the IT city, the I.T. Baby


My 23andMe experience

23andmeMy wife had tried out 23andMe just for the genetic ancestry report and sent me an email and mentioned I might want to try it so we have some insight into our kiddos.

Due to forgetting she’d sent a referral link which get her back $20 on the thing (ie saving our family $20,) I just signed up and then immediately realized my mistake.

I contacted customer service and they got that fixed right away.

That last statement is a lie. It’s three months in and that’s not corrected and the people I wrote couldn’t seem to understand what my problem was and currently want to explain to my wife that I should have clicked her referral link. I bought it, please give referral to my wife, here’s her link, etc… nope, too complex.

Moving on. I got my kit, made a fascinating video of me spitting in a tube for roughly five minutes, placing the stabilizer in, shaking the thing up, packing everything up to go out and walking to my mailbox.

A week after I mailed it I checked on the delivery status and for some reason it was still in transit. OK, long mail times. 12 days in and it was still being mailed. WTF?

Day 13 if I’m remembering correctly it arrived and was sitting in a PO box to be picked up. It sat there for a couple of days.

A little over two weeks in I got an email saying that my sample had been rejected. About an hour later I got an email that said my sample had been received and that it was being processed. Evidently both were sent at 5:32am and got to me when they got to me.

I chose to believe the later email as it showed up later.  I was wrong. There was a link to send me a new kit in the first email. I didn’t notice it/dismissed it and about three weeks into waiting I was about to contact customer service when I saw I had to click and verify where I wanted my spit kit to go to. Yeah, 3 weeks no follow up contact to say “hey man, click the link”

About five days later it arrives. I get it done, photograph every step, if I get rejected this time I want them to answer why. It ships out and this time it’s in their hands and processing in six days.

I get notices that it’s received, processing, quality control is being done, all sorts of stuff, and finally at day 55 my reports are ready.

I find that the story of my Native American ancestors actually wasn’t bunk, although it was a little less than expected coming in at 0.1%. Most of the stuff fits with what I’m expecting.

I nervously check my genetically predisposed gene report and find that none of the stuff they test for am I evidently going to get. I mean, it’s not guaranteed but it is nice to see a long list of horrible stuff I’m not likely to get.

I learned that some people do not have the ability to smell asparagus pee, and then google that some people don’t smell it at all. That’s… really freaky to me.

Going down the list it got smell right, taste probably. Chin correct, eye color correct, dimples correct, lack of unibrow correct, widow’s peak incorrect (probably,) earlobes correct, and a variety of other things that supposedly are pretty common. Overall getting five out of 22 traits somewhat or completely wrong.

Still, that’s 75% or better right.

I downloaded the raw data, which is a compressed zip file containing a 15 megabyte text file of my genetic code. It reads a little like assembly language and I’m assuming I can take this to other genetic-using services.

Overall I found 23andMe pretty neat, but very very uncomprehending customer service, a slower turnaround time than you’d expect from a company that really is invested in getting you information and attempting to get you to recruit your friends and relatives.

Problems, but interesting. I’m somewhat lacking the wow factor, at the moment. I learned some things about asparagus, genetic coding, and that I don’t have a host of genetic markers that would indicate I’m going to have to deal with several issues.

It did also manage to cause me to realize that the movie GATTACA is a genetic code and not just an interestingly named movie.

It’s a lot of interesting information, however at nearly $200 (with the genetic illness testing,) even as an info tech geek I’m having a little difficulty justifying it. Then again I didn’t expect the genetic testing to turn up anything odd.

Sort of like getting a report that 99% of it says what you know and that 1% that is unknown is interesting, but with 20% or so of the traits being wrong I have to question whether that’s accurate.

Now to see if this “elite power athlete” genetic marker can do anything for me. I also found out that I have an ACTN3 gene which might explain my supernatural abilities at video games.

Your experience may vary.

Click here, see what they’ve got, and if you sign up maybe I can make the referral bucks I still haven’t gotten for our family.

As a note, I could have gotten the $79 genetic history test and then wandered over to Promethease and plunked down $5 for a better genetic health report which is what Kim did. I also spent an additional $5 and felt I got better info that the $100 extra I spent for the genetic screening at 23andMe.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.