Why do credits expire?

This is my “rant of the month”.

Whenever you sign up for most of the commercial genealogy data sites, like ancestry, find-my-past and so on, unless you buy a full subscription you have to buy “credits” that allow you to view a few pages. Often you have to buy minimum amounts, perhaps more than you need. Then some time later you find the credits you paid good money for have “expired” and you no longer have them.

I’ve tried asking various sites why these credits expire. Some even have FAQs to answer the question, so lots of people must be puzzled by it. But all they ever tell you is when they expire. This is the FAQ from the fairly new British National Newspaper Archive site:

Why do credits expire
We put emphasis on the time period available to view the archive rather than the credits. We strive to provide the best value per page view which is why our credit packages provide a generous number of credits for the time provided. We feel that it’s important that you don’t feel as though your credits will run out within your package. You will always receive a warning email when you credits are due to expire.

I even try tried a firmer approach once, with an official complaint. But they just pointed me to their small print, where I had clearly bought the things knowing they would expire.

All true, but none of this answers the simple question, “why do credits expire?” Why do they ever need to expire? After all, I paid for them so why don’t I get to use them, all of them, when I want to?

I guess, to be honest, I know the answer. Simple commercialism. They do it because they can, and because they make more money than if they didn’t do it. Sad, but I suspect that is the only true answer.

BUT, there might be light at the end of the tunnel. While researching for this rant, I found a site, admittedly a music site not family history, that says:

We were tired of using credit systems where the credits expire after a period of time. For this reason credits on our new site do not expire. You can use them anytime, whenever you like. This year, next year, whenever – You paid for them, so why not?

So, let us all hope the word spreads, and this silly practice disappears, soon!

Hear endeth this month’s rant.