Terms and Conditions
_Agreement for Genealogical Research: The following describes the agreement between us when you ask us to undertake genealogical research for you:
- You must be age 18 or older to order our research services.
- The goal(s) of your research must be clear and in order of priority.
- Tell us the following 3 things:
- What do you want to know, specifically?
- What do you already know about what you want to know?
- How do you know it? (So we don't search for some proof you already have.)
4. We must receive your goals and family information, plus the appropriate retainer, before we will begin.
2. Fees, Payments, Reimbursable Expenses, Delivery
- Fees. Although not anticipated, sometimes research is not successful. Therefore, the fee is for our expert time and attention spent on the project, whether the research is successful or not.
- Reimbursable Expenses are due and payable upon completion of project and before delivery. They include postage, parking, repository or database use fees, microfilm rental, courthouse and other copy fees, scans ($2 each), non-local travel time, non-local mileage at IRS rate, and other miscellaneous incidentals. An estimate of reimbursable expenses will be provided, and we will not go beyond that amount without your agreement.
- Prepayment in full - a Retainer - is required. For amounts over $500, the full amount due and payable may be split in two parts. We accept payment in USD$ funds by check or money order on USA banks only, payable to Jane Schapka; by credit or debit card; or by PayPal. For International credit card payments, add 15% to the total due.
- Hourly labor costs include time spent to review previous research materials, prepare a research plan, correspondence (email, phone, mail), write reference citations, research, analysis, and report writing time. Packaged services may be offered
- Service fee and terms are subject to change without notice. Each renewal of our service will be at the then-standard service rate.
- Balance Overdue. If and when accounts become over 30 days past due, the account balance will be billed interest at the rate of 1 and 1/2 percent per month until the balance is paid in full.
- Delivery format of the project report is usually by email in pdf format, with sources attached in jpeg or pdf format. If physical delivery is required, add $25 for Priority USPS delivery or actual cost of Fed-Ex Special Delivery or Fed-Ex Overnight Delivery.
3. Refunds and Cancellation
- There are no refunds, other than Cease of Project for Non-Production, since the fee is for our time, plus costs incurred. Negative results or unsuccessful searches are billable, reportable, and not refundable.
- Cease of Project for Non-Production. After an initial 2-hour search with no results, the project will cease, and the unused balance, minus expenses, will be applied to the next project or refunded.
- If you cancel your research request, the cancellation will take effect immediately, and we will write a summary of the research to that cancellation date. All time and expenses will be deducted from your prepaid retainer, and any unused retainer can be credited to another research case, or refunded to you.
4. Time Constraints
- Research projects are handled in the order in which the retainer was received.
- Projects are usually completed within the time described after receipt of retainer deposit. However, research projects may extend past the time frame due to pending receipt of outside correspondence, unexpected closing or limited open hours of repositories, non-availability of resources, or other extenuating circumstances. In case of delay, we will notify you.
- You are engaging a professional genealogist with years of experience and educational training, who is entitled to be paid at professional rates.
- Because results won't be known until research is conducted and completed, there can be no prediction or guarantee that a specific document or result will be found or that a certain time will be required to search. Variables that can limit success during research--time allotted, common surnames, time period and place, records availability, records mis-indexed or mis-filed, records which existed but have since disappeared-- and there is NO guarantee that any specific or positive results will be obtained.
- We commit to thorough and detailed work. Our research is conducted in accordance with prevailing high professional standards and in compliance with the Code of Ethics published by the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Code of Ethics adopted by the Board of Certification of Genealogists, and the Standards recommended by the National Genealogical Society.
6. Unfortunate or Disturbing Information
- It is very common to uncover unfortunate information about a deceased ancestor - illegitimate birth, divorce, suicide, mental illness, illegal or criminal records, or other findings.
- We recommend that people not judge their ancestors and not apply modern standards to past happenings. We are grateful that records place our ancestors in a certain location at a certain time, which may help us to understand their family.
7. Copyright and General Release of Information
- All Content produced by us, including reports and charts and others, are copyrighted by Muskegon Genealogy. We may use them in any form and for any purpose, and the names of living persons will not be released. An example might be to demonstrate a research method (class, program, article, blog, etc.).
- You may use the content we produce for personal or professional genealogy research. You may cite small portions of it provided that we are cited as author. You may not display the report in its entirety on web pages or in print without the written consent and authorization of Jane Schapka. Small portions may be quoted, if properly cited and credited to Muskegon Genealogy.
- By paying your retainer for services, you agree that we may use all content we developed and produced for you in any form and for any purpose. Living persons will be identified only by the name "Living," with the exception that all names may be shown to confidential genealogical certifying bodies such as the Board for Certification of Genealogists. See 8.1.
8. Release of Information to Certifying Bodies
- By paying your retainer for services, you agree that you consent to your release of information for all materials you provided to us, all information discovered by us, and various written reports, which may be supplied to the Board for Certification of Genealogists and to any other certifying or licensing genealogical body, for possible certification or licensing.
9. Liability Disclaimer
- Muskegon Genealogy strives for excellent, accurate, and detailed work. Because every ancestral family is unique, it is impossible for a professional genealogist to guarantee that they can provide their client with a certain number of new ancestors or relatives.
- Due to the variables and uncertainties of historical records, we cannot guarantee specific results or turn around time until the records are examined.
- There shall be no refunds related to lack of results or dissatisfaction with any aspect of Muskegon Genealogy services.
- This Agreement is governed by the law of the State of Michigan, and to the extent applicable, the Federal law of the United States of America. Any action to enforce this Agreement shall be brought in the State courts located in Muskegon, Michigan.
- Official correspondence must be sent via postal mail to: Jane Schapka, Attn: Muskegon Genealogy, 1713 Ruddiman Dr., North Muskegon MI 49445-3041, USA.
- This Agreement is the entire agreement between you and Muskegon Genealogy, and it cannot be amended except in writing.