Sunday, April 7, 2013

Frustrations with Ancestry.com

Lately I have to admit that I'm not terribly pleased with Ancestry.com. Is it the best and most useful genealogy mega-database out there? Yes. Can you really do online genealogy research without it? No.

There have been a number of bugs with FamilyTree Maker for Mac, and a lot of my frustration has to do not with the bugs themselves (they happen), but the way in which Ancestry.com deals with them.

A few months ago, there was an issue with FamilyTree Maker being "offline"-- the leaves were gray instead of green, and you could not double click on the leaves to see hints.  I tore my hair out thinking that there was something wrong with my computer's internet connection, messed around with my router... only to find, later, an entry buried in Ancestry.com's blog mentioning that there was a known issue with this and that it is being worked on. The entry wasn't even kept at the top of the blog so that people could see it-- assuming that people would even think to look at the blog to begin with.  It took several days before whatever the problem was was fixed and FamilyTree Maker was once again "online" and able to link to the Ancestry.com website. 

Then, a few weeks ago, there was another bug: FamilyTree Maker unlinked the family tree that I had uploaded to Ancestry.com (when you make changes to either your FTM tree or to the ancestry.com tree, the TreeSync feature will update the other tree if they are "linked"). I kept trying to re-upload my FTM tree to Ancestry.com, and each time, they would become unlinked. 

This time, there was no mention of this bug at all anywhere that I could find; I emailed Ancestry.com tech support, and never got a response. I did get an email to take a survey about how my issue was handled, so you can imagine that my feedback was not good: I told them that it was not handled at all. No follow-up response even then. 

However, this bug eventually got fixed.... until yesterday. Now the same thing is occurring again, and, again, no public notification anywhere that I can find. 

Evidently, Ancestry.com is more interested in not discouraging potential members from signing up than in serving existing, paying members. Considering the fees that I shell out for membership (Ancestry.com isn't cheap), not to mention the FTM software that also cost, I feel that I am entitled to be told if there is a known system glitch, and to have my communications acknowledged. 

Seriously, Ancestry.com, if you are going to charge as much as you do for membership, then you really owe your members better service.