Review of Ancestry Complaints

By | March 7, 2018

Considering joining up to Ancestry but have some reservations? Or have you already subscribed to this site and have a grumble about the service that is provided? Well, this review of Ancestry complaints will help you set your mind at ease.

Review of Ancestry Complaints

Let me just start off by saying that Ancestry is no different to any other company. Sure they do have their problems. What company doesn’t? So, with that said, I want to explore the most common problems that I have read about this site.

I want to give my feedback and ultimately give you an unbiased opinion on their service.

If you have experienced a problem that I have not covered in this post then please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear from you and to help you with any problem that you may have.

Start Looking

To review these common problems I have categorized them under the four main criteria that Ancestry is known for.

4 Main Criteria that I will review:

Vast Databases of Records

There is a wealth of information to be found on the Ancestry website. And sometimes it may be difficult to really get a grasp of how to best use it. You may also get a bit overwhelmed with the amount of results that you receive, or maybe baffled when you only receive just a few hits.

You may also be wondering about the accuracy of the information that you are given.

Billions of Records


Little information is actually available on the site!

This is only true if you do not know what you are looking for. We will all start with very little when we begin our family history research. So we may either get only a few results or maybe so many that we do not know what to do with them. So my advice is to put in as much as you know in order to get the best results.

There are errors in the transcription!

This is certainly true for this site as well as other genealogy search websites that I have used. So it is not exclusive just to Ancestry. That is why I advise you to view the actual documents themselves to verify what information that they contain. You can use the viewer tool for this purpose.

The errors are mainly due to the handwriting of the enumerator at the time that the information was recorded. It can be quite difficult for the transcriber to decipher what has been written. So if the transcriber is not familiar with the location of your ancestor then errors in the address may creep in.

Also, they will almost certainly not be familiar with the person the records are about so there maybe errors in their details as well.

One more thing about these transcription errors is that you will need to be a bit clever when searching for your ancestors. For example, one of my ancestor’s surname was ‘Watters‘.

I have found records concerning this ancestor under names such as ‘Waters‘, ‘Water‘, and even ‘Walter‘ and ‘Walters‘.

So when searching for your ancestors try different spellings if you cannot find them at first. You may find that it will help your break down a brick wall in your research.

Copyright of the information that you provide!

Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately depending on your take on things), we live in a big brother world. It seems that everyone is watching us and everyone has our details.

I am not condoning this practice but I will say that it does help them to build up a picture about us and how best that they can help us further. It’s called marketing.

But if you do chose to sign up to Ancestry then you will agree that whatever information that you provide then they will have copyright over it. So it is a double-edged sword I’m afraid.

Either you don’t use this website and struggle to gather information about your ancestors, or you join up and relinquish your family tree and all the information that it contains. But you do get so much in return.

Research Aids

Ancestry offers its user a range of different research tools to help you conduct your family history research. There is the family tree builder that helps you create your family tree.

There are also hints available to show you possible links to records that you can see. Personal blogs and apps can also help you as well as the newest service, AncestryDNA.

Research Tools

The results that I got back make no sense to me!

This is one of the most common complaints that I have read about this type of testing. We purchase the test, send back our sample and then wait for the results to get back to us.

When we get these results we then have to comprehend what they actually mean and try and figure out how to continue with our researching by using these results.

One suggestion that I will make is to purchase a DNA guidebook to this area of genealogy research. As we begin our family history journey we may not know which direction to head in and obviously need guidance along the way.

Using a guidebook can not only help us decide which DNA testing company to go with, but to also make sense of the ‘nonsense‘ that we receive.

The results are not correct!

This is yet another common complaint that I have read. In one case in particularly I will bring to your attention is an individual who conducted the test who definitely knew that they had Native American heritage in their family.

The results though showed that they had mostly European ancestry, with no mention of their Native American roots.

For this reason AncestryDNA has been labelled as a rip off. I won’t deny that, and as I have pointed out there are other companies that you can go with for DNA genealogy testing.

My other advice for this complaint is to make sure that you give a proper sample of your DNA. If Ancestry have a good sample then the better the results will be for you.

Sure it is simple to take a swab inside your cheek, but if you do not do it properly or it gets contaminated then you will not get the results that you were hoping for.

So once you have performed the test put the swab into the tube provided. You don’t want to get cat hair on it after all, or any dust that might be floating around your room.

The lack of regions that is covered!

As Ancestry is building in this area of research it at present doesn’t cover every region in the world. For that reason for example it only covers three for Asia, them being East, Central and South.

So if you have Asian ancestry then the results that you will get back maybe too broad for you. I suggest that you contact Ancestry and check to see the current regions that they cover before you commit to this type of research.

Connecting With Millions of Members

As Ancestry has the largest collection of records in the world it is no wonder that they have millions of members. However, you may have experienced problems when it comes to interacting with other members.

You may not know how best to get the information that you are after from this community of like minded people.

Share Your Research With Other Researchers


I cannot find what I am looking for on the MessageBoard!

Unfortunately sometimes we will not always find what we are looking for. This is due to a number of reasons. Firstly, as with genealogy records, the information is just not there yet.

It does take time to collect information and put it online for people to see.

Secondly, in order to find the information that we are looking for then we need to put in key details with regards to our search. The more information that you put in then the better chances of getting results that you are after returned to you.

Help and Support

One thing that sets our minds at ease whenever we get into a little trouble is the support that is offered to us. We all want someone there to help is in our hour of need.

So it is only right to expect help and support from Ancestry when we are uncertain of something. Unfortunately though this has not been the case for a number of people.

Help and Support


Cannot get a refund or only maybe a partial refund!

As with any other product or service sometimes we are not happy with what we have received. And only too rightly do we want our money back. After all we are not getting value for money if the service lets us down.

This though is a tricky subject with regards to Ancestry as they do not offer refunds. Or if you are extremely lucky you may get a partial refund. So make sure that you are totally committed before you purchase, and know what to expect.

The level of support is lacking!

Whenever you have contacted any company’s customer support in the past you may have come across someone who is either extremely helpful or who is completely incompetent.

I am not justifying or condone poor customer service but sometimes this does happen. It is infuriating as we may have to make contact numerous times before our issues are resolved.

Unfortunately this has been the case for Ancestry. But I must say that this could be said for any other company for that matter. My only advice on this therefore is do your homework and research what you want before you commit to Ancestry.

Make sure you understand how to use Ancestry to your advantage otherwise you are only wasting your money and not getting its full potential.

I have trouble cancelling my subscription!

When you join up to Ancestry you will need to provide your credit card details. This is even though you may only want to try out Ancestry under a free trial. I have read reviews that say people were unable to cancel their subscription before the free trial period ended and thus their credit card was charged.

As I have said before, and I am not being rude, do your homework first and know what to expect when you sign up to Ancestry. The same can be said for any company or service that you will come across in life.

One great tip that I will offer though is to try out Ancestry at your local library. Your library should be signed up to various different genealogy search websites, Ancestry included. By using the library computer you can try it out, and not even enter any of your personal information.

I have done this before in the past and it was a great help for me researching my family history at no expense. The only expense though was commuting to the library every time that I needed or wanted to do any family history.

As I now have a family this commute is no longer an option and so I have signed up to Ancestry at home.

Final Thoughts

If you do decide to cancel your Ancestry subscription then it may unfortunately become a headache for you. So before you join up to this site first consider whether it is right for you.

There will then be less of a chance that you will cancel your subscription further down the road. One piece of advice I will say is commit after you see fit.

One thing though that I have not covered thus far and something that you must be aware of is the costs involved with this genealogy website. You will also experience up selling when you want to access certain records that are out of your reach.

Depending on the level of membership you will not be able to access all available records. You may therefore need to shell out even more money in order to get the information that you require.

Ancestry does seem to be the most expensive genealogy search website. I am not saying how Ancestry should run their business and how to charge people.

But I will say this. They do need to provide a service and they are putting new records on to their site all the time. And hence costs are involved to acquire records and to maintain the website. After all they do have more genealogy records than any other site today.

If there are complaints that you would like me to cover for you then please feel free to comment below.

I have tried to discuss each of the complaints that I have seen under the four main criteria for this genealogy search website. Please let me know whether I have missed anything out and I will be only too glad to add it to this post and discuss it.

Further Information!

If you want to check out complaints from customers who have subscribed to Ancestry then please head on over to Consumer Affairs. There you will find over 500 reviews and complaints.

Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this review of ancestry complaints. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Author: Owain

Hello, Owain here. After researching my family history for a number of years I wanted to give back to the genealogy world. So here you will find guides, tips and product reviews that will help you on your genealogy journey.

23 thoughts on “Review of Ancestry Complaints

  1. Hillard Mellin

    I always wanted to use this to find my ancestry on my dad’s side of the family but he was adopted as a toddler and his real family is hidden from me. Before my father passed away he said he was pretty certain he was full blood Irish. My grandmother (who adopted him) wasn’t sure of that. I wouldn’t even know where to start now. Good article, though. I know that it would not take an intensive research strategy to find anyone.

    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you for your comment. Before you join Ancestry you could follow my Ten Step Guide. That will help you get organized and follow plan.

      Ancestry is a great way to get information. But I would advise you to gather what you can from other means first. Just check out my Ten Step Guide and you’ll be well on your way.

  2. Ephraim Aigbefo

    Nice review you’ve got here. Very correct I must confess. I still don’t understand why there is no money back guarantee. This one reason why i haven’t joined Ancestry.

    1. Owain Post author

      It is a sticking point with many people who have joined Ancestry. You could try monthly. That way you won’t lose much money if you decide to leave after a couple of months. Worth noting anyway.

  3. Furkan

    I am actually worried when I read about Copyright thing but when I think about it, most of websites already gather lots of information about us. So I don’t think it will be a problem however I know very little about my family history and that might be a problem. I think I will join Ancestry but before joining it I will definitely try finding more info about my family history.

    1. Owain Post author

      Yes Furkan it is always best to find out all that you can before joining ancestry or any other genealogy search website for that matter. If you do this then you won’t be finding and paying for information that you could have got freely.

      Only use Ancestry for when you can’t get the information any other way. Saying that you can get so much from Ancestry as I can attest to.

  4. Craig | UK TV Services Abroad

    Hi Owain, this is nice to know so thanks for being up front about it. You mentioned about errors in the transcription with Ancestry and other sites. Could this be due to them using a common database? I appreciate that spelling errors can happen and old handwriting is very difficult to decipher so I don’t think this would put me off from joining Ancestry.

    Regarding the level of support lacking – I find this is quite a common complaint with a lot of services, not just Ancestry. For instance, I am a member of a TV service and I’ve had great support from them most of the time but on occasion I get some poor assistance. Human nature I suppose. Thanks for highlighting some of the pitfalls. These will come in handy.

    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Craig,

      I felt that it was only right to inform people that Ancestry was not perfect. But in retrospect what company is? And so I thought with this post that I would address some of the common complaints that I have seen concerning Ancestry.

      Some of the mistakes I would say comes from when the transcribers are typing up what is written on actual documents. They may inadvertently hit the wrong key and not notice their mistake. Other times though they are not familiar with the location of the record taken place and so errors in place names may occur. The transcriber will almost certainly not know the individual concerned and so errors with regard to their name, dates or occupation may also creep in.

      You are right though when you say about the service. Some times you will get poor service with any company. And Ancestry is no difference. But I do see a lot of complaints about Ancestry. It is probably because though it is so popular and so many people use it that I see so many complaints.

      It hasn’t put me off from using Ancestry though as I have gained so much knowledge about my ancestors through their website.

  5. Susan

    Wow, I really like your site! You have a wealth of information, it is very well written, and easy to navigate. I have given my daughter a gift certificate to, but I have not had any issues with the renewal process, or trying to close the account. They just remind me each year that it is time to renew, so I have.

    Maybe they will give me trouble when I don’t renew anymore. She has also tried the Ancestry DNA service, and was surprised to find that it said she was primarily Norwegian, rather than about 10% American Indian as the family has always told us. So, I’m not sure if Ancestry is correct or not. But thank you for creating your site; it has so much great content! Great job!

    1. Owain Post author

      You’re quite welcome Susan. I am glad that you like the site. I am planning to cover AncestryDNA further in a future post so stay tuned for that.


    I just wanted to complain about a Y-DNA project – Phillips Group 90-91 376378.

    The DNA test was sent in by a non-Phillips Y-DNA that was done on two descendants of Anthony Phillips. The thing is that Anthony Phillips has never had a DNA test done on him. So how can his name be on the Y-DNA chart?

    There was no comparing of the Y-DNA to the descendants and Anthony Phillips Y-DNA.

    The person that sent in the test took the results and smeared about the haplogrouping being Type B. But I would think that if Anthony wasn’t tested then his descendants could not know what Anthony’s haplogroup would be right?

    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you Raymond for your query. I would assume that these descendants submitted this test in good faith in order to help others with this surname project.

      The haplogroup assigned to Anthony can be a good guess as to what it is, based on ancestors and descendants of Anthony. The closer related to Anthony then certainly the more accurate it will be.

        1. Owain Post author

          I’m sorry to hear that Raymond. Is there any way of contacting him? Have you tried?

          1. Raymond

            No, I rather not contact him. This guy had befriended my family. Let’s say his name is Bill.

            He gathered all this information about the family, got a surname project kit, took two samples from two members of that family, got the results, claiming our ancestry was ( ), made this copyright on a blog, defiled our culture which has really bothered me.

            Don’t even know if he sent the right one’s y-DNA test plus the haplogroup belongs to both groups of peoples. I would say his blog is races as of now the people he too the y-dna test are dead so they can’t stick up for themselves.

            This guy is rude and very disrespectful. I dont know what to do if anything at all.

          2. Owain Post author

            I’m sorry to hear Raymond. Who is your surname project hosted with? Maybe you can complain to them and hopefully get this resolved.

  7. Raymond

    I tried. I think just by me venting is a good thing.

    Surname Project is Phillips 90-91, plus it said unknown origin. We know our origin Native American Y-Haplogroup was B for both areas not just for one region.

    He made his whole case on the fact our Phillips Y-DNA came from -AFR—- without saying the rest. Most likely nothing will be done anyways.

    He twisted things to fit his agenda. I would like it gone offline both N/A and Africa share that haplogroup.

    1. Owain Post author

      Sorry to hear that Raymond. My only advice is to contact where your surname project is hosted and hopefully they can resolve the issue.

      Best of luck,

        1. Owain Post author

          Yes I know. It’s nice to let out what’s bothering us from time to time.

          1. Eaymond


  8. Raymond

    I was really mad about this guy Doug making my family look bad by using DNA and putting this copyrighted article( from the past) on the internet together making it seem that it was yesterday. it is all about being native American Doug claims we are non-natives that’s fine Doug, I don’t care anymore okay Doug you won buddy great job you got it all figured out….

    1. Raymond

      most new England tribes were not skin bias they had all colors in their tribes


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