Better Business Bureau Warns
Against Online Dating Sites
March 04, 2008
Anchorage, AK - For those people looking to find the man or
woman of their dreams, Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that
complaints against matchmaking and online dating services are
on the rise and many consumers across the U.S. have gone looking
for love but only found a headache.
The stigma that using dating sites was geeky or sad has fallen
away as more people have found happiness by meeting people on
the Internet. As new companies and service become more popular
over time, growing pains become more apparent as well.
Consumer complaints filed with BBB on dating services increased
73 percent in 2006 over the previous year, reaching 2,525 complaints
altogether. While final complaint numbers for 2007 are still
forthcoming, early analysis shows that the number of complaints
in 2007 are expected to again reach record-breaking levels for
"Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars on online
dating sites alone every year and as the popularity of the industry
increases so does the number of complaints BBB receives,"
said Robert Andrew, President and CEO of the BBB serving Alaska,
Oregon and Western Washington. "Whether you're willing
to pay thousands for a matchmaker or 50 dollars a month for a
Web site membership, it's important to know exactly what you're
getting into and exactly how to get out of it."
The demographics and caliber of available singles promised make
up 35 percent of the complaints. Many complainants said they
were matched with singles that did not meet their specified criteria
including whether the singles they were interested in smoked,
were educated, not religious, lived too far away, and, in some
cases, whether they were still married.
Poor or rude customer service makes up 17 percent of the complaints
while high pressure sales tactics comprises 13.7 percent. Many
complainants reported being intimidated or outright duped by
sales associates into signing up for matchmaking services.
Dissatisfaction with the number of arranged dates makes up 15.1
percent of the complaints. Matchmaking services often say they
have a database of thousands of singles in the area and promise
a minimum number of dates. Complaints show that matchmaking
services often failed to deliver on the quota of promised dates.
The BBB recommends the following tips when considering a matchmaking
- Think with your head, not
with your heart. If
you've just signed up for a matchmaking site and you suddenly
have three people contacting you before you've even put up a
profile or picture, reconsider joining. Ask yourself if you've
been on for a reasonable amount of time to actually have real
people see your profile and decide to contact you.
- Don't give in to high-pressure
sales tactics. Watch
out for sales techniques where a site claims that a price is
"good for this day only" or associates may pressure
consumers into sign a contract. Take the time to read over any
contracts you agree to in order to make sure you know what you're
- Watch out for automatic
Many subscription-based sites on the Internet offer automatic
renewal to make it easier for consumers to remain members without
having to constantly renew their membership. However, many matchmaking
services sign you up for automatic renewal by default. If you
don't want to be renewed automatically at the end of your subscription,
make sure you figure out how to turn off that feature early in
- Don't fall in love with
the advertising. Beware
of claims such as "an exclusive network of people,"
"for sincere daters only," and "beautiful singles
just like you." Online Web sites don't discriminate against
who joins their site outside of members who pay.
- Do your homework. Go to www.bbb.org to get a free reliability report on the matchmaking
site you're considering. The Better Business Bureau's reliability
reports provide valuable information on companies.
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BBB serving Alaska, Oregon,
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