Thursday, July 13, 2017

The New Change in AncestryDNA's Test Activation Process

You may have heard the news that as of July 18, 2017 Ancestry.com will be requiring that only one DNA test can be activated per account. Before you panic, let's get the facts straight.

1. This won't affect existing multiple kits on your account. Ancestry have made it clear that "If you are a customer who currently manages multiple DNA kits in your account you’ll continue to have access to those DNA results and there’s no action for you to take."

2. You will still be able to administer someone else's test on your account. The changes only effect the activation process. Once activated, you can still go into your test settings and transfer management of your test to another account. They are now calling it "making someone a manager" rather than "transferring administration", but the manager has pretty much all the same access and rights the administrator did, the only thing a manager can't do is remove the owner from access (see the chart above). You can read instructions on how to transfer management from Ancestry's help article found here (scroll down to "making someone a manager"). The changes to the activation process just mean that managing someone else's kit now requires several extra steps of first creating a new Ancestry account and activating it on the new account before management can be transferred to your account.

3. You do not need to subscribe to Ancestry.com to take their DNA test. This means Ancestry are not trying to artificially inflate their subscription numbers. You can read more about the free guest registration here, and sign up for it (not the free trial), with no credit card necessary, here.

4. Ancestry.com have always advertised the number of DNA tests in their database, not the number of accounts that have DNA tests. Therefore, Ancestry are not trying to artificially inflate these numbers either, as these new changes will not affect these numbers. Their company stats are available here.

5. What is their motivation for doing this then? If you read their response to this support topic, from back when they were trialing this, it is a little clearer: "It has been Ancestry policy that only those with legal authority (such as a legal guardian) can activate a test for another user. We are making changes to reflect that policy." My personal interpretation is that this is a legal issue, and their lawyers want the company to assure (as best they can from their side, within reason) that the person activating the test is the person supply the sample. It allows them more deniability if someone accuses someone else of activating their kit without their permission.

6. Other companies have similar policies. Not only does FamilyTreeDNA require a different account for each person, they do not even allow you to transfer management to another account after activation like Ancestry do. The only saving grace to this is that FTDNA allow you to register more than one account with the same email address, because their login details use kit numbers instead of email address. But it still forces you to constantly login and out of different tests if you manage more than one. Ancestry's changes may feel like a step backwards in their activation process, but when you consider the alternatives, Ancestry still has an advantage over some.

Understanding all this, of course the new changes are still an annoying inconvenience when someone wants you to administer their test on your account. But despite all the objections made by customers during the trial of these changes, they are clearly going ahead with it anyway. Personally, I would respect this change more if they stopped trying to make it sound like this is of some kind of benefit to customers, as though this system is easier for us, when we all know it's not.

If you recently took advantage of the AncestryDNA sale on Amazon Prime Day and this is not your first kit, I recommend you hurry up and activate as soon as it arrives so you don't have to deal with this come July 18th. Fortunately, Prime promises 2 day shipping, so you should have already received it, if not today than tomorrow. You can activate it before you supply the sample and send it into the lab, and there is no deadline on when you can send it in after activating, so don't delay on activating it!