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Why I Canceled My Ancestry.com Subscription

February 15th, 2008

I have been a subscriber to Ancestry.com for the past eight years, but recently I decided to cancel my subscription. I did this for three reasons.

The first reason is that, although in the beginning I was a more than satisfied customer and that my subscription to the on-line genealogy service had benefited me greatly, over time my satisfaction with the service had significantly dropped off. It was in the past year or so that I began to realize that my return on invest had decreased dramatically over the years while the annual cost of the subscription has increased three-fold. I do not recall what my original subscription rate was in the beginning, but I do know that at one time I was paying about $40 a year. This year, to renew my subscription, I would have to have paid $150. I know that I was the one who signed-up for some extra package along the way, but I just did not realize that I was signing up for more than what I felt comfortable with paying each year. Beside, as I said, as time went by I was actually getting less benefit from my subscription as I was when I first started doing my family research on-line.

Reason number two: There is one thing that has always bothered me about Ancestry.com and that is that they seem to be more interested in hooking new customers than they do in making their service more appealing to veteran subscribers who just want to browse or query specific databases. The bottom line is that, although I do love the content that Ancestry.com has to offer, I really hate the overall design of the web-site.

The final reason why I canceled my Ancestry.com subscription was because I wanted to see if they were going to try hard-sell me once again or make it difficult for me to cancel – in other words, partly out of spite as the result of a previous customer experience.

About two years ago I wanted to cancel my subscription because I did not like the fact that they automatically renewed my subscription with out so much as friendly reminder. Once I understood what the terms were, I tried going on to Ancestry.com on-line to cancel (or least disable) the next renewal and found that there was no way to do this on-line (go here to see Ancestry.com’s current terms and conditions). Finally after nearly an hour of searching on-line I finally found a phone number for Ancestry.com – published by a third-party on some forum somewhere – and got to speak to someone at Ancestry.com on the phone. After they explained to me the terms, I told them that I understood and I asked that for next cycle that I not be billed again – in other words, next year, DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY RENEW MY SUBSCRIPTION – I wanted to settle now and not have to fool with this later. This concept was totally foreign to the person I was speaking to. The only sensible thing that they had to offer was a way for me to combine the two subscriptions (packages) that I was currently signed-up for thereby lowering the cost of the annual subscription. Being a push-over and thinking that I was saving money, I agreed to this. Yes, I did want the service and the content that it had to offer, but I did not think that I should have to pay more for it especially if the benefit I was getting from the service was declining over time. As it turns out I was not saving money – I was just setting myself up to spend more for less.

(NOTE: that since that earlier time they have now made it so that you can cancel your subscription on-line and they do now make their phone number available).

About a month before I received a renewal notice from Ancestry.com – which, by the way, was the first and only one I recall every receiving – I stumbled upon the Wikipedia article for Ancestry.com and read the following:

There are some who disapprove of the policies and business practices of The Generations Network and the sites it operates. Some sites, e.g. BadBusinessBureau.com, catalog these stories. Ancestry.com and affiliates sell perpetual subscriptions that only end when they are cancelled, sometimes allowing them to collect from long deceased subscribers.

Following the BadBusinessBureau link I read some of the "RipoffReports" about Ancestry.com and came to realization that I was not the only one who was dissatisfied.

Overall I would liken my experience with Ancestry.com as watching the greatest movie every made in a run-down movie theatre, where they charge you five bucks for a coke and ten bucks for popcorn. Yes, I did have a good time, but I think that next time I’ll spend my money some place else. Thank you very much.

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