Farewell to Erols

Erol Onaran could be called “The Friend of the Early Adopter.” He was a Turkish immigrant who started as a TV retailer in Northern Virginia. Back in the 1980s, just as families in Arlington were buying their first home VCRs, he went into business renting videos of movies (in both Beta and VHS formats); for a long time, the store on Columbia Pike near Glebe Road was the only rental outlet in Arlington. Then in the 1990s, after selling his rental chain to Blockbuster for a gazillion dollars, he became an Internet Service Provider as the main competition to AOL in the area. I signed up for dial-up service and created my first email account: rbrink@erols.com.

Through the years, even though Erols was successively bought up by larger ISPs Starpower and RCN, I kept the @erols.com address as a cultural artifact. (One friend suggested that I must also eat at Hot Shoppes, go for ice cream at Giffords, and buy my suits at Raleighs). All was well until yesterday morning, when my email stopped cold. When I couldn’t access my account, I tried to reach a live body at Erols/Starpower/RCN to find out what the problem was. After 2-1/2 hours on the phone (2-1/4 on hold, 15 minutes with friendly but unhelpful call center personnel in the Phillipines), I learned that a subscription renewal notice had been sent to my twice removed home address several months ago. When they didn’t hear from me, they pulled the plug on my email account. Since they were discontinuing email, I asked, had they thought of sending a notice by . . . email? Umm, no. So I grumbled, gave them my credit card information over the phone, and waited to be turned back on.

Now, 24 hours later, my Erols account is still blocked and the 100 or so people who send me messages get the following back by way of explanation:

“This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.

Delivery to the following recipients failed permanently:

* rbrink@erols.com”

Well, two can play the “permanently” game. After all these years, I’m putting Erols in my rear view mirror. My new email address is

robertbrink AT comcast DOT net

Sorry, Mr. Onaran. It was great while it lasted.

6 thoughts on “Farewell to Erols”

  1. Wow! While I’m sorry to hear of the frustration you incurred, props to you for holding on so long. I still remember renting videos at Erols video back in the day.

  2. Lord, you gave up all that history and tradition due to one small frustration and moved your account . . . to the cable company?

    You’ll note I’m still with AOL and dreaming of the day that the Dulles corridor will become the new Silicon Valley.

  3. I always wondered how the “erols” got into your e-mail address in the first place. Now we have a terrific new President-Elect AND a new e-mail start for Bob Brink.

  4. I had totally forgotten that Erols used to be the place to rent videos. You could also buy TVs from them, right? Or was it to get them fixed? Didn’t they have a store near Bailey’s Crossroads near the Super Giant?

    Good luck with your dead erols account. At least it is returning a message. Those who could never change quite change us from the erols account still think we are receiving their messages (mostly spammers –Hellloooo out there??? Anybody home?) Welcome to Comcast!

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