let the buyer beware

let the buyer beware

We’ve all heard it before, “caveat emptor, let the buyer beware,” but sometimes we can forget that classic piece of advice, especially when it comes to online subscription FREE TRIALS. There are many online genealogical services that offer free trials. Do take advantage of them! It’s a great way to test out the product and see if genealogy is something you want to pursue. But heed these tips or you may be in for a big surprise when you look at your next credit card statement:

The service will ask you for your credit card information in order to start your free trial. TIP: Before you hit that enter key, document the name of the service, the website, THE DAY your trial period begins, how long the trial period lasts, what their cancellation policy is and who you need to contact in the event you want to cancel. The most important TIP: mark your calendar on the DAY BEFORE your trial end’s to cancel your free trial (if that’s what you want to do). If you miss the cancellation deadline, your credit card will automatically be charged for a subscription. This is not a bad thing if you want that to happen. But, don’t assume the good folks offering the subscription are going to remind you that your trial period is about end. Some may, but you can’t depend on that… Okay, now you can hit the enter key and enjoy your free trial.

After your trial period is up and you decide you want to subscribe, buy only the services that you need. For example, Ancestry.com offers two tiers: a subscription to access genealogy records in the United States, and a subscription to access World(wide) records.  It could take you some time researching U.S. records.  – For our friends in other parts of the world (i.e., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia) does Ancestry offer a first tier for your country and a second tier for a World subscription? –  TIP: When you’re ready to research other countries, contact Ancestry and ask them to pro-rate on your regional subscription. Policies change, so check the subscription policy before you buy.

TIP: Do not set up automatic yearly subscriptions. As with the free trial, you don’t want to be blindsided with an unexpected charge on your credit card. Even though most services are good about reminding their clients of an upcoming renewal, we suggest you mark your calendar to revisit your subscription annually – before the renewal date – and renew as required.

LAST TIP: It never hurts to call the online genealogy service’s Customer Service line and ask about discounts. Give it try and save some dollars.