Customer issues at WWW.ANCESTRY.COM

Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com is a Provo, Utah, company which is capitalizing on the growing popularity of family genealogy searches. It offers a "free" promotion offering access to "90 million war records" which it says can shed light on family history. In reality it appears to be trolling for suckers to hand over their credit card numbers or access to their bank accounts. If the recent experience of forty-odd Hubpagers is an indicator, ancestry.com had a nasty habit of making charges against unwary individuals who supply their credit card or bank account numbers when signing up for a "free" trial. Once the free trial is over Ancestry.com continued the charges unless notified by the person who signed up for the "free trial" notifies them in accordance with the fine print that he does not wish to pay to subscribe to the service. An AP article from my morning paper concerning Ancestry.com's promotion aimed at individuals or family members of persons who served in the U.S. military. The AP writer, Donna Borak, apparently was not aware of complaints about Ancestry.com's billing practices. The Salt Lake City Better Business Bureau's unsatisfactory rating of the company two years ago has since been upgraded to satisfactory wrt for its handling of customer complaints. However, based on this Hub page a significant number of customers experience unexpected charges to their credit cards or bank accounts at the end of Ancestry.com's "free trial" offer.

Beware of providing access to your credit card or bank account to anyone over the internet. Read the fine print and make yourself fully aware of what you are signing up for!



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Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 9 years ago Author

Here's a link to a Better Business Bureau report which says that Ancestry.com has an unsatisfactory customer satisfaction record based on unresolved complaints. http://www.saltlakecity.bbb.org/commonreport.html?...


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

I believe that the issue has been resolved now. It is a wonderful avenue for finding research.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

What are you talking about? Please explain what issue has been resolved. Did you see the 169 complaints on the hub www.ancestry.com. Please tell us more about your experience with the company.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

As a long-time (and fairly happy) subscriber to Ancestry.com, I'm guessing you didn't read the part in the "free" offer that unless you cancel BEFORE the period of free access ends, your credit card WILL be charged. It's not only Ancestry that does this...free trial periods are a marketing tool used by many companies to attract new customers. Unless it's a service you already know you'll continue to use after the trial period ends, if a "free" offer requires entering credit card information, RUN! Otherwise, that company WILL hit your bank account, and continue doing so until you cancel or unsubscribe, because you gave them permission to do so when you entered the CC info.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

Well, plenty of people apparently fail to read the fine print and are stung by Ancestry.com. Moreover, they report considerable difficulty getting the deductions from their bank accounts or credit card charges stopped. The Better Business Bureau in Idaho has given Ancestry.com an unsatisfactory rating.


angellous profile image

angellous 8 years ago from Coventry UK

I have just been conned by this outfit


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

Join the group! At least you didn't sign away your house on a subprime, ARM.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

See my previous comment, angellous. If you'd read EVERYTHING in the fine print before you typed in your credit card number, you would've known to opt out then and there. There is NO "conning" per se, only a company counting on potential customers NOT reading the fine print.

As for stopping the hit on your bank account, your credit card company or bank can do that for you, but you have to notify them this is an unauthorized charge. They won't do it automatically.

I imagine the difficulty in getting Ancestry to refund the money is the reason for the unsatifactory rating by the Idaho BBB.

Again, I'm a mostly happy subscriber to Ancestry. Any displeasure is due to shutting down their search engines for "routine maintenance" on Sunday afternoons, which is when many genealogists are doing research.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

If the company wanted you to know what the deal is they wouldn't put the fish hooks in fine print.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Agreed, but they DO put the hooks in the fine print. That's why it's important to read every word. Ancestry, btw, is only one of many companies that do this. I used to work in customer service for a shoe company's website that put in tiny print that the order wouldn't be processed for at least 2 business days. Meaning an order placed late on a Thursday night wouldn't ship until Monday, so many of our calls on the weekends were from angry customers who expected the shoes they ordered Thurs to arrive sometime Saturday. We finally convinced a company suit that simply enlarging the 2-day disclaimer so it couldn't be overlooked would stop most of those calls, as well as the word-of-mouth bad publicity angry customers were generating.

Not quite the same as Ancestry "hooking" people with "free" access that requires a credit card number, but they could take a lesson from my former employer. Making current or potential customers angry for ANY reason is NOT good business. Meanwhile, consumers should always read ALL the fine print before hitting "Submit".


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

We're on the same wavelength.


angellous profile image

angellous 8 years ago from Coventry UK

I have been very foolish by taking up a FREE OFFER from an outfit called TGN Ancestry, on my Bank Statement I noticed an amount of nearly £80.00p at first I thought I had, had my card cloned , rang the bank and I cancelled my card. Then I looked into it, and found , that I had signed up for a free trial which I never used , and presumed wrongly that they would inform me when the trial was up and give me the option of joining and paying the fees.

On further investigation I found out , that this is common practise from this company, I have now cancelled my subscription and they are refunding my subscription, but how many times have people not checked their bank account , a nice little earner so don’t be like me and give your account details over the net, for a FREE TRIAL.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

You are not alone.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Companies will NEVER inform you when the free trial period is ending. That's why whenever I get an offer of a "free" trial that includes the words "credit card required", I immediately hit DELETE (or if snail-mail, into the trash).

The other one to watch out for are the ads offering to check your credit score "for free". DO NOT FALL FOR THIS ONE! All they REALLY want you to hand over is your Social Security number, so they can do all sorts of illegal things with it.

Same for any company you've never heard of that asks for your birthdate. I just got one in the (snail) mail the other day offering to send information about an insurance policy for funeral expenses. Now I'm no spring chicken, but I'm not THAT old either, so their demographics research only tells them I'm old enough to join AARP, but not my exact age.

If the postage-paid response post card had had age *ranges* (i.e. 45-55, etc) I might've responded. But I was to out my exact birthdate, on a POST CARD, mind you, that would also have my name and address and be seen by total strangers on its way to this company. NO WAY! That one went straight into the trash too.

btw, you don't HAVE to give your REAL birthdate when registering for access to a website, so I NEVER do. Can't leave it blank either, or an error message will come up, so I enter a date that makes me approximately (but NOT EXACTLY) two years younger.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

Good advice!


wrench profile image

wrench 8 years ago

Making yourself two years yonger via a website would be a great business.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

Start off with a free trial period!


AgThorn 7 years ago

I am currently NOT a subsciber of ancestry.com, although I was for probably over 5 years up until now. My problem is thier two tier pricing on US and World does not really help me when I am doing US and Canada .. I don't consider having to pay for the whole world a good investment if I only want USA & Canada. That being said, I am thinking of joining just Canada (ancestry.ca) one year and USA the next ... working out my own program I guess.

As to the charges on ancestry.com being fraudulent, I can only say that my dealings with them over the many years I have used them have been nothing but professional. I have also had webpages on their sister organization (myfamily) for about 7 years. Sure, there is an automatic renewal and it is meantioned in your agreement. I have never found ancestry not willing to cancel or rebate at any time that I was not happy. I find that this company goes out of its way to help their members and is definitely, bar none, the best genealogy site out there.

William Silverthorn

San Diego, CA


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment. I'm glad you have been satisfied by your treatment by Ancestry.com. There were apparently quite a few people a year or two ago who were unsatisfied, but I haven't heard any complaints lately. Apparently they didn't read the fine print and had difficulty shutting off the charges to their bank accounts. Perhaps those issues are cleared up. I hope so.


Narusha 6 years ago

The unfair business practices on the part of Ancestry.com go

beyond simple small print and misleading advertisements.

Many people, including myself, have had our bank accounts

hit by them well after we canceled service with this company.

In my case it was a year after I had canceled with ancestry. com that $200.00 US was charged to my account. Now I have the up hill battle of trying to prove that I did indeed cancel. I am not alone in this, there are many like me who actually did read the small print and we are still suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous charges.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

There certainly seem to be a lot of "unhappy campers" at Ancestry.com.


GreyEyes 6 years ago

Maybe the answer is to use a pre-paid credit card when signing up for Ancestory. Put the exact amount you want to spend on that card, cancel within the required window and if it tries to charge the card, it'll be declined. No harm, no foul.


Kevin 5 years ago

Maybe ancestry.com should stop taking advantage of people, realizing that if many people sign up for the free trial that many of them will forget to cancel. I don't think any legimate business would make most of their money from people who don't use their product.


Denise 5 years ago

Here are my issues with ancestory.com. People have my material which has my copyright stamped on it.

I informed one of the copy/pasters to please remove my photos and narratives which my copyright since after looking a her tree, which is nothing but a copy/past job from many people's trees, I determined that she was even remotely connected to me.

Well, she informs ancestry.com that I'm harrassing her by informing by notifying her to remove my material, but ancestry.com has yet to respond to my concerns about someone illegaly ripping off my work.

Along with downtime, an inadequate search feature, taking money out of bank accounts, and not upholding laws, ancestry.com gets a BIG F!

It is all user-submitted data that ancestry.com capitalizes on. Most of the stuff they have can be found on a county's website, plus much, much more than ancestry.com has on their site.


Denise 5 years ago

Also, why doesn't ancestry.com have any competition?

What they're doing is not exactly rocket science. All they are doing is buying CDs county historical societies, and creating a website where we can access censuses and marriage records for a price.

Then, they depend on their customers to supply the good stuff like wills, land deeds, etc. Therefore, we the customers, are supplying them free material, so they can profit from us.


Denise 5 years ago

Excuse all the omissions of words, and typos. I have a cell up to ear and have been on hold with the National Archives for an hour now.


Liz Collinge 5 years ago

How do I get unsubscribed?


Katie McDonald 4 years ago

I have been an Ancestry.com member since they started up, and until recently, was very happy. However within this past year they reprogramed their search engine and the results stink. Example: I havesay Robert Thomas Brown, his DOB, POB and run a web search. Instead of returing only those items that are most relavent to that specific name and set of dates, I get ALL Robert Brown borths followed by ALL Thomas Brown births and have to wade through page after page to narrow the search.

When you complain they treat you like an idiot, but the fact is their tech team have done a really poor job and they are slow to respond, give inane suggestion for fixes and get their feelings hurt if you suggest they try a little harder.

My current issue? Out of the blue yesterday when I perform a web search I am unable to merge because EVERY SINGLE match states "WARNING! Some pages on the internet are protected by copyright." I had sign off and back on. I have restarted the program. My subscription is up to date. I have rebooted the pc. What makes me sick is that I just ordered the 2012 version. Why I keep buying this crap while they abuse my good nature is a real mystery.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Katie, thanks for your comment.


lindamau96 4 years ago

Get those coupon offers OFF my sign-in sheet. Please


Heide 2 years ago

I have been a paying customer of Ancestry.com, for several years now. I was paying 150.00 every 6 months. Recently i decided not to renew, because of the expense, and i was having no luck finding anything new. Now i find out that the documents that were saved into my family tree, are only viewable if i subscribe again. You just lost me as a repeat customer for sure!!!!!!!!!!


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 2 years ago Author

Heide, FYI, this site is independent of Ancestry.com.

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