Bottom line: crappy internet service, incompetent customer service, and bogus charges that you are forced to pay if you care about your credit. I had Earthlink DSL and was paying with a credit card connected to my home equity line of credit. When housing prices declined, they lowered my credit limit and essentially cut off the card. I wanted to switch ISP's due to ongoing technical problems with service anyway so I didn't bother calling them. So they rightfully cut off my service when the card no longer worked.
A few months later I got a recorded message saying I needed to update my payment method. I called them to say I wanted to close the account anyway. They said they wanted to charge me for service since the card stopped working until the present time. I argued that I hadn't had any service from them for the past few months, so why should I pay for service I wasn't getting? They agreed to remove SOME of the charges made after they cut off my service. So I ended up paying for at least one month of service that I didn't receive.
I thought that was the end of it but it wasn't. I continued to get recorded calls saying I needed to update my payment method. I called them again to find out that even though I closed the account and paid the agreed upon amount, it was still active and they were continuing to charge me for service I wasn't getting. I explained the situation, told them I wasn't paying them for any more service that I had not received, and closed the account AGAIN.
Even after that I was still getting calls saying I needed to update my payment method. I was so annoyed that I simply ignored the calls.
Then, I started getting calls from a collection agency saying that I owed money for service that I did not receive from Earthlink and also more money because I didn't return the DSL equipment. Both times when I called to close the account, neither representative said ANYTHING about returning the equipment. I explained that I didn't owe them a dime for service and that this was the first thing I heard about returning the equipment. I would have been happy to return the equipment if they'd asked.
I asked if I should call Earthlink again. The collection agency said that all other customers who thought the charges were bogus were only sent back to them if they called Earthlink. She also said that most of the other customers who had been sent into collections by Earthlink complained that Earthlink was horrible to do business with.
So, I ended up paying half of the amount they said I owed just to clear the books and avoid a black mark on my credit rating (which is "excellent" because I pay what I owe).
So, if you give a crap about your credit score, you are more or less forced to pay whatever Earthlink says you owe them no matter how ridiculous the charges which basically amounts to extortion.