About 23andMe

By HighYa Staff

23andMe is a genetic testing company that uses your saliva sample to trace your lineage as far back as 10,000 years, and across 750 maternal lineages and over 500 paternal lineages. With more than 500,000 genotyped members, 23andMe also claims to be the largest DNA ancestry service in the world.

23andMe is based out of Mountain View, CA and has been in business since 2007, though they are not rated with the Better Business Bureau. Online reviews for the service appear to be mixed, with the most common complaints citing difficulty getting in touch with the company, poor customer service, long processing times, and vague results.

How 23andMe Works

Using a small saliva sample, 23andMe can trace your genetic lineage and provide “ancestry-related genetic reports and raw genetic data.” All information provided by 23andMe is claimed to be 98% accurate, and to be able to help you further expand your ancestral view.

Obtaining your genetic tests through 23andMe can be accomplished in three steps:

  1. Order your DNA kit.
  2. After receiving your kit, register your barcode.
  3. Provide a saliva sample, and send it back using the pre-paid packaging.

After the company receives your sample, it will then be “processed by a team of expert technicians” at the company’s CLIA-certified lab. While the 23andMe website states it will take 6-8 weeks for you to receive your results “after it has been received by the lab,” keep in mind that there are numerous customer reports claiming that it can take as long as 3-4 weeks just to make it to the lab in the first place. It’s only once this occurs that the 6-8 week timetable begins, ultimately making the entire process last as long as 3-4 months in some cases.

» For Further Reading: Pros and Cons of an At-Home Genetic Test: Should You Try It?

After analysis, your results will be available directly through your 23andMe online account. They will be provided via an Ancestry Composition that breaks down the percentage of your DNA originating from different continents and sub-regions, and can even tell you what percentage of your genome originated from Neanderthals. Keep in mind that if your 23andMe test was performed prior to November 22, 2013, you will receive health information, which will not be included for tests performed after this date due to an FDA mandate. For ancestry-related questions, please click here.

23andMe claims to keep all your data—which can be imported to another lineage service—safe and confidential. Full details can be found here.

23andMe Pricing & Refund Policy

Each 23andMe testing kit currently costs $99, though you’ll receive a 20% discount on each additional kit you purchase in the same order. As of the time of this writing, testing kits were available directly through the company, as well as through Amazon.com.

If ordered through 23andMe, shipping for a single kit costs $9.95 for Standard, and $26.95 for Express.

If you cancel your 23andMe order prior to the kit being shipped, you may be eligible for a full refund. If you cancel your order within 30 days after receiving the kit (but have not yet shipped the sample back to the lab), you’ll be charged a $25 fee, and will lose shipping and handling charges. Once your kit has been shipped to the lab or used, no refunds are available.

Pros

  • Claims to be able to trace to genetic lineage back as far as 10,000 years, and across 750 maternal lineages and over 500 paternal lineages.
  • Claims to have more than 500,000 genotyped members, and to be the largest DNA ancestry service in the world.
  • Kit and testing only cost $99.
  • Full refund if order cancelled prior to shipping.

Cons

  • A widespread reputation for difficulty getting in touch with the company, poor customer service, long processing times, and vague results.

Bottom Line – Should you use 23andMe?

While the information found in your genetic profile seems interesting, 23andMe appears to have a widespread reputation for difficulty getting in touch with the company, poor customer service, long processing times, and vague results. As a result, you may wish to thoroughly research the competition prior to placing your order.

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Read 60 23andMe Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 1.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 4 4 star: 1 3 star: 4 2 star: 5 1 star:  46
Bottom Line: 10% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 60
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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Different results than other companies

    • Houston, TX,
    • Mar 6, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased a DNA test for myself and my son. I did my test with two different companies and got the same results.

    My son did a 23andMe test. Results were nothing like the results from the other companies.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Excellent results

    • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,
    • Feb 18, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I took the test and had no problems such as what I've read on here. I waited two weeks before doing the kit, sent it off and occasionally checked in to see the progress.

    Everything was fine and as they said for the time frame.

    My results were excellent in the way of pinpointing where I am from, and there is no question about the areas 23andMe say my relatives are from, they were bang on with those results. It said I have zero close family to first cousins and that was right because I'm the only one who's done this. The regions really blew me away how they could show me where I was from, that was amazing. Also, I have a third cousin and their name and location were absolutely correct. Also, I did some traveling to my heritage country and while there, found a distant cousin who by chance had the same last name as I. We got talking and discovered ties between us. This person has not taken the test, but my DNA shows I have ancestors from the same area that I met this cousin in. I can't ignore that! So be your own judge.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Horrible

    • New York,
    • Feb 6, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    This a scam. Too much money for a general overview of what I already know. The results are broad with no definition of where is your DNA originate, no percent of any heritage. The health results I got from my medical provider...nothing new. I would like my money back to get Ancestry DNA.

    Horrible, horrible and a waste of money.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 7 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Scam

    • Oregon,
    • Feb 6, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I did this and it has changed my DNA three times. I was 100% European, now I am not. I was Italian, now I am not. I am related to somebody that neither my sister, brother, cousin or niece is related too. It is a total waste of money. My family and I both wish we never did it. I mean it even said we were related than next thing we are not related. Stupid since we have the same parents. My opinion, it is a scam.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Unprofessional

    • St Louis, MO,
    • Jan 23, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I mailed my kit on 12/26. It took a couple of days to get to their Phoenix lab, but USPS showed as undeliverable. It was then sent to Greensboro, again refused as undeliverable. It was again sent to Phoenix for a second time and AGAIN, was undeliverable. Yes, again it was sent to Greensboro and a second time there was refused as undeliverable. Finally, two weeks later, this idiotic company accepted the kit after the 5TH ATTEMPT at trying to be delivered. Even though it was annotated as being delivered on 1/7, they say they didn’t receive it until 1/9. NOW, they have just sat on it for another 2 WEEKS in their queue and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING has been done! Their own site says I should shave my results, but my kit is STILL just sitting there! They still have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and will more of ANYTHING! This is the most idiotic, rude, unprofessional company I have EVER encountered!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Terrible company and customer service

    • Green Bay, WI,
    • Jan 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    My sample is lost...somewhere. After waiting for two months I decided to call. Their customer service is TERRIBLE. They don't want to answer any questions, and that's after they CAN'T find your account. They don't want you speaking to a supervisor or the specialized team, so they just put you on terminal hold. I would not recomment this company to anyone. I wish I had read the reviews before I spent the money. I will be calling my credit card to dispute the charges. I think this company is a TOTAL SCAM!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 10 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Bogus DNA

    • White Lake, MI,
    • Oct 22, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I am a female who has had three babies and my DNA tested as a male. Something is wrong with their lab testing and request my money back. I think this is a total SCAM! I have sent many emails and called three times and got no real explanation for the mistake. I have never had a transplant of any kind and there is no male living in my home.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 12 out 13 people found this review helpful

    Do not use!

    • Minnesota,
    • Oct 3, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased a kit from Target and sent a sample in to 23andMe. On 10/02/2018, I received an email stating they were not able to extract DNA from the sample. This was almost a month after I purchased the kit. They did offer to send another kit, but I decided to call to find out more information. First, there was no way to find a phone number or address on the website. I finally found a number and called. I asked for a corporate address, which they refused three times. After arguing for about a half hour, I finally got an address. I asked for a full refund, which they totally refused. They said they can send a gift card via a third-party. I asked how long that would take. They responded by stating that would be between me and the third-party. Totally unacceptable. I am writing the Minnesota AG, BBB and Target with an ultimate goal to simply get a refund.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Long wait time

    • Beaverton, OR,
    • Sep 8, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I sent my kit in late June. It is now September, and they said they are updating a computer system and it may be two additional weeks. If I would have known it was going to take three months to get back, I probably would have used another company. I have no way of contacting them; they do not respond to email. Very frustrated.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 14 out 15 people found this review helpful

    What a joke

    • Washington, D.C.,
    • Aug 29, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    What a joke. They mine you for more money as they give you vague and ridiculous results, which do not give you anything you did not know. It is bogus! The results do not give you anything one did not know! Do not waste your money, as they want you to pay more get more information from your sample afterward. The company only wants to get your DNA to mine it and to sell it somewhere else, buyer beware!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Extremely slow, non-existing customer services

    • Boston, MA,
    • Aug 28, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I sent my samples in back in July, and I'm still waiting for them to "receive" my samples. I contacted USPS and was told clearly that my packages were in fact delivered and there's no way they were lost or stolen. So we tried to contact their "customer service," which basically just used the same answering templates from their Q&A section online. I don't even know if we were emailing to a real human representative or just a program that filters some keywords and copy/paste you some texts from their website. Overall, we are very disappointed already, and it seems like we need to wait for another 2 months to actually get our results.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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