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BBB Tip: Choosing a dating service

St. Louis, Mo. — Success stories in ads for online dating services can make it sound like true love is just a click (or swipe) away. Better Business Bureau® (BBB®) advises consumers to to be aware of the limitations, costs and terms of these services.

“While plenty of people find happiness using a dating service, others are disappointed in the number or quality of matches, or find the service difficult to cancel,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “Remember that no service can guarantee perfect matches and read the terms carefully before you sign up.”
BBB received nearly 9,500 complaints about dating services last year, largely concerning online dating services. Many relate to billing and collection issues. Poor customer service and support, refund issues and unethical advertising or sales practices also prompt complaints. Customers report that it’s difficult to cancel some dating services because they are automatically renewed.

A Saint Charles, MO consumer signed up for a dating website last year, believing based on the website’s advertising that she would be paying $17/month for 12 months. However, when she paid for her first four months, she was debited roughly twice the amount she expected. The dating service answered her complaint, but did not refund her payment or cancel her account. She reported to BBB that she would never have signed up had she known the true amount the dating service would charge.

Tips for choosing a dating service:

  • Don’t fall in love with the advertising. Be skeptical of claims such as “an exclusive network of people,” “for sincere daters only,” or “beautiful singles like you.” Know that all dating sites have their limitations and cannot 100% guarantee successful matches.
  • Do your research. Before you sign up, ask to speak to other members or customers of the service about their experiences. See reviews and customer complaints for dating services by searching Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics or salespeople telling you to sign a contract immediately.
  • Compare pricing and services. Some dating services are free to use, but might offer paid premium subscriptions. Other dating services charge a monthly fee. Before signing up, set a budget. Consider what you’re looking for in a relationship and compare that with each dating service’s offerings to get the best value for your money.
  • Be careful with free trials. Some consumers report that that they signed up for a free trial, but their credit cards were charged for a full membership before they could cancel. If you decide to take advantage of a free trial, mark the end of the trial on your calendar and make sure to decide whether you will cancel the service before then.
  • Know how to break up. Many online dating sites automatically renew memberships, so don’t assume they’ll stop billing you once the contract runs out. You will likely need to go through a process to cancel your membership. Read the dating service’s cancellation policy before you sign up.

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