Ancestry Complaints, Chapter 1
It was a month ago Suzie Henderson posted her complaints about Ancestry.com and it's only today I'm getting around to responding. Sorry about that, Suzie. I've edited Suzie's comment here for length and clarity.
Dear Ancestry Insider,
First, I would not mind paying Ancestry at all IF they would not remove content from their site so that they could charge me extra to get it back again.
Second, I would not mind paying Ancestry at all IF they did not take my credit card number and hold it hostage.
Let's treat each of these concerns separately. Remember, I do not speak in an official capacity for Ancestry. But these are my understandings and recollections.
I originally subscribed to Ancestry.com because they had so many transcribed census records. When they added the Census Images for an additional charge, the transcriptions were removed from the site. Information already on the site that I was paying for was removed. Why?
Ancestry used to have many AIS U.S. Federal Census Indexes (aka transcriptions). Some people quote error rates as high as 15 to 19 percent for these indexes. As part of Ancestry's U.S. Federal Census initiative, Ancestry re-indexed these censuses, replacing the AIS indexes. While the old indexes went away and you would no longer have been able to access them, you would have been able to access the new indexes.
Simplified Subscription System
By the way, you weren't the only customer put off by the requirement to pay additional money for access to census images. Back in the old days the old subscription system was splintered and confusing. There was the U.S. Records Collection, U.S. Census Collection, U.S. Newspaper Collection, U.S. Obituary Collection, U.K. Records Collection, etc. Users were constantly being asked to penny up for additional record sets. Complaints were numerous and satisfaction low.
For these reasons Ancestry introduced what internally we call "New Pricing and Packaging." This consists of a simplified two tiered pricing system. The U.S. Deluxe Subscription consists of all record sets pertaining to the United States, including both census indexes and images. The second tier is the World Deluxe Subscription which gives access to all records.
Canceling Ancestry Subscription
If I could log in with my subscriber name and cancel my subscription, I might then trust Ancestry with my credit card number again. I can sign up online to spend money at Ancestry. But I can only stop spending money at Ancestry.com by making a telephone call and arguing about why I want to stop spending money.
I was assured by Ancestry that I would be reminded annually that my card would soon be charged for an new subscription. I was reminded once in 8 years. The only way I was able to get out from under my subscription was to cancel my credit card and not give Ancestry the new number.
Ancestry has made it clearer during signup that your subscription automatically renews. The notification could be a little more prominent for me, but it is there and it's repeated in the Terms and Conditions.
Not quite noticeable enough for me, Ancestry warns users
in plain sight that subscriptions automatically renew
You can cancel the renewal either online or by phone without argument at least two days before the renewal date. You can cancel an initial annual subscription during the first 7 days and receive a full refund.
Ancestry will send an e-mail notice 15 days before your subscription automatically renews (except for monthly subscriptions), but in many cases you will never see it. I'm always surprised how many people forget to tell Ancestry when their e-mail address changes. Also, many e-mail systems will treat the notification as SPAM and throw it away for you.
(If any of you readers have a notification still around, can you share with us what the sender's e-mail address is? Some e-mail systems allow adding addresses to a list of trusted addresses.)
If you're intent on canceling at a particular time, I advise you not to depend on getting the notification; mark your calendars instead.
Subscribers can cancel online on the My Account page
If Ancestry should ever revert back to its old behavior and make it unnecessarily difficult to cancel a subscription, don't suffer the inconvenience of canceling your credit card. Instead, call up the credit card company and ask them to reverse the first charge that shows up after you have notified Ancestry to cancel your subscription. The credit card companies track such "charge backs" and companies with large charge back rates can lose their ability to accept credit card payments.
But under current management, I don't see that happening. CEO Tim Sullivan has told us internally that if a customer is going to leave us, he wants to be able to win them back later with the great new stuff we are working so hard to provide. We don't want to make enemies out of them. This only makes sense.
Try Us Again
Suzie, I don't blame you or anyone else for having a bad taste in your mouth from previous negative experiences at Ancestry. But if you've been away for a couple of years, it's time for you to come back and give us another try.
We've revamped our subscriptions. We've added exceptional new content. (Everyone always thinks of our U.S. and U.K. census collections, which are unequaled, but our immigration records should knock your socks off! And during 2007 we've made astounding progress adding military, state census and vital records.)
Our free family tree building software with its shaky leaves is a next-generation feature unmatched by any other. I had my tree in good shape, populated with photographs where ever possible, when Ancestry Press came along. With one click I've produced eye-popping books and large pedigree charts. Our DNA offering is young, but very cool. (To everyone at work, if I've forgotten to mention your personal exceptionally cool accomplishments, my apologies.)
In short, Suzie, while you've been away we've been working our fingers to the bone and we have a lot more to show for it than just bony fingers. Come give us another try. This time, we want you to stay because you want to stay.
The Ancestry Insider