AOL in legal tangle over slow access

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America Online, Vienna, Va., is under fire from a group of five Californians who filed suit Jan. 14 against the online service for failing to provide ready access, according to AP reports in Los Angeles. The five AOL subscribers cite the new flat-fee pricing plan offered by AOL during the fourth quarter of 1996 as responsible for a slower experience and for long waits to get online.

AOL provided a statement late Jan. 14 about the access problems that claimed the company "expects to prevail in the class action suits addressing member access to AOL. Although we understand the frustration some members are experiencing at not being able to obtain immediate local access during peak periods, the average AOL member gets more value under unlimited pricing than ever before -- spending approximately 32 minutes a day online, more than double the daily time in September."

The statement also claims AOL has made expanding its system capacity a major priority and that a $250 million program to increase customer service and add modems is underway.

Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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