With seemingly endless demands on personal time, there seems to be less time for people to devote to such things as finding a significant other. Lack of time and hope of finding someone wonderful draw thousands of people to dating services. However, each year the BBB receives many complaints from consumers who, after spending several hundred dollars, are no closer to finding true love than they were before. To avoid this problem, the BBB recommends that you research the companies you are considering and understand on the outset that no one can guarantee to find you a perfect partner. Dating services simply provide the opportunity for people to meet one another.
Important Questions to Ask Prospective Dating Services
- How thoroughly are candidates screened to ensure your compatibility with them? Are the qualities you find to be important in a person covered in the company’s questionnaire? Does the company screen for every factor you deem important, or only a few?
- How are introductions made? Does the company provide an exchange of telephone numbers, or does it provide personal introductions through social functions?
- How many people does the firm have on file with the specific characteristics important to you? For example, if you want to meet people that are within five years of your age and non-smokers, you should ask the organization how many people they have in their database that match these qualifications.
- If social functions are included in the price, what type of facility are the functions held at?
- Will the company allow you to participate on a trial basis before committing to a contract?
- What is the cost of optional services, such as social functions, photography, grooming, dating etiquette or other services? Remember the dating services cannot require the purchase of these services to be a member.
- What is the recourse if you are dissatisfied with the services? Does the company merely extend the duration of its services to you, or do they offer refunds?
- How long has the company been in business? Based on its history, is it likely that the company will be in business long enough to honor its membership contract with you?
In addition to these suggestions, the BBB advises you not to sign any contract until you have read and understood all of its terms.
How the Laws Protect You
Membership Fees – Under New York State law, no contract for social referral services may require you to pay more than $1,000 per year.
Additional Fees – The contract cannot require the consumer to spend money on any additional services such as photography, grooming, dating etiquette or other services.
Transfer of Information Prohibited and Required Return of Information – dating services are prohibited from transferring or selling any information or material of a personal or private nature without your prior written consent. In addition, when the contract expires, the business is required to return all such information and material to you by certified mail.
Cancellation – All contracts for social referral services must allow the consumer to cancel the service within three business days. NO cancellation fees may be imposed if the contract is cancelled within this period.
Suspending the Contract – Consumers must be given the right to put their contract on hold for a period of at least one year, upon their request.
Refunds – If the dating service costs more than $25, the seller must provide you with a minimum number of referrals per month. If this is not done for two successive months, you have the right to cancel the contract and receive a full refund.
Before agreeing to pay any dating service, determine what you can reasonably expect the company to do for you. If the company fails to meet your expectations, or does not comply with any portion of the written agreement, it is very important that you file a complaint about that business.
Consumers can file a complaint about a dating service with the following organizations:
The New York State Attorney General’s office initiates lawsuits, enforces consumer laws and accepts complaints regarding fraudulent business practices. The Attorney General may be reached in the following ways:
Call: 212-416-8345 (New York City), 845-485-3920 (Mid-Hudson), 631-231-2400 (Long Island)
Write: 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271
Web Site: www.oag.state.ny.us