22 December 2011
Caution Regarding 23andMe
When I purchased my five DNA kits from 23andMe it was with understanding that I would be paying $9 a month for a year for updates to my Relative Finder and Health Reports. If I choose not to continue my subscription after 12 months, I would maintain the reports I had already received, but would not receive further updates. For many months now there has been discussion on the 23andMe message boards on whether folks plan to renew or not.
The other day, someone noticed that the FAQs had changed and a new thread was started to discuss these changes. Apparently it has been decided that anyone opting not to renew/continue their subscription, would no longer be able to access their Relative Finder and Health Reports - at all. We're being cut off from all of the reports that we've been paying for the past year. They will no longer be accessible. Not just new results - the old ones as well.
Based on conversations on the message boards, 23andMe has angered a lot of their customers with the changes. I'm not very happy myself. When I purchased this test it was with the understanding that I was getting and keeping a certain level of test results after fulfilling my obligations. I never planned to continue to pay after my 12 months. Unless I change my mind (I won't), all I will have is my raw data. I don't feel that it is ethical of 23andMe to change their policies on pre-existing customers this way.
23andMe has created a feedback form for customers to respond directly regarding these recent changes. This is one of very few ways to contact 23andMe. If you send them an email, it will take about two weeks to hear back. There is no one you can call - there is no customer service phone number. This has already been a source of irritation for me with this company.
Unless they act on our feedback and reverse these new policies, I will not be purchasing any more DNA tests from 23andMe. I won't be recommending their services, though I will leave it up to individuals to decide for themselves if they feel the service is worth the money.
And finally: soon, Family Tree DNA will allow 23andMe customers to import their data for $50. I'll be taking them up on this offer.