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Poll: Many Distrust AOL

By Nicole C. Wong
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 24, 2001; Page E05

Internet shoppers don't trust AOL Time Warner Inc. any more than they do its embattled rival Microsoft Corp., according to a survey.

The poll, conducted earlier this month by Harris Interactive on behalf of market-research firm Gartner Inc., surveyed online shoppers' comfort with giving their names, addresses and credit card numbers out online to banks, brokerages, credit card companies, the U.S. Postal Service, large retailers, Amazon.com, Microsoft and AOL.

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Comparing two of the three technology companies asked about in the survey, 37 percent of the 2,145 e-mail respondents said they had a high level of distrust of AOL, compared with 29 percent who said they were highly distrustful of Microsoft. Only about 21 percent were distrustful of banks and thrift institutions, which 33 percent said inspired high levels of trust.

Only 17 percent and 15 percent of respondents said they highly trust Microsoft and AOL, respectively. The survey had a 2-percentage-point margin of error.

"We don't know anything about the methodology or how the questions were asked, but it directly contradicts everything we're hearing from our members," said Andrew Weinstein, an AOL spokesman.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company