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.

» 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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42 Consumer Reviews for 23andMe

Average Consumer Rating: 1.6
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 4 4 star: 0 3 star: 3 2 star: 3 1 star:  32
Bottom Line: 12% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 42
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  • Total scam, waste of money

    • New Hampshire,
    • Apr 24, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased it for my parents as Christmas gifts. Dad sent it in, they sent it back stating bad sample. They sent a second sample and received extremely vague results but with the option to PURCHASE additional results. I already spent $100.00 on this! To go through all that to get results that WE ALREADY KNEW was a huge scam. Please research other companies, do not use this one.

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

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  • Lock out of account due to mobile issues

    It was good until I received notifications. They changed the main menu screen. That's when I have not been able to access my account. They claim mobile device problems. They have had over a month to fix the problem but they haven't, and I've done everything they asked me to do but I have no access to my account. Fed up!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Useless

    • Canada,
    • Apr 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I am extremely disappointed in what seems to be incomplete results. Their examples seem to give a full picture of results, however, mine seems to be missing key information.

    The ancestry bar chart lists info dating back to 1700, while mine stops at 1820 (three generations). Dating only back to my great-grandparents, which I already knew.

    Contacting support was of no help. Their answer was that "Your Ancestry Composition results generally reflect your ancestry from within the past 5-10 generations. Your Ancestry Timeline provides an estimate of when a particular ancestry may have entered your family tree." I know for a fact that my grandparents weren't hatched from test tubes, and another report stated percentages of other countries found in my DNA, but had nothing listed.

    I'm not sure why I only received results for three generations, instead of the 5-10 he told me that 23andMe.com typically does. In another report, they provide percentages for regions where your ancestors have come from, and in many, there are quite a few countries listed. When you click on the region, most of my results have highlighted the particular counties within that region that apply to my ancestors. There are a few regions where that isn't done and I am left to guess which of those countries my ancestors may have come from within that region. Again, no help from customer service.

    I'm not sure what I'm missing, but in my opinion, this was a waste of money. I'll be heading to another provider and starting all over again.

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

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Useless Results - Scam

    • New York,
    • Mar 31, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My results are so broad and vague that it essentially told me nothing. They combine ethnicities like British (Anglo-Saxon/Norman) & Irish (Celtic) into one single group, as well as French & German into its own group. Eastern European was simply listed as that, no breakdown. And then a big percentage of "Broadly Northwestern European" and "Broadly Southern European". My wife did Ancestry.com DNA which breaks down ethnicity to 150 regions while 23andMe only breaks down to 31 regions. All they are interested in is collecting medical information. I did not opt for the medical DNA test, but they asked me to fill out 3 hours of medical surveys before my results arrived and now continue to bombard me with requests for information. I've asked them to cancel my account.

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

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  • 5 out 7 people found this review helpful

    For Ashkenazi Jews, a waste of money

    I knew I was Ashkenazi Jewish long before I'd ever heard of 23andMe. Had I understood that the entirety of my ancestral results would be "You are 100% Ashkenazi Jewish," I never would have considered buying a kit. I thought there might be some effort on the company's part to give me a bit of specificity about my background. 23andMe does not have the capacity to do so, and should thus be much more transparent about this in their sales materials.

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

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  • 4 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Rip off on test kit price

    My family gave me the 23andMe test kit for Christmas because I had wanted to do this for a long time and being a senior on a fixed income, I would not buy it for myself. My granddaughter bought it online for approximately $80. When I had not recieved my results in the time listed, I emailed them and was told because my kit was not purchased through Amazon or the 23andMe website, I would have to pay an additional $69.00 to get my speciman tested. The price we paid and what they were charging was at least the same amount or more. I refused to pay more for the same services that came with the kit from them. This is a UK lab. Take my advise and purchase a kit from another company and a US lab.

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

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  • 4 out 5 people found this review helpful

    My results

    • Manteno, IL,
    • Mar 16, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I received the 23andMe kit and sent it in as directed. I received the final report today, and I must say, this was a 100% waste of time and did not supply any type of useful information. I knew where my grandparents came from and other than a percentage, all the kit shows is that I was correct. Myself, I would never recommend anyone to use these services as they are a total disappointment. The results pages are difficult to understand, and their user database numbers are highly limited.

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

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    • Mar 28, 2018

      Rick Lanese

      Same here. Results are so broad and vague, that it essentially told me nothing. My wife did Ancestry.com, a DNA test which breaks down ethnicity to 150 regions, while 23andMe only breaks down to 31 regions. All they are interested in is collecting medical information. I did not opt-in for the medical DNA test, but they asked me to fill out 3 hours of medical surveys before my results arrived, and now they continue to bombard me with requests for information. I've asked them to cancel my account.

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Bad business

    This company is terrible. They won't stick to their refund policy for an unused kit that I paid $150 for! There are no disclaimers that they cannot trace the heritage of Jewish people. You cannot get a hold of anyone, and when you do, they either send you an automated e-mail, or you speak with someone on the phone that pretty much has no clue and cannot help or even understand the issue. So awful. This should not be a business.

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

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  • 7 out 9 people found this review helpful

    23andMe is a scam

    It has been 10 weeks since I sent my kit sample to 23andMe. They said I would get the results, via email, within three weeks. Ten weeks later, they have sent me no results. They keep sending me every other day, some offer to buy more products from them, and to fill surveys with personal information.

    They have my email, they can send the results, and they choose not to.

    This is all a BIG SCAM!

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

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  • 10 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Awful - will tell everyone I know

    I did this for me and my son. Mine was extremely vague with results I could not even understand. Mind you, I have a masters degree in healthcare, work with many doctors and manage clinics, and they couldn't even understand the nonsense I was sent on me. SECOND, they said they couldn't process my son's sample TWICE! And then blamed the sample! Again, I am smart enough to help my son spit into a tube; this is NOT rocket science.

    Then, they were rude, hard to get in contact with, couldn't process my refund, etc.!!! They sent me a link to request a refund, but when you click on it, it would say page not found. In my eyes, they are nothing but SCAMMERS! Do not buy into this! You have been warned.

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

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  • 5 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Do not buy their nonsense!

    • Netherlands,
    • Mar 4, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I'm a native North African with generations of North Africans, including a family tree. I know for a fact that 23andMe only goes back 500 years, which it does not tell you on their website. 23andMe continues their blatant racism by putting North Africa and Arabian together as if they're one population. These are two different ethnicities with different haplogroups. They differentiate between Native North Africans and Arab North Africans, while the latter is scientifically proven to native as well but have only changed linguistically. Every test of an Arab North African came out native. Yet these imbeciles still put Arabian and North African together. It's disgusting, and they should be sued for it! And if you do get an email back, they send you a template. If you want to waste your money like I have, go for it.

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

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