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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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