Chicago, Ill. - April 8, 2010– As spring begins and the temperatures are on the rise the Better Business Bureau advises that potential customers of dating services should read contracts and fully understand the scope and limitations of the agreement prior to signing and paying for services. Many consumers who are looking for companionship have found a headache rather than a mate when they don’t read the paperwork prior to signing.
The BBB shows complaints in northern Illinois in this 12-month period have more than doubled to 137 from 66 for the previous 12-month period with matchmaking services. This is a 107 percent increase.
“With matchmaking contracts, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into and what the service offers,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “As with any business transaction, be sure to read all agreements, guarantees, and instructions before signing and be wary of vaguely worded provisions, exclusions or limitations which could pose a problem later.”
Nancy Van De Veire, from McHenry, Ill. said, “I paid $1695.00 for the 18 months and did not realize that it is an extra $20/month to be able to go online and see potential matches after the first 6 months. I am 70 years old and there were very few men in the age range I was looking for (65-75 years old) and many of them want to go out with women 15 years younger. I joined in June of 2009 and have only met three people.”
Common complaints for matchmaking services reveal:
Dissatisfaction with the number of arranged dates.
Matchmaking services often say they have a database of thousands of singles in the area and promise a minimum number of dates; however, complaints show they often failed to deliver on promised dates. For example, one complainant reported to only have received three referrals over a 12 month period, significantly less than what was promised.
Available singles not up to par. Often consumers said they were matched with singles that did not meet their specified criteria—common complaints include that the singles they were set up with were smokers or lived too far away.
Poor or rude customer service and high pressure sales tactics. Some complainants reported being pressured by sales associates into signing up for matchmaking services. Complainants reported being yelled at, others were told to not be so picky, and many said they were simply completely ignored.
The dating services industry is basically divided into two categories: personalized matchmaking companies and online dating Web sites. The two services take a different approach to helping people find compatibility and as a result, the types of complaints to the BBB are divergent.
The BBB offers the following advice on matchmaking services:
- Do your homework. Checkout the company with the BBB (www.bbb.org) to make sure it has a history of satisfying customers and resolving complaints.
- Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Sales associates may tell people that a low price is only good for that day and ask them to sign a contract immediately. People should take the contract home, read it carefully and make sure they understand what they are signing up and paying for.
- Know how to break up. Consumers should not assume that they will stop being billed once the contract runs out. Some dating services automatically renew memberships and there are steps that must be taken, such as calling the company, to keep from being billed again.
- For more trustworthy information on matchmaking and online dating services, consumers can access BBB Reliability Reports free-of-charge at www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.