MyHeritage – Broken Promises and Matching Issues

My Heritage, now nine months into their DNA foray, so far has proven to be a disappointment. The problems are twofold.

  • MyHeritage has matching issues, combined with absolutely no tools to be able to work with results. Their product certainly doesn’t seem to be ready for prime time.
  • Worse yet, MyHeritage has reneged on a promise made to early uploaders that Ethnicity Reports would be free. MyHeritage used the DNA of the early uploaders to build their matching data base, then changed their mind about providing the promised free ethnicity reports.

In May 2016, MyHeritage began encouraging people to upload their DNA kits from other vendors, specifically those who tested at 23andMe, Ancestry and Family Tree DNA and announced that they would provide a free matching service.

Here is what MyHeritage said about ethnicity reports in that announcement:

myheritage-may-2016

Initially, I saw no matching benefit to uploading, since I’ve already tested at all 3 vendors and there were no additional possible matches, because everyone that uploaded to MyHeritage would also be in the vendor’s data bases where they had tested, not to mention avid genetic genealogists also upload to GedMatch.

Three months later, in September 2016, when MyHeritage actually began DNA matching, they said this about ethnicity testing:

myheritage-sept-2016

An “amazing ethnicity report” for free. Ok, I’m sold. I’ll upload so I’m in line for the “amazing ethnicity report.”

Matching Utilizing Imputation

MyHeritage started DNA matching in September, 2016 and frankly, they had a mess, some of which was sorted out by November when they started selling their own DNA tests, but much of which remains today.

MyHeritage facilitates matching between vendors who test on only a small number of overlapping autosomal locations by utilizing a process called imputation. In a nutshell, imputation is the process of an “educated guess” as to what your DNA would look like at locations where you haven’t tested. So, yes, MyHeritage fills in your blanks by estimating what your DNA would look like based on population models.

Here’s what MyHeritage says about imputation.

MyHeritage has created and refined the capability to read the DNA data files that you can export from all main vendors and bring them to the same common ground, a process that is called imputation. Thanks to this capability — which is accomplished with very high accuracy —MyHeritage can, for example, successfully match the DNA of an Ancestry customer (utilizing the recent version 2 chip) with the DNA of a 23andMe customer utilizing 23andMe’s current chip, which is their version 4. We can also match either one of them to any Family Tree DNA customer, or match any customers who have used earlier versions of those chips.

Needless to say, when you’re doing matching to other people – you’re looking for mutations that have occurred in the past few generations, which is after all, what defines genetic cousins. Adding in segments of generic DNA results found in populations is not only incorrect, because it’s not your DNA, it also produces erroneous matches, because it’s not your DNA. Additionally, it can’t report real genealogical mutations in those regions that do match, because it’s not your DNA.

Let’s look at a quick example. Let’s say you and another person are both from a common population, say, Caucasian European. Your values at locations 1-100 are imputed to be all As because you’re a member of the Caucasian European population. The next person, to whom you are NOT related, is also a Caucasian European. Because imputation is being used, their values in locations 1-100 are also imputed to be all As. Voila! A match. Except, it’s not real because it’s based on imputed data.

Selling Their Own DNA Tests

In November, MyHeritage announced that they are selling their own DNA tests and that they were “now out of beta” for DNA matching. The processing lab is Family Tree DNA, so they are testing the same markers, but MyHeritage is providing the analysis and matching. This means that the results you see, as a customer, have nothing in common with the results at Family Tree DNA. The only common factor is the processing lab for the raw DNA data.

Because MyHeritage is a subscription genealogy company that is not America-centric, they have the potential to appeal to testers in Europe that don’t subscribe to Ancestry and perhaps wouldn’t consider DNA testing at all if it wasn’t tied to the company they research through.

Clearly, without the autosomal DNA files of people who uploaded from May to November 2016, MyHeritage would have had no data base to compare their own tests to. Without a matching data base, DNA testing is pointless and useless.

In essence, those of us who uploaded our data files allowed MyHeritage to use our files to build their data base, so they could profitably sell kits with something to compare results to – in exchange for that promised “amazing ethnicity report.” At that time, there was no other draw for uploaders.

We didn’t know, before November, when MyHeritage began selling their own tests, that there would ever be any possibility of matching someone who had not tested at the Big 3. So for early uploaders, the draw wasn’t matching, because that could clearly be done elsewhere, without imputation. The draw was that “amazing ethnicity report” for free.

No Free Ethnicity Reports

In November, when MyHeritage announced that they were selling their own kits, they appeared to be backpedaling on the free ethnicity report for early uploaders and said the following:

myheritage-nov-2016

Sure enough, today, even for early uploaders who were promised the ethnicity report for free, in order to receive ethnicity estimates, you must purchase a new test. And by the way, I’m a MyHeritage subscriber to the tune of $99.94 in 2016 for a Premium Plus Membership, so it’s not like they aren’t getting anything from me. Irrespective of that, a promise is a promise.

Bait and Renege

When MyHeritage needed our kits to build their data base, they were very accommodating and promised an “amazing ethnicity report” for free. When they actually produced the ethnicity report as part of their product offering, they are requiring those same people whose kits they used to build their data base to purchase a brand new test, from them, for $79.

Frankly, this is unconscionable. It’s not only unethical, their change of direction takes advantage of the good will of the genetic genealogy community. Given that MyHeritage committed to ethnicity reports for transfers, they need to live up to that promise. I guarantee you, had I known the truth, I would never have uploaded my DNA results to allow them to build their data base only to have them rescind that promise after they built that data base. I feel like I’ve been fleeced.

As a basis of comparison, Family Tree DNA, who does NOT make anything off of subscriptions, only charges $19 to unlock ethnicity results for transfers, along with all of their other tools like a chromosome browser which MyHeritage also doesn’t currently have.

Ok, so let’s try to find the silk purse in this sows ear.

So, How’s the Imputed Matching?

I uploaded my Family Tree DNA autosomal file with about 700,000 SNP locations to MyHeritage.

Today, I have a total of 34 matches at MyHeritage, compared to around 2,200 at Family Tree DNA, 1,700 at 23andMe (not all of which share), and thousands at Ancestry. And no, 34 is not a typo. I had 28 matches in December, so matches are being gained at the rate of 3 per month. The MyHeritage data base size is still clearly very small.

MyHeritage has no tree matching and no tools like a chromosome browser today, so I can’t compare actual DNA segments at MyHeritage. There are promises that these types of tools are coming, but based on their track record of promises so far, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

However, I did recognize that my second closest match at MyHeritage is also a match at Ancestry.

My match tested at Ancestry, with about 382,000 common SNPs with a Family Tree DNA test, so MyHeritage would be imputing at least 300,000 SNPs for me – the SNPs that Ancestry tests and Family Tree DNA doesn’t, almost half of the SNPs needed to match to Ancestry files. MyHeritage has to be imputing about that many for my match’s file too, so that we have an equal number of SNPs for comparison. Combined, this would mean that my match and I are comparing 382,000 actual common SNPs that we both tested, and roughly 600,000 SNPs that we did not test and were imputed.

Here’s a rough diagram of how imputation between a Family Tree DNA file and an Ancestry V2 file would work to compare all of the locations in both files to each other.

myheritage-imputation

Please note that for purposes of concept illustration, I have shown all of the common locations, in blue, as contiguous. The common locations are not contiguous, but are scattered across the entire range that each vendor tests.

You can see that the number of imputed locations for matching between two people, shown in tan, is larger than the number of actual matching locations shown in blue. The amount of actual common data being compared is roughly 382,000 of 1,100,000 total locations, or 35%.

Let’s see how the actual matches compare.

2016-myheritage-second-match

Here’s the match at MyHeritage, above, and the same match at Ancestry, below.

2016-myheritage-at-ancestry

In the chart below, you can see the same information at both companies.

myheritage-ancestry

Clearly, there’s a significant difference in these results between the same two people at Ancestry and at MyHeritage. Ancestry shows only 13% of the total shared DNA that MyHeritage shows, and only 1 segment as compared to 7.

While I think Ancestry’s Timber strips out too much DNA, there is clearly a HUGE difference in the reported results. I suspect the majority of this issue likely lies with MyHeritage’s imputated DNA data and matching routines.

Regardless of why, and the “why” could be a combination of factors, the matching is not consistent and quite “off.”

Actual match names are used at MyHertiage (unless the user chooses a different display name), and with the exception of MyHeritage’s maddening usage of female married names, it’s easy to search at Family Tree DNA for the same person in your match list. I found three, who, as luck would have it, had also uploaded to GedMatch. Additionally, I also found two at Ancestry. Unfortunately, MyHeritage does not have any download capability, so this is an entirely manual process. Since I only have 34 matches, it’s not overwhelming today.

myheritage-multiple-vendors

*We don’t know the matching thresholds at MyHeritage. My smallest cM match at MyHeritage is 12.4 cM. At the other vendors, I have matches equivalent to the actual matching threshold, so I’m guessing that the MyHeritage threshold is someplace near that 12.4. Smaller matches are more plentiful, so I would not expect that it would be under 12cM. Unfortunately, MyHeritage has not provided us with this information.  Nor do we know how MyHeritage is counting their total cM, but I suspect it’s total cM over their matching threshold.

For comparison, at Family Tree DNA, I used the chromosome browser default of 5cM and 5cM at GedMatch. This means that if we could truly equalize the matching at 5cM, the MyHeritage totals and number of matching segments might well be higher. Using a 10cM threshold, Family Tree DNA loses Match 3 altogether and GedMatch loses one of the two Match 2 segments.

**I could not find a match for Match 1 at Ancestry, even though based on their kit type uploaded to GedMatch, it’s clear that they tested at Ancestry. Ancestry users often don’t use their name, just their user ID, which may not be readily discernable as their name. It’s also possible that Match 1 is not a match to me at Ancestry.

Summary

Any new vendor is going to have birthing pains. Genetic genealogists who have been around the block a couple of times will give the vendors a lot of space to self-correct, fix bugs, etc.

In the case of MyHeritage, I think their choice to use imputation is hindering accurate matching. Social media is reporting additional matching issues that I have not covered here.

I do understand why MyHeritage chose to utilize imputation as opposed to just matching the subset of common DNA for any two matches from disparate vendors. MyHeritage wanted to be able to provide more matches than just that overlapping subset of data would provide. When matching only half of the DNA, because the vendors don’t test the same locations, you’ll likely only have half the matches. Family Tree DNA now imports both the 23andMe V4 file and the Ancestry V2 file, who test just over half the same locations at Family Tree DNA, and Family Tree DNA provides transfer customers with their closest matches. For more distant or speculative matches, you need to test on the same platform.

However, if MyHeritage provides inaccurate matches due to imputation, that’s the worst possible scenario for everyone and could prove especially detrimental to the adoptee/parent search community.

Companies bear the responsibility to do beta testing in house before releasing a product. Once MyHeritage announced they were out of beta testing, the matching results should be reliable.  The genetic genealogy community should not be debugging MyHeritage matching on Facebook.  Minimally, testers should be informed that their results and matches should still be considered beta and they are part of an experiment. This isn’t a new feature to an existing product, it’s THE product.

I hope MyHeritage rethinks their approach. In the case of matching actual DNA to determine genealogical genetic relationships, quality is far, far more important than quantity. We absolutely must have accuracy. Triangulation and identifying common ancestors based on common matching segments requires that those matching segments be OUR OWN DNA, and the matches be accurate.

I view the matching issues as technical issues that (still) need to be resolved and have been complicated by the introduction of imputation.  However, the broken promise relative to ethnicity reports falls into another category entirely – that of willful deception – a choice, not a mistake or birthing pains. While I’m relatively tolerant of what I perceive to be (hopefully) transient matching issues, I’m not at all tolerant of being lied to, especially not with the intention of exploiting my DNA.

Relative to the “amazing ethnicity reports”, breaking promises, meaning bait and switch or simply bait and renege in this case, is completely unacceptable. This lapse of moral judgement will color the community’s perception of MyHeritage. Taking unfair advantage of people is never a good idea. Under these circumstances, I would never recommend MyHeritage.

I would hope that this is not the way MyHeritage plans to do business in the genetic genealogy arena and that they will see fit to reconsider and do right by the people whose uploaded tests they used as a foundation for their DNA business with a promise of a future “amazing ethnicity report.”

I don’t know if the ethnicity report is actually amazing, because I guarantee you, I won’t be paying $79, or any price, for something that was promised for free. It’s a matter of principle.

If MyHeritage does decide to reconsider, honor their promise and provide ethnicity reports to uploaders, I’ll be glad to share its relative amazingness with you.

76 thoughts on “MyHeritage – Broken Promises and Matching Issues

  1. Ooh, the ethics of ancestry.com… promise something great then NEVER follow through, or do a total 180, but SALE the data that they got from you to anyone who will buy it…..sounds like dejavu….the selling part is probably the next step!! Do the same folks own My Heritage too?!? 😉 Sounds like it!

      • I was one of the early uploaders, mostly for my half-sis’ benefit, but I also uploaded my own.

        Oddly enough, I have never been able to *find* a spot to access the “fantastic ethnicity report”. Free or otherwise.
        I shouldn’t have been too surprised, though.

        I had forgotten that they also owned Geni when I uploaded. If I had remembered that, I wouldn’t have bothered. A few years ago, there was a big ethical issue there, *not* connected with my relatives, and I spent a long, *I can’t believe this!* kind of a day, along with a number of others, trying to reach “customer service”. Following links, and more links, in a complex loop that always dumped us back at the user forum.
        We tried, outside of Geni, to find and contact people who owned the company, and followed those links, which led back to *customer service* at Geni, which kept endlessly looping back to the user forum.
        So a lot of us, after posting politely at the user forum, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and then *hollering* in the user forum…. realized that there *was* no customer service.
        The users were supposed to just help each other with the little how-tos, and no one with the company was listening.
        At all.

        So Geni was on my never-ever list. But then I uploaded our data to My Heritage.
        Dope-slap to self for not remembering the connection….

    • No, not today. That is something that the two companies will have to work out. It’s a business issue, not a technical one. Since I have not tested at MyHeritage, I’m not sure if their file is available for download yet.

      • I would not like my DNA shared between any companies without my consent. I tested at Family Tree DNA to get away from this. My DNA is mine, and not part of a business deal. I feel very strongly about this subject.

        On ethnicity, all of the companies need to do this better, including Family Tree DNA. All of my family lines have been in the USA for generations, but they say I have 7% North African and Middle Eastern DNA, which is the equivalent of a great-grandparent. This is absolutely not possible. I am thinking their registry is wrong. I am also wondering if I will eventually be deported.
        Is there somewhere I can complain to Family Tree DNA?

      • You can call their customer support or contact them through the website, but a new version is coming out shortly – so you might want to wait and see what the update shows.

  2. This is just another disappointment from My Heritage. I created an account there a few years ago. I had been contacted by a lady with whom I share an ancestor, her blood ancestor, but an ancestor who had been adopted by one of my Grt-aunts. I was excited to discover the connection and thrilled to not only discover this lady but to see her photos of the common “ancestor”. This was a good thing. I created the account and uploaded my tree. I also subscribed as a Pro member at a minimal cost compared to Ancestry. The databases were good though minimal compared to Ancestry but the Pro account was also minimal compared to Ancestry, all Good. A few days later I signed into my new Pro account only to discover that it was not MY account! They had given that account to my new “relative”! I had been invited to her account therefore MH considered the new Pro account hers, not mine! My new friend was totally unaware of this and none of it was her fault. I had a difficult time actually getting MH to recognize my ownership of the Pro account even though it was in my name and I had the password and had paid with my credit card. I had to call them and have a discussion about the ownership of the Pro-account. Eventually they allowed that it was mine and after about two weeks I was allowed to use the Pro databases. I later renewed the account but did not use it right away. After a few months, I entered the site in order to check out the new databases and to do some searches. At that point I discovered that my tree had been removed even though the account was still there! I also noted that I did have the Pro account but , once again, could not access it. At this point I deleted my account at MH. I still get newsletters from my account at MH because they still consider me a member of my friend’s account. Needless to say, I am not happy with MH and never recommend it to anyone and have no intention of purchasing a DNA test from them or uploading my data from the three other sites. Now, what you have described in this article assures me that I have no use for MH. I will note that just because I have had problems with MH, this does not mean that others will not have a good experience there. 23&Me and now FTDNA (I think) both have encouraged their members to place trees at MH for FREE which should be a good thing. Neither site has the ability to build a good tree on their sites though I do have a minimal tree at FTDNA. I hope that most members at MH are happy and I expect they are. I would ask anyone considering purchasing a DNA test there to be causious and possibly wait a while until MH has a little more experience with it.

  3. Roberta
    What you describe with MyHeritage seems also to be the case for GENI. You will certainly recall the discussion last summer. Well, to give it a try, I uploaded – now the DNA tab seems to have disappeared from the profile…

  4. Ah yes, the MyHeritage matches. My paper trail is 50%+ Irish; my AncestryDNA is 89% Ireland+Great Britain, with the rest Western Europe. MyHeritage gave me a close Norwegian cousin. No.

  5. I have my own issues with My Heritage separate from this. They are sneaky and underhanded about signing all subscribers up to auto renew; they do not notify you before your subscription renews to alert you, they just charge your credit card (they claim they tell everyone up front when you subscribe how this will work but that’s not what actual users experience; as I said, they are probably doing so but in a way and using terms that they hope NO ONE will notice or understand). I don’t know how you get by with under $100; they charged me more than double this. Their term for changing your subscription from automatic opt in to opt out is “cancel your subscription”. They took a page out of ancestry.com’s book for this one, except that at least ancestry sends you an e-mail shortly before your subscription is to renew so you can do something about it if you don’t want to resubscribe (news flash to both ancestry and My Heritage, the phrases opt out of automatic subscription renewal and cancel a subscription do not mean the same thing to most users). I also got a spurious e-mail from My Heritage about the time this unwanted renewal was to take place claiming that “I noticed that you were interested in purchasing one of our Premium plans” which is ABSOLUTELY an out-and-out falsehood. Not to mention the fact that I don’t believe I have ever gotten one useful bit of information from my subscription after a year of trying. They mostly serve up other family trees that are unsourced and appear to be just people copying other people’s trees and they also primarily serve up other information that is totally free if you know where to look. Such a waste of money in my experience and as most of us have limited money to spend on genealogy, money that could have been better spent elsewhere. As for this new DNA thing, once bitten, twice shy, I would never give them a second chance because in my experience this is not a company to be trusted. Thank you for pointing out their lies.

  6. Certainly glad I didn’t get sucked into this flimflam. My experience with their genealogy offering was not exceptional which led to the decision not to upload my data from other vendors. As of two weeks ago, I pulled the plug on them (genealogy site). They’re technically and ethnically just not worth it.

  7. Hi Roberta,

    My name is Aaron, I’m VP Marketing at MyHeritage, and I want to reply to this post and let you and the readers know about some recent and relevant changes to MyHeritage DNA.
    Firstly, we made a final decision at RootsTech 2017 that all DNA data uploaders WILL receive ALL ethnicity results for free as well. We have informed key DNA bloggers about this at RootsTech, too bad we didn’t get to meet you too. All DNA data uploaders are going to be informed about this shortly via email. We are waiting until further improvements are applied in the ethnicity reports before releasing it to the data uploaders. This should take about one more month. The improvements in the works is to use more of our Founder Population results in the ethnicity outputs, which are now arriving from the lab, in order to improve their resolution and accuracy.

    Regarding not uploading DNA data to MyHeritage if you have already tested with all other companies – firstly, MyHeritage now has customers who tested DNA on MyHeritage and not anywhere else (especially outside the USA), and second, MyHeritage has a huge collection of family trees (40 million, with 2.5 billion profiles) which assist in the review of DNA matches. You may make more sense of some of the matches (for example with 23andMe customers who are also on MyHeritage) when those customers have a tree on MyHeritage, than on 23andMe itself. This is just an example. How often have you wanted to view a full family tree on 23andMe or even GEDmatch and couldn’t because no tree was there?

    You have a relatively small number of matches on MyHeritage because we prefer not to flood you with false positives. This is a change from previous releases. We prefer to avoid false positives.

    A Chromosome Browser is indeed in the works with the ability to download info about matching segments. This was also announced at RootsTech. No other service released a Chromosome Browser only 3 month after they started selling kits for the first time. Also, downloading kit data from MyHeritage is already available today.

    With regards to imputation, we have found that it improves cross-vendor matching if done well. Our current implementation is not perfect and we are in the process of improving it. We hope that by the time the ethnicity is released to DNA data uploaders (about one more month) we will also be able to improve the matching accuracy further and increase the number of matches available.

    Lastly, we welcome comments from the community, we’ve taken their feedback on board every step of the way – the post you linked to above, “Your DNA Questions Answered” was one example where our CEO himself addressed questions from our community, just 1 day after the launch of MyHeritage DNA. I would be happy to address any additional questions you may have.

    With kind regards

    • Hello Aaron, Not all key DNA bloggers were at Rootstech:) For example, Blaine Bettinger and I neither one were there and we certainly blog regularly in this space. We have regular Skype calls with the other companies as well as press releases – so you might want to implement something like that too. In any event, I’m glad to hear that MyHeritage will be providing the ethnicity reports as promised. Will this be for all uploaders or just the early uploaders? Also, is this the same version as the people who test with you receive, or a “lite” version? Roberta

    • My Heritage: Anybody can say anything about anybody, and anything, at any time, but that does not make it so.

      Your commentary is more rhetoric, than reason, and lots of bluster; You might find the older than 60 crowd will not buy what you are selling because it lacks credibility. And the word gets around………And YOU and My Heritage will never get rich in this business,,,,,…… Just my prognostication.

    • Aaron, perhaps you haven’t noticed but your username could use some work . . . “myheritageusuk on February 21, 2017 at 10:27 pm said:”

      Break down of the username: “my heritage u suk”

      I’m a member of the older generation and I spotted that pretty quick . . . the youngsters who use the new texting speak would probably be even quicker.

    • Quote: “How often have you wanted to view a full family tree on 23andMe or even GEDmatch and couldn’t because no tree was there?”

      What you don’t say here Aaron is that people don’t get free access to those MyHeritage trees when they buy a DNA test – a further subscription is needed for that.

      • Access is controlled by the owner of the tree and not my MyHeritage, so with DNA testing or no DNA testing , one needs to ask permission to be a member of another person’s familytree

      • Really? I get notices of matches of names I never put there. Plus my DNA tab has disappeared. When I tried to contact customer service, they tell me they only answer paying customers. My tree is on GENI, but the notices come from MyHeritage.

    • Hi Aaron,

      I am happy to see that you are going to offer the ethnicity reports to those who uploaded early.

      With regards to the low number of matches for MH users, you noted that you do not want to flood users with false positives. That is a position I certainly agree with. I also agree that when imputation is done well, that it does improve matching. However, I have over a dozen parent-child trios uploaded to MyHeritage. On average, 50% of the matches for the child do not show up on the match list of either parent. It does not seem that imputation is being done well at MyHeritage or that the matching algorithm is ready for “prime time.” It is not biologically possible for a child to receive DNA that a parent did not give them, so the fact that 50% of the child’s matches do not appear on a parent’s list is a problem.

      In addition to these parent-child trio issues, when the match does appear on the parent list, often the child shares significantly more DNA with the match than the parent does. Again, this flies in the face of reason and biology. I am not sure what the “nuts and bolts” of your imputation or matching algorithms are, but certainly there must be some way that you can use parent-child trios that are uploaded to your database to improve the matching and imputation algorithms.

      We in the genetic genealogy community are happy to provide feedback to MyHeritage about their product. Please let us know what we can do.

    • I let my membership expire due to lack of funds. However when you came out with DNA testing I wanted to do it as I did the other 3 companies. I called and asked that since I didn’t have a paid membership, would I be able to contact my matches. I was told I would. Well I just got my results and as soon as I clicked on contact, I found that this wasn’t true. Now I paid for results that are useless unless I renew my membership. I also have 4 matches trying to contact me that I can not respond to. Thanks for nothing.

  8. I logged on to My Heritage about five weeks ago, found I could join for nothing and so went ahead, I received a phone call very soon afterwards and really struggled to understand the gentleman who had a marked accent. I ended up telling him that we did not take unsolicited calls and hung up. He rang back quite soon and my husband answered, the upshot of the calls was to get me to pay Premium Rate, my husband said that want going to happen, we were happy with their first offer, join for free. Hours later, I received an email containing a number of matches, every single one of them 1300 or beyond. These are not ancestors I have any desire to work with on line, certainly not at present. I’ve got various gggrandparents I’d rather sort out, not 20xGGrandparents. As I tested with Ancestry in 2015, I’m now thinking that is how the matches are coming at me from MyHeritage. Reading the comments on here, I think I will delete my tree with them. They phone me regularly and we have blocked their number (by the way it’s routed through London so starts with 020. When I’m on my Ancestry tree on my PC, I get regular pop ups telling me I have exceeded my 250 allowance and wanting me to pay up! They could learn more about customer service and basic good manners I think. I hate them. If the 250 people they “chose” to fill my quota, I think there are at least 200 who populated Scotland and Ireland when Robert the Bruce was a twinkle in his father’s eye.

  9. Roberta, We can always rely on you to be forthright. Like many others, I’ve been totally unimpressed so-far. On 9/10/16, I tried to post the following comment on MyHeritage’s blog posting https://blog.myheritage.com/2016/09/dna-matching-now-live:

    “It is very disappointing that matching segment is not provided. Also, because my parents and I have tested at all 3 autosomal DNA testing companies (AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, and 23andMe and we are also on GEDmatch), I was very surprised that I didn’t recognize the vast majority of the DNA matches provided by MyHeritage. In addition, I have exchanged GEDmatch numbers with matches who contacted me, and there is NO MATCHING DNA, even when the default thresholds on GEDmatch have been lowered, so I’m very skeptical about the matching algorithm at MyHeritage. I understand that this has been an issue with others too. I’m very unimpressed with DNA matching at MyHeritage at this point, and find it difficult to trust the match lists provided.
    p.s. I’m doubtful that MyHeritage will allow this comment to be published, but in the event they do, I look forward to a response from someone at MyHeritage.”

    Surprise, surprise, my comment wasn’t ever published! However, I did receive an email from Esther, a “US & Canada Community Manager” asking for details, and I provided a comprehensive response which included pairs of GEDmatch numbers (from supposed DNA matches) where there were no matching segments. I subsequently received a fob-off email from Dean, “MyHeritage Support Team”, which didn’t address any of the issues I had raised, and after I indicated that his response was totally unsatisfactory, my email was subsequently passed on to Yoav, “Head of DNA”, who assured me about “dozens of improvements that we will release before the end of the year”.

    After the purging of a huge percentage of the initial “matches”, I contacted Yoav again in November, as another MyHeritage “DNA match” had contacted me with no matching segments apparent by comparing kit numbers on GEDmatch. He indicated “I will look into this match specifically, but I will already say that it is probably due to imputation errors in a low density SNP region. We have encountered these before (a lot less since the removal of false matches) and are quickly working on fixing them. I assure you that our matches will improve in the near future, and will make a note to personally notify you once they are.” As yet, I haven’t heard anything more.

    Until MyHeritage can be relied on to provide legitimate matches, I won’t bother to waste my time logging on. I’ve provided our GEDmatch kit numbers within the name field (instead of our real names) for the kits I have uploaded from other companies, so that other matches can make comparisons there. I had a subscription on MyHeritage for a while, but I really dislike the format of their family trees and didn’t find any useful records there that I hadn’t already found on Ancestry or FindMyPast, so I canceled the day before they would have auto-renewed. I agree with Denise (above) that they are sneaky and underhand about signing everyone up for auto-renewal, and they definitely didn’t contact me in advance to remind me that this would happen. I also deplore the heavy-sell to “Upgrade subscription plan” and the other tactics they use (phoning people up, as indicated by Shon, is stooping really low).

    • Sue,

      I too agree with Denise when she said MyHeritage, “… family trees that are unsourced and appear to be just people copying other people’s trees.” I’m glad Aaron of MyHeritage is listening to Roberta. I hope he’s listening to you and Denise as well but I doubt it. I notice he’s in their marketing department, not in research and development.

      In regards to what Denise said about their “unsourced” trees, and as a test, I clicked on one of their links to add some tree additions which MyHeritage had “discovered” for me. I had previously not trusted their discoveries. My suspicions proved true. The new “discoveries” were automatically added to my tree with no indication of where they came from or whether or not they were valid. I have problems enough with sources in the genealogy database on my computer. I don’t need them compounded when I choose to upload a GEDCOM to a website.

      MyHeritage needs to take a tip from Wikitree and not only offer an option to prove each profile but require it. Ah, but if they did that they’d be chasing off those masses of erstwhile genealogists that are so attracted to Ancestry.com. You know the crowd. They’re the ones who want to take a DNA test and start doing their genealogy because it’s the popular thing to do. Oh, but research is so time-consuming, let’s just copy what others have done!

      Sorry to be so cynical but you get my drift. In the half-century I’ve been doing research I’ve seen enough unsourced data to start a whole new company. Too bad, MyHeritage already beat me to it.

      • Wow – I’m sick to my stomach – I checked online ratings and chose MyHeritage because it was $20.00 less currently. When I was reviewing the site, I got a call instantly from Israel. I figured all things were equal (4.5 stars on the internet) and took the discount. My box came yesterday and this morning I mailed it back. After reading this, I am sad that I am a novice that just wanted to get knowledge on ethnicity – family trees and connecting with people are in the future as they take a lot of time and commitment. I feel taken, and nothing is even here in front of me! I doubt the accuracy of my future profile. I’m glad I will get emails back from this site as it is helpful. Will they auto bill me in the future for other services if I just want the DNA profile? That was hard to understand amid the comments. Thanks in advance for your help. Lynn Curlett

  10. Like you, I have kits at all three vendors plus LivingDNA (for fun). With the help of gedmatch, a few favorite apps, and excel, I limp along. My motivation in porting my 23andme profile to MyHeritage was purely to collect matches with trees, particularly because the tree interfaces at ftnda and myheritage for 23andme usets are just too painful to bear. Do these companies not know this? If they know it, do they care?

    Myheritage trees were annoying enough. The DNA layer is pretty disappointing. Also, I am astonished to have fewer than 100 matches. I just use it like a meetup. If a match contacts me or vice versa, i always offer my gedmatch info and urge them to join.

    Although Ancestry’s email interface is braindead, so goes Myheritage but at least in ancestry you get a link to the match’s profile and tree at the bottom of the thread.

    What can we do individually and/or collectively to make this company mend its products and its ways? Apart from abandoning the platform and withdrawing our dna and trees in light of their failure to deliver this and that.

  11. I deleted my uploads from both MyHeritage and DNA.LAND because of “matching” with the imputation method. DNA.LAND in particular told me it is normal and “to be expected’ that I would have a 5th cousin match but not match either of his parents.

  12. Jennifer et al, My Heritage, like many companies who set up a business in a given field aren’t interested in providing a “real” product, they are simply interested in attracting customers willing to pay them despite the shoddy and ineffective results. They either do not have the ability to do the technical work required or they are unable to run a company — or both. This situation itsn’t going to improve, they will stick around as long as they can keep conning new customers into the fold with their promises etc. THAT is their “business plan”!

  13. MH has been awful. When I first got into this, I didn’t realize that there was a difference between a family tree subscription and a data subscription, and I picked the wrong one. No contact back from “customer service”, until I told my credit card company to do a chargeback. THEN, I got a call from Israel that I never answered.

    I’m an adoptee, and I need to build a lot of trees very quickly, and the integration of MH with Roots Magic is essential to do that. I use Ancestry.com when the trail goes cold at MH, so between the two of them and general Google searches (plus YourFolks.com, a French Canadian database) I can usually build out a tree far enough and accurately enough to identify common ancestors.

    The earliest “match” results were horrendous. I gleefully emailed about ten of them, only to find that we weren’t close matches at all. I was able to find a few people who had GEDmatch kit numbers, and I found that if I tweaked the thresholds down far enough, I could approximate the results that MH was telling me for numbers of segments and centimorgans.

    My fear is that my “golden” match, like a first cousin or closer is going to test with MH, and not with one of the other three reasonably reliable DNA companies, and I may never find that person due to incompetence. Once RootsMagic gets fully hooked up with Ancestry.com, I’m looking forward to not dealing with MH any more.

    • Good luck with ancestry, I have seen the rubbish early this month of what they supplied my first cousin …………….It is so bad for the price she paid that I feel the company should be shut down. I am very upset.

      I have since tried to get her to upload to Ftdna , but she is on holidays in Santa Irena ( Santorini ) ………….I will need to wait a month

  14. I paid for a subscription last year, when they were advertising genetic matches. I quickly demanded a refund when they had no genetic matches at the time and almost every genealogical match was to my own tree, which I had uploaded to them years earlier. They offered nothing of value to me then and I told them so.

    I’m very happy I asked for a return of my money, as I see they haven’t made any improvements.

    I do believe they want to provide an innovative product. I suppose it may be more difficult to do, than they anticipated. If and when the company ever gets its act together, I will be willing to give them another chance. It looks like that may take them some time.

    Thank you for your current review.

  15. One needs to recall that Myheritage is firstly a family-tree site and that both 23andme and FTDNA supplied DNA kits to MyHeritage to sell on their behalf for a very long time. Recently 23andme left or where thrown out of Myheritage and with this myheritage began their own DNA tests via FTDNA labs.

    I am in the same scenario as Roberta in regards to membership , but I know/realise that MyHeritage will never be a DNA first company, ……….while their DNA data has stagnated, their improvements to finding family members via family trees has improved greatly. Also they benefit from their partnership with Familysearch. Question is , why did they go into the DNA and did they change their direction.

    I had 2000 plus matches with MyHeritage in Beta form and now have only 4 …………my Geni ( myhertiage owned ) matches at the same time went from 94 matches to over 6000 …………clearly, the DNA matching system is still not correct.
    In regards to matchings for my father…………of the 3 matches , 23andme only found 1 , Ftdna and myheritage found all of them. Although FTDNA state one to be 3rd cousin and Myheritage state it to be 5th cousin

    To Conclude , what they state as free should be free, but many need to understand that MyHeritage is not a DNA first company

    warm regards

  16. In regards to Family trees , from rubbish/Worst to best the order IMO is
    last – 23andme
    Ancestry
    FamilySearch
    Geni
    First – MyHeritage

    That is all that I have in regards to trees

  17. As an adoptee too looking for that one magic match that breaks things wide open, I will be leaving my kit uploaded to MH for now. Whatever their crappy business practices are, adoptees need all the statistics they can get. Bigger databases, and more of them. Period.

    At any rate after MH’s match fiasco late last year (where they handed me DNA “cousins” who were not in any way related, even on my mom’s side of my tree which I know for certain) I doubt I’d ever come to trust/believe their ethnicity results, unless they publish a very thorough whitepaper explaining their methodology. For what its worth, from reading all 3 company’s whitepapers, IMO 23andme has the best and most rigorous methodology, with Ancestry a close second, and FTDNA a distant 3rd. Even so, I don’t trust any population estimate under 5%. Given Israel’s leadership in technology and R&D, I have faint hopes that MH’s ethnicities will be far and away better than those of the big three, but given this particular company’s track record with matches I doubt it.
    As a quantitative scientist I am not terribly interested in the ethnicity reports because I know they all are only based on inferred general trends/relations and not focused on anything physical (e.g. what really makes African DNA African?). These are the fast food of the commercial DNA industry: quickly satisfying without much behind them.

  18. I’m wondering if the author of this article could be one of the matches I had in My Heritage months ago. Several of us dug and dug to find how we were related, only to finally ask if they had downloaded their raw dna to GEDmatch and surprise, surprise, there was absolutely no match at all in GEDmatch unless I went down to less than 5 cMs. That happened on about 5 different matches. From what I’m reading here, I must have been one of the first guinea pigs who uploaded their dna right away. I thought it strange that a good number of the matches that were more distant than 4th or 5th cousins were from Russia and of course, I couldn’t even read their trees or even their names! I’ve complained about the dna matches several times to them. A few months ago, I received an e-mail stating they had made upgrades to the dna site. Well, they did move those 5 or so that were not matches to a section that is for Not A Match, however, they also put 2 high matches that I originally found on GEDmatch to that section also. When I questioned that, they said they were unable to put them back in the original match list! This author said he paid $99 to renew his subscription with My Heritage. WHAT???? I was told I was really getting a bargain at $149!!! I will not be renewing it next fall that’s for sure!

  19. I uploaded my DNA results from FTDNA mainly for the benefit of Europeans that do genealogy and genetic genealogy. The $20 a month was a ridiculous price to my eye as they have no official records for me to search through but only the work of other genealogists that share work. Well GEDMatch and FamilySearch.org already do those things for people and for free.

    I do enjoy Geni’s trees but I am discovering that they seem to be the some unreliable trees that have become so with spread on Ancestry. I’d don’t mean old mistakes in old trees but new mistakes created be people linking into others trees even though with a little research that could find out the link they are making isn’t possibly right.

    The best thing I like about Geni is that it will build a chain of ancestry between you and another user, although I’m not sure of the reliability of those chains.

  20. Back when 23&Me linked you over to My Heritage to build your tree I had nothing but trouble working with it. I started out uploading a gedcom, but a lot of the time when I went to work on it the site would freeze and I would have to close everything and restart my computer to even get back to 23&Me. I tried to delete my tree at that time, but MH didnt seem to let me do it. Now my login doesnt seem to be active and there doesn’t seem to be a way to recover a password to get in again. Im sure my tree is still in there being used in their tree database even though I am not a subscriber. I’d like to delete it, but dont seem to have a way to do it.

  21. I received an answer as to why I could no longer see the DNA tab on my son’s Geni profile : “Ok. Silly answer. Geni doesn’t allow DNA in France because of the laws there. You set your language to French and so they assume you are in France and block the DNA. If you change back to English, it should work.”. Need I say more? Yes it does work to do that, but it did not seem to occur to them to use location instead – or to warn people they were doing this…

      • They need Canadian English and Canadian French and Belgium French and Switzerland French and many countries of Africa French…

        Plus what’s this weird idea that people from France cannot upload and see tests taken outside their borders. I believe the law is about not selling tests in France, not about French citizens being tested. There are quite a few in the French forum in 23andMe.

  22. Eventhough MyHeritage breached their contract with the consumer with their DNA testing and promises, don’t expect any type of refund if you cancel your subscription. Like most companies it is about their bottom line.

  23. I have taken all 3 major dna test.. and yes most of then are in the range of each other…. my heritage is so way off!!!

  24. The problem is, that I CAN NOT download my RAW-file data file from MyHeritage to, for example, Gedmatch, I have tried a lo of times zipped and unzipped – and that’s always mistake and the results can not be matched or tokenized!
    At the place of this My Heritage are sending me time to time new “matches” like 0.3-0.5% which are not real matches, just spam! I wonder how I can use this pesky results and to get from them ANY information except I am 100% East-European (o, my Gosh, it’s SOO new information)

  25. I’ve received a pile of supposed “matches” from MyHeritage, claimed to be from 1st to 4th cousins, but I don’t think a single one of them is correct. They’re almost all in the US, I’m in the UK, and even if there was some “secret” relative I didn’t know about, these “matches” would also have to be connected.

    Ancestry’s test delivered a little for me – one 100% correct match, one brick wall broken down, some clues to another – but MyHeritage has been totally, utterly pointless. And I guess it’ll be even worse than that for beginners, who might either accept these “matches” or spend an age trying to confirm them.

  26. I sent off a free DNA kit I received back in October 2016. The ethnicity part I was most interested in which I haven’t received yet. I’ve got 18 dna matches so far but don’t understand much of it. Will have to try and self educate myself on this but it seem mind blowing. Here’s an email I received off MyHertiage last Monday, the 13th of March. Seems promising……….
    Dear Patrick,
    Thank you for your message and my apologies for the delay.
    The generation of the DNA matches is the first stage. You are able to view any available DNA Matches in the Patrick Sullivan’s FH Web Site to other people who share DNA with you and possibly discover new relatives. Hover over the DNA tab and click on ‘DNA Matches’. I recommend you to check it again in a few weeks. Many new DNA files are uploaded daily.

    The second stage is when MyHeritage will calculate your ethnic origins into percentages to give you a breakdown of your unique DNA composition in the Ethnicity Estimate report.

    The Founder Populations project is still in the process of data analysis, as we are receiving and analyzing the DNA samples from many of the participants, worldwide. You will receive the ethnicity results in approximately 6 weeks for free, once we have most of the Founder DNA samples analysed.

    Best regards,
    Marianne
    MyHeritage Support team

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