non-profit 501c3 organization, an affiliate with the North American Folk Music and Dance Association get ALIENATED! Don't you all feel safer now?
No matter how many times I explained these email are NOT SPAM when folks have asked to receive the information. A couple of the addresses sent back to me by their POSTMASTER as spam are not even in any of our email lists. I asked them how this could happen and all I got was the run around to different phone numbers. I explained how they were putting our non-profit organization in GREAT JEOPARDY and they couldn't care less. Here's the best part......if I were not an AOL customer (a loyal paying customer for at least 13 years) I could contact AOL's postmaster as a non-profit organization and have them assists me getting bulk mail delivered to AOL members on our bulk list.
My phone has been ringing off the hook today with people trying to email me without success.
Uptown Concerts is an all volunteer non-profit organization. We have brought much enjoyments to the people of the Baltimore/DC area for many many years. I receive many (used to) many email daily from folks telling me how much they love the performances. What this little organization means to their enjoyment and quality of life. How much peace and happiness the music brings them
It will take years and still I won't ever be able to regain all the contacts and email addresses that I have lost.
I was also told to write to
Terms of Service
The Community Action Team
America on Line
22265 Pacific Blvd.
To this I ask of you, please take a few minutes of your time to send a note to AOL telling them what you think about this problem. At least this list was saved somewhere other then AOHell.
Also if any of you have a blog, please put this on the blog. Feel free to contact me for more information..
Thank you. js