Which Company?

I am getting questions from potential project members about the tests offered by a company that advertises heavily.   If you face the same question - as project administrator or project member - perhaps these comments will be of some help to you.

1. The company with the heavy advertising distorts the number of markers they offer.  Their "33" marker test is really only 30 markers - plus 19b, 464e and 464f - which rarely occur.   Other testing companies report 19b, 464e, 464f and even 464g when they occur - they just don't "count" them - as they occur so rarely.  If you want to use "33" or "46" as the number of markers you are considering, you should call FTDNA's offering "29" and "41" - as FTDNA will report 19b, 464e, 464f AND 464g when they occur.

2. The reality is that the vast majority of surname projects are based at FTDNA and use FTDNA's 25, 37, and 67 marker tests as their standard for comparison.  Someone testing elsewhere must present their markers to the project for comparison against the FTDNA standard.  That means that a "33" marker test actually only compares to 22 of FTDNA's 25 and/or only 28 of FTDNA's 37.   Those buying the "46" test only compare with 32 of FTDNA's 37 and to 34 of FTDNA's 67.  The "other" markers aren't regularly tested by FTDNA and are only useful when comparing to the relatively few folks who have tested them at Relative Genetics, DNAHeritage and Ancestry.com

3. The company with the big advertising budget offers essentially no service or support and few researchers have ever managed to get a question answered by them.   Your sample may be retained - but there are no guarantees (vs a 25 year sample retention committment from FTDNA).  Many folks accuse the company that does the advertising of collecting info - including your own - and then selling you the rights to view it.

4. If a person tested elsewhere wants to fully compare their results with the project members tested at FTDNA, they'll need to retest at FTDNA.  FTDNA does offer a special price for retesting - which is $119 for 37 markers - with proof of prior testing.  But, even with the discount - it is expensive to retest.

5. FTDNA guarantees a haplogroup prediction and will formally test any results (with a SNP test) where they aren't certain of the haplogroup.  The company with the big advertising budget has been cited by surname project administrators on a number of occasions for wrong estimates. 

6. FTDNA provides an array of very informative tools - and the ability to compare against others who are not in the project but were tested at FTDNA.  Folks tested outside of FTDNA cannot use FTDNA's resources or compare against FTDNA's internal database - which is very important for the project member with no matches in his own project.

7. So - would your potential project member rather pay a "cheap" price for the "33" and get a partial comparison to your other project members?  Or, maybe he'd rather pay the same $149 price for a "46" test that FTDNA gets for their 37 marker test? - and still only compare with 32 of 37?   It seems to me that a wise choice is to test where your fellow project members are testing - and for over 90% of the folks - that's at FTDNA.

The WorldFamilies project site is configured to allow inclusion of results from folks who tested at companies other than FTDNA - but the comparisons are incomplete and often frustrating because of the missing info.

Hope this is useful. Terry