Ed Foster has found out what drives AOL's "you can't leave, ever" subscription policy:
Spitzer's people had found some particularly interesting facts about why AOL customers would meet with such resistance when they wanted to cancel the service. "The investigation revealed that the company had an elaborate system for rewarding employees who purported to retain or 'save' subscribers who had called to cancel their Internet service," the announcement read. "In many instances, such retention was done against subscribers' wishes, or without their consent. Under the system, consumer service personnel received bonuses worth tens of thousands of dollars if they could successfully dissuade or 'save' half of the people who called to cancel service. For several years, AOL had instituted minimum retention or 'save' percentages, which consumer representatives were expected to meet. These bonuses, and the minimum 'save' rates accompanying them, had the effect of employees not honoring cancellations, or otherwise making cancellation unduly difficult for consumers. Many consumers complained that AOL personnel ignored their demands to cancel service and stop billing."
There's a larger management issue going on here. You'll often see managers ask "why doesn't sales sell blah", or "why is sales trying to sell X instead of Y?". Well, the above explains it - it's almost always all about the compensation plans. Need to sell more services, and can't figure out why it's not happening? Look at the comp plan - it likely doesn't incent that behavior.
In many cases, the comp plan is the result of many years of adjustments, often made for reasons that are no longer remembered. It can easily be the case that you think you are motivating a certain behavior, but - in reality - are motivating something else entirely. What's the answer to this problem? Talk to your sales staff. Believe me, they've read the comp plan, in detail. They can tell you exactly what the plan is motivating.