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Editorial: A True Disaster
by Joe Tracy, Publisher of Online Dating Magazine

(November 2005) Our past coverage of True's exploitation of women has generated quite a few responses from readers and, amazingly enough, not one single opposing opinion as of press time for this editorial. Readers are getting fed up with True's tactics and expressing that frustration to us. Here's a couple of excerpts from emails we've received about True that show how deep their practice of deception goes:

One reader, Kevin, related his experience to us whereas he was a member of True and got a message from someone he thought had an interest in him, only to find out it was a staff member of True! Several readers have informed us that they have received emails from True staff, deceitfully disguised as someone truly interested in them. Here's the email that Kevin received:

"Hey, how are you? I'm interested in getting to know you better, so if you want let me know and we can catch up on line (sic) sometime, or send me something about yourself. Hope to here (sic) from you soon."

The person's username appeared under the message along with the letters TC. It turns out that the person who sent that message is part of the staff at True. True tries to get away with it by having TC added to the end so that if they are ever revealed, they can claim they disclosed their association because TC means "True Crew". Tell me, does this ad look like someone who works for True? (username and image blurred):

The picture and More Photos are very nice. So, if you were a guy, what would you think when you received an email from an attractive 21-year old like Kevin did from a service that professes to be about relationships and is called True?

Kevin writes:

"None of the other major sites I've been with (Match.com, MatchMaker.com, DreamMates.com, and eHarmony.com) engages in any of these practices, or in anything remotely resembling any of these practices... So why does True.com? Why does a site that names itself after the truth (a very high-minded goal) engage in such misleading or deceptive practices?"

Another reader takes issue with True's screening process:

"They don't screen like they claim. Like most Web daters, I don't bother reading fine print, so it wasn't until long after joining I read that I must be single... since I'm separated in a state that has no legal separation (i.e I'm still by law married) I expected some type of warning and ban once I learned about the screens. Never got one."

True doesn't have to worry about screening for him now as he left the service this month with the only emails received being from the "True Crew".

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Continuing down the path of destruction, True has introduced a hot "Sexploration" quiz you can take. It goes great with their sleazy ad campaign we wrote about several months ago (click here). Take a look for yourself and be the judge:

Perhaps you'll be interested in True's 20 Winks feature where you click one button and it sends 20 winks to people it thinks you might be interested in. True is the only service I know where you can show interest in people whose profile or picture you've never seen. And how would you like to be on the receiving end of winks of interest from people who have never viewed your profile?

But perhaps worse of all comes from a press release that True put out itself! The press release begins as follows:

"Earlier today, the leading online relationship service TRUE(R) filed a lawsuit in United States District Court against convicted sex offender Dr. Robert Wells of Walnut Creek, California."

Buried further down in the press release is how True found out about the guy:

"TRUE became aware of Dr. Wells' sex offender status when a TRUE.com member directly contacted the company."

What happened to True's screening process? It's obvious from the release that this convicted sex offender was an active member and only discovered when someone else brought it to True's attention! True should be embarrassed about this. Oh wait, according to the CEO of True, California "maintains laws that actually protect the privacy of criminals." Ok and is this fact prominently displayed in True's promotion that they weed out felons and married people? I couldn't find it. And how many other states have similar laws that True "can't" screen?

While we applaud True for prosecuting this person, we have to wonder if True ever stopped to think that their sleazy ads may be attracting these type of people to their service? True has become an embarrassment to the online dating community.

Now the question becomes how well has True's deceptive practices worked since they started majorly overhauling the service late last year?

According to Comscore Media Metrix, from July 2004 to July 2005, out of the top 10 online dating services, True is the only one that had declines in visits. Meanwhile, eHarmony.com (which doesn't court controversial advertising) saw an increase of 41%!

True needs a major overhaul to keep from permanently damaging its name. The branding of the site is being run into the ground through sleazy methods that devalue the service and devalue its members.

We once had great hope for True that it would turn into an amazing online dating service rivaling the big guns like Match.com and eHarmony.com. They started out with a great service. It's too bad that True has chosen a direction that is awash in sleaze and deception. If anything good comes out of this, it will be a case study for other online dating services on what NOT to do. And that's very true.

Joe Tracy
jtracy@onlinedatingmagazine.com

Related Links:
» True's Exploitation of Women Goes Too Far
» Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against True.com
» Lawsuit Against True.com Exposes Problems with Service



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