Carphone Warehouse Nets AOL UK For £370m

Goodbye to one of the most frustrating brands ever to operate in the IT space.

AOL, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

That was pretty much my mantra as a poor English student reading too much Elizabeth Browning and forced to use those ‘free hour’ discs Time Warner’s worse half used to post through my door. But no more, my minions, no more…

In what I can only describe as a mercy killing, Carphone Warehouse has won the auction for the ‘UK Internet access business’ part of this nightmare of an entity for a hefty £370m. This sum is funded via ‘an extension of existing debt facilities’ (bigger loan) and adds AOL UK’s 2.1m (s)long(/s) (s)disenchanted(/s) customers to its existing (s)already(/s) (s)disgruntled(/s) 625,000 user base of its (Watchdog investigated) Talk Talk broadband service. Marriage made in Heaven?

AOL’s (s)notorious(/s) call centres and technical support lines will also be integrated into the (s)torturous(/s) Carphone Warehouse call centres and a co-branded AOL UK portal will be set up. Presumably until Carphone Warehouse decides to swallow the name.

In an official statement Time Warner commented that “this transaction marks an important step in positioning AOL’s audience business to take further advantage of the rapid growth in online advertising – in keeping with AOL’s overall worldwide strategy. In addition to exiting its Internet access businesses in Germany, France and the UK, AOL will now have a stronger platform for providing portal, content and other audience services, on a stand-alone as well as a co-branded basis, and managing online advertising sales.” All of which is putting a rather brave face on what is a sizeable retreat.

As for Carphone Warehouse they said the “additional scale is likely to create significant operating efficiencies in relation to network infrastructure and marketing costs” but is hopefully not a scary precursor to even more elongated call waiting times.

The purchase is due to be completed by 31 December 2006 subject to EU clearance and if you are with either Talk Talk or AOL UK I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. Incidentally, if you think I’m being unfair to (s)this festering mess of a company(/s) AOL, it was recently voted as having the worse tech product of all time

Carphone Warehouse

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