Beware: Matchmaker Mishaps
Jason and Lori are among the most successful, smart and kind people I know. Their respective love lives are a different story. Both are marketing executives living in New York City who have tried and been disappointed with online dating, and were stumped at how to take their searches to the next level.
Then there is my colleague Jennifer, who is looking for love but refuses to put her personal profile online. All three of them are ready to plunk down thousands of dollars to seek out the help of a professional matchmaker. I would like to say there is nothing wrong with that, but there just may be.
Just recently, Great Dates Now, a matchmaking service that promised to offer hand-selected introductions to wealthy and attractive singles, was forced to close shop. That’s because there were more than 30 complaints with the Better Business Bureau as well as a lawsuit by the New York State Attorney General's Office claiming that this particular matchmaker overcharged clients and under-delivered. It’s not uncommon. In recent years, the Better Business Bureau has warned individuals that complaints against matchmaking services are on the rise. Here are some statistics and the most common consumer complaints, according to a report we found on the BBB website:
• Disputes over the caliber and demographics of available singles promised (35 percent). A significant number of complainants said they were matched with singles who did not meet their specified criteria—common complaints included that the singles with whom they were set up were smokers, uneducated, not religious or lived too far away. Some were even married.
• Poor or rude customer service (17.0 percent) and high pressure sales tactics (13.7 percent). Many complainants reported being intimidated or outright duped by sales associates into signing up for matchmaking services. Also, considering the high cost of matchmaking services, many felt they didn’t receive the level of customer service they deserved. Complainants reported being yelled at, others were told to not be so picky, and many said they were simply completely ignored by the respective companies involved.
• Dissatisfaction with the number of arranged dates (15.1 percent). 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. For example, promising 10 dates, but delivering only two.
Bad things happen to good people every day in business, but what many of you may not realize is that there are laws that apply to matchmaking services. And why are there such laws in place? Because of a poor history that required legislative intervention. In fact, in New York state law sets a maximum fee of $1,000 for these types of romantic referral agencies, though many matchmakers bypass even these rules by filing revenues under different, legitimate, service agreements such as beauty makeovers, life consulting or dating coaching.
Weeding out the good from the bad is never easy, as many matchmakers refuse to give out references or list verifiable success stories on their website. While they may cite policy to protect their client’s privacy, one cannot never be too certain, particularly when one is doling out thousands of dollars. So before you enlist in an expensive love broker, make sure to do the following:
1.Check Them Out with The Better Business Bureau: If any lawsuits or claims have been made against a matchmaker, here is where you will most likely find the ugly details and may even be able to get a reference or two.
2. Be Clear About what’s Being Promised to You: Guaranteeing twelve dates a year is an easy task to live up to, but a good matchmaker will work with you to set quantifiable and measurable performance objectives. The more detailed you are about your selection criteria i.e. age, location, religion and marital history, the less likely they will underdeliver. Most matchmakers use canned contracts so don’t be shy or scared to ask for details to be included or amendments to be made in your agreement.
3. Ask to See Some Sample Candidates: If you were about to buy an expensive car, surely the dealer would let you take it out on a test drive. Well, your love life is a serious investment so there is no reason why you should not be entitled to taste test what’s in store for you. Many modern day matchmakers do not have large, qualified candidate pools, so asking for some samples (bios, photos, video interviews) will give you a sense if the professional you are dealing is the right one for you.
4. Hire a Professional to Review The Policies: Beware! The contract terms and conditions is where they get you every time. So play it safe and have a lawyer review any and every document before you sign it, even if you are agreeing to a mini makeover or two week free trial.