Thursday, December 13, 2012

Geni Limits Lifetime Memberships

An email from a reader alerted me to an email s/he received from Geni recently.  The email says (name, email deleted):

Dear .............,

Thank you for being a loyal Geni subscriber. As you may have heard, Geni is now part of the MyHeritage family. We’re truly excited about joining forces with such a great partner and have been thrilled with the response we’ve received to this news.

As a lifetime subscriber, we have some good news and some bad news for you. The bad news is that MyHeritage doesn’t support lifetime subscriptions; we are replacing your lifetime subscription with a 5-year Geni subscription that starts today.

The good news is that we are giving you a valuable gift – a 5-year MyHeritage data subscription (a $600 value) – at no additional cost to you. With this subscription you can take full advantage of MyHeritage’s SuperSearch search engine for historical records.

Your MyHeritage data subscription has been added to the MyHeritage associated with your email address (............@..........). If you have trouble logging into MyHeritage with this email address, use the "Forgot your password?" link to reset your password.

Try MyHeritage’s SuperSearch now

With SuperSearch you can search over 4 billion records including birth, marriage, death, burial, census, military, immigration, yearbooks, and newspapers. In the future, we’ll automatically notify you of historical records that match profiles in your family tree on Geni; adding these records to Geni as sources as simple as clicking a button.

Thank you again for being a loyal Geni subscriber, and we hope this gift will help you in your family history research!

- The Geni Team          

I looked on the Geni Public Discussions board ( and found a discussion about this topic.  There is great dissatisfaction expressed by some lifetime members of Geni - that a lifetime subscription should mean "lifetime," and not "five more years."  

You can read one of the threads at (go forward and backward from this page) about this topic.  Many of these users have years of data entry, family pictures, and family involvement in their tree.  Many of the users are, apparently, not interested in accessing historical records or online family trees at  Some persons are concerned that their tree information on Geni will appear on MyHeritage.

Geni has responded to some of the complaints on the thread with this message:

"Thank you for being part of the Geni community. Unfortunately Geni no longer supports lifetime subscriptions. If you are not interested in receiving a 5 year Geni Pro subscription and a 5 year MyHeritage data subscription, which you will be able to use on Geni, we will be happy to refund the full amount you paid for your Geni lifetime subscription. 

"Please let us know how you would like to proceed. We'd like to work with you on resolving this to your satisfaction. "

I don't know exactly what the Geni Lifetime subscription price was in the past - I saw a post on the thread that it cost some subscribers $299 several years ago.

I think that this is a real "social" problem for Geni and for MyHeritage.  It may also be a legal problem.  There is talk on the thread about hiring attorneys and filing a class action suit.  One of the first rules of customer service is to keep your customer happy.  I hope that Geni will find a way to satisfy their lifetime members by limiting access to MyHeritage, or something similar.

I am a Basic (Free) member on, so this change doesn't affect me as far as I know.  If I was a lifetime member, I don't know what my reaction would be - the yearly value of a 5-year subscription for both Geni and the MyHeritage record collections far exceeds what I might have paid for the Lifetime membership.  But "lifetime" needs to mean "lifetime" in my book.  

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

And, "lifetime" means as long as the service exists - "the other alternative" was likely "going out of business" where "lifetime" would have really ended, now. Every story has at least two sides, usually many more... I dropped my Geni FREE memberships some time back... I just didn't like what I saw, for me. Life will go on... Thanks for another useful post! ;-)

Keith Riggle said...

Yes, "lifetime" means both the life of the person and the company, but unilaterally changing the terms of service for what were obviously Geni's most loyal members is penny-wise and pound-foolish. MyHeritage admitted that it terminated the lifetime memberships for revenue reasons, but even if it's not illegal (which remains to be seen), it's unethical and just bad judgment. Geni has a history of treating their members poorly. If people perform their due diligence before joining, they will certainly think twice!

Judi said...

Lifetime sometime in Aug, 2011 was double from the roiginal price almost it was finally dropped down to $417 whic is now their 5 year option whihc they instituted sometime in June 2012

Anonymous said...

Legally, Geni (or MyHeritage that purchased Geni) cannot alter the contract terms unanimously without acceptance from its subscribers. I contacted them and are trying to refund the money so that they can get rid of the legal issues surrounding it. It is not an acceptable option to me.

Geni is a registered business with state of California. You may not be a resident of California but please file complaints against Geni with state of California’s Attorney General Office. It’s within their jurisdiction to take legal actions against them even though they sold it to an Israel based company. CA AG’s office will track them and initiate legal proceedings against them at the right time.