AOL launches Assist technical support service

AOL is largely a media and advertising company, but Assist is designed to add subscribers. The upsell: Convince current Internet access subscribers to buy tech support too.

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AOL on Monday launched Assist by AOL, a technical support service that aims to handle issues for multiple devices of all ages.

The service is notable for AOL, which is largely a media and advertising company with a shrinking legacy dial-up unit. Retailers such as Best Buy have had tech support services for years as a way to grow recurring revenue and enhance customer engagement.

AOL's Assist service launches in Minneapolis and St. Paul initially. AOL said that it will provide U.S.-based tech experts 24/7 online or over the phone.

As for Assist's tech specialty, AOL is initially going broad. The company is offering support for devices already owned ranging from desktops and laptops to tablets, printers, routers and smart TVs to home automation systems. AOL also said Assist will cover the various software platforms.

In addition, AOL is layering on accidental damage plans. Under AOL's plan, the company will try and fix a covered device and will replace it or cut a check for $1,000 to buy a new one.

Pricing is available for one-time fixes as well as a monthly membership. The one-time plan addresses a specific issue and the monthly plan allows for multiple calls and replacement coverage. Assist by AOL starts with a 30-day free trial and then runs $19.99 a month. A one-time fix starts at $59.99.

Obviously, AOL is hoping for the recurring monthly subscription model, which has largely funded the company's transformation into an advertising based media outfit. For 2014, AOL garnered $606.6 million in subscription revenue, down 7 percent from the previous years.

AOL finished the year with more than 2.2 million subscribers paying $21.18 on average. Those Internet access subscribers would likely be a good fit for Assist should it go national.

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