Monday, 16 June 2014

Don't be stung by subscription auto renewals on websites

Just a quick word about genealogy websites with auto-renewal features on the subscription pages, prompted by a comment on another thread, where a reader has mentioned that after a one month offer on a commercial website has expired, the vendor apparently deducts a further subscription fee for another month - it is able to do so because you have to put your credit card details in to activate the initial free subscription, and an auto-renewal mechanism then kicks in after that period has ended.

It is often the case with many subscription based websites that they will try to do this after your initial subscription period has ended - often for your 'convenience' (!). There is usually a mechanism somewhere on the subscription or account page, however, that allows you to disable this automatic renewal feature - so ALWAYS check what you are signing up for, no matter what the site, and how to avoid being stung like this. It may simply be a case of having to untick a box. You may of course be happy to have your subscription renewed - this is really a message for those who aren't!

I should add that I've also been caught out on this in the past. I have in fact recently received umpteen number of emails on a daily basis from one particular British based vendor, telling me that it has been unable to renew my subscription there, as my credit card details used for the previous subscription have expired. To the best of my knowledge, I can't recall being forewarned that the account was about to expire in the first place - so thank God for expiration dates on credit cards! But you may not be so lucky.

Forewarned is forearmed - check your accounts pages. Here endeth the public service message!


Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And FindmyPast - please reinstate the original Scottish census citations on your new site.


  1. A very timley reminder worth repeating. Thank You.

  2. When I sign up for a trial period with my card, after a few days I go back in and remove all details (and remember to update my 'account'). Then I set an alarm for 2 days before the end, and send in an email informing the company that I will be cancelling after the one month free trial is ended.
    Never any problem that way, ever! And I've also been given some nice discounts if I change my mind! :)

  3. There was a case reported recently where someone neglected to cancel because they knew their credit card would expire and thought that would take care of it. The subscription was renewed anyway! Somehow, the company got the new number from the credit card company. So don't rely on that to protect you.


  4. Excellent advice. Last summer, my one month subscription to Find My Past was automatically renewed without my knowledge for three or four months. The subscription was cancelled after I complained.