23andMe Faces Criticism Over Auto-Renewal Nightmares: Customers Demand Justice

Source: Bloomberg

According to a new report, customers are crying foul over questionable renewal tactics employed by popular genetic testing company 23andMe. Fed-up users allege the company has scammed them by turning auto-renewal back on after cancellation and charging more than originally agreed upon.

Despite contacting customer service, the company has largely refused to issue refunds. With tempers flaring, 23andMe finds itself in hot water over sketchy subscription renewals. The genetic testing pioneer may lose customer trust if it doesn’t address these alarming accusations.

Customers Accuse 23andMe of Shady Renewal Practices

According to dozens of customer complaints, 23andMe has been turning on auto-renewal for subscriptions even after users explicitly turned it off.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Some customers claim they received no notification the company was renewing their subscription and charging their credit card until it was too late.

Price Gouging Upon Unconsented Renewal

Not only did 23andMe secretly renew some users’ subscriptions without consent, but the company also allegedly hiked up the renewal rates significantly.

Source: Amazon

Several customers reported being charged up to 10 times more than their original subscription rate. The extra charge is not communicated in advance.

Refusing Refunds For Customers Wrongly Charged

To add insult to injury, 23andMe has refused to issue refunds to customers who were wrongly charged for auto-renewals they didn’t authorize.

Source: Reddit

The company’s policy is not to refund “partially used membership periods,” even when the renewal was done deceptively.

Auto-Renewal Turned Back on After Cancelation

Customers have reported that even after turning off auto-renewal for their 23andMe subscription, the company has reactivated it without their knowledge or consent and charged them for another year of service.

Source: YourMembership

According to complaints, users have canceled auto-renewal through the company’s website and account settings, only to find a charge for a new membership term on their credit card statement months later.

Sneaky Tactics and Passing The Blame Back To Customer

The company claims that users must have accidentally turned the feature back on themselves, but many customers insist they took care to cancel their subscriptions properly.

Source: WikiHow

Their policy is not to refund charges for “partially used membership periods,” even if the renewal was done incorrectly. This leaves many feeling like they have been duped out of hundreds of dollars with no way to recover the funds.

Auto-Renewal Opt-Outs Ignored

Even for members who had expressly opted out of auto-renewal for their membership, 23andMe seems to have charged them anyway at the new, higher rates.

Source: Clipart Library

“I cancelled auto-renew and was still charged. I have emails proving I canceled,” wrote one complainant. The inability of members to successfully opt out of automatic renewals and price hikes they did not agree to constitutes deceptive practices.

Lack of Notification Emails Before Renewal Charges

According to multiple customer complaints, 23andMe has been charging users for subscription renewals without sending notification emails beforehand.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

One user complained to the FTC, “I turned off auto-renew after the last unwanted renewal. However, I was STILL charged for a renewal. I did not authorize this.” Another said, “I cancelled my subscription with 23andMe in January 2022 and asked to be removed from auto-billing. Nevertheless, they charged me an annual fee on January 15, 2023.”

23andMe Needs To Shape Up or Ship Out

With numerous similar complaints against the company’s billing practices, 23andMe may have a problem to address if they wish to regain customer trust and loyalty.

Source: Flickr/Gustavo Da Cunha / 23andMe

Their current policy of refusing refunds and turning a blind eye to auto-renewal issues that were not the users’ fault is not sustainable if they want to build goodwill and a reputation for ethical business practices.

A History of Deceptive Practices?

This is not the first time 23andMe has faced backlash over deceptive business practices.

Source: Flickr/Marco Verch / uprootedabroad.wordpress

In 2018, the company was forced to modify its marketing by the FDA after making dubious health claims about its genetic testing kits. Privacy advocates have recently raised concerns over 23andMe’s data use policies.

Consumers Vent Frustrations on Reddit

Disgruntled 23andMe customers have taken to online forums to voice their annoyance at the company’s questionable subscription renewal tactics.

Source: Reddit

On Reddit, users share stories of being charged for renewals they did not authorize after opting out of auto-renewal. One Redditor exclaimed, “I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was hacked.”

Consumers Vent Frustration with the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission has received over a hundred complaints from irritated clients since early this year.

Source: Investopedia

According to documents obtained by Gizmodo, many report that 23andMe turned on auto-renewal again after they had disabled it, charging them for subscriptions they did not want.

A Systemic Issue That Needs To Be Address Immediately

The volume of complaints indicates that 23andMe has systemic issues with its subscription renewal policies and practices that urgently need to be addressed to avoid further damage to its reputation and customer trust.

Source: 23andMe

Resolving individual cases is not enough; the company needs to overhaul its procedures to prevent recurrences of these predatory behaviors.

23andMe All Practices are Above Board

While 23andMe maintains its practices are above board, the number of similar grievances implies a disturbing pattern.

Source: 23andMe

At best, the genetic testing service must re-evaluate its transparency, cancellation, and refund policies. If the allegations of shady behavior prove true, 23andMe may face consequences from regulators and its disgruntled customer base.

Make Sure You Check Your Account

For those wishing to avoid unexpected charges, the best approach is to closely monitor accounts and disable auto-renewal as soon as possible.

Source: Linkedin / 23andMe

Existing 23andMe customers should log in to their accounts immediately and turn off the auto-renewal option under Account Settings. Remaining vigilant about monitoring accounts and canceling unused subscriptions is key to avoiding unwanted charges from companies like 23andMe going forward.

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Sally Reed

Written by Sally Reed

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