Sunday, January 8, 2012
23andMe recently experienced it's own "Netflix Moment". Those of you who are somewhat familiar with DNA testing may know that 23andMe offers two pricing plans for genetic genealogy customers. One is a subscription plan that cost $99 but comes bundled with a $9 per month fee. The other option is a flat rate charge of about $400. This test provides both genealogical and medical information. 23andMe originally started DNA testing to provide medically relevant information to its clients--especially those suffering from or at risk for Parkinson's. Autosomal DNA testing for genealogy matching was added in February, 2010.
Recently, 23andMe announced that it was pulling the plug on those customers who had not continued their subscription after the mandatory first year of membership. The way in which this was to be done not only would have denied those customers access to their results, it would have denied continuing customers the ability to continue to see their matches with former members who had chosen not to continue their subscriptions.
This announcement was greeted by a great outcry from genetic genealogists--much of which was circulated on the listserv of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG). Cece Moore, who blogs as Your Genetic Genealogist, was one of the leaders of the charge to convince 23andMe that this policy was not in the interest of its customer base of genealogists and therefore not in the interest of 23andMe.
I am happy to report that 23andMe has just announced that this policy change is being revisited. Some of its aspects will not be implemented and others will be held in abeyance for 6 months until more sensitivity to the genealogical impact can be developed. Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe, blogged:
Let me begin by acknowledging that there are many things we could have done better over the years and there are especially things we could have done better with this recent incident involving the changes to our subscription.
- No changes will be made to any accounts until July 31, 2012
Anne also announced that she will be in contact with Cece Moore and others in the genealogical community to insure that the changes will be family history friendly. I'm sure Cece will be keeping us updated on her blog as this process develops. I am proud to say Cece will be my co-author on my next book project.