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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52 Consumer Reviews for 23andMe

Average Consumer Rating: 1.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 4 4 star: 0 3 star: 4 2 star: 4 1 star:  40
Bottom Line: 10% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 52
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  • 3 out 3 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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  • 4 out 5 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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  • 4 out 5 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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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Interesting but of limited use

    • London, United Kingdom,
    • Jul 23, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The DNA database is one of the smallest amongst the commercially available home kits; rather like the previous reviewer, being told I'm 99.1% Ashkenazi Jewish is hardly useful since the area is large and covers a high percent of Eastern Europe. And, given the fact that the majority of test subjects appear to originate in the States it is of no surprise that the results are somewhat skewed to reflect that fact. I am getting some emails from those listed as probably second or third cousins, but none as yet are able to actually fix a true relationship with my family or its genealogy. I'll keep trying but am more likely to go with MyHeritage testing instead.

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

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  • 7 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Buyer beware

    • Washington DC,
    • Jun 25, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My husband bought two of these kits, but we did wait a couple of months before we went to send the sample in. When I tried to register the numbers online, it said that they were invalid.

    I sent a picture of the numbers and an email to 23andMe telling them the problem. It took them almost a month to come back to me and say "we determined that when the kits were originally purchased from the website a stolen credit card was used, so we refunded the original card and cancelled the kits." We now have to research how we paid for them and where we got them (probably Amazon). So they are either saying that we bought them with a stolen card, in that case, we would have to be pretty stupid criminals to turn around and send them our DNA. Or, they don’t vet the third parties that they sell to and don’t protect the consumer at all.

    Either way, I was glad to find out how incompetent they are before I have a DNA sample on file with them and I really doubt the validity of their results if they can’t get something as simple as credit card transactions correct.

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

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  • 7 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Scam likely, two kits and not enough DNA in my spit

    • Phoenix, AZ,
    • May 25, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My kit was supplied by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has partnered with this company to search for know Parkinson genes. I have no idea why they wouldn't use a real lab! I have found a lot of similar results, please pay attention to the negative and independent reviews. Not enough cells, seems to be the standard operating procedure.

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

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  • 6 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Terrible!

    • Gulfport, MS,
    • May 2, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Customer service is horrible. I had to cancel my account via email. You cannot have total control over your own sample unless you jump through hoops. You are much better off testing and subscribing to Ancestry.com for genealogy research.

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

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  • 14 out 18 people found this review helpful

    Waste of money

    I got my DNA kit in the last weekend of March, and I then returned it immediately with my sample. I got my results within two and a half weeks.

    Before I get a more in detail about my results, my mother and father got their DNA tested from another company which was credited by my mother's native tribe. When my mother got hers done, her DNA showed that she was 58% Native American. My father seeing this as interesting that he decided to take a DNA test. My father knows his lineage pretty well, he was 31% native. However, my mother was adopted and it wasn't done in a legitimate way. The person who gave her up for adoption never signed the birth certificate, however, the people who adopted her gave money to the hospital so that they could be the ones on the birth certificate. My mother found out when she was about 10 years old that she was adopted. Her birth father put her on the roster for his native tribe, which is Lakota Indian. After she had to do DNA a tests proving that that was her biological father. She also had to do one to show her lineage of Native American blood.

    Now with that being said, my DNA test showed not one single drop of Native American.

    My information dropped off pretty quick. Maybe it's because on my father's side when it hits the European part of him, which is Irish, it comes from Ireland and not from here in America. My great-grandfather was straight from Ireland and moved over here when he was in his twenties. And on his mother side, they had French and Native American. My grandmother was born on the Indian reservation in Oklahoma. They basically didn't show me any information for my mother's biological parents, however, they did give us information about her fake adopted parents.

    I believe all this company is doing is gathering information so they can analyze for medical reasons. And the way they are coming up with your heritage is just searching your family and looking at what they can find where your family originates from, other than actually searching your genetic code.

    Also, when I confronted them on this, they told me that their database wasn't very large so they couldn't determine certain traces. And that's my genetic building, we show my characteristics where I get them from. OK, I got you, I was expecting to see Irish, like I said my great grandfather came straight from Ireland. But I don't have pale skin, I don't have freckles, and I don't have light color hair. I'm actually quite the opposite. I have deep olive brown skin, dark brown hair that straight, and have extremely high cheekbones in very slanted eyes. The only characteristic they kind of got right, because they said I have blue eyes, is that I have pill green eyes.

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

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  • 8 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Bad service and poorly designed website

    I have had endless problems with 23andMe. The instructions they give are confusing and messy, and when I try to clarify with someone at 23andMe, I cannot reach anyone who can explain. What's the point? And on and on.

    Now I have forgotten my password (hadn't tried it for years). I am about to try finding it but wish me luck. It's such a TOP Secret I can't find it. A niece across the country will help since I doubt if I ever reached someone at 23andMe that they could help.

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

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  • 9 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Very disappointed with 23andMe!

    I am disappointed with 23andMe. I have tested with Ancestry and Family Tree DNA prior to purchasing the 23and Me DNA Test - Health + Ancestry. I was happy with the results from Ancestry and Family Tree DNA, but I wanted to test with 23andMe for the Health reports.

    I purchased my kit on 11/24/17 and received the test kit on 11/29/17. The kit was received at their lab on 12/6/2017. I did not contact Customer Service even though two months had passed. I thought that they were overloaded at their lab because of the Black Friday sales of their kits and the holidays.

    On 2/18/18 I received an email stating "our laboratory attempted an analysis of your saliva sample but the concentration of DNA was insufficient to produce genotyping results." They sent a replacement kit on 2/20/2018. They received my saliva sample in their lab 03/01/2018. Unfortunately, I received an email on 4/2/2018 stating "They could not successfully analyze the second saliva sample for the same reason that produced the first analysis failure, the concentration of DNA in the saliva sample was insufficient." They would not send another kit and would refund my money.

    My frustration with them is that I had sent a saliva sample to Ancestry and they were able to extract my DNA with no problems. I mentioned this to them but they pretty much ignored any comments in regards to other labs that had no problem extracting my DNA. I also wasted my time in answering questions for their research. I originally never thought of the possibility that the test would fail. I was shocked.

    I know there are many people that are happy with their experience with 23andMe. I am one of the unlucky ones that have no DNA.

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

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  • 9 out 9 people found this review helpful

    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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