About 23andMe

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.

Related: Harmony Prenatal Test Review

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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19 Consumer Reviews for 23andMe

Average Consumer Rating: 2.1
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 3 4 star: 0 3 star: 3 2 star: 2 1 star:  11
Bottom Line: 16% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 19
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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Scam

    • Austin, TX,
    • Dec 8, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I no longer have access to my cable email and requested they resend my information. They requested a picture, which is ridiculous since I don’t have to send them one when I bought the kits. I wanted them to mail me access to the same place they mailed the kits, addressed to the person (me) who bought the kits. THEY REFUSED and told me that I will no longer have access to my OWN INFORMATION. If I am not willing to share my photo with them!

    I do not want them to have my it, as well as my photo and home address. I don’t think that is reasonable. I purposely used my mailing address to request the kits so this info would not be shared. This is bizarre. You cannot get a person on the phone. They will only email you and refuse to allow you to speak with a manager. The entire process is horrible. I feel completely taken advantage of and tricked into giving this horrible company my personal information.

    The sad part is, they have it and I don’t! If anyone can think of a way to compel them to give me access to my product I would appreciate it. Thanks!

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

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  • 7 out 7 people found this review helpful

    My sister is my granddaughter!

    • California,
    • Nov 22, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Yes, that's right. They said my sister was my granddaughter. I was shocked, to say the least.

    Also, they didn't connect my daughter to me until I personally went in and added her.

    They told us, in the beginning, that we were from an ancient island called Doggerland. That has since changed to East Africa. This really took us for a loop. It literally changed overnight. So, of course, we are doubting the other aspects of our test. It changes constantly. Is it just me or has anyone else had this problem??

    Good luck on getting a straight answer from them, I tried numerous times. I wouldn't recommend anyone to 23 and me!

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

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  • 6 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Bait and switch combined with horrendous customer service!

    • Manvel, TX,
    • Nov 13, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I ordered a kit for my grandson a few months back with no problems. I received an email last week from 23andMe offering $49 kits when you order two or more. That's what I did (wanted to order 3), but their site would only let you order 2 (only 2 lines available), so I ordered 2, then went back in to order the third one and had to pay full price.

    Customer service will not answer my email. I have offered to send them a copy of their ad, but they are not interested. A little honesty might help this company. After I called them (4 phone calls and lots of anxiety), they grudgingly refunded me the difference.

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

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  • 8 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Accuracy?

    • Hawaii,
    • Sep 26, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I just took 23andMe and was a bit surprised. I knew I probably was mostly Southeast Asian stock, but what got me was that it didn't include any percentage of Iberian/Spanish ancestry as I thought it would. No matter how minor or small the percentage it is. My Mom always told me she is of Spanish heritage with both her parents somewhere in their bloodlines. Especially with stories of when she was a little girl she would recognize how fair and high-nosed her uncle's nieces or children were. Although it may not be much, at least it was nice to know there was some. And she would always confirm that there was no doubt and she was sure of that. And I look at old black and white pictures of my uncle and auntie with my mom when they were children, and they clearly don't look like pure Filipino to me, as well as others who agreed.

    And now here comes 23andMe saying there was no trace of Spanish to be found. I really don't know who to believe. Perhaps another DNA testing kit from a different company might produce different results. We shall see.

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

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    • Nov 16, 2017

      Ashley Kohlman

      Maybe you are just not Spanish? My friend was told that even generations before them, that they had Native American. It turns out they were actually Greek.

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  • 13 out 13 people found this review helpful

    Disappointed and question accuracy

    • Myrtle Beach, SC,
    • Sep 25, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased 23andMe and recently got my results. My sister also had her DNA done with a well-known competitive company.

    My results versus my sister's results were very different. Trust me. We are 100% sisters; same mother and father. Which test is correct? My niece also had hers done with the competitor and got similar results to her mother, of course, with differences to allow for male parent.

    The 23andMe had a lot of vagueness. For example, over 40% of my DNA indicated "broadly Southern European." What the heck does not mean? I was looking for more specificity. Very disappointed and a waste of my money.

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

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  • 13 out 13 people found this review helpful

    Beware!

    • New Mexico,
    • Sep 20, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I followed instructions to the letter. They responded after weeks that they could not process my DNA. They sent a second kit and I again followed it to the letter, and again they could not process my DNA. They offered a refund with the condition I never use them again (only bot emails), and the refund was MINUS shipping and processing fees! After researching them, this is about 12.5% (they do not provide a number so a guess) of their test they charge a HUGE FEE to do no actual service!

    Criminal fraud complaints are being filed in both the USA and Canada. A test you pay for should not be a lottery to see if the company doing it or actually has the ability to perform it. Huge waste of money, time, and effort and it discredits the technology as a whole.

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

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  • 13 out 14 people found this review helpful

    Ancestry DNA results - don't bother with this company!

    I ordered my kit and sent away for DNA results a little over two weeks ago. The first red flag I received is that the company sends you this long questionnaire wanting detailed information about things such as what you like/dislike eating, if you have trouble sleeping, what type of activities you're interested in, etc. I started completing the questionnaire but as I thought more about it, I decided on not completing the questionnaire because I was afraid that it might skew the data.

    When I received my report, I was extremely disappointed to find out it only contained regional information about my DNA and it didn't provide specific information about the actual countries as other competitors such as Ancestry.com provide. They did not even provide any results relating to my father's lineage at all and indicated that if I wanted to more information, I should order a test for both of my parents. The results did not provide anything more specific than what is already known.

    Of course, there was no way for me to get in touch with the company to express my dissatisfaction so I'm providing a review here for others to see in hopes that they will not be taken advantage of as well.

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

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  • 20 out 20 people found this review helpful

    Took test two times - failed to process

    • Missouri,
    • Jul 5, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    After reading great reviews from 23andMe, we decided to give this test to our parents as a gift. My father took the test two different times because the company couldn't process the sample. He followed the directions (30 minutes no eating, etc.). They sent us an email telling us they couldn't process his sample and gave us a refund. What the heck? Are you in the business of laboratory science or do you just suck at what you do? We will go elsewhere for further testing.

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

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  • 20 out 21 people found this review helpful

    No testing

    • Ventura, CA,
    • Jun 12, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I sent my saliva sample on April 24th. On June 1st, I got an email telling me I need to submit another sample. No wonder! If they waited this long to test the sample, it would have dried up! I should have had results by now, not a request for another sample. There is no customer service link on their site, and you cannot respond to the email and no phone number unless you live outside the US. This company should be investigated! There is something fishy about this.

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

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  • 16 out 18 people found this review helpful

    Credit Card fraud

    I received a charge from 23andMe on my Visa card, having never heard of the company or their products. They were completely unresponsive when I called to find out what the charge was for. I would not do business with this company. At no point during the phone call did I get the impression that customer support was important to them.

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

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  • 28 out 31 people found this review helpful

    I swear they didn't test it!

    • Richmond, VA,
    • May 11, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    My mother bought me the test for my birthday. I had high hopes for this product. I had seen great reviews about this company. There were a few bad ones, but most were good. I now know to always pay attention to the bad reviews because those are the honest ones.

    First off, I did not test positive for any of the genetic disorders they test for. May I remind you that they test for about fifty different things. It was just odd that everything had said: "variant not detected." I do understand that I may not be a carrier, but it's still weird.

    Second, they don't test for things that are more common like certain cancers or maybe anything like that. I would rather know if I am a carrier of breast cancer than some really rare disease that only a fraction of the population has.

    It also said that I most likely had straight blonde hair. The problem with this is that the majority of my family, including me, has thick, curly, dark brown hair. This is on both sides of the family.

    They also said that I was mostly European. That's expected. But what weirded me out was that it said I was 1% West African. This would make sense except that it also said that I was less that 0.1% Native American. I know that I am more than 1% Native American because my grandmother and I have traced out heritage back and have found many native Americans in our family.

    My mother called because I was still in class to ask if there was any way that this could be wrong, but the people would not talk to her even though I am underage. She could easily prove she was my mother. I had emailed them before class to tell them that my mother was calling and she gave them my order number. They would not talk to her and were very disrespectful.

    I am very disappointed in this company and hope that no one has to go through what we have.

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

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