I cancelled my Ancestry subscription in order to get a new subscriber discount. Here’s how I did it.
I’m a big fan of Gail Dever’s Genealogy à la Carte. One of her posts intrigued me – it talked about how, after 12 years of faithfully subscribing to Ancestry and renewing at the full price, she took a risk and cancelled her subscription.
Why would any keen genealogist want to cancel their Ancestry subscription?
It seems that Ancestry is nicer to new customers than existing customers. If you are a new subscriber, Ancestry will offer you a sweetener to subscribe – discounts of 30-50% are available. Once you’ve signed up, though, Ancestry automatically renews your subscription year after year, at the full subscription cost. I had a subscription to World Deluxe, which, as of April, 2019 is a few cents shy of CAD$300. My renewal was imminent.
To renew or not to renew?
I love Ancestry. I use it a lot.
I use it to build trees on behalf of other people, and at last count I think I had over a dozen different trees. These trees represent years of intense work, and the thought of risking all that work gave me heart palpitations. Ancestry is supposed to save your work regardless of subscription type, but what if something went wrong? I carefully checked all my backup documents and links. I downloaded “.gedcom” files for all my trees. I uploaded those trees to Mac Family Tree. I reread the methodology for cancelling and renewing on Facebook groups.
Even after all of that, I thought about playing it safe and allowing the subscription to renew at full cost. Is the risk really worth at most $150, I asked myself.
On Renewal Day
On Renewal Day, I took a deep breath and cancelled my subscription. I’d read that in order to ensure I wasn’t automatically renewed, cancelling should be done a few days’ prior, but I had work to do right up until renewal day. I cancelled with 5 hours remaining on my subscription, and crossed my fingers that all my work wouldn’t be erased with that one decision.
It was nerve-wracking.
I cancelled. Where’s my come back offer?
That was 8 days ago. Each day, I’d sign in to check my account. I’d read that Ancestry might post a banner ad offering a discount, but no banner showed up for me. I’d also read that Ancestry sent emails to former subscribers with “come back” offers. No emails arrived in my Inbox.
I did find that Ancestry was willing to offer a small concession for a 6 month subscription: $50 off.
I was going into withdrawal and tempted to take the $50.
Google to the rescue
But before I took the $50, I thought I’d see if Google could find me a better deal. Lo and behold, Google found me a page from Ancestry offering a 12 month World Deluxe Membership for $149.94 (half price). I have no idea why this page didn’t show up in my account, but it didn’t.
I was so excited about taking it, I forgot to get a screen cap of it. The offer was from the Ancestry site, and stipulated it was for new subscribers only. I’d cancelled my membership – did I qualify?
When I clicked on the Buy Now button, it said Welcome Back, Linda Yip, do you want to buy? I carefully checked the details:
- Ancestry World Deluxe Membership (not a lesser subscription like All Canada). Check.
- $149.94 for a year (not 6 months). Check.
- Same account as my previous account (so I’d get all my work back). Check.
Does cancelling instead of renewing work?
It worked for me. I cancelled my subscription, all my work was still in Ancestry even while I was an unpaid guest, and I was able to renew at a substantial discount.
Caveats and afterthoughts
Please bear in mind that I am sharing my experience with Ancestry’s subscription policies for general interest. I have tried to be clear about the risks, and while I was successful in gaining back all that I had on my Ancestry platform, I was also prepared to have to rebuild my work from scratch. I am neither advising you try this nor dissuading you from doing so and to be clear, I cannot be held responsible if something does go wrong.
I strongly advise that if you do try the cancel and renew route that you ensure all your work is backed up: .gedcom files, documents, links, and anything else you may have attached to your online tree.
I have to thank Gail Dever and various members of Canadian genealogy groups over the past year. I have considered the cancel and renew method for months, and I never would have known how to do it without their help. Gail even wrote a blog about sites you can use while you’re waiting for your renewal offer, if you can’t go a few days without genealogy.