The Great Legacy.com Swindle
After reading Jessica Mitford's "American Way of Death" I shouldn't find it shocking when people capitalize on grief, but this is still sort of shocking.
Since we have for-profit undertakers, it seemed tacky but not unusual that there should be a business in online guest books for dead people. Knowing a bit about the economics of online services, and what kind of a profit margin that $79 represents, it was perhaps a little galling. But legacy.com pays moderators to check death notices and screen posts, so they can certainly argue they're providing some kind of value.
Things got decidedly sketchier a few weeks later, when legacy.com decided to email me a reminder that the guest book (which I had only posted to, not created) was about to meet a fate very similar to the person it was honoring if I didn't act promptly to renew, which, legacy.com suggested, would be the perfect way to show my support to a grieving family in a difficult time.
When you are mourning someone, any automated reminder about their death from a website that wants your money is going to cause what you might call a negative customer experience. It doesn't matter whether you entitle it "A gentle reminder from legacy.com" or "DEAD FRIEND'S NAME IN ALL CAPS Guest Book" (although guess which one they went with).
I decided to see what the other end of this operation looked like. As an experiment, I visited the obituary section of the New York Times website and followed the steps to submit my own online death notice, stopping only at the final confirmation screen.