Maybe it was that column I wrote recently about AOL buying the Huffington Post, but I swear AOL has turned on me. Share my pain.

Back in the early 1990s I got an AOL dial-up account to use while traveling. It was one of the few Internet services that had global dial-up, so I could get connected from England to India (and did). I kept the account out of sheer laziness, as I am sure do many of the 3.65 million remaining AOL paying dial-up customers, but eventually AOL-itself converted my e-mail to free and escaped from my credit card bill. So then I had a free AOL e-mail account to go with my Yahoo Mail and others. No big deal.

Until someone contacted me yesterday saying they were being spammed from my AOL account. Time to shut that puppy down.

Only I can’t.

To change any free AOL settings you have to first answer a security question, which in my case is “where was your first job?” As best I can remember my first job-job with an actual paycheck was working at a library back in Ohio shelving books when I was 12 making, as I recall, 75 cents per hour. So in answer to the security question I typed “library.”

Invalid answer.

“Public library.”

Invalid answer.

Those are the only two permutations I could come up with. Listen, it’s my life and I am telling you the frigging answer is “library.”

Okay, so I clicked on “forgot security question,” and AOL took me to an alternate page where I was requested to provide my address, day and evening phone numbers, and the last four digits of my credit card number all from 1996!

I can’t contact support because free accounts don’t get any, but I can upgrade to a $4.99 per month level that does offer support then cancel within 30 days. Hell, I’ll cancel within 30 minutes.

AOL won’t let me upgrade.

They can’t even take my money, at least not tonight.

So I sent some nasty messages to AOL customer support, but since I don’t get any support the messages don’t really go anywhere and weren’t satisfying in any case. All I could think to do then was to go into the e-mail account itself and empty my old address book and delete every piece of mail. I’m not sure it will help, though, because I can’t change my password and whoever has hacked me seems to have consolidated my address book with one from a guy whose interest in penis enlargement is, well, large.

What do I do? How would you escape from AOL Hell?