Apparently, 23andMe changed their terms of service for v3 customers without notice [Update - 23andMe states that the TOS were not changed, only the FAQs.] According to the new FAQ section under Personal Genome Service, customers who allow their subscription to lapse after the original commitment of 12 months will NOT have access to their Relative Finder matches, Health Reports and all other features that "rely on your genetic data". The new section reads:
If you cancel your subscription, you will no longer have access to the items listed below:
- Access to hundreds of comprehensive reports that interpret your genetic data
- Continual updates to those reports, based on the latest research discoveries
- Ability to share and compare results with friends and family
- Tools to discover new relatives and learn about your ancestry
You may reinstate your subscription at any time in the future.
If you cancel, you will be unable to share and compare results with friends and family.
If you cancel, people whom you are sharing genomes with will be unable to view your results or compare results with you. It will be the equivalent of you not having shared in the first place.
Canceling your subscription means you no longer have access to features that rely on your genetic data. Canceling has no effect on features that do not rely on your genetic data, such as user-to-user messaging, 23andMe Community, Family Health History, Research Surveys or Research Snippets.
We encourage you to continue using these features, even if you decide not to subscribe to the Personal Genome Service.
This is a direct contradiction to what I was told directly by a company representative (with the understanding that I would publish it) back in November 2010. Additionally, the old FAQ were clear that customers would retain access to their existing Relative Finder, but would not receive NEW matches after they let their subscription lapse. I published this info on my blog and this encouraged some of my readers to buy under these terms. From my post of November 24, 2010 (note: the following link is dead),
"...according to this new FAQ, it should be noted that new customers will no longer receive updates, including new Relative Finder matches, if they cancel their PGS subscription, however they will still have access to any existing reports, matches, features and their raw data."
The Terms of Service under Acceptance of Terms states,
You can accept the TOS by (1) clicking to accept or agree to the TOS, where this option is made available to you by 23andMe for any Service; or by (2) actually using the Services. In this case, you acknowledge and agree that 23andMe will treat your use of the Services as acceptance of the TOS from that point onwards. In addition, when using particular 23andMe Services, you shall be subject to any guidelines or rules applicable to such services that may be posted from time to time...
Apparently, by continuing to use their services, we have all agreed to this change even though we were never made aware of it.
I am hoping that 23andMe will rethink this new position. As is apparent on their Community Forums, even their staunchest supporters (who have been responsible for thousands of sales as well as spending endless hours hand holding new customers in the absence of good customer support) are rethinking their allegiance to 23andMe. Perhaps, this has all been in reaction to FTDNA's announcement that they will soon be allowing uploads of 23andMe v3 raw data to their Family Finder platform. If so, this action is only serving to alienate those who have shown loyalty and support to 23andMe and would have continued to do so. At least they are still allowing raw data downloads, since migrating to FTDNA and/or GEDmatch.com will be the best option for those who do not wish to pay a subscription fee for life.
This is terrible news for those of us who have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to make the most of the Relative Finder feature. I am very glad that I did not upgrade any of my v2 accounts, but I am concerned about the vast amount of information still waiting to be discovered that will soon be lost with my matches who choose not to renew. This decision on the part of 23andMe is honestly bewildering to me. Let's hope 23andMe soon makes a public statement clarifying their intentions.
[Update - 23andMe is willing to listen to our concerns. A company rep just posted this in the forums: Again, we are sorry for our poor communication about the subscription changes. We make mistakes, we're human- it's in our DNA. We want to assure you we are listening and we want to hear more. We've created a space for you to post your specific concerns so that we can be sure that you have a voice as we discuss these changes moving forward- http://bit.ly/uk6xqk
This form helps us more efficiently share your input with teams across the company.
I encourage all of my readers to let your voice be heard!]
[[Update - Please sign the new petition addressing this issue: http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/2011/12/petition-asking-23andme-to-reconsider.html]]