Showing posts with label scams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scams. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

LivingSocial's AncestrybyDNA Offer is NOT the AncestryDNA Test!

It has come to my attention that many people interested in genetic genealogy may be purchasing the AncestrybyDNA test thinking it is the AncestryDNA test offered through This week LivingSocial has been promoting a $97 "deal" for AncestrybyDNA that reads "AncestryDNA" in the headline (which is trademarked, by the way).

LivingSocial offer on 9/14/12 (price is actually $97 - I have $40 credit in my account)

I was worried when I first saw it that some people may mistake this for the AncestryDNA test due to the headline. Exactly as I feared, I starting seeing messages on mailing lists from people that were under the impression that this was a way of purchasing one of the "invitation only" AncestryDNA tests. (The AncestryDNA test is now out of Beta and you can order here.) I mentioned this to Ken Chahine, General Manager at AncestryDNA, because I was afraid that some people might be tricked into buying this test due to of the misleading way it was presented and then stay away from genetic genealogy after a bad experience.

Today, I noticed that the offer looks different.

LivingSocial offer on 9/18/12

I'm not sure when they changed it, but I am bothered by the fact that upwards of 443 AncestrybyDNA tests have been purchased in the interim. When they offered the same deal in July of this year, you can see that there were significantly less takers (only 81).

LivingSocial offer on 7/28/12

Is this increase due to the heightened visibility and popularity of the AncestryDNA test during this time? It wouldn't surprise me a bit if that is the case.

AncestrybyDNA is a test that has been around for a long time. It is an autosomal DNA test, but not by any means the same as the new autosomal AncestryDNA test. It is a biogeographical ancestry analysis which is based on only 176 markers, while in stark contrast, the AncestryDNA test is based on 700,000 markers. Further, the AncestrybyDNA test does not have any relative finder capabilities, which, in my opinion, is currently the strongest aspect of the AncestryDNA test.

The FAQs on the AncestrybyDNA website states, "The AncestrybyDNA™ test provides your ancestral proportions based on years of collaborative research of populations representing 4 ancestral groups. This research identified 176 informative markers in our DNA, called Ancestry Informative Markers (AIMs)." The FAQs on the AncestryDNA site explain, "The AncestryDNA test uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing, which surveys a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 locations, all with a simple saliva sample. Additionally, the new online interface integrates state-of-the art tools for you to utilize your DNA results for family history research."

The description on the LivingSocial ad is as follows:
Everyone has a story, even if we don't know exactly how it begins. Uncover the early chapters of your past with today's deal from Pay $97 (regularly $195) for an AncestrybyDNA test, with results available online. Swab the inside of your cheek and send it in for analysis -- your DNA sample will be tested for your complete ancestral makeup based on your chromosomes, giving you results of your full ancestry, instead of just simple information based on your direct maternal and paternal lines. Your ancestral origins will be quantified in percentages across four population groups: Indigenous American, European, East Asian, and African. With a personalized ancestry test certificate and a detailed manual to explain and interpret your results available online, you will have a clearer picture of where you come from -- and possibly be able to close the book on some family mysteries. 

I think this description is also a bit misleading. The AncestrybyDNA test is based on old technology by today's standards and is not useful for genealogical purposes. While possibly of entertainment value, to say that it will test "your complete ancestral makeup" and give you results on "your full ancestry" is really stretching it.

I have nothing against AncestrybyDNA and I'm a fan and customer of LivingSocial, but if you bought this offer thinking you were getting an AncestryDNA test from, I would write to LivingSocial and ask for a refund. Fair is fair.

**Update - 1/21/13 - This offer is back again. After receiving a lot of very negative feedback about this test and the disappointment caused by it, I would like to suggest that if you are considering purchasing it, please do your research and review these four other geographic origin DNA tests that I recommend instead. (Personally, I like 23andMe and at $99 it is only $2 more than the AncestrybyDNA Living Social offer. You will get MUCH more detailed, useful results from that test.)

**Update- as of 9/26/12, almost 4000 tests have been sold through this promotion.
LivingSocial offer on 9/26/2012