BBB Offers Advice for Choosing a Dating Service this Valentine’s Day
The Right Matchmakers and Web Sites Can Help Consumers Find Mr. or Mrs. Right
Austin, TX - February 11, 2010 – According to Online Dating Magazine, more than 20 million people visit an online dating site every month. Moreover, Greg Blatt, CEO of Match.com says the time period between the end of the holiday season and the start of Spring tends to be when their membership surges the most. BBB recommends consumers looking for love do plenty of research before committing a significant amount of money toward finding a significant other with a dating service.
“Last year, BBB closed over 2,600 complaints nationally regarding dating services,” said Carrie A. Hurt, President and CEO of BBB serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas. “Consumers need to have an understanding of what they’re getting into with a dating Web site or matchmaker and how to get out if it’s not working.”
Local dating or matchmaking services promise to introduce consumers to area singles that meet certain criteria. These face-to-face services can cost hundreds of dollars and common complaints relate to the number of dates received, incompatibility with dates and high pressure sales tactics used by sales representatives.
Unlike matchmakers and local dating services, most online dating Web Sites provide a forum for consumers to post personal profiles and offer the opportunity to search the site for other singles. Online dating services may require a specific length of membership and charge a monthly fee. Common complaints include automatic renewal of contracts and the inability to cancel if not satisfied with the site.
BBB offers the following advice for selecting a dating service:
Review services that seem likely to attract the type of person you want to meet. Look for dating services that enforce behavioral standards and provide respectful and supportive environments. Many online services offer free trials to help consumers determine if their format works, but there should not be an upfront fee to do so. Also, make sure there is not a negative option in place which would opt consumers into automatic monthly billings if they do not cancel in time.
Request detailed information about fees. Some dating services charge a flat rate while others may offer itemized pricing that requires additional payments for access to certain services.
Don't commit to a contract before reading it carefully. Some contracts require consumers to stay with the service for a set time. Consumers should know what steps are necessary if they are dissatisfied with the company's services and if their contract will automatically renew when the time period is over.
Remember that safety is critical. Consumers should not reveal too much personal information in their online dating profile. Use only the communication tools provide by the dating service and don't invite singles to e-mail directly to a private e-mail address until there has been significant positive correspondence. When consumers do feel ready to exchange e-mails in private, consider creating a separate, anonymous e-mail account at a free site.