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Ancestry.co.uk – You’re Very Sneaky!

It really gets my back up when I feel like I have been conned…. but if I was to read the small print on the website they would say that they are going to do it .. but without any warning it really annoys me.

I refer to Ancestry.co.uk, but this post could elude itself to a whole host of websites that suck you in and then when you have forgotten all about them, sting you for a subscription fee. I was just paying a chunk off my credit card bill tonight (flights & car hire to Marbella for next May) when I see £41.95 from Ancestry.co.uk. My first thought was that I hadn’t subscribed to Ancestry, but then my second thought was perhaps I’d been on the site, but ages ago.

The more I thought about it the more it came back to me and I was sure it was a free trail that I signed up for, where you have to put your credit card details in, but you always say to yourself that you’ll have a play and then unsubscribe before you get charged. I suppose that was the plan, but I thought it would be ok as the card I used expired at the end of May, but had also forgotten all about it. (Hmmm no idea how they can take payment from an expired card?)

ancestry subs

Once I had regained my login for Ancestry by doing a forgot Username and Password section (must be very well used) it all came back to me. I signed up on 31st December 2009, must have been that dull bit on New Years Eve, for a free 6 month trial on a special deal. I remember going on the site as I’m a bit of a family historian but couldn’t for the life of me figure out what to do. The site comes across as there to make it easy for you but it needs really specific data like full date of births and dates of death which I just haven’t got, even though I’ve got hand drawn family trees for all sides of the family dating back hundreds of years.

So after an hour or so faffing about on Ancestry I gave up and probably went to join in the festivities. Yes I should have cancelled the subscription, but perhaps my intention was to come back and try again. What really annoys me though is that in the 6 months that I have been a “member” of the site I haven’t had a single communication from Ancestry to even remind me about my membership or that my initial introductory 6 months were running out, or any communication to ask if I wanted to resubscribe to a certain membership levels.

Perhaps Ancestry.co.uk see all these dormant accounts and start to rub their hands together as suddenly it’s a big pay day 6 months after you have run a promotion getting people to sign up to the site. I think I probably used the site for about 2 hours tops and didn’t gain anything from it at all. Now I’m in the situation that I have now paid for the next 6 months, so do I leave it and set myself a reminder to cancel it before the next payment gets sucked from my Mastercard or cancel it now?

28 Comments

  • Carps

    Oh I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve nearly been had by Ancestry.co.uk. They’ve got a huge and ruthless affiliate network too – they’re almost unavoidable if you’re researching the family tree.

    Luckily, I need no reminders that I’d need loads of reminders to cancel any such subscription. It’s a hateful way of doing business – they must be racking up huge profits from people who aren’t even using the service.

    If you’re interested, something like http://www.1901censusonline.com might be better – you can just pay a fiver here and there whenever you want to look up something. You’re right though – you do need a couple of specifics to get started, but if you can get somebody concrete in the 1911 census you can get back to the 1830s pretty easily (unless your family’s a bit mental like my wife’s)

    All that being said, if you’re not joking about the login I’d love to have a play with it! 🙂

  • Becky

    Cheers Paul, I’ll give the 1901Census site a whirl .. I’ll have to get some d.o.b’s dug out first.
    Login details for your “free trail with Ancestry.co.uk” on its way to you via email! Enjoy 🙂

  • Andy

    My old man is very into his genealogy, and I’m sure he goes on about the Church of the Latter Day Saints as a resource where he finds a lot of old birth and death certificates for his research.

  • robert

    Another one is CreditExpert – as they do a similar deal where you get 6months free but never remember it… the really annoying bit was finding out that you couldnt cancel online – only over the phone and only at 9-5 m-f times… which is when your least likely to call!
    I do feel that they miss a trick here, as whilst its nice to get some free cash, they end up with less users and less engaged users!

  • Richard

    1901 census is a much better site, you just pay a fee and as I remember you can look at so many entries before your fee runs out. This is where you need information as accurate as possible before you go online. Another good one was 1837 online.com

  • Carps

    Actually, now I’ve checked out Ancestry.co.uk, the website itself is pretty ace – it’s closed off a few unanswered questions already and I’ve found that some great-uncle-or-other died in WWI, which is something that seems to have been lost in the family memory

    Cheers Becky! BTW – if you want to try it again and want a bit of help using it, give me a shout (seeing as you’ve paid for it!)

  • Jase

    Ouch.. I know just how you feel! ive stiched myself up a few times by signing up for a free trials and then for 1 reason or another forgetting to cancel only to discover 3 payments down the line!
    like you i dread to think how many millions of profit are gained in this way each year!
    Well im glad you caught it before you ended up deeper out of pocket.. 🙂

    I would also be really grateful if i to could borrow your login.. i only have a couple of things i’d like to see if i can find out so would be most grateful for your help..

    Take care & many thanks.. Jase

  • Aidan Rees-Williams

    Ok it would be so brilliant if i could use yoyr login, the prices are way to high and i would like to look at my grandad/ grandmotherswho died before i was born records. Email is ajrw@fsmail.net Thanksss xx

  • essemcee

    before paying any subscriptions anywhere you can get lots of info for free on (freebmd) or (yorkshire bmd if you’re in yorkshire) or I’m sure other counties will have their own version. Only when you have found out enough info from the free sites need you go to the likes of ancestry.co.uk because they do have the census files from 1841 onwards but just play the pay as you go game as its often enough time and credits to satisfy.

  • Sue

    Hi
    If you’re still happy to share your ancestry access I’d love to use it. Did some research a long time ago and it would be great to get back into it.
    Thank you

  • Steven Sonsino

    I agree wholeheartedly about how sneaky Ancestry is in this regard. (Though they are not the only ones.)

    But to add insult to injury they also make it unnecessarily difficult to cancel your subscription. There’s no automatic unsubscribe that I can see. You have to telephone them and only then in UK office hours.

    This is customer UNservice on the grandest scale.

    They may have a monopoly on certain family data, but I’ll now make very sure that I can’t get it anywhere else first.

  • Andrew Kings

    Ancestry is way too expensive for me, but I’d love to have a go so I can leave my daughters some family history. If the offer is still on, please send me the logins…many thanks

  • Patricia Anne Hughes, Denmark

    I am also caught in the money trap of ancestry.co.uk.
    Started out fine with 2 months of subscription and found a lot of information on my family. BUT trying to cancel for the summer period turned into an unending marathon of errors. It IS possible to cancel online although difficult to find due to conflicting instructions in different parts of the webaite.
    Thought I had cancelled after filling in the requested details but realized afterwards I had no proof, as the process ended with a text that flew past before I could read it and POOF, the whole page disappeared. Sure enough I was billed for another month so now I’m back to square 1.
    Something that happens constantly is that after logging in, as soon as I try to activate any of the links on my account page about my subscription, a box appears asking for my log-in information again. This happens again and again, then I’m cut off totally by a message that another computer is also logged on to my account so my log-in is blocked for half-an-hour!!!!
    After the same sequence of events repeating, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is fraudulent behaviour on the part of Ancestry. I believe they deliberately put all kinds of road-blocks in the way of the cancellation process so people just give up.
    I am now going to try one last time and then ask my bank to block any further payments to Ancestry. I’m also going to look into how to report them to the consumer protection people at the EU.
    But before that I’ll be retrieving all the information I’ve paid for from Ancestry on my family tree and will not return to them unless they change their policies.
    And I’d advise everyone else to keep clear of them.
    Don’t just give up – that how these kinds of companies can continue!

  • Kathy

    Thanks for advice. I haven’t the time to waste trying to cancel complicated subscriptions though would have really liked to have had a look on the site. My mother is elderly and is prone to forget simple things. A gentle reminder of facts would be nice to share. If the offer is still on, please send me the logins. Many Thanks. Kathy

  • Martyn Whitehouse

    Thanks for the warning was going to sign up for the free trail as researching my moms family tree for her birthday. If the offers stil on would like a username and password if the offers still on

  • Richard

    THanks for this site Becky – I totally agree with you, I have been on several websites today and all are simply “fronts” for Ancestry UK.
    I utterly despise this type of behaviour and I also never ever subscribe to anything, it’s a one off payment from me or we dopn’t do business – simple. And the price is a rip off anyway, all this information is in the public domain so it should be free, surely someone in govermnent has th etime and resources to put all the census, electoral roll setc online, better than attending foreign “jollies” or doing some politically correct “non-job” on about £50k per year.

  • Carole

    I have had several free ancestry.co.uk trials. I use other people’s email address’s (with their permission) and sign up again and again. I have had 5 14 day free trials and have input my credit card details every time. I have never had a problem cancelling the subscription. I do it online the night before the free trial ends. It is a simple process that takes a minute at most. I don’t recognise any of the problems people are having with this site. I agree it is expensive but it is a business.

  • Janet

    Thanks for all the background info on Ancestry. Was contemplating the free trial and must admit that I was put off by the request for credit cards details. Why should you have to provide these for a free trial? It is all a con! They must have the percentages all worked out as to how many will forget to cancel at the end of the trial. If the username and password offer is still on could I please have them. Would be nice to put one over on them for a change!

  • Paul

    Hi Becky,

    The guy who claimed he could get multiple free trials from Ancestry.co.uk and was able to cancel online seems to have the right idea – if he’s for real! If he is, ask him to share the online cancellation process with the rest of us then we can all take advantage of this company instead of being exploited by it.

    The other thing is Becky , all these people who are asking for your Ancestry logon and password should at least have the courtesy to offer you a bit of a cash contribution toward the cost of it! I can’t believe all these people are pleading poverty.

    On the same theme, what’s to stop a few (or even a lot) of people clubbing together to share the cost of a subscription to Ancestry and getting all the info they need at a minimal cost?

    That really would feel good and an be a great example of the little people getting one over the big guys!

    Regards,
    Paul.

  • anne

    Hi all,
    Paul’s idea is good. share the cost of a suscription to Ancestry (my interest is for UK) could be a great solution.
    Regards,
    Anne

  • sue Trutwein

    Yes I got caught out when I thought I’d bought a months use of Ancestry UK only to find from a bank statement declaring I’d exceded my overdraft, that they had continued to take out a monthly subscription of £12.95 because I had not
    actually cancelled the subscription. I had previously been billed for a years subscription after not cancelling in tine the 14 day trial and I’m not the only one to have been duped this way.

  • james conn

    Like many others – spend – spend – spend for information supplied by us – the public.
    Tried Rootsweb. co and traced back to ancestors to year 1658.
    Rootsweb – family search.

  • Mes

    I actually cancelled mine a month after signing up for a free 14 day trial. I used the online cancellation procedure but found out 6 months later (yes, I’m a bit lapse in my statement checking!!) that they had continued to take the monthly subscription fee.

    I emailed them and asked for a refund and also stated that I had logged in a few times during that period as I have a tree set up. After a few emails back and forth, the lady I have been talking to (Nina) told me I had “viewed databases that require a paid membership multiple times, as a courtesy we will however issue a refund for the last charge”.

    Cheers! Better than nowt but I’m not happy that I’ve paid for 6 months that I didn’t use and I wouldn’t have been able to access those databases if they’d cancelled when I first requested it!

    Beware, people.

  • James

    they ripped me off big time…. I decided to do a family history when my son was born. signed up for 14 days free trial was ready with all the birth certs and other information to see who married who and when. cancelled my trial after 10 day as most of the info i needed was in front of me. Got statement from my bank… Yes they had taken 6 months subscription when I hadn’t even finished using the trial. Complained to my bank told them I did not sanction this payment. Bank cancelled my credit card and replaced it and then recovered my cash four months later… no acknowledgement or apology from ancestory. Be careful they are rip off merchants pure shisters. I now have my family tree finished up to 6 generations….. I should charge them for using my (and your) family details.. under data protection they should have OUR permission to use OUR family details…. Might charge them for all the family information they have belonging to my family. They are in breach of the Data Protection act. I did not give them permission to share my family data with everyone, did you?

  • Jake

    Hello im only young about 11 and i went on ancestory.co.uk and i went on it not knowing that you had to pay and i was on it and i put my details well my mums details and then there was something at the bottom of it saying how will you pay your payment thingy after your trial then i click (why we ask) and it said, after your trial we will take your money after it and it said we will take £107.40 from your credit card, i was confused so i ask my mum and she told me to get of it, so i did and i didnt make my account, but when i went of it after abit i sneaked on and i randomely had an account but i clicked x and it automatically made my account im scared that £107.40 will be taken of my mums credit card and i forgot how to cancal my subscription my mum is going to go mad! 🙁

  • Vanessa

    Just found your page while searching for offers on Ancestry. God knows why I am willing to give them another penny of mine…I used to be a subscriber and when my last subscription lapsed I was bombarded with offers from them to rejpin. After a while I was getting bored and frustrated with going to my local library and finding the only computer with Ancestry access was ‘out of order’. So I relented and signed up for a pay as you go sub thinking it would tide me over….I duly worked on my research until real life distracted me…then about 18 months later went back to Ancestry thinking I would do the PAYG thing again…only it wouldn’t let me. I eventually found a contact number – yep in the USA and phoned. I was informed my subscription was still running…How? I asked….each month the £21.95 was being taken from my credit card but not showing up on statements under Ancestry but as a subscription code. I had occasionally noted that on my statement but dismissed it as I do pay a donation out to a charity…thought that’s what the debit was!!!!! So having now found out that Ancestry had 18 months worth of my money and could plainly see that I had never logged into my account during that period I asked if they would give me access for the next 18mths without further payment….how naive of me!!!! The guy responded that the system could not accommodate that and so the answer was a NO!. I did point out that it was very convenient that the system managed to debit my account each month for an advance payment for that month so why couldn’t it be ‘told’ that advance payment for the next 18mths had been paid. Why did I waste my breath? needless to say i never got a penny out of them and they even had the audacity to try and claim the next months payment which was due that day. Over a year has passed and i don’t forgive or forget but damn them I need to use the site 🙁

  • Jeremy Wilson

    Hi,
    Just discovered this week that Ancestry.co.uk renewed my subscription last November debiting my credit card £155.40 when the card expiry date was a year out of date. And what’s more, did not send me any email reminder to say so. I had tried to remove my credit card details the year before I found I couldn’t do so, but then thought, oh well, the cc would have expired by the time for renewal came around.

    A case for BBC Rip-Off Britain perhaps!

  • Carol

    I have fallen into the same trap, but find that the people who answer the phones at Ancestry are incredibly good. They rebate your account immediately and often give you some free hours.

    I agree about the way they take your money, but it is all in the print, and a simple reminder setup works very well.

    The information they have on their site is more than worth the aggravation, and many libraries and historical societies offer access free.

    Some of the information Ancestry provides is not available anywhere unless you live in England and can travel to London easily. And believe me, the National Archives charges – “little bit here and a little bit there” – add up rapidly and you still don’t always have what you are looking for.

    Hope you have good luck searching.
    Carol