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23andMe Eliminates Subscription Model

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Genetic testing service firm 23andMe has done away with its subscription model following pushback from its customers and genetic genealogists.

In a note to its subscribers on Tuesday 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki said, "We listened to your feedback and now understand that subscriptions were not good for you and thus not good for 23andMe."

The company moved to a subscription model in November 2010 that required a one-year contract. Effective at the end of today, that model will disappear and the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm will begin charging a flat $299 fee. Customers will continue to have access to its current features, and while the firm doesn't have immediate plans for new premium-fee based features, it expects to have some in the future, Wojcicki said.

Customers affected by the change will be contacted by 23andMe by e-mail within the next week with additional information, she added.

Those who have paid for their subscriptions in full will no longer be billed from the company, while those who have not completed their subscription commitments will continue being billed until their contract commitment is met, Wojcicki said.

Through the end of May, customers may upgrade to v3 from v2 for $199. Afterwards, the charge will be $249.

Catherine Afarian, a spokeswoman for the company, told GenomeWeb Daily News that while its membership numbers have been growing even after the subscription model was implemented, 23andMe's customers consistently expressed negative feedback about the pricing structure and often opted for other pricing options, including the option to pay a one-time $399 fee for full access to the company's products and services.

"It was clear that subscriptions weren't working well for our customers," Afarian said, adding that 23andMe has more than 150,000 members.

The decision to move away from the subscription model, she said, is partly based on a plan that 23andMe announced in December to deny those who end their subscriptions access to certain services related to their genetic information. 23andMe soon backed away from the proposed change following complaints from its customers.

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