I received an email for a 23andMe kit that I manage stating “Your Paternal Haplogroup Report is waiting for you.” Really? Cool!!!
Only problem is that the tester is a female – and females don’t have a paternal haplogroup available because females don’t have Y DNA.
Clearly, this is just not possible.
Three things crossed my mind:
- Erroneous email, as in “oops.” Some marketing person is going to be in a heap of trouble.
- Incompetence following the sale of the company. There have been other recent changes that caused me to wonder, although some were reversed.
- Bait and switch. Surely not. 23andMe has never been like that, so this is a distant third.
I knew for an absolute fact, beyond any doubt that this close family member is female.
I also realize that any female who receives this email would excitedly check their Paternal Haplogroup report – thinking that maybe, just maybe, some new scientific discovery had been made so they CAN actually see a paternal haplogroup from their own DNA test.
Time to see what’s going on.
I Signed In
I signed in and saw an unopened Paternal Haplogroup report under “Next Reports” at the top of the main page.
I checked another female kit that I manage, plus my own. The same thing appeared on both of those accounts too.
This e-mail was clearly not an “oops” email inadvertently sent to a female group of testers. It has to be something else.
Sure enough, on the Ancestry tab, if I scroll down, I see these two placards.
Maternal Haplogroup, which everyone has, and Paternal Haplogroup, which only males have. Did 23andMe make some kind of mistake? I clicked on the “View Your Report” button for Paternal Haplogroup. It took me to the same page the Paternal Haplogroup link on my main page did.
My heart just sank.
Sure enough, it’s a pitch to test another family member, a father or brother. 23andMe explains that no, the female tester really doesn’t have a paternal haplogroup.
So, it IS bait and switch, the least likely scenario I expected. I’m really disappointed. I never thought I’d see the day 23andMe would adopt this type of disingenuous marketing technique.
Why Does This Bother Me So Much?
In general, acquisitions make people uneasy, and 23andMe was acquired in February.
We don’t know what to expect of the new owners, or the direction they will take a company. In this case, the company involved, 23andMe, not only has my DNA, they provide information about my health as part of my test.
Consumers need to be able to have confidence that the information 23andMe provides is accurate. We need to be able to trust them, to believe what they tell us about our DNA results without having to wonder if there is something more, or less, in this case, to the story. In other words, that there’s no ulterior motive in their message.
I grew up on a farm and my old farmer Dad used to tell me that “if someone will lie to you about one thing, they will lie to you about anything.”
I would have NO PROBLEM whatsoever with 23andMe sending an email telling females how to obtain a paternal haplogroup for their paternal line.
There’s a significant difference, though, between that and telling female testers that their “Paternal Haplogroup report is waiting for you,” when it’s very clearly not. The email says the report “includes insights about your DNA,” which it clearly does not, because there is no report. 23andMe knows this. That email says “View Report” twice, with links. It’s not a mistake. It’s a hook, using my own DNA as bait, and I’m the fish.
This tactic is misleading, at best. In my opinion, it’s an unethical and dishonest attempt to manipulate unwary or naïve customers. And truthfully, I’m shocked. I never expected behavior like this from 23andMe. It seems so out-of-character about what I thought I understood about Ann Wojcicki. In this 2015 interview in PLOS Genetics, she said, “I think that for our mission, it’s really important that people trust the company.” What happened?
If I WAS inclined to test another family member, given this deceptive bait and switch sales tactic, I assuredly wouldn’t. Telling me I “have” something only to discover I don’t in an attempt to sell me that same “something” is just not a technique I would have expected 23andMe to embrace.
Come on 23andMe, you are, or were, better than this. ☹
I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.
Thank you so much.
DNA Purchases and Free Transfers
- FamilyTreeDNA – Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA testing
- MyHeritage DNA –Autosomal DNA test
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload – Transfer your results from other vendors free
- AncestryDNA – Autosomal DNA test
- 23andMe Ancestry – Autosomal DNA only, no Health
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
Genealogy Products and Services
- MyHeritage FREE Tree Builder – Genealogy software for your computer
- MyHeritage Subscription with Free Trial
- Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Genealogy and DNA classes, subscription-based, some free
- Legacy Family Tree Software – Genealogy software for your computer
- Charting Companion – Charts and Reports to use with your genealogy software or FamilySearch
- RootsMagic Software – Genealogy software for your computer
- Genealogical.com – Lots of wonderful genealogy research books
- Legacy Tree Genealogists – Professional genealogy research