Posted by Heather Erickson on November 24, 2010 in News, Site Features, Website

Dreading the long shopping lines during Black Friday? Wish you could give a gift this holiday season that is meaningful and will impact your family in a powerful way?

As many of you know, there’s nothing like the feeling of discovering your family story.  And now you can share that feeling with your loved ones with an gift membership that lasts up to a year, plus avoid the long shopping lines this holiday season.

With a gift membership, your loved one will get full access to billions of U.S. or international historical records on our site, plus they’ll be able to leverage the millions of family trees and helpful, timesaving tools available. The discoveries your friends and family can make on will be a gift for generations to come.

So avoid the Black Friday shopping chaos and give a gift that will make the whole family happy. Gift memberships  are now available by visiting

Heather Erickson

Heather Erickson is Head of Global Communications for and has been with the company since 2009.


  1. kathy price

    After learning yesterday that I cannot remove the date time and seconds on my charts and reports, I’m seriously considering cancelling my full membership after 10/15 years!!!! Can you imagine spending a thousand dollars to have your book published and to see something as stupid as a date and time on your family group sheets and your pictures. To think that I have spent days and days entering all this info to have to REVERT of an OLD program to eliminate this info is just more than I can handle. To say I’m IRATE IS PUTTING IT MILDLY.

  2. Jo

    Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions on these Gift Memberships before you buy one or ask for one because they can’t be added onto an existing membership.

  3. Carol A. H.

    #2 Jo

    Isn’t that a bummer! I think that is a bad business decision. It would be an excellent gift for someone who is working hard on the family history. Thanks for the warning.

  4. Kirk Sellman

    #2 Jo

    If you’re correct, then Ancestry needs to change it so that the ‘gift’ can be used by current subscribers.

  5. Jo

    This stinks, Ancestry!

    Looking for the refund policy for the gift subscriptions I found this:

    “An exception is refunds relating to gift subscriptions in which case the seven days begins on the date of purchase no matter what date you chose to activate the Service.”

    on here

    People are going to buy these gift subscriptions, not realizing they can’t be used by someone who’s already a member, and when they find out, it’ll be too late for a refund!

    That’s just rotten all around, Ancestry!

  6. Here’s my take on it….

    *Anyone* who would order one by just going to the gift membership site and place an order before reading anything about it (The FAQ clearly spells things out) is simply too stupid to be operating a computer to begin with and needs to be locked up for their own protection!

    The consumer *must* learn to practice due diligence.

  7. fhsleuth

    Andy, Now, now, don’t take it out on the customers. If your grandmother decided to order a gift membership for you, would she know how to go about it? Many older folks would just pick up the phone and place an order. ACOM should be held responsible to have provided the customer service reps with a list of paid memberships to check status before completing a sale. That is customer service.

    Unfortunately, the $$$ are blinding someone’s eyes to have come up with a seven-day cancellation policy in order to receive a refund for a gift membership. Said gift membership cannot be used to extend a current paid membership, nor can it be switched to another party unless action is completed within the original seven days following purchase. Now that is extremely *POOR* customer service.

    Reading between the lines, he/she who buys a gift membership for someone who doesn’t live long enough to use it has just thrown their money away. The membership cannot be transferred to anyone else unless the gift recipient conveniently passes on within the original seven days. After that time has elapsed, the membership fee is just gravy for ACOM; they keep your money and don’t provide the service you paid for. That is c-o-l-d ACOM.

    Someone should report this to BBB. ACOM is most likely a paid member and I understand that entitles those members to extra points on their ratings. The BBB is supposedly undertaking a review of such practices and should be interested in this highly questionable sales practice.

    I, for one, certainly will not be purchasing an Ancestry gift membership for anyone in the foreseeable future. Bah Humbug!!

  8. HUH??

    Sales take place every day in this country with terms and conditions attached; are you saying that each company that has such sales should pre-screen the transactions to see that the person buying meets the sales condition rather that the buyer insuring that they are themselves eligible for such sales?? !!!

    It is called personal responsibility.

    This is much like the people who sign up for teh 14 days trial, don’t cancel and then yell bloody murder “Ancestry robbed me!” when they get billed. I’ve no sympathy for them what so ever.

    It is long past time that people stopped expecting to be protected from their own stupidity.

    As to my grandmother- she never signed *anything* without reading it- twice!

    Now- about the refund thing…

    From the way I read it the buyer can switch or get e refund within 7 days- but the receiver of the gift can transfer it as long as it hasn’t been activated.

    My contention is that Ancestry has made all the information needed to make an informed decision about purchasing these gift memberships available- if one chooses to not avail themselves of said information then they have no valid grounds for complaining later.

  9. fhsleuth

    Whoa, Andy!

    CSRs for magazines that I subscribe to always check first to see if there is an active subscription and then the expiration date. When I place the order, the subscription is extended for the appropriate number of months and I am informed of the new expiration date. It is no big deal for the Magazine CSR and it makes for a smooth transaction.

    Ancestry can easily do the same, especially since they seem fixated on a seven-day cancellation for a refund. The gray area is when a gift subscription is to be transferred to someone else. The clock starts ticking at time of sale for seven days. If the activation date was established for sometime after the seven days, and the recipient is unaware of the gift in time, the donor cannot receive a refund if there is a conflict. True, if the subscription has not been activated by the recipient, it can be transferred; however, it is not clear if there is a deadline to accomplish this and whether the subscription start date can be adjusted. It is my belief that the start date is fixed and cannot be changed. Therefore, the second recipient will not receive the full use of the subscription unless everything is choreographed precisely within the seven-day grace period. has the pertinent information in their computers that could save a lot of hassle; and so, why not use that information to keep the customers’ goodwill???? The seven-day grace period is just a little bit too tight.

    Why do you assume that there will be complaints later, unless you recognize that ACOM could have done a better PR job before they implemented this gift membership program. If ACOM wants to play with the big boys, they need to put more “service” in their customer service. That’s the way I see it.

  10. Mary Beth Marchant

    I just experienced something about customer service that would behoove Ancestry to do. Last December due to a computer crash I had to buy a new computer. I had a Norton Premium software program but it was old so instead of buying the new Norton premium software I purchased just the Norton antivirus software. I never gave a thought to cancelling the automatic update for my old Premium software until I received an automatic e mail this month that my credit card had been charged for another year for the Norton Premium software which I no longer used. I called Norton and spoke to a customer service person who quickly cancelled my credit card charge.Then the charge for my Norton antivirus software update which was coming up in December was added at half price plus 3 extra months.I did not ask for this nor did I expect it but was given that anyway. Now that is what I call customer service. Ancestry should allow people to buy a Gift membership for someone who already has a membership and then just add on to it. I experienced the same good customer service a year ago when I was having trouble with my Footnote subscription. I was given another year for free. Now that Ancestry has bought that web site, I bet that will not happen again. Good customer relations would result in better business.

  11. Clara Owen

    I read that Ancestry had bought Footnote and expected that members would be able to access that site free. Not true! They are offering memberships at half price for current members. I think dollar signs mean more than good customer service.

  12. Tom Re: #13


    What I’m saying is that people are claiming that Ancestry should protect stupid people from themselves.

    Ancestry has made an offer and made the terms and conditions of that offer clearly available. That is, in my mind, all they need to do.

    From that point on it it the responsibility of the end user as to what their course of action should be.

  13. Clara Re: #14

    What on earth would make you expect that Footnote would be free to Ancestry subscribers?? !!

    If Wal-Mart bought Target would you expect that Target products would then be free to Wal-Mart customers?

  14. Jo

    Andy, your defenses of are getting ridiculous! You better be careful or you’re going to pull something with your contortions to defend them.

    And that’s a bad analogy as the merchandise in Target is not free to Target customers to begin with.

  15. Jo Re:# 16

    1) Ancestry needs no defense as they have done nothing wrong.

    2) The databases at Footnote and Ancestry aren’t free either – so why expect if one buys the other that either one should suddenly become free to the subscribers of the other??

  16. fhsleuth

    No. 17 Andy
    Sub-para. No. 1) “Ancestry needs no defense as they have done nothing wrong.”

    And you know this because………??

    Andy, Would you care to enumerate the number of instances where you personally have found ACOM to have made wrong choices that affect the subscribers and non-subscribers to this site? We could start with Mundia perhaps and expand the list both forward and backward. It could be quite a lengthy list.

    ACOM could make better choices in the customer services and customer relations arena and have a truly World Class Company that is well regarded by subscribers and the public. True, ACOM has begun some selected efforts to enlist input from members, but for some reason we don’t see those results. I, for one, would find those results of interest.

  17. fhsluth re: #18

    When I said they had done nothing wrong I was speaking of this particular incident about the gift memberships.

    My posting history shows I’m often berating Ancestry for what I consider poor choices, and you’re right- such a list would get quite lengthly indeed. I also praise them when I think they get something right.

    Contrary to popular opinion- the customer is NOT always right. If a customer makes a foolish choice then the onus should rightly be placed on the company- and signing up for something without reading the terms and conditions is truly foolish!

    Could Ancestry’s customer service be better? Yes
    Did they make a wrong choice about the Gift Memberships- I don’t think so.

    As to seeing results of enlisting input from members- just look at your screen. Almost everything on the new search was previewed at one time or another, feedback was taken, and things were changed because of that feedback.

  18. Arthur Granbury

    “Andy must work for Ancestry!”

    Oh come on, Sharon …. even Ancestry’s standards aren’t THAT low.

  19. Carol A. H.

    Technically and legally Ancestry did not do anything wrong. Most all the facts are covered in the two online documents, FAQs and Terms and Conditions. However, I’m very glad Jo pointed out the fact of not being able to add a gift to a current subscription.

    I still think it is bad PR and bad business to set the terms as they have for all the obvious reasons.

    I have a question: What if the recipient of the gift membership is not now a paying member, but was at one time and has cancelled their membership or not renewed? Into which category do they fall? I would venture a guess the key word is “now.”

  20. fhsleuth

    Lighten up folks. This must have been the designated day to pick on Andy. Give it a rest!

    ACOM likes to play hardball. They also need to lighten up and do more to accommodate membership. We are customers, recurring customers. But, does ACOM truly value our patronage? It seems as if battle lines are always being drawn between them and us.

    As Carol A. H. No. 23 stated: “I still think it is bad PR and bad business to set the terms as they have for all the obvious reasons.”

    I concur. I wonder what a kinder, gentler ACOM would be like. Hmmm? I wonder whether ACOM will ever grant its membership an opportunity to find out?

  21. Jo

    Andy #17– You wrote “Ancestry needs no defense as they have done nothing wrong.”

    If you think they’ve done nothing wrong and need no defense, then stop defending them!

    I think they HAVE done something wrong, and I didn’t say illegal, just WRONG, as in they shouldn’t have done it that way. Especially, the 7 day refund policy for gift memberships…THAT needs to be changed!

    Both things I posted about should be right on the original page to purchase the gift membership, not on separate pages.

    A 7-day refund policy for a gift membership that they’re pushing for Christmas gifts is completely wrong since they know people won’t even give the gift until Christmas, which is more than 7 days away! That’s more than just wrong, it seems downright underhanded to me.

    If my husband had decided to purchase one of these for me, I don’t think that he would have followed all those links and read every single bit of information. He would have read the information on the first page and thought he was doing something really nice for me. He would not have told me what he’d done until he gave me the ‘gift’ on Christmas and then we would have been out the money under these conditions. And I think that’s a pretty normal scenario for most people. I think they would have a ‘reasonable expectation’ that the information they need would be on that page and I don’t think adding a link to it is enough.

    Nothing you say will change my opinion of this, and yes it is only MY OPINION, but the more I think about this happening to older people living on fixed incomes, the unhappier I am with Ancestry.

    The least Ancestry should do is change the 7-day refund policy for gift memberships so it extends at least 30 days after Christmas OR allow it to be added to a current paid membership or an upgrade, and I think they should do both! There’s absolutely no reason they can’t despite their protestations to the contrary. What are they afraid of? That people might discover one of these limitations after they’ve purchased the gift membership and want their money back? Are they that desperate to take our money?

    I’m beginning to really & truly dislike and distrust this company.

  22. Virginia

    It would have been more customer friendly if only they had put the following at the end of their ad:

    (If you believe the recipient of the gift card may already be a member of, please read “Terms and conditions” before purchasing.”)

    Why should they have done this??? Because MOST gift subscriptions purchased by me have ALWAYS allowed the recipient to add it to an already existing subscription…


  23. Patty

    Well, I’m not here to berate, or anyone else. Just to say to how disappointed I am that you can’t give a gift membership to an existing member. I have a friend who is a member but does not currently have a paid subscription that I had wanted to give a gift subscription to. If I read the terms correctly, if they are a member, regardless if they have a paid subscription or not, then they can’t upgrade their free membership with the gift subscription. Too bad, from what I can see, there are alot of people who wished to do this.

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