July 2nd, 2012 | Comments Off
Pricing Changes at 23andMe
[Editor's Note: Since this was written 23andMe has completely dropped the subscription plan for all participants. If you had a payment plan, once you complete your obligatory 1 year of payments there will be no further charges for the current level of service on whatever chip you were tested on. If you're a new customer the price is now a one time payment of $299. There may be additional services offered in the future that would require additional payments to obtain them but you have a lifetime subscription to the information on your current chip including any new information made available on SNPs for which you've been tested in the future (as they have done with the V1 and V2 chips now that the V3 chip is out)]
Earlier this week, 23andMe’s CEO, Anne Wojcicki, announced a new pricing scheme and a plan going forward after managing to anger the whole of the genealogical community with their unannounced changes in December. Today, I had the pleasure of talking to Dotti Prazak and Tim Dang from 23andMe and one of the main things I wanted to get clarified about these new changes is the new pricing scheme. As those following the acrobatics that have been going on realize, this blog post will not address any pricing breaks for those with multiple kits as that decision has not been made yet. Instead, this is just to nail down their pricing that has already been announced. [Editor's comment: I missed a payment option and wanted to include clarification on what 'end of commitment' means -- corrections are bolded]
What Was Announced
Here’s what Anne said on Saturday:
No changes will be made to any accounts until July 31, 2012. If your subscription is set to expire before then, you will continue to receive updates and will not be charged for the additional time. For those who have continued commitments, those will continue. After July 31, 2012, if your account has met it’s commitments, you will have the option of subscribing, buying a Lifetime subscription or canceling your subscription.
And later in the post Ann said:
- For customers who purchased a subscription before 12/21/11, you will have the opportunity to upgrade to a Lifetime subscription for $99 for 30 days after you have met your commitment. If you had already completed your commitment by 7/31/12, you will have until 8/30/12 to purchase the Lifetime upgrade for $99. Upgrades to Lifetime subscription are normally $299. A Lifetime subscription will enable you to retain full access to all the data and tools for the life of the V3 product. We have no immediate plans for V4 and we always try to do as much as we can to make all our features work on all our platforms. V2 customers still have the majority of our functionality.
My response to her statement was this:
3. For those whose 1-year subscription payment obligation ends prior to July 31st, we will not be further charged until August 2012, essentially giving people whose subscription started prior to July of 2011 1-5 months free.
Reaction: Wow! Good recovery! If I’ve misunderstood, please correct me.
4. For those whose 1-year subscription is fulfilled prior to July 31st 2012, we have till the end of August to pay 23andMe an additional 99 dollars for a lifetime subscription. For those whose 1-year subscription ends after July 31st 2012, we have until 30 days after the subscription ends to pay the 99 additional dollars for lifetime subscriptions. If we do not pay the 99 additional dollars by the deadline, our subscription fee will continue indefinitely.
Reaction: Good offer! A clarification on whether we will pay the current subscription fee forever (either 5 or 10 dollars depending on when you bought your kits) or if the monthly rate might change in the future for those that don’t opt in to the lifetime membership, please?
As you can see, I feel that these changes are more than we could have expected but still had a few questions. These questions weren’t answered in the thread but were addressed in today’s phone conversation.
Note that for all uses of ‘completion of 1-year committment’ or ‘end of 1-year subscription’ that the time interval being referred to occurs one month after your final payment as all payments are paid in advance of the service being available to you.
They actually do mean that there will be no charge to any customer, once they complete their 1-year commitment, between January and July of 2012. So if, like me, you bought your v3 kit when it first came out, you should have completed your committment already and should not have a charge again until August. Don’t just assume though, count how many payments you’ve made and ensure you’ve made all 12.
At the end of August, for those that completed their 1-year committment prior to July, you have to decide if you want to take advantage of a new one-time payment of 99 dollars for a lifetime subscription; cancel your account; pay a yearly fee of $60; or continue to pay your subscription (either $5 or $9 matching what you are paying monthly now) for as long as you are a V3 customer. 23andMe does not now have a plan to put out a V4 chip, and they will hopefully let us all know once a plan is being formulated for the V4 chip so people can use that information to make their choices. At any rate, your V3 chip will continue to be honored just as the V2 chip is still viable for Relative Finder (RF), Ancestry Finder (AF) and any medical updates that have been tested on the V2 chip. Speaking of those V2 chip customer — there won’t be a subscription applied to anyone that doesn’t have one now. My understanding is that there are a very small number of V3 chips that also have no subscription because they were purchased as a V2 and upgraded to a V3 by 23andMe when the V2 chips ran out.
What If I Cancel and Then Change My Mind?
If you cancel at any time and decide you want to be a paying customer again, you will have two payment options. You can pay a $60 yearly subscription fee or upgrade to the lifetime plan which would then cost the normal $299 upgrade fee. There will be no monthly subscription offered to returning customers. On the other hand, the yearly fee will be the equivalent of the $5 monthly subscription fee even if the account has the $9 plan now.
I completely understand why they want to phase out the subscription plan especially for customers that have left and come back. The handling fees and personnel required to start and stop payments like this has no doubt not been profitable at the $5 per month model.
What if I stick to the monthly subscription model for now and then change my mind?
If you change your mind, after the 30 day window closes for the $99 offer for the lifetime plan, that you want to upgrade to the lifetime plan, it will cost you the normal amount of $199. That’s why it’s a good idea to sock away the money you’ll be saving over the time of the payment amnesty to upgrade your kits within the 30 day window. Of course, if your 1-year committment doesn’t end till after July, you won’t be benefiting from the payment amnesty, however you will have longer to put money aside.
When Do I Have to Decide?
You have 30 days from the completion of your 1-year subscription (remember that you’re paying in advance so it would essentially be approximately 60 days after your last payment depending on the number of days in the month) or the end of August to decide whether to cancel, upgrade or continue with your subscription plan — whichever is later. So for instance, if you made the last of your 12 payments in December, you will enjoy your free months, and must decide before August 31st what you’re going to do going forward. If your last payment on your 1-year subscription was paid on July 18th, you will have 30 days from the end of the commitment (remember, the last payment occurs one month before your end of committment date in this example, the end of committment date would be Aug 18th) which will be approximately September 17th (I haven’t counted it out) to make a decision. This is because your last date of payment pays for one month’s subscription and then you have 30 days from that end of committment date to decide. If your 1-year subscription committment ends December 20th, 2012 (meaning the last payment was made on November 20th) then you will have 30 days from that date (Aproximately January 19th) to decide what to do with your account.
I eagerly await the discussion about multiple account packages that is sure to come in the near future.
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