“Consumers should proceed with caution and do their homework when searching for and using a dating service”, advises Jay Sheppard, Dispute Resolution Director at the Better Business Bureau in Southeast Texas. “Their first step should be to check the BBB’s business review of the company.” Business reviews, consumer tips and alerts are available at www.bbb.org.
Market research released a report in 2012 stating that dating services are a 2.1 billion industry, with online dating representing 53 percent of the market. With an estimated 1,500 online dating sites, according to Market Research, the Better Business Bureau cautions consumers looking for love to be careful and thoroughly research sites before committing their heart and money.
The BBB offers the following tips to those considering a dating service:
· Select a service that enforces high standards of behavior. Request in writing what guidelines the company follows in screening its applicants. Does the service, for example, conduct a police background check and sex offender screening of each applicant? Request documentation of their screenings.
· Read the contract and fine print thoroughly. Specifically look for free trial offers and deals that require you to cancel to avoid additional charges. Be sure the contract lists out payment plans, length of contract and refund and cancellation policies in case you are dissatisfied with the company’s service. For payment, use your credit card rather than your debit card.
· Put safety first. Inquire about the company’s policy on disclosure of personal information. Avoid putting too much personal information on your profile, such as home address, work information telephone number, etc. Ask approximately how many members are living in your immediate geographic area.
· Inquire about pricing and refunds. Make certain you understand the company’s pricing policies before agreeing to the terms of service. Find out if refunds are made and, if they are, what conditions determine the refund amount.
To avoid online dating scams, BBB suggests: