Most of the 120-plus DNA kits in which I have a hand were done with Family Tree DNA, but I myself have tests with several other companies, as well. This bit of venting refers to one of these, which I shall call simply The Company.
Despite its excellent reputation, I have never found The Company to be particularly user-friendly. That would be an understatement.
They do send out announcements about my autosomal DNA matches but not in a form that I have found useful. So I decided to write to each and every one (using ShortKeys) on The Company response form as follows:
I get a range of responses. Some send me their GEDmatch numbers or ask what GEDmatch is and how to register with them. I check these out and advise the matches what family directions we seem to match. None has really been identified to date.[The Company] says we are a DNA match. I don't put much stock in these automatic notifications - certainly not in their supposed precision - but occasionally they get something right.
If you have uploaded your results to GEDmatch, I'll be happy to compare your kit to my 110+ family kits even though I see no obvious connection.
I prefer correspondence by email rather than on [The Company]'s form and you can find me at IsraelP@pikholz.org .
In some cases, GEDmatch does not even recognize us as a match, The Company's notice notwithstanding.
Some matches engage me in correspondence about surnames and geography, which either does or does not end with a GEDmatch analysis.
Some do not reply at all.
Of those who do reply, almost all do so on The Company's form, not by email so I do not actually hold the correspondence "in my hand."
So far so good, I suppose. (One of the side effects of inquiries based on automated notifications is that I keep redefining "so far, so good" to a lower bar, as time goes on.)
We have a problem
*. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote to two matches, who wrote back using The Company's form. At least that what The Company told me when they wrote me "Dear Israel" emails with links to the responses. But when I follow the links, I get a notice that there has been an error.
The error page has a link for a "new message" and I figured I would use that to ask the match to write to me by email, but The Company does not allow me to actually write a new message on their New Message form.
They have a link to their Support Center, where they welcome me as someone else entirely. Someone I know. Someone who has not done any testing with The Company at all. There is no place on the Support Center site where I can ask for actual help, but I did get to a phone number from the "Contact us" link. The phone number brings up an automated response which advises me that they will not let me talk with a person or even leave a message. Franz Kafka in the flesh!
As it happens, I know someone at The Company, but he was not able to help either. And it is not his job to do so.
Then it gets worse
Earlier this week The Company notified me of additional matches in their usual "Dear Israel" letter. They know my name and they know my email address. I followed the link to the supposed match and I am greeted with a name that is not my own but belongs to the "someone else entirely" I mentioned above. Someone who has no DNA with The Company.
I was not able to reboot by logging out and logging in again - but then I never logged in to begin with. I just followed the link that The Company sent me.
I don't think they really want me as a customer.
* I have never used the term "jumped the shark" before and I hope I used it correctly here.