Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ancestry.com WHY should I move to Canada?

DearREADERS,
On 5 June 2012, I received the following email from Ancestry@Ancestry.ca explaining I could save 40% on a World Deluxe Annual Membership for $179.40, over the usual price of $299.40. I must sign up before June 7th at 11:59pm (EST).

Over the years I've tried different memberships based on promo offers. I learned today some disturbing things about Ancestry's corporate billing policy. Bottom line, if I want to keep my Ancestry Member Tree, I must sign up as a US citizen, the cost will be $199 annually, not $179.40 offered to Canadians. (Neither US or CAN dollars were specified in the offer.)


The best I can do online is USD $299.


The best I can do via phone is USD $199. (How many people don't think to call?)


In my three "billing department" calls to Ancestry.com, I was told that:

  1. I wouldn't want to use Ancestry.ca because all the menu choices will be in French. (Not true.)
  2. The higher $199 for US citizens is because of the currency exchange rate. (The offer in my email doesn't stipulate Canadian dollars. Interesting is that in the last five years, this exchange rate isn't as disparate as Ancestry would have me believe, see screen shot below from usforex.org.  CAN $179.40 = USD $174.43.)
  3. Ancestry.com can not match the promotion offered by Ancestry.ca (Canada). (Illogical if #2 is the true reason for the difference in world deluxe membership rates.)
  4. The US rate was higher because of my state and local taxes.
  5. There are no screens available to an Ancestry.com billing department employee that would permit an adjustment to my account. Their best offer is $199 for Ancestry.com annual world deluxe.
  6. It is inappropriate for me to use a Canadian address to create an account.
  7. If I did manage to use a Canadian address to create an account, Ancestry.ca could not process my US credit card. (Seriously, over the past twelve years, I've effectively used my VISA, AmEx and MC in ten different countries throughout world for either in-person or online purchases. The exchange rate is deftly handled by the credit card company at the close of business each day, and requires no extra processing on the part of the online or brick-and-mortar retailers.) 
  8. If I cancel my current US Ancestry account in favor of a Canadian account, I'll lose my Ancestry Member Tree data. (This is probably true.)
  9. Call the Ancestry.ca billing department to see what they can do.
  10. Ancestry.com cannot transfer my telephone call to Ancestry.ca. (So it's not all handled in Provo?)
  11. There are no fields permitting data for addresses other than those in Canada at Ancestry.ca. (This would be due to design specifications from Ancestry corporate?)





MY FEELINGS
Ancestry.com is an Internet-based business, and I complete my transactions via the Internet, I don't see why my country of residence should be a factor. 

This is a top-down management issue of:
  • training regarding appropriate responses to member billing questions (Who knows, maybe I speak and read French fluently?)
  • corporate policy favoring disparate membership fees
  • inaccurate email advertising campaigns
  • outdated handling of credit cards from international customers
This is not an issue that the billing department has caused.

This is an issue management has created, and the billing department gets the brunt of it from disgruntled members.

Ol' Myrt here was simply saddened by the poor performance and unprofessional attitude in the billing department at Ancestry.com.

I have an reliable Facebook friend who explains he was able to register for Ancestry.co.uk, though he lives in an upper mid-western state. "Hmmmm - when I did this in 2008 I called Ancestry US and cancelled my membership. I then went to ancestry.co.uk and signed up there using the same ID and all worked without a hitch. And I know I'm not the only one doing this!!" He reports his last four payments to Ancestry extracted from Quicken are:
2008 - US $211
2009 - US $226
2010 - US $207
2011 - US $212


Another friend states "Prices in Australian dollars were almost double the US price, so I signed up the World subscription through the US site, through an email offer initially." UPDATE: " It's now AU$299.88 for a World subscription, so they've obviously taken the high Aussie dollar into account. I can remember the price was about AU$450."  the USForEx.com website tells me AUD 299.88 is USD 296.71.

I've been a long time subscriber of Ancestry.com. I talk about it all the time in my blog, pointing people to the essential resource. Even if I didn't blog, why, Ancestry.com must you attempt to force me to move to Canada? Why penalize me for living in the US?

What if I hadn't called in, and only attempted to update my membership through the website? Why is there a US $100 difference in the world deluxe membership between the two? I wonder how many people get caught paying that higher price?


LOOKING AHEAD
If Ancestry.com is a global company, their payment system should reflect a well-studied industry standard for accepting online membership fees from people throughout the world. Somehow FindMyPast.co.uk, ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk and other international genealogy websites have managed to jump those hurdles so as to make things easier on their customers. 

By the very design of billing department computer screens at Ancestry.com and Ancestry.ca, the employees are forced to support the disparity in corporate pricing policies.

Do you think the questions raised here have a bearing on how Ancestry.com (or .ca et al) is perceived?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DearMYRTLE
Twitter: @DearMYRTLE
Second Life: Clarise Beaumont 





24 comments:

  1. I understand we have the same issues here, signing up with .com.au as opposed to .co.uk

    Its a complicated minefield!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Myrt! This is almost funny. Usually, it's the Canadians being penalized because we live here :) and either "don't qualify" or have to pay higher rates. I've also been told that the rate is cheaper if I subscribe for the World Deluxe through Ancestry UK. I am not a subscriber as I'm currently doing local research, but will definitely shop around if I ever sign up. And, no, not all of us speak French :)

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  3. I wonder if all of the subscription prices, etc. will change if Ancestry is sold in the near future. I'm glad my subscription isn't quite up for renewal yet. I'd like to see what the fallout of a potential sale of Ancestry will be before I fork out another $300 for my World Membership.

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  4. ^ What Pamela said. I find it odd that they force customers to sign up according to where they live instead of where they're researching. When I visit any site other than Ancestry.ca I get a screen encouraging me to go to .ca and if I'm not quick enough to say 'no thanks' it will automatically redirect. What's the point of a World membership if you have to stick to your country of residence?

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  5. As Pamela said, we Canadians are used to this kind of treatment. For example, I can buy a Kindle Fire from Amazon.com using my Canadian credit car BUT my Canadian Credit card isn't accepted for the apps!! Go figure. I must have a US Credit Card and US Address.

    I can't buy other items from Amazon.com because while they WILL accept my Canadian Credit Card for everything except the Kindle apps, they won't ship to me. (and I can't buy Items I want from Amazon.ca because they pretty much only sell books)

    Many online companies will not ship to Canada (we really aren't that far and it's not that complicated...) or they won't accept our payment without a US address or US credit card. Ancestry.com was one of the first to allow us to buy a subscription even with a Canadian addy and credit card.

    I do understand your frustration and annoyance at getting such a ridiculous runaround and I agree it's crazy that you can't take advantage of a lower offer.

    The difference in pricing seems odd even given the daily changes in the conversion rates for the dollar.

    To be fair I don't think they felt they had to specify it was in Canadian dollars though since it was for the .ca website. I believe they are based in Halifax but I could be wrong on that .

    I do hope they change the policy though and let anyone in any country sign up for .ca

    I don't get their reasoning at all! Have you written directly to the top .ca folks? I can probably get you their names and addresses if you like

    ReplyDelete
  6. We shall see what good is accomplished because of this blog post.

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  7. Why am I not in the least suprised?

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  8. I have a .uk World subscription and have had it since before Ancestry set up ancestry.com.au

    I continue with the uk sub because it is cheaper than the Aussie one. I just hope they don't bar me from future renewals. I have only used an Australian credit card for my renewals.

    ReplyDelete
  9. As @Lorine says, this happens all the time in other countries! It always pays to check prices in other currencies, as well as from the "store" for other countries although they may not always allow you to make a purchase from the wrong store. Also if shopping from international stores, you need to check the price + postage. It can vary wildly.

    One of the worst ones I've seen is the download version of Photoshop CS6. US store - $US 699. Australian store - $AUD 1062 (=$US 1048 today) excluding tax (which is 10%). Actually, I was very much under the impression that quoting prices in Australia without the tax component wasn't legal, so it seems even more underhanded.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I feel disappointed with myself, as I have the US annual subscription because I decided I couldn't 'afford' the World, but I could get the World a lot less expensive than I thought. I could probably also get US cheaper by picking up the phone.

    Yes...you might lose the Ancesty Member Tree...but couldn't you just upload the GEDCOM and create it instantly under your new account?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear John,
      I wouldn't want to reupload my tree as I have linked my data to literally hundreds of documents and photos from Ancestry's collection.

      Myrt

      Delete
    2. John,

      Ancestry Member Tree's are Free and are not part of any subscription at Ancestry.

      Russ

      Delete
    3. If the trees aren't connected to the account, then they won't be deleted when the account is deleted. If they are connected, which is likely, they might be, regardless of whether the account is attached to a paid subscriber or one just using Ancestry's free community services. Regardless, if you delete your account, even if the family tree remains, you won't be able to edit it.

      Unless, perhaps, if you create the new account first, and are able to give admin-abilities to the second account. And then delete your first account. Not sure if that is a possibility.

      I download Ancestry's documents and photos and attach them to my home genealogy software, backed up in multiple ways. I only use their family trees as a 'cousin catcher' and to see what hints they provide.

      Delete
  11. Thank you, Dear Myrt, for putting it as succinctly as possible, and yes, that might just be a play on words! If the professionals are confused, guess how a novice feels!

    ReplyDelete
  12. what i have a hard time believing is that they will somehow delete your tree -- don't they want to keep everyone's info, correct or not?

    ReplyDelete
  13. As I write this I am recalling a "special offer" Ancestry made a year or two ago where they got their sums completely wrong and ended up having to honour all the subs that came flying in.

    Haven't they fired that person who got fingers on the wrong calculator keys yet?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I will add in that Ancestry offers a download purchase of Family Tree Maker 2012 software only to U.S. customers with no explanation as to why I can't purchase it that way in Canada. Perhaps they need to speak with the RootsMagic folks who have solved this problem. It just doesn't make sense.

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  15. I decided long ago that Ancestry.com wasn't following legitimate practices. I also decided that I would never have a subscription due to their over-inflated prices. I tried the freebie few weeks subscription to try it out, but wasn't allowed to try anything I really needed to get into. They are only a facade company, meaning they are all hype and no results for customer service. I don't like being taken "for a ride" so I steer completely clear of Ancestry.com and will continue to do so, unless the new owners change it and make it more easily accessible both genealogical and monetarily realistic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Julie,
      Ol' Myrt here appreciates the rich content including the digital preservation of original records Ancestry.com provides. I don't begrudge paying for full access. They need my money to aid in other scanning projects throughout the world. I consider Ancestry.con an essential tool for serious genealogy researchers.

      I do object to false or misleading advertising, inconsistent membership fees and poor customer service reported in my post.

      If Ancestry.com's business practices baffle and upset thus dedicated user, I wonder how many would-be members have left the service as you've chosen to do.

      Thanks for writing.

      Delete
  16. When I did this in 2008 (mentioned above in the post) I am pretty sure I did not lose my Member Tree. I don't really use Ancestry.com for a tree, but some years ago while working on genealogy for a friend I did start to create a tree on Ancestry for her Mississippi ancestors and linked a few documents to it. This was in early 2008 I did this.

    My cancelling Ancestry.com and joining Ancestry.co.uk happened in December 2008.

    My tree is still there linked to my account, so clearly survived the change of my account home.

    Roger

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ancestry.com sent me an email notifying me that my US subscription would expire on July 8. I knew that. They also mentioned a special deal on the Deluxe World Subscription for $199. I took that deal.

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  18. I changed my membership to ancestry.co.uk a couple of years ago, and last month it renewed at $217. (The exchange rate fluctuates). I use my Visa; I live in FL; it's billed to my card in GBP, and Visa does the conversion for me. I have never lost any tree/account etc. info.

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  19. I have called before to get a reduction in my Deluxe World Subscription. This year, they wouldn't give it to me since I'd had the reduced amount for the previous 2 years! I had to pay full price this year and then try again next year to get the amount reduced. If they reduce it for some, why not reduce it for all?

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  20. Hi Pat

    I've been speaking to the .ca guys about their policies and I've been informed by one of the Member Services managers that they do allow signups from other countries. They aren't sure why you couldn't input your American address but whatever the problem was, it is now working and all non-Canadian addresses will go through.

    They further tell me they'd be happy to sign you up if you give me your contact info (name, phone & email) Not sure if that means at the reduced price you wanted or not. I didn't get into that, I was concerned about the non-Canadian addresses!

    Lorine

    ReplyDelete