Updated: Ancestry.com Hit With $250 Million Auto-Renew Suit In California

Ancestry.com violated California law by automatically renewing memberships without consumers’ clear permission, according to a proposed class action removed to California federal court Wednesday. The proposed lawsuit seeks over $250 million in restitution.

Information is available at https://www.law360.com/articles/1296611. Unfortunately, that is a website that provides information about lawsuits for a fee although a 7-day free trial is available.

UPDATE: Further details of the lawsuit and the complaint appear to be accessible on this website.
http://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/ancestry-com-faces-250m-class-action-lawsuit-over-auto-renewals/

28 Comments

There are to many sites that are guilty of the same. Norton is another one. People have rights to choose when they want something renewed. I know it is in the fine print, but we are all guilty of not reading all of that boiler plate legal stuff. Hate to see them get a big penalty as they will just insure the rates will go up.

Like

I am so pleased to hear this – this happened to me in the UK – I knew it was due for renewal but I assumed I would be notified – how naive of me – as by the time I checked I was a couple of days out and it had gone through. I also tried to remove my card details so they can’t do it again and this is not possible.

Like

    All you have to do is update your card, and I update it to date out before the renewal if I do not want to renew. I do this for everything I do not want to renew

    Like

I have always had an email about a renewal.

Like

    I’ve never gotten a renewal notice on Ancestry. Ever. Only when my prepaid credit card expired and they couldn’t automatically run it through did I ever get a notice from Ancestry (I ignored them, didn’t bother to renew until I was ready to do so). I use a prepaid credit card with only a certain amount on it because if the number is stolen in cyberspace or someone’s web site is hacked, I won’t lose much, and I won’t have to go through the headache of getting a new debit card, getting a new checking account number, notifying auto-pay accounts from the checking account, etc. (a friend of mine went through that; it was a major hassle).
    The only genealogy site that has the courtesy to give me a notice in advance – by six weeks, no less – is Sweden’s Arkiv Digital. It comes with the notice that if I renew by a certain date the fee is reduced, and they’ll add the renewal on to the existing expiration date which is also listed. That’s what I call Good Customer Service!

    Like

    I always get a renewal notice from Ancestry. The problem with this is that you are not expressing your approval simply because they sent you an email.

    Like

As soon as I renew my subscription, I go into my settings right away and uncheck the automatic renewal box. It’s “automatic” for me to do that.

Like

    I’ve never seen an “automatic renewal” notice on Ancestry. They don’t give anyone a choice. I’ve seen the auto-renew notice on other sites (I remove the check mark, too), just never, ever on Ancestry.

    Like

I was out of town before remembering my Ancestry was due to renew. The credit card on file was no longer good, it was cancelled so I decided not to worry about it. Several months earlier my sister sent me money to buy her a DNA kit, I deposited it and used my debit card to purchase it since credit card was no longer active. They couldn’t charge my credit card on file, somehow they dug through my account and found the debit card and charged it, causing a whole pile of bills to bounce so I was stuck with a bunch of overdraft charges. I have had them change an expired card by running it though with different expiration years until it went through too. If the payment on file is expired they have no right to dig until something goes through. It took me 6 weeks to get my money back. I eventually started back up when I could afford it, unfortunately I had to use my debit card. I will eventually get a prepaid card that if there is no money on it they can’t charge it. I will then also get a new debit card so they can’t use it. If there was another site with as many records, I would go elsewhere.

Like

    Much as I dislike several of their “features”, MyHeritage offers an almost equally comprehensive records collection, complete with access to foreign records that you must pay extra for at Ancestry.
    And, of course, there’s always the LDS site, familysearch.org. They have their own warts, to be sure, but their records collections are second to none and are free.
    I dither between all three and, faint-heart that I am, continue shelling out bucks to the commercial sites and slavishly returning to familysearch when the others stoke my frustrations.

    Like

There are few things in life I hate more than autorenewals. Ancestry does send me an e-mail notice. I’ve had sites bill me for an annual fee with no notice. I contested it with my credit card company and also with the site. The site gave me a ton of grief but eventually did the right thing and reversed the charge. Their reward? I will never do business with them again. I usually cancel with any site I find is prone to autorenewal, but Ancestry kind of has me over a barrel because of the breadth of their holdings.
Autorenewal, especially without notice, should be against the law. Period.

Like

The person making the complaint will lose. She clearly did not read/understand the conditions before she agreed to them. Caveat Emptor.
Actually you can cancel your Ancestry subscription at any time after the initial cooling off period to stop the auto-renewal. Your access will continue until the last day of the subscription.

Liked by 1 person

Further details of the lawsuit and the complaint appear to be accessible on this website.
http://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/ancestry-com-faces-250m-class-action-lawsuit-over-auto-renewals/
Adv. Dave Mitchell
Cape Town, South Africa

Like

If you go to Privacy.com you can set up a temporary credit card with certain limits on it, valid for single use, or set a Max limit. It does connect to your bank account but you do not have to use your real name or address either

Like

TT’s experience parallels mine. I had a card that was damaged and so cancelled it .While awaiting a new card my membership came due. Some how they managed to use the obsolete card numbers. I let my CC holder and Ancestry both know I was displeased. Now that Family search has more free original documents It is about time to cancel not renew. The recent changes they have made to the messaging system are not great. They seem determined to create change for the sake of change ,not to improve service.

Like

Ancestry auto-renewed me once after I had removed my credit card details. My card had been changed by the bank, and I was going to be traveling so wanted to wait to renew.

Ancestry charged my old card and even though the bank said it wouldn’t be good on that date, they let the charge go through to my new card because Ancestry was a known merchant. I was livid!

Like

Many years ago, Ancestry somehow got my credit card’s new expiration date and silently renewed just a part of my subscription — as I recall, it was unlimited passenger lists, but nothing else! As soon as I realized what was happening, about a year later, I cancelled and have never again subscribed to Ancestry.

I understand there are some banks that are now willing to “update” merchant information with new expiration dates. Not a good idea, in my opinion, since it allows the perpetuation of potentially fraudulent charges. I would rather be in the loop for all “renewal” charges, even if it means I might have to talk to the vendor.

Like

If you don’t want your Ancestry subscription to auto-renew, cancel in the period between the cooling off period and say a week before the expiry date. It is very easy to do that. Login to Ancestry > click your name top right > Your Account > click Cancel subscription.

Witholding credit/debit card details is not the correct method, and is likely to result in being charged.

Like

    Why isn’t withholding your *personal* credit card info correct? They have no business using information you withheld.
    Your system might work but it’s quite inconvenient. No one should have to play games to prevent someone from putting their hand in your pocket.

    Like

    Entering into a “Continuous Payment Authority” means that you are obliged to pay until you cancel, even if the original card used has expired. Visa, Mastercard etc use Card Updating Services so that they can continue charging customer’s new/other cards until the customer cancels.
    https://gocardless.com/guides/posts/recurring-card-payments

    Like

This is exactly why I have not joined Ancestry. Fortunately, through my county library in North Carolina, I can log on and use their records. I may be missing some premium features, but I am content with this public membership.

Like

    Exactly what I do, too. Find a local library who has an Ancestry subscription. Might be a little inconvenient to have to go to the library to use the service but beats getting charged and over charged for Ancestry. BTW many libraries are still closed due to Corona Virus. But they offer Ancestry and other sites for home use during the time they are closed. Check in out.

    Like

I too, not paying attention to the fine print, had an automatic renewal that caused a series of insufficient funds…..it takes a lot of extra work to get everything recovered…..and they have a ‘so what’ attitude….every day that dollar stays in their account, it is drawing interest for them.

Like

I had this happen. Since I used my debit card I called my bank, told them I hadn’t given permission for charge and they gave me credit. Bank told me to call Ancestry to say I hadn’t OK charge which I did. Ancestry was very polite and said they wd remove my charge which they did. Lucky me.

Like

Cannot understand why people are complaining. Surely it is just good money management to know when money is due to go out and in of your banking account. Can you not just keep a note of when subscriptions are due. Been with Ancestry for many years and never had a problem with them.

Like

    Some of us have been busy doing things like moving three times in four years. Or having babies in NICU. Or facing the loss of a spouse, parent or child. Or recovering from a serious illness or accident.
    To answer your question, no, it is NOT always easy to track this sort of thing. It’s easy but not helpful to anyone but you to be smug and judgemental.
    The bottom line is NO ONE should be making charges on someone else’s credit/debit card without permission. By which I mean a request each and every time. We are not here on this earth to be cash cows for corporations.

    Like

    Ducklady, please understand that when someone takes out a subscription to Ancestry they have to agree (thereby granting permission) for the subscription to be auto renewed unless cancelled. It is therefore that person’s responsibility to cancel within the specified time frame if they don’t want auto renewal to take place.

    Like

Just had a notice that my Ancestry account would be renewing – a months notice has been given to me. This told me that I hadn’t done the job with cancelling my account although I thought I had. You have to go through every step – answer the list of options (why you are cancelling) and carry on to the next step until it clearly tells you that you have succeeded. Then I got an e-mail saying my subscription was cancelled and a verifying number. So now I KNOW it is cancelled.
Can’t always blame others when we ‘screw’ up.

Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: