Facebook and worthless knock-offs like Classmates.com
I always wondered what happened to my old friends back in Hgh school so I opened an account at Classmates.com thinking it would help me answer that question. But it didn’t work. Classmates is nothing like Facebook, where it is far easier to connect with old high school friends, and, more importantly, Facebook is free. Classmates is not free. And when I had an issue with their subscription system, I decided they’re just not for me.
By Ray Hanania
I like Facebook. I like them because they are honest, despite the media spin we are often fed. For example, Facebook doesn’t charge me money to use it, and I can connect with thousands of friends who consist of family, relatives, neighbors, business acquaintances and people who follow my columns and writing.
I realize that everyone has to profit and I know that Facebok makes money in two ways, first selling the information I post so that advertisers can target me, usually on Facebook. And, Facebook allows anyone, individuals and businesses, to advertise their products, messages, personalities and columns like mine, to promote themselves in the cyber world.
What I really dislike are websites that are dishonest, poorly run and are deceptive when they slam you with fees. One of those I dislike is Classmates.com.
Classmates basically is a place where people can allegedly connect with their old high school pals. It’s a great concept to rollover on Baby Boomers like myself who for some reason think their old classmate chums from high school who weren’t interested in you when you were in high school together, are not suddenly going to be interested in you now that 40 years have passed by and you have absolutely nothing left in common except what Classmates thinks is a hoped-for sense of nostalgia.
It doesn’t work, unfortunately. The idea that you can recreate your junior year in high school online again is ridiculous.
But worse is the deception.
When I signed up for Classmates a few years back, I thought maybe I can reconnect with a few friends. But Classmates doesn’t spend much on advertising — they do have a Facebook presence, though, where they could if they were smart. I assume it’s because Classmates is interested more in their profits than they are with providing an enjoyable atmosphere for their users.
Two years ago in October 2016, they convinced me to “subscribe.” That means actually pay money to them to be on their site, which at the time was like the Sahara desert, there were so few people from my high school past. By the way, I didn’t just go to one high school, I attended four because my family moved around a bit. I went to Bowen High school for one and one-half years. Then moved west to Bogan High school where I stayed all of three months before the school expelled me, officially telling my mother than I would be better off at Calumet High school. At the time, 1969, Bogan was at the borderline of the anti-black protests and the segregation movement. All White, my skin was a little too dark, being Arab. Calumet was almost all Black.
So my parents switched to Little Flower Catholic High school on 79th and Wood Street, where I learned a wholly new form of education. It was fun. Sister Frances taught her English class how to dance, and slide from side to side to James Brown songs. An avid guitar player who loved lead riffs, rock-n-roll, and blues, it was a blast.
But by Junior year we moved again, this time to Burbank where I became the first Arab student to attend Reavis High school. I got my first break from an English teacher who confronted me about my failing English Composition grades and turned me around by having me write a column in the school newspaper, The Reavis Blueprint, about new rock albums and rock music. The next year I became the newspaper editor, and here I am … thanks to a very brilliant teacher, Mrs. Harris.
And I had 10 friends at Reavis, which had something like 800 seniors when I graduated. I lost touch with the 30 friends I had at Bowen, including one of the Spanish Kings street gang “Lords,” Humberto, who was better known as “switchblade.” I did his homework at Bowen, and he made sure I didn’t get jumped walking back west through the viaducts on 90th Street or Kingston Avenue.
It worked for both of us. And at least I knew what Switchblade was and what he did. He wasn’t dishonest.
I can’t say the same for Classmates. The subscription for two years which started in 2016 cost me $36. Then last week, two years later, Classmates “automatically” charged me $72. I hadn’t used Classmates much over the past two years, so it basically cost me about $10 for each time I logged in. The charge was processed through PayPal, which has issues of its own and really could care less about the rights of its users, too.
I complained to Classmates and they informed me that the $36 I paid in 2016 was a “promotional” rate that they claimed they had told me about before I subscribed. I felt like Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) in the hit movie “Casino” when he meets with “Charlie” the banker.
The fact is I don’t remember them telling me anything. And I have the original emails from the transaction which I copied to them, which made no mention of a “promotional rate.”
Basically, Classmates doubled the subscription charge, and slammed me with it. And when I protested, they pretty much shrugged their shoulders.
I immediately went t the system and changed my account from “automatically renew” — which I NEVER DO on any system. My guess is they’ll come back and “put my money to sleep” again in 2020.
By then, I probably won’t have many friends left from high school to share pictures with, that no one shares anyway.
My suggestion. Instead of unchecking the “automatically renew” option at Classmates.com, simply don’t open an account there anyway. It’s not worth it. I have few interactions on it. And they don’t even come close to the exchanges I have with past friends on Facebook.
Classmates.com sucks. There’s no two-ways about it.
(Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. He currently writes on mainstream American political issues for the Southwest News Newspaper group of eight newspapers in Chicago, and on Middle East issues for the Arab News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)