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Educational Consumer Tips

Dating Services

Author: Better Business Bureau

This report is general in nature and is not intended as a reliability report on any company, service or product.

If your search for a mate includes contacting a dating service, there are many services available. But no specific Pennsylvania law regulates dating services, so it's important to exercise good judgment and common sense when dealing with them. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:

* Take your time.
* Get to know the company before you sign a contract.
* Gather information about the company's history and reputation.
* Arrange to meet with a company representative to discuss the services provided.
* Ask what services you should expect in exchange for your money, including the average length of time needed to find a potential date and how close a match you should expect to your ideals (i.e. economic status, location, etc.)
* What services does the company provide for the basic fee? Learn how cost and performance are related.
* How many introductions are promised?
* Is there any guarantee of suitability? The BBB has heard from consumers who were told they'd be easy to match, later to hear that the company really didn't have any clients with the "unreasonable" profile they had specified.
* Are there any extra charges in addition to the basic fee (i.e. membership renewal, costs associated with functions, etc.)?
* What is the company's success rate?
* How long is the contract valid?
* Will the contract be automatically renewed or will you be able to reconsider when it expires?
* What information does the company require from applicants? Take a look at the application and the personal questions posed to applicants.
* Will personal information be kept confidential? Ask how many people will be seeing your profile, photograph or video and be aware of the company's policy on releasing personal information, such as telephone numbers and addresses, before meeting potential dates.
* How long have they been in business? Ask for at least three referrals and follow up on them.

Signing a Contract

* Read the contract carefully. Have a lawyer or other advisor review it before you sign. Any reputable dating service should not object to this.
* Look for cancellation rights printed in the contract. Check if they are time specific. Know how long the contract is valid.
* Find out if the contract will be automatically renewed and if there is a renewal fee.

Know what you can reasonably expect from the service balanced against the investment you will be making. Understand that these are very personal services. You may be asked private questions, so you need to be comfortable with the offered program. Don't feel pressured to sign up on the spot and don't commit to signing a contract until you read and understand it completely. If the company is new, consider whether it will be in business long enough to fulfill your contract. Ask if you can join on a trial basis. Also, ask for references and specific data about the number of members, ratio of men to women, and the age and geographical distribution.

Ask about the manner in which introductions are made, such as whether there is simply an exchange of telephone numbers, addresses, names and statistics, or whether a personal introduction is provided by the company at their office. Ask how many referrals you can expect to receive within a given period. Don't accept verbal promises; make sure that everything is clearly spelled out in the contract.

Know what your recourse is if you're dissatisfied with the services, such as, whether or not the company will merely extend the duration of its services to you or whether (and on what terms) you will be entitled to a refund.