LivingDNA Update

I did a quick post about this late last night from my phone – Brief LivingDNA Update – Facebook link: down a bit, but thought I would give some feedback and suggestions to LivingDNA.

Shipping Update

Dear Living DNA Customers,

As the co-founders of Living DNA we want to reach out to you personally to sincerely apologise for the delays you have experienced with your shipping.

It’s important to us to help you understand why you have experienced this delay. As it currently stands all UK and US orders that have been placed on or before the 20th December have been shipped out today (Friday 21st December).

Our greatest intention is that all UK orders will be with customers before Christmas day, however, we are in the hands of Royal Mail. Therefore all UK orders placed after 17th December are not guaranteed by Royal Mail for delivery before Christmas.

Any order placed after the 15th of November for European and International customers (excluding the US) are not guaranteed for delivery before Christmas. Delivery times are normally 10-20 working days.

You should have received a gift certificate you can give to a friend or family member, should your kit not arrive in time for Christmas. Though we are committed to doing everything we can to make that happen

We know this experience has been very frustrating, however the whole team including ourselves have learnt a lot and have already started improving things.. We deeply appreciate and value all your feedback as it helps us to evolve as a company to deliver the best service we can, so that we can rebuild your trust in 2019.

Yours truly

David Nicholson & Hannah Morden

While I appreciate some response, it’s been too long in coming. LivingDNA‘s biggest problem seems to be common to most of the big DNA companies (23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTree DNA aka FTDNA, and to smaller degrees Geno 2.0 and MyHeritageDNA). You need to keep your customers in the loop. I haven’t dealt with MyHeritageDNA for customer service so I can’t comment on if they are guilty of this, but for the first three on my list, they are equally bad at keeping customers in the loop. Geno 2.0 is slightly better, but not by much.

Compounding LivingDNA‘s problem is the fact they are the “new kid on the block.” When you are the new kid on the block, you need to show why I as a customer should choose your company, given the fact that the Big Four (Five if you count Geno 2.0) already have been around for a while and the smallest of the companies have around 1 million tests in their databases with the largest hitting around 14 million. That’s a huge obstacle to overcome.

LivingDNA had a decent start with the free limited transfers; then they shot themselves in the foot by deciding to not allow ethnicity results to be included free unless you uploaded before a certain date. It’s still up in the air if those who get the free ethnicity results will keep them or if they will go away at some point.

A second good starting point was adding matching, but so far, that’s fizzled. Out of three (3) kits I uploaded (first in mid-December 2017, other two at the beginning of August 2018), only one of the August kits has completed. The December upload has zero matches and the August kits have so few matches as to be meaningless. They talked like all matches were be available by November early on.

A third good starting point was partnering with FindMyPast and allowing them to sell LivingDNA kits through FindMyPast. It sounds like at some point, FindMyPast will brand the kits as FindMyPastDNA, similar to how MyHeritageDNA sells FTDNA kits branded as MyHeritageDNA. This potentially is one of their smartest moves, depending on how they set it up.

Something that LivingDNA hasn’t figured out is when you are going against established companies is the need to do something positive that sets you apart to gain market share. That did it to a degree by offering basic to medium haplogroup information if you test with them. The free limited transfer was another good way. While FTDNA and MyHeritageDNA also offer free limited transfers, it’s still a good move. It sounds like they will have an upgrade option for those who transfer and later want full benefits. If they go with what FTDNA did, $19 for full upgrade with occasion sales as low as $10, that would be a smart move. If they go with some minor discount off their regular price of $99, that would be a very unwise move. MyHeritageDNA hasn’t announced its pricepoint for a full upgrade, but hopefully they take a lesson from FTDNA. They indicated they would be testing different pricepoints starting December 16, 2018 to determine the best price, but so far I haven’t seen anything about an upgrade price on the three (3) tests I uploaded after the cut-off date. I uploaded one (1) test before the cut-off date.

A smart move would be to do a full free transfer if somebody orders a kit from FindMyPastDNA once they start branding their own kits. It’s something FTDNA and MyHeritageDNA should consider for FTDNA/MyHeritageDNA tests done by the FTDNA lab regardless of which company you ordered the test from.

My Dad had a basic rule he taught us: Building trust is hard to do, and easy to lose. So far, any trust I had with LivingDNA has been lost. They restored a very small portion of it with this announcement, but they have a long way to go if they want me to trust them again.

Another killer has been price. While $99 was the old price point for autosomal testing, MyHeritageDNA and FTDNA both offer their autosomal for $79 regular price. At some point, 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and LivingDNA will need to make their regular price $79 if they want to stay competitive. In addition, both 23andMe and AncestryDNA need to accept free or free limited transfers. While 23andMe did one free limited transfer from AncestryDNA earlier this year, they made it useless as they wanted you to pay full price to gain benefit from the transfer. Throw in that two (2) DNA companies offered full DNA testing for $199 last month, and the handwriting is on the wall for $99 autosomal DNA testing that gives a lot fewer markers than a full DNA test.

Open communication can go a long way in smoothing over bumps in the road. Giving unrealistic dates on when you are going to fix things goes a long way in killing trust.

About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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