Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Family Search Family Tree "Get Help" Limitations

Finally talked via Internet Chat with tech support at Family Search about my family tree problem.  However, not convinced the answer I received is totally correct.  I uploaded a Gedcom a few days ago of my Ritchhart family line going back about 11 generations.  However, when I view the tree, it only goes back 5 generations.  The answer I received is that until I resolve all of the merge decisions, the tree won't fully represent what I uploaded.  I am down now to about 80 merge resolutions (from over 250) and none of the remaining have any Ritchhart/Ritschard individuals.  Additionally, not sure why the tree I uploaded wouldn't be displayed fully whether or not merging decisions have been completed?  If any of you have experience with this would appreciate your comments. 

I also learned a couple of interesting things about their "Get Help" feature.  You can click on "Get Help" which then gives you several choices, one of which is "Live Chat".  This is an on-line chat.  If you want to talk with them on the phone you select "Call Us".  After selecting "Live Chat" you get a couple of different responses depending on the availability of volunteers (I believe).  If you just get a small window inside which is a blue box with
"Chat Now" that probably means there are no volunteers to chat with you.  It happened to me several times and when I clicked on "Chat Now" the box just closes and nothing happens.  If you get a box that also has two additional choices: "Tech & Public Support" and "Research Assistance" you may be in luck.  I say "may" because the first time this happened I kept clicking on "Tech & Public Support" and got nothing.  Finally, I called them and was told I will only get a response if I select "Research Assistance".   Then why do they even give you a choice of "Tech & Public Support" if it isn't functional?  They gave some sort of answer that wasn't very clear to me.  Anyhow, I then selected "Research Assistance" and soon was on line in a typical chat box with someone to assist me.  After discussing the problem I discussed about the Ritchhart family line not being fully displayed, I did ask why I couldn't get the choice yesterday of "Research Assistance" whenever I selected "Live Chat".  The volunteer wasn't sure; but surmised it was because there were no volunteers available.  I also learned that if you choose the "Call Us" option, those respondents are also volunteers because I called yesterday and, after being told I was being connected with someone to assist me, I got an answering machine telling me to leave my name and phone number.  About five hours later, they left an message on my answering machine that they were calling back. 

I guess the bottom line of all these ramblings is that the Family Search "Get Help" feature isn't what most of us have come to expect from a commercial company like Ancestry that hires people to provide those services.  Family Search's service is run by volunteers and depends upon their availability.  I also don't mean this as a put down for Family Search because they provide us a tremendous amount of genealogical information and it is all FREE!  I have a great appreciation for all that they do for the genealogical community; but you should just be aware that there are limitations to the "help" support that they can provide and they should probably note that somewhere on the web site near the "Get Help" feature.  I would be interested in any of your experiences that might agree or disagree with mine.