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: email@example.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:
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.