Terry Thompson, a Nebraska man who lives off of Social Security checks, ended up owing $916.20 because he did not realize he would have to pay long distance charges to access America Online.
America Online states that it believes it is clear in its advertising that toll calls or long distance calls may be necessary for subscribers in areas without local access numbers. Lawyers preparing a class action lawsuit do not agree.
American Online is being sued by several consumers who made the same mistake Thompson did. AOL's software will direct some people to long distance numbers when there are no local ones available. Some say they are redirected when local lines are busy.