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A cautionary tale...

Mon Oct 27, 2014 2:33 am

Just a warning to be wary of so-called "free trials" on genealogy websites. I made the very serious mistake of signing up for a free, 14-day trial to FindMyPast.com.au. Or at least I thought it was free.

After using the site for a while, I decided that it was not for me. The search is very difficult to use, their record coverage of the areas I am interested in is sketchy, and while I did like the newspapers, but BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk have a much better search and UI. Overall I will stick with Ancestry, FamilySearch and subscribing direct with BNA when I want access to newspapers.

So I thought to cancel the trial. I logged on to my FMP account, found the subscriptions area under my account, clicked the cancel free trial button and thought that was that. I received an email confirmation shortly afterwards that reassured me:

Your free trial has been cancelled...

Dear Amos,
We're sorry that you have decided not to continue with your subscription on findmypast. As requested we have cancelled your free trial and you will not be charged.



Almost too easy... For not 10 minutes later I received another email from FMP:
Payment confirmation

Dear Amos,
Thank you for renewing your 1 Month World Subscription. Your payment has been processed.

Your payment details are as follows:

Payment summary
Package: 1 Month World Subscription
Reference: << a reference number >>
Amount: $19.95 AUD

Woah! This isn't what I expected! I cancelled my free trial and FMP confirmed the cancellation AND confirmed that I would not be charged for anything and now they have helped themselves to $19.95 from my card.

I immediately emailed their support, but so far have not heard anything from them. I tweeted my disgust and @findmypastAU replied that I should contact their support, so they know about the issue, but still nothing.

A 14-day free trial is only free if you do not charge your customers for it. When you say that customers can cancel at any time and confirm via email that they will not be charged, how can you then charge them? It seems I will have to trudge down to my bank and file a fraud complaint to have this fraudulent charge reversed.

From now on I will be recommending that anyone I know avoid FMP altogether and stick with the reputable genealogy sites.

Re: A cautionary tale...

Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:23 am

Hello Amos,

It will depend on when you cancelled the subscription. If you cancelled before the end of the 13th day, that should not have been a problem. However, if you cancelled on or after the 14th day, that would have been the problem.

Which day did you cancel on?

Usually FindMyPast.co.uk are good at resolving issues. I don't know about the Australian site though.


Re: A cautionary tale...

Mon Oct 27, 2014 5:20 pm

As well as cancelling, you need to check that the "Auto-renew my subscription" option on the Personal details page of Your Account is unticked/deselected.

Re: A cautionary tale...

Tue Oct 28, 2014 10:15 am

I couldn't say exactly how many days it had been when I cancelled, but when they send an email stating "As requested we have cancelled your free trial and you will not be charged", I don't expect to be charged 10 minutes later.

As it stands, FMP claim to have cancelled the transaction, though I suppose it will take a few days for the funds to land back in my bank account. Their support staff have not been overly helpful and I doubt I could ever recommend the site to anyone in the future. I'll stick with reputable sites from now on.

Sent from my iPad using WDYTYA Forum

Re: A cautionary tale...

Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:21 pm

Except I think that every site has been slagged off for one reason or another. In the end, content is king.

Sent from my GT-I8190N

Re: A cautionary tale...

Tue Dec 23, 2014 1:14 am

AdrianB38 wrote:Except I think that every site has been slagged off for one reason or another. In the end, content is king.

Sent from my GT-I8190N

True Adrian, and as far as content goes, Ancestry and FamilySearch have got me covered - there were quite a few records I had found on the other sites that FMP didn't seem to have, so it is no great loss for me to steer clear of their scam. At east Ancestry has never charged my credit card 10 minutes after telling me I wouldn't be charged.

When your content doesn't provide the same coverage as other sites, reputation and ethical behaviour becomes much more important.
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