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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30 Consumer Reviews for 23andMe

Average Consumer Rating: 1.7
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 3 4 star: 0 3 star: 3 2 star: 3 1 star:  21
Bottom Line: 13% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 30
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  • Don't buy through Amazon!

    • Florida,
    • Feb 23, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was assured by 23andMe that Amazon was the authorized distributor, but the kit they sent me has an invalid barcode. Goodbye $150. How the heck do they get away with this? Next step, Better Business Bureau. Utter rip-off.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Lost my sample after delivered to them!

    • Georgia,
    • Feb 16, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Eight weeks and no result. I called them and found out the sample was delivered to them seven weeks ago, but they can't find it! I asked if they typically lose people's samples, and the lady said no, but she didn't seem to be too surprised.

    They will send me another test kit, but I am really disappointed I have to wait that much longer. They are not willing to expedite my sample processing. Really bad business to lose samples. It seems like not losing a sample delivered to you would be the easy part of analyzing someone's genetics. If they are doing this, who knows if they will even send me the correct results. They may just send me a someone else's random results?

    I am losing confidence in this company. If another company offered the health genetics, I would definitely use another company and ask for a refund.

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Please save you money!

    • North Carolina,
    • Feb 16, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My great grandmother was 100% Native American, and I have one Chinese ancestor as well. The test came back 0% Native American or Asian, just various European stuff. I’m just waiting for the class action suit to get my money back. Don’t know what they can tell you, but they CANNOT tell you your ancestry through genetics. Please don’t waste your money on this.

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Not worth it - very limited information.

    • Renton, WA,
    • Feb 15, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My daughter ordered 23andMe for $99. I sent it in, and results took about 6-7 weeks. I was very disappointed at the vagueness of the results. I already knew I was Eastern European and the break down from them told me nothing different. They send several emails about ordering another report at the discounted price. I haven't ordered any other tests, not worth it in my eyes because the information will probably be severely limited like the first time and I'll have to continue ordering to get the results I want. Don't waste your money!

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Incredibly bad customer service and zero results

    • Boulder, CO,
    • Feb 14, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Its been almost 10 weeks since 23andMe received my sample and almost 3 months since 23andMe happily took my money, and NO results.

    When they received my sample on December 8th, they sent an email and said I would have results in 6-8 weeks. Since then, not only no results but zero communication originated by them.

    I've emailed them at least three times asking about the status (my husband submitted his sample at the same time, and he received his results in 4 1/2 weeks), and their response has basically been "it's coming." If there's a problem with my sample isn't it their job to follow up with me to get a new sample? Why do I have to keep emailing them to push them to do their job?

    I have finally asked for results by Friday, or I want my money back and will try another company. We'll see what happens this time. I am not holding my breath.

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

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Bogus findings?

    • California,
    • Feb 9, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I just received my report from 23andMe. The report claims I am almost 100 percent European descent. My grandfather was at least 50% Nez Perce Indian. The report made no reference to any Indian heritage.

    Something does not add up?

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

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  • 9 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Booo

    • Grand Rapids, MI,
    • Feb 1, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My results came back that I was 99.9% European but I know that’s a lie because I have my heritage traced back to have a significant amount of Native American in me. I’m still waiting for my mom's to come back after weeks and they conveniently made a mistake and have to redo it with no notice.

    I will not recommend this to anyone.

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

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  • 13 out 13 people found this review helpful

    Never received results

    • New York,
    • Jan 28, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    After more than eight weeks, I haven't received my DNA results, just the excuse that my DNA cannot be extracted. I've used two other DNA test kits with no problems at all. I requested a refund, which went ignored. Their "customer service" is absolutely horrible and unhelpful. Avoid this company at all costs.

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

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  • 13 out 13 people found this review helpful

    Wait time unreasonable, and now there's a glitch with the sample?

    • San Diego, CA,
    • Jan 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Really a ridiculous wait time. I sent this kit in prior to Thanksgiving, and I still don't have a clue when they'll be done. I once worked at a DNA processing operation, so I know that this is not necessary. This could have been done and reports generated with time to spare by now.

    Moreover, when I've inquired, I've received canned almost smug correspondence and zero quantifiable data as to when I can expect the results. Today I got a response saying they had to return it to testing since the first results were insufficient. If this process fails, I'll get a new test kit in the mail. Like I care, now.

    I now regret spending the money. I would recommend you go elsewhere for testing.

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

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  • 13 out 13 people found this review helpful

    Not enough

    • Michigan,
    • Jan 22, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    So I used 23andMe to get to the bottom line of my genetic makeup, and it is not at all what I expected.

    A girlfriend of mine told me she too used 23andMe and that she learned she was a certain percentage of very specific ethnicities such as 15% Scandinavian, 52.8% Irish, 7% English and so on. Now, I went into 23andMe knowing where I was born and who my parents are, but I wanted a deeper look, and my results were along the lines of 72% Balkan, 24% Southern European and whatever the remainder is, was "overall European."

    Firstly, for those who are not familiar with the Balkans, The Balkans got their name from the Turks during the Osman Empire meaning "a chain of mountains." This chain of mountains stretches from Albania all the way to Montenegro connecting Bulgaria, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Kosovo with minor connections to Croatia, Greece, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey. So, telling me I am 72% Balkan really tells me nothing. And since I have narrated this portion, I think you can understand where I am going with "Southern Europe" and "Over All European."

    23andMe did nothing for me. It was a waste of $80 that they will never refund.

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

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  • 4 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Think hard about this as a gift

    • Pennsylvania,
    • Dec 29, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I ordered a gift of both the 23andMe medical and ancestry tests for a friend. A day after ordering, I found out my friend had already ordered the tests themselves earlier in the month. Ok, no problem, I thought.

    I called customer service for a refund but was told that even though 23andMe had not yet shipped the kit, it was past the one-hour refund window and I would have to go through a process for a refund (so no communication between customer service and shipping?!). A bit scam sounding, wouldn't you say?

    I was told I would have to wait for my friend to receive the test kit and send it back unused. OK, sounds fair.

    BUT, their policy reads: "We will not issue a refund if (i) you request a refund more than thirty (30) days after your order was placed." Now I am worried again. I hope the kit gets to my friend quickly and the mail returns it quickly. If 23andMe mails the kit out slowly, it may go past the 30-day mark and I am out $149.00. Not much, but enough to make one pause and maybe not buy.

    I had previously, for the last year, been a big booster of 23andMe and have been responsible convincing many people to get tested and for thousands of dollars in sales. This is fun and interesting, especially when the raw data is combined with Prometheus for additional medical information for a few dollars more.

    However, if this is the way they treat a customer, it gives me pause on how they will treat my test data. I hope I am mistaken.

    Re the bottom line: The last line in this review asks If I would recommend this to a friend. I cannot just say yes or no; it depends. I will check yes in the hope the company has some sense of customer responsibility. I hope I am correct.

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

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