22 December 2011

Caution Regarding 23andMe

     Over the past few days there have been important changes in the Frequently Asked Questions and Terms of Service at 23andMe. I can't tell you when the changes were made because there was no announcement.  They didn't bother to tell their paying customers that there were changes in the services we've been paying for - or should I say what we aren't paying for?

     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.

4 comments:

Greta Koehl said...

Thanks for posting this information, Valerie. I had been mulling over the choice between Family Tree and 23andMe, and a while back decided on Family Tree - looks like that is the better choice, at least for now.

Jenny Lanctot said...

Thanks for making us aware of this, Valerie! I have recently convinced my uncle and my grandmother to get tested to see if we can narrow down my grandfather's biological lineage. Like Greta, I was also bouncing between ftDNA and 23andMe ... looks like 23andMe is no longer an option. I'm so glad you posted this before I made the wrong choice. Hopefully, they will see the error of their ways and fix this ...

Mavis said...

Val thanks for the info. I had mom and dad tested before they implemented the $9.00 / month fee. Not even sure how it affects that.

I also had the folks tested with FTDNA and overall, between the two companies, prefer FTDNA.

Valerie Craft said...

Greta & Jenny: Your welcome. And you never know, with all the negative feedback perhaps 23andMe will reverse these changes. I'll post an update if they do.

Mavis: I think anyone who tested before the subscription rate was implemented are "Lifetime members" and won't have their accounts affected by these changes. However, they will be impacted when others who do not want to keep paying $9 forever cancel and their data is removed from the site. You might want to download your Relative Finder data now because some of your matches will disappear soon.

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