Sunday, July 1, 2012

AncestryDNA Users Stay Alert!

Users of AncestryDNA need to be more proactive than they may expect. Other DNA services such as FTDNA and 23andMe typically send customers an email notice when new results are posted or some action is required. Apparently this is not the case with AncestryDNA.

I am a big fan of the databases available through I even own a small amount of stock in the company. However, I have never warmed up to Ancestry's DNA services. Along with a majority of genetic genealogists, I have found that the tests offered were not the most robust and that the after testing customer support was almost non-existent. With all the hype surrounding the launch of an autosomal test I was hoping this would change.

Back in May I submitted a sample to AncestyDNA to explore the new autosomal product that is now  being introduced. Last night I realized that enough time had passed that I could expect results to be available. I logged in. To my great dismay I found a message telling me that not enough DNA had been recovered from my spit sample to conduct the test. I was advised to click on a button to request a second collection kit. I don't know how long it would have been before any thing would happened if I had not logged in to check. 

I would have appreciated it if AncestryDNA had done one or more of the following:
1. Automatically sent me a new collection kit;
2. Emailed me that there was a problem; &/or
3. Flagged my Ancestry account so that I would have been notified the next time I logged in to search one of its databases -- which I do at least once almost every day.
I realize that my experience may be a deviation from the norm. However, it does make me wonder if AncestryDNA has really gotten the message about how important customer support is in this marketplace. This is the primary element in past that has caused experience genetic genealogists to recommend to potential customers that they would be better served by testing with other labs.

My concerns were intensified this morning when I read CeCe Moore's latest blog post "An Important Update on SMGF from Dr. Tim Janzen". Both CeCe and Tim are experienced genetic genealogists at the top of their games. Whether or not you have provided DNA samples and/or pedigree charts to SMGF, serious genealogists will appreciate the potential treasure trove of information the Sorenson Foundation project has collected. Now that all that information (both processed and unprocessed) appears to be headed to, the genealogical community needs to encourage AncestryDNA to provide access in a customer friendly manner. 

It would appear that AncestryDNA has a good grasp of the science of DNA testing and the use of web pages to market to its 1.7 million subscribers. The company has major recent acquisitions to absorb and appears to be setting its self up to be acquired by some larger entity. Let us hope that customer care will be strengthened in these turbulent corporate times.  

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