A bit of background on this one: I had cancelled my subscription to Ancestry’s website due to not having enough money to continue with it. Over the past year or two I have, from time to time, used their Pay-Per-View service to gain access to some U.S. records that were pertinent to my research.
With the cancellation of the paid subscription, I then lost access to those records that I had paid for under a separate system. I was more than a little annoyed by this and, feeling a bit hard-done-by I fired off this query to their help desk on 31 May:
I have a query regarding pay-per-view records that I have paid for that are now not viewable. Why is this please?
I realise I cancelled my paid subscription but if I pay for something I expect to get permanent access to it. That would be like me purchasing a certificate and then the record office asking for it back after 6 months.
I can understand restricting my viewing new records but stopping my ability to view records that I added during a paid subscription seems rather petty. Especially when those records are fully available to anyone with a paid subscription who is searching my tree.
I waited patiently – more patiently than normal because our internet went down for a couple of days – then I received this, less-than-helpful response on 2 June:
Thank you for your email.
I apologize for any confusion on the memberships. We offer a membership service so the records are not available without the membership. We suggest saving a copy of the record to your computer if you want to access it without the membership.
First off, I’m not one for being pedantic (much) so I’ll let the Americanisation of the word “apologise” go, despite this supposedly coming from the UK site.
I know that I’ve been out of work for a while and my brain probably isn’t as sharp as it should be but … is there actually an answer in this response? I can’t see one – other than to save a copy to my computer.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – I’m taking this far too seriously, and that I should have been intelligent enough to save a copy as they suggest.
Well, I am intelligent (sometimes) and I did actually save copies on my computer (most of the time).
My query was actually about why I no longer have access to those documents on their website, despite having paid for them, which I think is a perfectly valid one.
Anyway, I began to think that maybe I probably didn’t make my actual query obvious enough for them. To this end, this morning I sent them this:
I totally understand the fact that you provide a membership service but you didn’t “technically” answer my query. If I understand it correctly I can buy a Pay-Per-View subscription any time, without a paid subscription.
Are you seriously telling me that there is a time limit on accessing these online? If this is the case might I suggest that you place a sufficiently clear warning to this effect when people click to buy such a subscription. It may also be wise to put up a recommendation to save the documents.
To my mind pay-per-view records should not be restricted just because I cancelled my subscription to another of your services, otherwise what is the point of offering the PPV service? I (obviously wrongly) assumed that these were two separate things and, just because I cancel one, access to another should not be restricted.
If anything comes of this I will let you know.