A great collective whine is currently echoing across the interent as people find themselves locked out of their AIM accounts. It turns out getting customer support with a decade (plus!) old AIM account after AOL abandoned it is tricky.
Internetters are having trouble getting into AIM with third-party clients (like Adium, iChat and Pidgin), which is how a ton of people still use AIM, if at all, alleging that their password has been reset without any warning. This is no surprise — what do we expect from a service that’s been gutted? But let’s not panic quite yet.
First, if you’re currently logged into AIM, you should probably export your buddy list (or hell, write it down by hand) if you’re worried about your contact list.
If you’re already locked out of your AIM account — a lot of users are complaining about an “AOL does not allow your screen name to authenticate here” error — you might not be screwed. If you can manage to dig up the necessary information to reset your account via AIM.com, it looks like you can unlock your account. It worked for me.
Log in to AIM.com. Your current password might work. If it does, proceed to resetting your password, and please update that account information that probably dates back to the first W. Bush administration. Then give ol’ iChat another try.
If your password doesn’t work on AIM.com, you might be in trouble. You’ll need to know the email address attached to your screen name. Do you remember what email address you were using, say, 12 years ago? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s one you don’t have access to, or one that’s just vanished into the sands of time entirely. If, even through trial and error, you can’t dig up this email account, then yes, you might actually be screwed. With AIM’s new status as a derelict product in AOL’s eyes, don’t count on any customer support unless you’re a paying AOL customer. And it’s doubtful any of you are paying AOL customers, or else AOL wouldn’t have had to fire everyone at AIM to begin with.
Let us know what’s going on with your AIM account, and if you catch a break. Don’t end up like our friend Joel.
Update: Good news from AOL. A company rep told us “they are working on a fix for the issue” and will have more soon.