Is an apparently respectable scanned archive of local USA newspapers that advertises extensively and misleadingly using google and various affiliate programs (see below) Their "free trial" is a scam that encourages people to submit their credit card details, but the archive content is not up to their claims - most of it is not up to much. The customer cancels, but they don't accept the cancellation and charge the credit card anyway: I wasn't the only one appalled by this system: so was Stuart Levine  

I signed up for the free trial, and immediately realised that their content was too limited for my needs. It was easy to sign up, but getting out of the agreement without spending lots of money and time on futile and expensive transatlantic phone calls or urgent airmail letters was like drawing hen's teeth. It took me an hour's hard work to convert their pdf form, sign it, scan it, and attach it to an email.. They didn't care, they ignored my emails: I wasn't too amused when I received this email: we are talking about nearly a hundred dollars here, not a few bucks:

Customer Service Correspondence

Questions? Call:  1.888.845.2887

Dear Sir or Madam,

Your membership has been cancelled and you will not be re-billed. Unfortunately, your request of cancellation was turned in to late. We are unable to refund the amount you have already paid for your subscription. According to our terms and conditions, in the event that your account is terminated or canceled, no online time or other credits will be credited to you or can be converted to cash or other form of reimbursement.
We are always adding new content to our site and hope you will try us again in the future.

Thank you for your support.


Customer Service®

Anyway, after I complained to Google, my credit card company, and posted a few warning notices on various websites,  I finally received this letter. True penitence? I suspect not - they just don't want anyone else to know about their little secret, which is to take money whether you want their service or not, relying on the fact that nobody reads the small print:

The only real test of whether they admit they are wrong is if they can publish their whole index and catalogue of titles on their front page, and allow simple cancellations online without making folk jump through endless and entirely unnecessary hoops:

An apology

Delivery-date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 20:23:27 +0000

Mr. XXX,

It seems as though you have been a very busy man recently.  I’m not emailing you because of your activity or even because of your “threats”.  The reason for my email is because in your reply to our auto-generated email you say you cancelled “immediately”.  If I may ask, by what method did you cancel your account?  We accept cancellation via mail, fax or phone call.  I was just wondering if you could provide me with some evidence of when and how you cancelled your account so I may review it.  If all checks out, I’ll gladly issue a full refund to you. 

 Also, you make note in one of your emails that at one point your username was not recognized.  According to our records it’s fine.  Your username is and your password is xxxxxxx. 

 While I understand that our website isn’t for all, we do have terms and conditions that must be agreed to prior to starting a subscription.  It is at the discretion of user to make sure and read these terms and conditions prior to agreeing to them.  It is very unfortunate that people will not take the time to read, but will simply check the box saying they agree.  In fact, the statement says that you must agree to the terms and conditions and that you are aware of the cancellation process.  I’m not sure how much more clearly we can be. 

We are not in the market to simply “take money”.  We provide a service that is very useful and helpful to several thousands of people as well as libraries and schools. (A free service we offer to non profit organizations) 

I truly hope that we can work through this issue; please forward me any information you have regarding your cancel request so I may review and respond accordingly. 

 I apologize for any confusion and inconvenience caused by this matter.


 Jason Krueger

My response:


Its nice to actually get a reply to an email. Snail mail, fax or phone call to the USA all cost money and take time, I doubt very much your office receives calls on a Sunday, transatlantic calls cost a great deal, whilst email is free. A free trial should be exactly that - not carry hidden costs of cancellation.

 As I live in the UK, and dont have a fax machine, I chose to cancel - within an hour of opening my "Free trial" - by attaching my completed form to an email as a pdf document. This is a perfectly reasonable method of cancellation - its far quicker than snail mail from the UK, its free, and I can check to see if it has been received.

 I dont make "threats" I just use the freedom that we all enjoy to state the facts and my opinions as I see them. If I was cross, well its hardly surprising - I hate time wasting techniques to take money off me through relying on my laziness. Clearly I'm not the only person who has been infuriated by your system in this way - try searching Google sometime as I'm sure you do. I expect many folk just pay up and go quietly into the night, but that's not my way.

 Your google ads are misleading - my search for "Times Obituaries" led to your site through one of your sponsored ads,- but your UK content is entirely provincial. The only ethical way to stop this hassle and annoyance to potential cutomers is to publish a full index of your resources on your front page, before people register, so that they can decide what is in your store. As a second line of good customer service, it should be as easy to cancel the free trial ( a couple of clicks) as it is to sign up. An email or online cancellation should be perfectly sufficient, and actually saves you and the customer a lot of time, grief and effort.

 I accept your apology, and look forward to accessing your resources at some future date when you have sorted out some of these issues, increased your UK content, and refunded my account. Potentially you are sitting on a great and growing resource - its just a shame that the "customer service" end is so irritating as to alienate your potential future customers.

 I am resending the original correspondence for your records.

Slàinte maith, h-uile latha, na chi 'snach fhaic!


Guess what, another apology!


 Thank you for your email(s).  The PDF that you attached would normally be more than adequate as a cancellation since you are from the UK; however, your location of origin was not noticed by the individual that processed your email.  We do have several transatlantic customers, and we understand the difficulties in our cancellation process for our friends from across the sea.  I formally apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you, and I will be issuing a credit in the amount of $95.40 USD back to your account.  It normally takes one to two business days for the transaction to appear on your card statement. 

 As a gesture of good customer service, I’m going to leave your account active until 5/27/2007 so you can check back and try our new search engine after the 1st of the year.  We’re in the works of setting up a brand new search engine that should alleviate a lot of the issues we’re experiencing and should make search results much more direct and narrowed down. 

 Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with me and for forwarding your PDF to me.  I’ll be sure to share your concerns with the necessary departments and work towards a fix for the issues.



 Well well well! Very polite and penitent - but will they change the stupid time wasting system that causes all the aggravation in the first place? ...lets ask and see.

From: XXXX
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 3:16 PM
To: Jason Krueger
Subject: RE: Info regarding Refund Request

 website registrant details:


Heritage Microfilm, Inc.

4049 21st Avenue SW

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404

United States

Registered through:, Inc. (


Created on: 03-Dec-99

Expires on: 03-Dec-08

Last Updated on: 28-Apr-06

Administrative Contact:

Gill, Chris

Heritage Microfilm, Inc.

4049 21st Avenue SW

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404

United States

3193909442 Fax --

Technical Contact:

Administrator, System

Heritage Microfilm, Inc.

4049 21st Avenue SW

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404

United States

3193909442 Fax -- 3193909448


  soc.genealogy.misc > warning against subscribing to
From: Stuart LeVine - view profile
Date: Fri, Oct 27 2006 8:55 pm
Email: "Stuart LeVine" <>
Groups: soc.genealogy.misc
Not yet rated


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This is the strongest possible warning against subscribing to

1. The selection of papers is very limited, and worse, the selection of
years is terrible. Some papers have only 1 or 2 years.

You won't realize this as you have to really search around. All you will
experience is that your search will come back empty.

2. The customer service is the worst I have ever experienced from a web site. Seven times I contacted them with a problem.

Twice they responded asking me to explain the problem (which was explained
in my email). Four times they never responded.

Once they responded that the problem was a feature (A search for the name
Tames give a result James, Prival gives Private and Polivy gives Policy). They never answer their phone. They take you number and don't return your calls.

3. Here is an example of what most of the returns from a search look like:

ltiiill, nlnst be written in a style and pertain, to PRIVUL'efuritters will only

d nuirtyr muat-ho nhuied with thn piuun and nni-um- PRIVUL.i Hiu-n-tary

IIANNA- Two tilitinc'fiiriibhfil; VljIMrrii; PRIVUL- ms Jtujf ?15, Velvrt

4. Attempts to request a refund were ignored. Totally.

5. Cancellation requires you to fill in 2 forms online, explaining your reasons. Then you have to print out another form,

fill in THE EXACT SAME INFORMATION you filled in online and fax it to them.
They warn you that even though you filled

out the online forms, if you fail to send in the fax they will keep charging

Save the aggravation and avoid this site.