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.