Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ancestry.com Will Take Your Money (Beware)


A few months back I decided to sign up for an account with Ancestry.com. I'm very much interested in my families history but know very little about it. An account with Ancestry.com is expensive, about $33 a month! So I decided to sign up for a month or two and do as much research in that time as possible.

The information and databases they have is pretty impressive. I was able to trace my mom's side of the family back to the 1500's! I found out I'm a 5th cousin to Dolly Parton, very distantly related to Ernest Hemingway and I'm related to the famous Morgan family of Wales (Captain Morgan, son!). I was also surprised to find out I had family in New England in the 1600's, some of the first people over after the Mayflower colonists set up shop. I'm also related to a confederate war hero who fought under Robert E. Lee, he was at damn near every major battle during the Civil War (don't worry, he was fresh off the boat from Scotland ie. not a slave owner). And I might actually be a direct descendant of the Royal bloodline of Wales, although the lines get a little fuzzy once you go back to the 1300's. Anyway, it was pretty informative and now well worth the $60 I paid for 2 months.

After two months though I got busy again and didn't have time to continue my research so I cancelled my account, or so I thought. A few weeks ago I was looking through my statements and realized that Ancestry.com continued to charge me after I had cancelled. There were 3 months of additional charges that
showed up. Now, I should have been keeping an eye on my credit account a little better but nonetheless charging someone after they cancel is pretty shady.

I reached out to their customer service and told them that I cancelled my account and specifically recall seeing a confirmation on my screen that it was cancelled. I told this to them and they asked for my cancellation number, which was supposed to be emailed to me. Guess what? I never got an email. They said without it they could not refund any of the charges.

I told the person that I definitely went through the cancellation process. This is all I said to them, I didn't give any more details. The service rep actually replied (this was via email) pointing out where the issue likely took place. They told me that when you cancel your account you are brought to a screen which not only says the account has been cancelled but even tells you the date it goes into effect. It's a cancellation confirmation page and I recall being there. But here's the catch, the confirmation page has a little "continue" button that you need to click to finalize the process. So basically, you're shown a confirmation page BEFORE your account is actually closed. Not only that but I did some research and found instances where people with certain browsers don't even see this button.

Again, I did not tell the rep where I left off, frankly I didn't know what happened because I was 100% sure I cancelled. The service rep voluntarily told me told me exactly what went awry, which means this isn't the first time they've had this complaint. They knew exactly what went wrong! On that note I did some research and found entire threads in message boards about this problem. Ancestry.com is well aware of their misleading cancellation process but yet haven't corrected it. I also stumbled upon a long history of various reports of them charging people for services and features they never signed up for.

The Better Business Bureau has 183 complaints filed against Ancestry.com, of which 130 are related to Billing or Refund practices. Clearly, Ancestry.com are either purposely misleading customers in attempt to scam a few extra bucks or they're just grossly negligent.

My biggest complaint with the site, while I was a member, is the low quality user experience they provide. The information they offer is amazing but the website sucks and is not at all intuitive. For this reason, I'm not surprised that they have a botched cancellation process. Maybe it's not a scam and they just have a terrible team of programmers and web designers. Although, they're clearly aware of the issue and have yet to fix it.

My point is that Ancestry.com has a long history of ripping people off. This goes back several years and is not at all limited to botched cancellation requests.

Despite originally being told I would not be refunded my money, my persistence has led to 2 of the 3 unauthorized charges being refunded. However, until all of the money they took from me is returned I'm not giving up. If you're interested in signing up for Ancestry.com you may want to think twice. Do your research and make sure they've moved past this petty negligence before giving them any of your information. If you do sign up don't be surprised if you end up in the same position I'm in, many others have been before me.

The damn shame of it all is I had every intention to sign up again, once I had free time, and was even considering purchasing one of their DNA tests. Sure, they've managed to pocket an extra $30 from me but I would have spent another $1,000 (easy) with them on and off over the years had this incident not happened. Hell, even if I was clearly to blame I would still come back and not even fight to get my money back but the fact that the internet is flowing with similar reports and the fact Ancestry.com knows very well what the problem is and makes no attempts to rectify the situation and/or properly reimburse customers is frankly disgusting.

Why a nationally recognized brand with such a wealth of useful information would reduce themselves to this is beyond me.

Link:

MP3:

1 comment:

Derick said...

Posting information from your files and making it public is no better.They will then charge a person wanting to view it with "Buy a membership or forget it" Modern Day Rogues of the worst kind.
Had they been around in the Elizabethan age they'd had been beheaded for Treason.

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