Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

The girl next door is married. The guy at your gym already has a significant other. Let’s face it, meeting your future Mr. or Mrs. Right isn’t always easy. So it’s not surprising that dating services are becoming more popular.

As a recent KIRO TV story shows, some Washington singles are willing to pay big bucks to find a soul mate, but can be disgruntled when the services don’t match what they were promised.

dateThe Attorney General’s Office doesn’t comment on specific business practices unless we’ve taken enforcement action nor do we reveal which companies we’re  investigating, so we can’t comment on specific allegations in reporter Amy Clancy's story. But we can assert that all businesses need to be upfront about the services they offer. As Attorney General Rob McKenna said during his interview, “Hiding the rest of the contract until after (customers have) signed is really unethical.”

Consumers, too, should be aware that just because they aren’t satisfied with a service – that doesn’t mean they’ll receive a refund. Most online sites, as well as traditional dating clubs, require you to sign a contract. Contrary to popular belief, there is no general law that guarantees a cooling-off period or a money-back guarantee. If you feel pressured to sign quickly, that’s a good time to walk away and think some more.

If you’re considering using a dating service, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Understand all terms of the contract before you join. Regardless of whether you choose to use an Internet-based service or a more traditional matchmaking service in which you interact with a company representative, it is important to know exactly what you are paying for. Get all promises in writing. Note: Some subscription-based services will automatically renew your membership and charge you unless you cancel by a specified date.
  • Check out guarantees and refund policies. Know what your recourse is if you are dissatisfied with the service. If you do meet someone using the service, will you receive a refund for the remaining membership term?
  • Pay with a credit card instead of a check or cash so that you have a record of payment and can request a charge-back for services not delivered.
  • Ask the company to document the number of active members it has on file, the ratio of men to women and their dating preferences, and the number of clients who meet your specific criteria.
  • What guidelines does the company follow when screening applicants? Is a background check run through the local police department before accepting a client?
  • What methods does the company use to match clients and what are the credentials of those who perform this service?
  • Ask for references and do you your own research. (Search online, check with the BBB, etc.)

Have you tried a dating service? What was your experience?

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