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.

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