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Kimberly Powell

findmypast - Customers Continue to Respond

By April 29, 2014

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Many findmypast customers in the UK are still very upset over the company's recent switch from its prior version of the UK site to a new web platform, which has completely turned the site's search functionality and ability to access certain records upside down.

findmypast's customer feedback forum has received thousands of comments, complaints, and suggestions over the past few weeks, and the company responded this past week by removing certain suggestions such as "Improve Communication with Your Customers" and placing the forum on moderator status. At least somenew suggestions are being posted, but only if first approved as "actionable." The announcement from findmypast on the forum's home page states "This Feedback Forum is for constructive feedback and proposals for future improvements to findmypast. With that in mind, we've removed some comments or ideas which do not present actionable ideas which other users can vote on."

I'm of the mind that concerns over the company using Facebook as their primary method of communication, and alternate user suggestions for improving customer communication, is an actionable idea, but apparently the company disagrees since they removed the post (along with many others, including a post titled "Improve features to bring in line with the old site" which had amassed over 2,300 comments). However, to the company's credit, the FMP feedback forum is fairly easy to navigate, and various suggestions are either marked as Under Review,Planned, Started, Launching Soon, Declined, or Completed.

Similar issues exist on the findmypast Facebook site, where most of the user complaints seem to continue to be removed. I've also been told that some users have been banned from further posts. The original UK site appears to now be redirecting to the US site, although you can still access the original version here, or byclicking on the findmypast link that tells you where the page has been redirected from. findmypast's response is that they are protecting their brand and, especially in the case of posts that suggest customers move to competing sites, I can completely understand. Some of the banned users have started their own Facebook site called Can't Find My Past.

Sarah Williams of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine recently traveled to London to try and get additional answers for magazine readers upset at the changes at findmypast. You can view the short video interview with findmypast's Paul Nixon and Myko Clelland, as well asher blog post about the making of the video, on their website.

Related Post: Searching the New FindMyPast

April 29, 2014 at 1:44 pm
(1) Alan Earl says:

Thank you for bringing this to your readers attention.

April 29, 2014 at 2:25 pm
(2) Margaret Randall says:

Thank you for this Kimberley – an excellent synopsis of what’s been going on.

April 29, 2014 at 4:00 pm
(3) Sharon says:

It’s not just the UK subscribers – what no one realised before was that there were many Australian and US researchers who used the UK site because it was so good. They are also complaining bitterly about this fiasco. It’s not that we are not computer literate – the majority of the most vociferous commentators are, it’s because the search engines simply don’t do what you expect. Records (basic information, such as birth records) are not being found where they always were on the old system.

April 29, 2014 at 4:58 pm
(4) Kieron says:

The Censorship is massive on Facebook and this is continuing to this day.. Totally ruined site that was the best out there.. Now the worst and worse than the many free sites available.. i paid in advance for my annual subscription and received a loyalty discount as a long standing customer.. 6 weeks in and I logged in to find this awful mess that is not fit for purpose. I asked for a pro rata refund but was granted a two month extension as a “goodwill gesture” but no refunds.. This is a tragedy for the genealogy community and disgraceful treatment of UK customers By D C Thompson.. I am blocked from all FMP FB sites worldwide for my Comments.. I have NEVER USED PROFANE OR BAD LANGUAGE. I, Like thousands of once loyal customers just want our money back. This is NOT THE SAME PRODUCT and NOT WHAT WE PAID FOR… My Scalpel has been replace with a sponge.. Counter intuitive, Slow, long winded, part functioning and bug ridden and I am being kind to this DOGS DINNER here.. Imagine the best bowl of soup and a generous silver spoon.. The Bowl is now much bigger but I have been given a fork… Useless.. And still the same Historic spam on facebook by FMP in order to try to bury the tragic news of THE DEATH OF A ONCE GREATLY LOVED RESOURCE.

April 30, 2014 at 7:45 am
(5) PFM says:

I’ve been researching for 20+ years and have used sites like FindMyPast and Ancestry for many years, searched many different record sets

extensively in a variety of ways to find people, and have had great success. Since the launch of this new platform, it takes far longer to find

even a fraction of what you could before.

The entire site is a mess. Functionality is missing, inconsistent, and doesn’t work. Search facilities do not meet the needs of genealogist.

1) You can no longer effectively search using a place of birth in a census. You have to trawl through pages upon pages of filter options.
For example, searching for a birthplace of Liverpool requires you to launch a filter window and type in Liverpool. The first 20+ pages contain

entries like “Aigburth Liverpool”, “Aintree Liverpool”, “Ainntree Liverpool”, “Aintree Liverpool Lanc”, “Aintree Liverpool Lancashire” etc. You

cannot even get to the entry for “Liverpool”, let alone the expected variants (e.g. L’pool, Liverpl). Select too many filters and the site

crashes. Simply being able to type the place with wildcards, e.g. “L*p*l*” is all that is required. FMP don’t want to acknowledge that this is a

huge problem and refuse to provide a simple answer/solution.

2) You no longer get the full census reference on images – you have to go back to the transcription for it (even then, parts are missing in some

years). This means Pay as you go customers use more credits unnecessarily.

3) Result pages contain irrelevant columns, rather than appropriate fields that quickly enable the user to pick the correct record. This means

having to painfully view a large number of transcriptions just to disregard matches and costly for PAYG customers.

4) Silly things like the birth day, month and year for an event not being grouped together in a transcription. Basic common sense?


April 30, 2014 at 7:46 am
(6) PFM says:

5) Many transcriptions in the Glamorgan and Monmouthshire PR Burials show a different parish to the image. How is that acceptable? FMP are happy

to accept that these are transcription errors but not a fundamental problem that misleads researchers. A transcription error is an incorrectly

transcribed name or age. It is not a wholesale mis-indexing of a batch of images against the wrong place.

6) Lincolnshire collection of PR images that were previously browsable are no longer available, despite claims by FMP staff a week ago, that

they’ve nearly loaded and will be available “shortly”.

7) Downloading and printing of newspaper images is no longer available, and as with everything else, “will be coming soon”.

8) The What’s new page at the moment seems to get updated once per week with some cosmetic fixes only. Fundamental flaws in their product are not

being fixed.

9) Search pages contain irrelevant fields, e.g. birth year on a marriage search, instead of marriage year? This has been tested?

Those are only some of the issues I have with the very few features of the site I’ve recently tried to make use of. Judging by feedback I’ve

seen, the Family Tree software has taken a backwards step (not to mention trees that have not been restored even after a month), and there are

hundreds of other problems that have been reported since the cut-over.

The site is a complete waste of time and money.

FMP have a couldn’t care less attitude with their customers. Their deluded perception is that their product is far superior to what it was. Well,

it isn’t.

Finally, the blocking of users from FMP Facebook page, stopping customers making comments/suggestions in their forums, the widespread censorship

and lack of any form of apology for this “improvement”.

Don’t both asking for a pro-rata refund because you won’t get one.


April 30, 2014 at 10:05 am
(7) Wendy says:

The short video interview doesn’t answer any of the relevant questions, and does nothing to inspire confidence. And if the new ‘improved’ site was any good at all, it wouldn’t need another video explaining how to use it!

As a long-term subscriber who has been with FMP before they were even called FMP, I’ll be looking to invest my hard-earned cash into a more reliable genealogy website when my renewal date arrives.

April 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm
(8) Margaret says:

My experience with this new site are exactly as described by others in previous comments, with FMP trying to suggest that the problems are all to do with the inexperience of the individual rather than the mess they have made. Emails in response to requests for refunds and complaints seem to answered with standard templates as they do not relate to the content of my mail.

The whole thing is a great pity, especially that D C Thomson have now decided to remove anything that resembles a complaint and effectively gag the people who were its most loyal customers. Unfortunately, this is not going to stop people talking to each other and makes their customer service look even worse.

May 1, 2014 at 9:42 am
(9) Catherine Owens says:

I can only express in one word without swearing “Terrible” why change something that works well.

May 1, 2014 at 12:56 pm
(10) Margaret Hirst says:

You would think that FMP have had quite long enough to sort out, what they considered to be, “minor tweaks. It is now 6 weeks since people started to be moved over to the new site and still there are the same problems being reported, and still the same comments from FMP that they are sorting things out / this or that is under review / it is coming shortly or soon. It is not surprising that FMP have closed down the Feedback Forum on their website – but the outcry on there was hardly unexpected. They effectively disenfranchised a significant number of their paying customers by not providing any feedback on questions asked. A number of people either resurrected old Facebook accounts or set up new accounts, just so that they could see what was being said on that medium; although others did copy across. The “InfoVid” that was produced was announced proudly on Twitter and Facebook, but nothing was put onto the website to advise people on there – until it was pointed out. I think that this part of the whole business is the lowest point where FMP are concerned. They have shown a terrible disregard for their customers and have been disrespectful in not keeping ALL of their customers updated equally. Putting out a search platform that doesn’t work and hasn’t been tested is pure stupidity, but the way they have been (and still are) treating customers is despicable and inexcusable.

May 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm
(11) Patricia Henry-Pierre says:

I am utterly disappointed in the way the UK FMP has treated its subscribers.

Had I known that the site was going to be changed so radically I would never have renewed my subscription. I feel cheated and disrespected.

The whole debacle has been handled badly. My subscription will not be renewed. I am just sorry that it has many months to go before it expires.

What a waste of this OAPs (senior citizen) money!!

May 4, 2014 at 9:45 am
(12) Edith says:

Why have you changed the search format when it was perfectly usable and certainly not broke. I have been a subscriber from the start but when my subscription is due in October I will not be renewing and I certainly will not recommend your site to fellow family historians as I once did.

May 4, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I have been tracing family history for 50 years. I have been using FMP very successfully for very many years. Together with Ancestry it made a formidable tool for finding people. It was particularly useful for UK marriages. It was, above all, user-friendly. At a stroke the site has been wrecked. I no longer use it and have no plans to renew my subscription. There is an old saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. How very true.

May 5, 2014 at 8:35 am
(14) Warren Etchells says:

Once again the dreaded auto renewal has got me.Not used the site for a few weeks.If I had I would have definitely cancelled its verging on being unusable now.If changes are not made within the next few weeks then i will be cancelleling the subscription so i dont forget in 6 months time and waste another £60

May 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm
(15) Gary P. Zang says:

I haven’t signed up yet because Ancestry is expensive enough. In fact, I’m taking a sabbatical from Ancestry for a year and reviewing my tree from top to bottom looking for possible doubled people, etc.
I won’t be considering FMP now after reading this. Only actually learned of the site when I was curious whether it was real when used on the Christopher Guest program.

May 10, 2014 at 11:42 am
(16) Dee says:

If everyone left, like I did, they might get the message and change it back

May 10, 2014 at 11:44 am
(17) MAC says:


May 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm
(18) Conchita (no not that one) says:


Findmypast expert Myko Clelland fronts a video on their blog extolling the virtues of the new site.

His first claim of how wonderous the site is, is by doing a general search for the surname ‘Smith’.

This he proudly announces produced 20 million results!

He clearly didn’t try to investigate any of those results because he would have soon realised that the system will only display the first 76 pages of results.

With 20 individuals per page this amounts to 1520 results.

The other 19,998,480 results can’t be viewed.

Admittedly you can change the sort order and get a different ‘first’ 76 pages, but whatever you do you can only see the first 76 pages. So, there will be a very large number of pages you can’t see without using the ludicrously complex filtering system.

With experts like that what hope has Findmypast got?

May 12, 2014 at 4:03 pm
(19) Shirley says:

DO NOT be foolish enough to subscribe to this site! What was once the best genealogical site, is now a counter intuitive, cumbersome, complicated mess. Thanks to the recent “upgrade” to the site’s search function and database it is now extremely difficult to find records, even those which were easily available on the previous version of the site!

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