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  • Offering refunds or stipends for failure to provide basic services promised

    I think I have been very patient as pertains to a recent issue I have detailed repeatedly concerning the de-population of my My Origins database. I had severe trouble getting in contact with anyone from FTDNA, and have since been told they are looking at it, and that its a potentially widespread problem.

    I really dont trust the service here, or technical competency anymore. I also dont feel that the ability to deliver the basic service I paid for exists with the personnel that are manning the enterprise.

    I think the fair thing to do is to offer customers, in cases where the user has made a fair effort to give the company and its staff a genuine opportunity to fix the (legitimate) problem in a timely fashion, a refund of their purchase price, or a fair stipend of the cost (say 50%) toward a purchase of the same services from Ancestry.com.

    I have asked repeatedly to get the issue resolved, and its the duty and, really.. obligation, of the company to have personnel who are able to diagnose and fix their own technical problems- failing some genuine 'act of god' of partial/total collapse of the grid, that is beyond the ability of the company to resolve. I would like to accept a buyout and move to the services of Ancestry.com at this point. I feel its fair to ask and expect a refund or stipend toward that end, simply because I am not getting the service that I paid for.

    It is fine with me if FTDNA deletes my entire account in exchange for a refund. I am now simply tired of attempts to make contact with their personnel and the apparent inability to tell me substantively what the problem is or why they cannot apparently correct their own system. I think some real, wholesale changes need to be made in the business model and especially staffing if FTDNA wants its F.F. product to ever become competitive with 23andMe or Ancestry, and this is not a statement I make vitriolically, but simply as a byproduct of observation.

    You cannot have employees deciding to spontaneously take away the ability to add even a brief signature to their own account (that they paid for the service of), you cannot maintain a company roster of personnel who accept failings or poor service, you cannot take away my entire My Origins database, and in return add a stupid non-interactive display at the top of my account tellling me the most common 3 names of matches are Smith, Johnson, and Davis.. which it UTTERLY WORTHLESS.

    This is simply poor service, and I want out. Can someone please make me an offer as to what you will stipend me toward a Ancestry autsomal account, or if you will agree to a full refund, go and ahead and send it to me, and I authorise you to immediately delete my records, dna, and account in their entirety?

    I am sorry, I am not really intending to vent, I am simply disgusted at this point and would like a buy out, refund, or stipend offer.

  • #2
    I was under the impression that one pays here for DNA testing and the service afterwards is included for free.

    W.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by dna View Post
      I was under the impression that one pays here for DNA testing and the service afterwards is included for free.

      W.
      That might be a valid point IF we were talking about Y or Mt accounts, however I am ONLY a autosomal customer, and the testing alone has no value in and of itself to me. Its the ability to maintain site functionality and to enable matching that has value. As a complete aside, I did complete Y testing with DNA Heritage, a former competitor of FTDNA, which to my understanding was bought out by FTDNA.

      Back many years ago, I seem to recall that my 43 marker Y test with DNA Heritage cost me much less than the CURRENT price of a basic STR panel offered TODAY by FTDNA. For a period of time, FTDNA once allowed users who were aware of the buyout to ask to transfer their results from the (now captive) DNAH system into the FTDNA system, however this was not done unless user initiated, and the links to request it are now all dead the last time I checked. So.. in the span of a decade or so, instead of the sequencing going down in price as the technology proliferates widely - as is common in tech fields - the cost has increased for a smaller STR panel, in my comparison.

      The shortsided business model of refusing to give out terminal Y/MT Hg's along with the F.F. results, (instead of matching their competitors and THEN later encourage users to test to get their STR's/mutations which their biggest competitor cannot offer) is probably more than any other single factor the reason that F.F. cannot compete in its user base with the other big 2 companies.

      I have seen the 23andMe accounts that offer a "common names" feature, among many other features, and the recently added feature of FTDNA posting the three most common names within your match database seems to me like a attempt to mimic superficially this site feature from 23andMe. The problem is.. the 23andMe feature does not simply pick out the 3 most commonly occurring names, it weighs them based on commonality so it actually has some usefulness. Telling everyone on the site that "Smith" is one of the most common names in your match list is hardly a revelation to anyone, because it does not appear that the FTDNA adoption has the ability to assess and rank names based on a commonality.. without which its totally pointless. Since this began showing up, my M.O. database has been completely depopulated.

      I expect a match ability within M.O., and paid for it. I have given the company polite and repeat requests to fix what is a BASIC advertised facet of their service. If they cannot keep that populated, what else is wrong with my account, match data, or the data that other users see?

      I am honestly happy to move on at this point, as I simply dont see any ability for the FTDNA product to compete with the other main offerings at this point. It looks to my outsider view as though it is being run like a family business, that hires the friends/associates of the owners, and this rarely ever works well in any industry that I have ever seen.

      Business should be business, and friends should be friends. There does not appear to me to be a real ability or a demand from management to get things sorted out or to advance the capabilities of the company. I dont pretend to know the inner issues with the company or what is causing these issues, however my best guess is that its time for a real accounting of who is capable and efficient and innovative.

      If you cannot deliver to me a simple populated My Origins database, give me a refund and we can part ways. I frankly prefer that, at this point. Return the purchase price to my card, and delete everything.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by dna View Post
        I was under the impression that one pays here for DNA testing and the service afterwards is included for free.

        W.
        Quite aside from the OP's very valid points in the above post, what say you about FTDNA's apparent inability to deliver basic testing results within their agreed-upon timeframes or even to answer basic questions about status (without the customer having to take the extraordinary measure of going straight to the president of the company)?

        As of next week, I will have been waiting a full 6 months for results that were supposed to be delivered in 8-10 weeks. I've not even received the slightest hint of an apology, let alone the offer of even a partial refund or a discount on future testing, which I think would be fully warranted in cases like this.

        Comment


        • #5
          If it is really an issue of getting what you paid for then consider filing a complaint at the Better Business Bureau. Here is FTDNA's page of complaints http://www.bbb.org/houston/business-...on-tx-35001063
          Pinny
          FTDNA Customer
          Last edited by Pinny; 18 November 2014, 11:49 AM. Reason: Spelling

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Pinny View Post
            If it is really an issue of getting what you paid for then consider filing a complaint at the Better Business Bureau. Here is FTDNA's page of complaints http://www.bbb.org/houston/business-...on-tx-35001063
            Thanks Pinny, it does appear that, in these cases taken to the BBB that they do seem to pass out a refund, but it should not have to come to that point for the overwhelming majority of people.

            They should be doing the right thing because its the right thing. I did get some usefulness out of the account, so I fairly dont think I am actually entitled to a total and complete refund. A lot of those BBB refunds that I looked at are people waiting in some cases months with no word on the status of their test samples, who simply wanted to end the test and receive a refund of their payment. These people are clearly entitled to a total refund in my opinion, because they never received the usefulness of any part of the service they tendered payment for.

            I do think that in cases where the FTDNA representatives' have acknowledged that there is a error with a customers accounts/services, which FTDNA staff have been given fair notice of, and which they have failed to fix in a timely fashion, people who through no fault of their own are affected should receive a standard offer of a depreciated refund. If they do not wish to pay a tech to fix account(s) and restore all the account features to functionality, they dont have to, but then cut me a $40 refund / 50% discount to my card (there was a special at the time I ordered for roughly 70 or 80 bucks) since you are not paying, or seemingly staffing, to fix the account.

            I then allow you to fully delete my account, and you never have to service or repair it again. Everyone is happy.

            What instead has happened in my case are multiple attempts to email 'help'desk or contact Elise here, I sent them a screen grab showing my empty MO database, and they responded with a email saying the MO feature was working when they checked it. I then sent them another, new, screengrab showing it did not work, and the 'help'desk person then said the feature did not work when he checked it, and he had no time frame for when it could or would be repaired.

            So, the 'help'desk resolution was basically to tell me yes its broken, and we dont know when it will be addressed.
            That is not a resolution to anything. Pass me on to the tech guy, give me his contact info, tell me you will email again in two weeks... SOMETHING.. But that was the end to my difficult route to even contacting these folks in the first place. It appears to me like they are simply trying to get rid of service request tickets, and possibly a two line email response to a customer, conceding the account is not working correctly with no other aid to them, may be considered 'clearing' the request, from the companies standpoint.

            There does not seem to be any real impetus here to fix anything, and the stupid "Smith" name frequency banner being inserted by someone who apparently is overly proud of this non-accomplishment in the same time frame that they failed to fix the actual problem, is like rubbing salt in the wound.

            ELISE - can I have a 50% refund sent to my card, please? I will happily depart FTDNA and you can delete my account in its entirety, in exchange.

            Comment


            • #7
              Elise, I am not wishing to be rude, nor am I casually asking for a refund as a lark. I have received no help of any sort, no one has offered any info that I do not already know (my account is not functioning properly).

              I dont want to waste you time, and I do not want any more of my own time wasted on this issue. What is FTDNA willing to do for me here?

              Comment


              • #8
                I think it is Thanksgiving time now...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dna View Post
                  I think it is Thanksgiving time now...
                  Thanksgiving is next Thursday.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Time warp, ignore me...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Aperipatetic1,

                      I'm very sorry that this issue hasn't been resolved for you yet. However, the only thing that I can personally do is make sure the bug gets reported (it was), offer some explanation (see below), and direct you to Customer Support for any further action:
                      http://www.familytreedna.com/contact.aspx

                      Please remember that this is a discussion forum, not a support forum. Although I try to answer questions here when I can, any issue that requires an official response needs to be sent to Customer Support. And certainly any type of issue that involves a financial transaction needs to be sent to Customer Support -- that's never something we can address here on the forum.

                      So, here's the explanation that I can offer. I fully realize this won't solve the problem for you, but at least it'll help you understand why the issue isn't resolved yet...


                      Bugs go into a queue and get prioritized based on several factors -- one of those is the severity of the bug, another is the number of customers that the bug affects, and there are others.

                      The bug that's currently affecting your kit is not considered to be severe because the primary functionality of Family Finder is not affected -- you can still view and contact all of your matches, you can use the Chromosome Browser and you can view your own myOrigins results.

                      This bug is also affecting an extremely small number of customers -- a fraction of a percent.

                      These two things make this bug a lower priority than bugs we have that are affecting more significant functionality of the website and far more customers. However, it's not at the bottom of the priority list, either -- it's somewhere in the middle.

                      So, your bug *will* be fixed, but it needs to wait for the higher priority items to get fixed first. And unfortunately, I can't give you a timeframe. All I can say is that bug fixes take time, and they're only one part of the development team's workload.

                      Elise

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by efgen View Post
                        Aperipatetic1,

                        I'm very sorry that this issue hasn't been resolved for you yet. However, the only thing that I can personally do is make sure the bug gets reported (it was), offer some explanation (see below), and direct you to Customer Support for any further action

                        Please remember that this is a discussion forum, not a support forum. Although I try to answer questions here when I can, any issue that requires an official response needs to be sent to Customer Support.

                        This bug is also affecting an extremely small number of customers -- a fraction of a percent.

                        These two things make this bug a lower priority than bugs we have that are affecting more significant functionality of the website and far more customers.

                        Elise
                        Ok, thanks for the response.

                        The way this appears to me.. which may or may not be what is actually going on.. is that a sort of 'busy-work' obstacle course is being set up for users to hassle with, or to keep them occupied with, in which they are encouraged to send emails to a 'help'desk that are mostly not returned or responded to, and then IF the person escalates the issue and wastes a lot of time bringing it to attention or making a 'stink', someone sends them a email response, at last, that says something to the effect of 'we know its broken and we don't know when it will get fixed'.

                        This could be unique to my own experience, however I don't think it likely is.

                        I could waste time asking around for the email of Mr Greenspan or others in the company hierarchy, however I am not at all interested in having my data remain on this web site anymore, so its rather pointless. I am also fairly sure that if I wanted to waste my own time pleading to the BBB that I could get my money back at least in part, however I am frankly sick of the entire matter at this point.

                        I think you guys may want to keep in mind that while you have a very large degree of control over many of your customers who invested large sums of money in your Y Hg offerings and studies, and who have no other real choice or alternative at this point that I am aware of,
                        there is virtually no such control or exclusivity for autosomal users to remain with your company with this sort of treatment.

                        How do I get direct access to someone who can delete my account in its entirety? Given the fact that I cannot get my account simply reset, I am severely concerned that your company may simply disable my account access and leave a 'zombie' profile intact to pad out the numbers, or because its easier than doing what I request.

                        How do I get all my info and results deleted from your system, AND get notice from a employee that confirms you have actually removed my data? Sending emails to the 'help'desk is a excercise in futility in my experience.. who can do this and has a personal company email that I can contact them through.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Aperipatetic1 View Post
                          a sort of 'busy-work' obstacle course is being set up for users to hassle with, or to keep them occupied with, in which they are encouraged to send emails to a 'help'desk that are mostly not returned or responded to
                          Every email gets a response. We have a dedicated Customer Support team to who responds to both phone calls and email. It may take several days or even up to a week to get a response to email, depending on our email volume. But our goal is always to respond to every single email.

                          Originally posted by Aperipatetic1 View Post
                          How do I get direct access to someone who can delete my account in its entirety? Given the fact that I cannot get my account simply reset, I am severely concerned that your company may simply disable my account access and leave a 'zombie' profile intact to pad out the numbers, or because its easier than doing what I request.
                          You'll need to contact Customer Support for this -- there's no other way. If you truly want your account deleted, they will ask you to confirm, in writing, that you understand that the account cannot be undeleted and the results cannot be recovered once the account is deleted. And the account will indeed be deleted.


                          That said....

                          I'm going to try to take off my FTDNA hat for the rest of this email. What I'm about to say comes from me, Elise, as a follow customer, volunteer project administrator, genealogist and DNA enthusiast:

                          I personally think it's a real shame that you want to go to this extreme (deleting your account) due to a bug. I completely understand that it's very frustrating to not have a reported issue fixed quickly. But is this one small part of your results really so much more important to you than the rest of your results that you'd rather have nothing at all than wait for the bug to get fixed?

                          I've personally reported bugs to other companies (not DNA or even genealogy-related) that took forever and a day to fix. There are simply never enough hours in the day and never enough staff to do all the work that needs to be done -- in ANY company. So the work gets prioritized, and things get done in due course.

                          That being said, I've also actually reported issues to both 23andMe and Ancestry -- and trust me, the situation isn't any different. Let me tell you about my personal experiences with these:

                          23andMe:

                          When they first launched their test, their Y-DNA SNP results were all the rage because the test included "new" Y-DNA SNPs that weren't yet on any Haplotree. As the volunteer administrator for the E-M35 haplogroup project, I tracked the results of our project members so we could learn about any new SNPs within the E-M35 haplogroup that were discovered.

                          Well, one of our members got a very strange result from his test. It turned out that 23andMe was looking at the wrong position of the Y chromosome for a specific SNP, and so he was given the wrong subclade assignment. Another person in the subclade had the same issue. So these guys reported the issue to 23andMe themselves, and I reported it as well, with very detailed information about the error, even though I wasn't the affected customer. They acknowledge my report, thanked me for it, and said they would send it over to their engineers to look into it.

                          Weeks, then months, then years went by. I followed up once or twice, and yet it never got fixed, to my knowledge. I eventually gave up worrying about it. Granted, it wasn't my own account that was affected, but still -- I did have a vested interest. So I was very disappointed in their lack of action on this issue.

                          Ancestry:

                          Last year, I noticed that the second page of an immigration record that I needed was missing. I reported it to their Customer Service team, had to go back and forth with them to prove that it was really an issue (they claimed the manifest simply didn't have a second page -- which was completely wrong). They finally "got it" and said they would report it to their engineers.

                          A short time after, I noticed the same issue for a completely different immigration record -- so I reported that one too. And then I noticed a third case of this.

                          All of these were completely different immigration collections (one was Galveston, another was Canada border crossings, and I forget what the other was). I figured that surely the *one* record that I wanted out of each collection wasn't the only one affected, so I spot-checked other entries within the same collections, and sure enough, page 2 was missing for these entire collections.

                          So, since nothing was happening on the first two issues that I reported and now the issue was much bigger than I originally thought, I decided to send the issue directly to a high-level manager within the company, whose email address I had. She responded the next day, advised me that she forwarded the issue to the people who were responsible for those record collections, and they agreed that I had discovered a very significant problem that needed to be fixed.

                          Well, one of the collections was fixed within a few weeks. The other two collections took 6 months to fix!

                          The wait was very frustrating for me, since there was important information that I needed on the second page of those manifests, but what could I do? I certainly wasn't going to cancel my account over this issue -- there were so many other available records that didn't have this problem, so I focused on those instead. I knew that my reported issue would eventually get resolved, and indeed it did -- then I was finally able to download page 2 of those records and continue my research on those people.

                          So...

                          Hopefully my own personal experiences with similar issues at the other companies will convince you to reconsider your decision to delete your FTDNA account.

                          To be clear, I'm not saying that you shouldn't be frustrated that there's a problem with your account and that it's taking a while to fix it. You're allowed to be frustrated about this.

                          I just think it's important to take a step back, put the issue into perspective, and not make an irreversible decision that's only going to negatively impact yourself.

                          As the saying goes... don't cut off your nose to spite your face

                          Elise
                          efgen
                          Webinar Coordinator
                          Last edited by efgen; 20 November 2014, 11:56 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by efgen View Post
                            Every email gets a response.
                            No, Elise, they really, really, really don't.

                            I'm guessing that's probably a big source of the OP's frustration.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              "Lost" responses

                              Really, emailed answers aren't always received, even if the log at ftdna shows responses are sent 100% of the time. I think it's a technical thing rather than deliberate neglect.

                              I was recently told that there are known problems with emails from FTDNA reps through and to some email carriers. (att.net, Bell ISPs, aol and comcast were mentioned by name.) Evidently, sometimes email to addresses with these domains simply disappear and are never delivered. On the c/s end, the response shows as logged, date stamped and that it appears to have resolved the issue/request submitted.

                              When a response does not get back to the customer it looks like it was never sent at all and FEELS like FTDNA doesn't care. It FEELS like FTDNA is ignoring your specific question and just hoping that time takes care of it. This email delivery issue IS important and needs to be fixed.

                              I'm not aware of a work-around other than to be persistent and keep calling/emailing for answers.

                              Be sure to complete the surveys when you do get an emailed response back. If they aren't informed that emails aren't getting through, the problem won't be recognized (or prioritized properly) and can't be addressed.

                              Comment

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