BBB: spike in complaints about dating services

February 13, 2008 3:49:59 PM PST
Dating has been a disaster for some Chicago singles after using matchmaking and online dating services. The Better Business Bureau reports a substantial increase in the number of complaints.

The complaints include matches made with felons, high pressure tactics to sign contracts and unauthorized recurring billing. Interest In dating services increases around the holidays, including Valentine's Day. Before signing up for a service, experts and the experienced daters recommend checking on the company first.

Looking for the love of your life this Valentine's? There are thousands of dating services that promise opportunities to meet someone with whom you may connect. These modern day matchmakers gladly share their success stories. But there appears to be increasing disappointment.

"Valentine's Day is approaching. Looking for love. Hopefully you won't find a headache," said Steve Bernas, Better Business Bureau of Chicago/Northern Illinois.

Steve Bernas is the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois. He says there has been a 73 percent increase in dating service complaints, many unhappy with their matches.

"Nobody can guarantee they'll find Mr. Right or Mrs. Right. You have to take that into consideration. You may not find somebody. You may spend this money and not find somebody. There are bad apples in every industry," said Bernas.

Christine Danielski filed a complaint against a dating service and says she spent more than $2,500 for one date, over two years, that was with a man who was unclean and had no money for dinner.

"They promised me all this stuff that they either show me pictures of people. I guess I got taken," said Christine Danielski, former dating service member.

Whether or not the perfect date comes your way, psychiatrist Deborah Spitz says real love takes time. She says dating services may help busy singles meet other singles, but ultimately those dating should have realistic expectations.

"If people want to find a deep and lasting relationship quickly, most of the time that doesn't happen. We always hear the exceptional story. Most of the time, relationships take time," said Dr. Deborah Spitz, U. of C. Medical Center.

You can check the status of a dating service or any company with the Better Business Bureau. Unfortunately, it is rare to get any money back for dissatisfied customers, so the BBB recommends reading the fine print before signing any contract.

As for Christine, now she only dates guys who are recommended by someone she knows.