Gas station without pumps

2018 December 26

Dante Labs is a scam

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:51
Tags: , ,

As readers may remember from Spit kit sent, I spent $500 in March 2018 in an attempt to get my genome sequenced through Dante Labs. I worried at the time that their price was too low for current sequencing capabilities, but I thought that I’d give them a try.

I am now convinced that Dante Labs is indeed a scam.

On 2018 August 31, they sent me an e-mail:

Your Raw Data are ready!

Dear Customer, 

We’re excited to let you know that we completed the sequencing of your sample. 

Over a month later, I asked when I would get the data they claimed to have.  On 2018 Oct 9, they sent me an e-mail:

Dear Kevin,
we apologize for this delay.
Your hard disk is among the next few to be shipped.
Again, we are sorry for this inconvenience.
Best regards,
Paul
Dante Labs
It is now four months since they claimed to have data for me, and almost three months since they claimed that mine was “among the next few to be shipped”.
It is clear now that they are incapable of delivering the whole genome sequence that they promised.  I suspect that they are doing a variant of a Ponzi scheme, where they use the money of new customers to pay for sequencing of a few select early customers, so that they don’t have all their customers complaining about non-delivery.
For my part, I’ve given up on ever expecting anything from them—now I have to decide if it is worthwhile to report them to the Better Business Bureau and appropriate district attorneys.  I can, at least, warn all my readers not to do business with them.
I’ll also have to look for a different, more reputable business to get my whole-genome sequencing done.  While I’m looking, I wonder whether it would be worth the $200 for a SNP panel from 23andme—that would not answer the most interesting question for me (the genetic cause of our family’s inherited bradycardia), but it might provide some data of interest.
If anyone has suggestions for whole-genome sequencing companies I should check, please let me know.

21 Comments »

  1. Do you worry about others having access to your genetic info and/or the chances of non-authorized people having that info?

    Comment by physicsmathmom — 2018 December 27 @ 13:05 | Reply

    • I don’t worry about genomic privacy very much—I’ve even considered joining one of the project that does free sequencing in return for fairly public access to the data, but they required travel to Boston, which was a deal breaker.

      The only people likely to cause me harm by knowing my genomic information are insurance companies, and their power to cause harm is not increased much by the knowledge.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2018 December 27 @ 13:12 | Reply

  2. What about charge-backing the credit card transaction? It doesn’t help with getting them prosecuted, but probably will help with putting them out of business. And you get your money back.

    Comment by plam — 2018 December 29 @ 16:11 | Reply

    • Unfortunately, the Dante Labs payment was done with my Wells Fargo debit card, and I have closed my Wells Fargo account, so there is no reasonable way to try to reverse the charge.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2018 December 29 @ 21:56 | Reply

  3. Thank you for publishing your story about Dante Labs. I have had a similar experience, and the public needs to be warned about this company and its too-good-to-be-true price for supposed whole genome sequencing. It is a scam. Dante Labs is taking consumers’ money for test results that they cannot, or will not, deliver.

    I purchased the whole genome sequencing test in July 2018. The kit arrived without a return shipping label—a problem that they have had repeatedly. While I was able to resolve this issue, it was just a sign of the difficulties to come.
    Dante’s website, now and at the time of my order, has claimed that they provide results in “about 10 weeks.” This is false, and they know it is false. Measuring from the day in July that I sent my test kit in, Dante Labs took 2 weeks to confirm that the kit was received and 4 ½ weeks to confirm that they had extracted the DNA and would start sequencing “as soon as possible.” At 12 weeks (mid-October) I emailed Dante labs requesting an update and was told I would have results in “early to mid November.” At 18 weeks (late November) I contacted them again and was told it would be “the end of December.” At 21 weeks, I asked again and the delivery date was bumped again, now to “mid January.” As I write this review it is mid-January, 25 weeks since I sent the test kit, and my results are not available.
    Having read more reviews and customer stories online, my experience is not at all unique, and I now seriously doubt that I will ever receive any genome sequencing results or a refund. If the company ever had legitimate intentions, they have been abandoned for a cash grab. Dante Labs continues to run unbeatable, cut-rate sales on their products to bring more money in while they provide nothing to existing customers who have been waiting 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, or longer and have received nothing.
    An honest company would proactively tell its customers when there are significant delays, provide realistic timelines it can meet, and change its website when it is clear that it cannot meet a supposed 10-week turn-around time. A reputable company would keep its promises. Dante Labs has done none of this, choosing instead to string along its existing customers and lure new customers with false claims. I don’t know if these big sales for prime day, black Friday, etc. are designed to generate enough cash to finish a few old orders from their backlog and maintain the illusion of functionality, to pad their revenue numbers to attract investors, or simply to cash out before the mounting negative reviews catch up with the company. What I do know is that what Dante Labs is promoting is a lie.
    The actions of Dante Labs are irresponsible and dangerous. Dante Labs knows that a significant part of its customer base, the people searching for information about their complete genome, are doing this because they have medical concerns or a family history of disease. These customers are relying on Dante Labs to give them data that provides insight on important and personal matters. For months, I’ve checked the website almost every day, hoping to simply receive what I bought from Dante Labs. I haven’t. It’s not just that Dante Labs has taken my money, it’s that they have made me hope for something that will not come and wasted months of my time. I will need to start all over again with a different company, and am months away from getting the information I was supposed to receive four months ago.
    No one should buy testing services from Dante Labs. It is an untrustworthy company that has never delivered what it promised to me and numerous other customers.
    If you do decide to use 23 and Me for testing, I would suggest you just purchase their cheaper ancestry test kit. The sequencing results are the same as the more expensive health kit and you can get the complete raw data either way. I purchased the health version, but did not find their health reports very useful. I found more accurate and comprehensive health data by running the raw data through Promethease and reviewing the information on SNPedia.
    Please let us know if you find a better sequencing service!

    Comment by *REDACTED* — 2019 January 15 @ 21:50 | Reply

  4. I got my Dante labs results in 16 weeks. I’d emailed them after about 8 weeks to ask when I could expect the results. Their estimate was 3 weeks off, but I’m fine with that. I’d googled them already, so I knew a lot of people had had to wait more than 10 weeks, and so I was expecting that.

    Comment by TM — 2019 January 23 @ 17:55 | Reply

    • It is good to know that a few people are getting results from them, but that is consistent with a Ponzi scheme, which Dante Labs is looking a lot like.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2019 January 23 @ 18:07 | Reply

  5. I absolutely agree that Dante is a Ponzi scam. I bought four WGS kits for my family during the 2018 Prime Day sale. Order was placed via Amazon on July 21, 2018. Total was $1,396 ($349/kit). I work in a cancer biology lab that does a lot of sequencing, so I should have known better… this price was too low. But… There were reports of people getting their data, so I felt somewhat reassured.

    Like others, there was no return label, but I got them to reply to emails (at that time). They acknowledged receipt on August 7, 2018. They claimed “successful DNA extraction” on August 27, 2018. I contacted them on 10/23/2018 asking when I might expect the results (it had been 12 weeks, which was beyond what they initially promised). They said I would have results by mid-November. On December 18, I contacted them again and they said “they are working hard to complete the analysis by the end of the years”.

    I have not received any messages from Dante since (over 30 days and several emails) so I recently contacted Amazon and asked for my money back. It was a major struggle (to even get someone at amazon to understand what this product is and how it is supposed to work), but I did get a refund from amazon. Frustratingly, amazon still lists their products.

    I think Dante is way over the heads… either intentionally or not, they have become a Ponzi scheme. Their costs are too low and they need more and more customers to pay for the sequencing.

    I should have known better… I knew the cost was too low.

    As for legitimate sources for personal WGS use, a colleague used fullgenomes.com and was happy. The turnaround was 9 weeks, I believe he said. But the cost is MUCH higher. He did 30X WGS at $1300.

    Hopefully people considering Dante find this page — and avoid them at all costs. If you bought via amazon, it’s worth a try to get a refund…

    Comment by Matt — 2019 January 28 @ 06:44 | Reply

    • I ordered directly from Dante Labs, so I have no hope of getting either my data or a refund.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2019 January 28 @ 07:54 | Reply

  6. Hi Matt,
    I found your blog while looking for information on Dantelabs; your experience was certainly very interesting. I work at a personal genomics startup Genebox (www.genebox.me) located in Dublin, Ireland; we provide direct-to-consumer whole genome sequencing at the depth 30x, secure data storage and a report on genetic disease risk; you can download a sample on the website. I understand you are primarily interested in getting the raw data which we can certainly arrange – we can provide FASTQ, BAM and VCF files. Our current promotion price is 1200 euros for the whole service. I admit we are quite an early stage company so the service delivery isn’t seamless as of yet, but based on our experience we can certainly guarantee delivery within 12 weeks. Please feel free to contact us at help@genebox.me for more information.

    Comment by Katja Rybakova — 2019 February 11 @ 08:15 | Reply

    • Matt is a commenter here—this is not his blog. I’ve added genebox.me to my list of possible vendors, though the prices is a littler higher than competitors like fullgenomes.com and veritasgenetics.com (Veritas Genetics doesn’t include the BAM file in their price, and does not give FASTQ at all)

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2019 February 11 @ 09:33 | Reply

  7. Oh sorry, I misunderstood about the name. You are right that we are a bit more expensive, but in fairness our price is quite close to that of Fullgenomes and we do a lot of manual curation of literature before we decide to report a variant. We also do a deeper analysis for variants implicated in conditions of your interest, including for loss-of-function variants in relevant genes that are not present in the databases. Veritas Genetics, as you pointed out yourself, doesn’t provide actual raw data which limits research opportunities and only does standardized reporting without personalization. Let me know if you need any more information.

    Comment by Katja Rybakova — 2019 February 11 @ 12:51 | Reply

    • Katja, is it 1200 Euro or 3000 Euro ?

      Comment by Leon Kull — 2019 February 16 @ 16:16 | Reply

      • The website says 3000€, and that just includes the report and 1-year of genome data storage (nothing about delivering the full data set). That is a lot more expensive than other services.

        Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2019 February 16 @ 23:04 | Reply

        • Not much different than the Full Genomes price (2900$) that’s the fair price for the 30x WGS test of the excellent quality.

          Comment by Leon Kull — 2019 February 17 @ 00:19 | Reply

          • The fullgenomes.com website has $2900 for Chromium linked-read whole genome. The 30× test, which seems the closest to what genebox.me offers, is listed at $1295, though the analysis costs an extra $250.

            The genebox.me site does not give details of the sequencing (other than it is Illumina), and does not say whether VCF, BAM, and FASTQ files are included—we only have Katja’s comment for that information. Apparently the 1200€ promotion is over—it must not have lasted long.

            Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2019 February 17 @ 09:22 | Reply

            • Yes, correct !

              Comment by Leon Kull — 2019 February 17 @ 09:44 | Reply

            • One thing I don’t understand about the fullgenomes pricing is the lower-price 15× and 20× options. DNA sequencing cost should be roughly linear with coverage plus a fixed setup charge, so higher coverage should cost less per base, but the 15× option is much cheaper than the 30× option. If I just want the reads, it would seem to make more sense to buy the 15× twice ($1090 rather than $1295 for 30×) and merge the results (at the BAM or FASTQ level). That would not help most consumers, since the analysis to get the VCF file that gets interpreted relies on the higher coverage, but might make sense for me, since I was planning to redo the mapping and VCF generation anyway.

              Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2019 February 17 @ 09:48 | Reply

              • The 15x and 20x whole genome options are entry level options for customers focused on ancestry. Ancestry results don’t require the same amount of data. That’s why they are discounted. However, there’s clearly an opportunity for prices to come down as the new technology from Illumina drives down costs.

                Comment by Justin Loe — 2019 February 17 @ 10:47

  8. […] the comments on Dante Labs is a scam, there has been some discussion on pricing of whole-genome sequencing.  There are a lot of […]

    Pingback by Full-genome sequencing pricing | Gas station without pumps — 2019 February 17 @ 12:23 | Reply

  9. Hi, sorry haven’t checked the blog for a couple of days. The price is indeed still 1200 euros (apologies for the confusion, there was a mistake on the buy it page – you can see now the price is still the one I mentioned at https://genebox.me/members#/join). Regarding the data it says in our T&C’s that you are entitled to get your data at any time with possible additional charges (which would apply if you wanted it on a hard drive but wouldn’t if you chose to download it directly from the storage platform). Some of our customers have downloaded the data already. If you would like to know more about sequencing please let me know.

    Comment by Katja Rybakova — 2019 February 19 @ 09:32 | Reply


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