Saturday, February 20, 2010

To Pay or Not to Pay?

Blame my frugal nature (which is a blessing, I tell you, a blessing!), but I have an aversion to websites that charge a fee. For me, the sole exception is Flickr, which I enjoy and don't mind paying for. Oh, and I paid for GardenWeb for several years before it was free.

Several times a week, Classmates.com notifies me that another of my classmates from William Cullen Bryant High School has visited my profile and signed my guestbook. According to Classmates, 72 people have signed that book. In order to find out who they are, I'd have to pay a monthly fee. At best, I'm only mildly curious, mostly because I remember only two names (and one additional face) from my graduating class. Most of my friends went to Catholic school.

A few years ago, one of my brilliant cousins set us up with our family tree on Geni. Since then, I've added many names, dates, and photos. It's a neat site. And it's free. At least I thought it was free. This week I learned that one can upgrade to a Pro account for $5/month. Why would one want to? Well, one (like me) might like to access another family tree if it happens that a relative is sitting on a branch of it.

That's what Geni emailed to tell me this week. They said my grandfather, George Campbell, had shown up on someone else's family tree. I was rather excited to hear this. All I know about George Campbell is that he was born in Scotland, lived in Hartford, CT, was married to Margaret, fathered Alice, Maggie, and Anna, as well as a slew of sons, and was a servant. With Campbell being such a common name, and my genealogy skills being on the skimpy side, I thought that was all I'd ever know about George. That is, until I got the email from Geni.

If I wanted to see George's other relatives, Geni said, all I had to do was sign up for a Pro account. They offered me a free 14-day trial if I'd fork over my credit card number. Oh, and by the way, my great-great-uncle Samuel Gluckstein was also on someone else's family tree. Samuel didn't tempt me all that much. Thanks to the Glucksteins' founding of the Lyons Tea Co. in England, I knew quite a bit about that branch of the family. But George...... father of Alice, the opera singer whom I so strongly resemble (if not in looks, in many other ways)......I got out my credit card.

As soon as I signed up for the Pro account, I clicked on George. Turns out the other guy's George was born in 1942. He has a bunch of kids, none of whom are named Anna, Maggie, or Alice. He's still living.

I canceled my 14-day free trial immediately. I hope Geni agrees that it's canceled. I hope they'll burn my credit card number. I hope they'll slink off and leave me to enjoy Geni the way I always have: without the hype, and for free.

7 comments:

crystal said...

Oh, that must have been disappointing. What they did seems cheesy. I think a lot of places believe that once you start paying them, you'll actually find it more of an inconvenience to leave than to stay and pay, whether you're profiting from it or not.

Which reminds me, I have to go and delete myself from Audible.com, which has been sucking $15 a month from me to download an audio book a month.

Susan said...

I think you're right about the marketing strategy. It probably works the same way with rebates: A large percentage of people will buy a product because of the rebate, but fail to follow through and submit it (often because the instructions are so complicated).

Have you tried downloading audio books from your state library? I think we talked about this once before. Unless it was someone else......

Dona (waxwing) said...

Susan -- I'm pretty much the same as you. I only pay for Flickr Pro. I also get those Classmates.com emails and am curious, but don't want to sign up just to see who wrote on my "wall". I figure that if they are really trying to get in touch will sign up for Facebook and look me up there. Plus, I already am "connected" with anyone from high school that I want to be connected with.

I've also received emails from ancestry.com & Geni tempting me with all sorts of knowledge about my ancestors if only I give them money each month. I signed up for Geni when it was an infant. They should know better than to use these strategies. Thanks for the warning. I won't hand over my credit card number to them.

Similar to crystal -- I need to cancel my audible.com membership. I only signed up to get a free mp3 player (what a dumb idea) which I like, but I've got enough audiobooks to keep me going for a number of loads of laundry, long walks and car rides. I have 3 credits left and need to download those before the next billing cycle. (I get some downloadable audio books via the library, but they expire too quickly for me).

Susan said...

Yeah, I think Geni should be ashamed of itself. With all the family trees I presume they have on their site, George Campbell must be a name that appears on many of them. For Geni to pick one (and such a poor match) and dangle it in front of me smacks of greed.

I know what you mean about expiring audio books. The first time it happened to me, I was in the middle of The Tender Bar. (Good book, BTW.) It was such a nuisance to start over and find my place. But I discovered that they can be renewed online. If we do it in time. And if we remember......

I've been listening only in my car for some time, using books on CD from the library, but I should investigate the mp3 option again now that I'm doing a lot of rug hooking. Would be nice to hook and listen.

Eulalia (Lali) said...

It annoys me to feel that I'm always having to protect myself from the assaults of people who are trying, in ever innovative ways, to buy stuff I don't need.

crystal said...

Yes, my library does have some books to download. Most can't be saved to discs, though, but only listened to. But the neat thing about Audible is that they have books that won't be found in audio now because they are too old or not popular enough, like old science fiction and fantasy stuff.

Indigo Bunting said...

Aaaargh.