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Editorial: A New Year and a New Challenge to the Online Dating Industry
by Joe Tracy, Publisher of Online Dating Magazine


(January 2006) A new year is upon us, presenting a great opportunity to issue a challenge to the online dating industry. And that challenge is this:

We challenge online dating services to become more
customer friendly in 2006 and we'll feature those that do.

There was one unfortunate consistent theme among online dating services in 2005 - to become less customer friendly. It's sad, but true. As services look for ways to increase paid memberships, they implemented ideals that made them less customer friendly. For example:

When a member used to email you at, you had the benefit of knowing who emailed you even if you weren't a member. Then you could decide if you wanted to sign up in order to read the email and respond. But changed it so that you now don't know who emailed you. You are simply sent a message that "someone" emailed you and in order to read and respond, you must first become a paying member.

American Singles has been guilty of the same thing for awhile. You receive an email saying someone has emailed you, but in that email they don't tell you who.

Services that do this are doing a great injustice to their prospective members. Could you imagine going to buy a car, but being told by the car dealer that you couldn't see the type of car you were buying until it was paid for?

What's worse is that some services with this rule (and there are several) will email out "site news" and you receive a notice that "someone" has emailed you only to find out it is the site's newsletter or a service announcement.

The decline of customer service in the online dating industry, however, has gone beyond that.

True, which we have written extensively about because of their misleading techniques, stopped allowing people to cancel their service online. In addition, they raised their prices to more than $49 a month - nearly double what it used to be! So when you sign up for True, you are charged a recurring high monthly fee and when you want to cancel, you must call them on the phone.

LavaLife found a new way in 2005 to make money and annoy customers at the same time. They started publishing those annoying flashing ads that mislead users into believing that they have won a year's supply of gas. "Congrats. You’ve been Selected. Free Gas for a Year. Click Here to Claim," the ad says while flashing in your face. It's a third party company advertising on the service. spent millions of dollars to apparently upgrade their customer service center and support. However, we still receive a high amount of emails complaining about eHarmony's customer support. These range from members not getting a response to members who had problems asking for a refund, but not getting any money back - only an offer of "two free months."

In 2006, we want to see online dating services become more friendly towards customers. And when we find larger online dating services making moves to do that, we will feature them on Online Dating Magazine.

If you see a service making changes for the better, then let me know. We want people to know which online dating services are making strides to become more customer friendly. When you put people over profits, you will make more money than when you put profits over people because people will respect you and recommend you. How do you think Google managed to become the uncontested leader in the search marketplace without any banner ads or pop-up ads on their site? They put the user experience first. That's how.

And that's what we'd like to see the online dating industry do - put the user experience first.

Wishing you an awesome 2006,

Joe Tracy

P.S. 2006 will be a great year for Online Dating Magazine. The publication is now updated on a daily basis and we are adding several new writers and columnists. One of those new writers, columnists, and contributors is James Houran, Ph.D. who is bringing his extensive experience to the publication. We warmly welcome him to the team and urge you to visit his new column, "Office Hours With Dr. Jim". And, as always, Online Dating Magazine remains free. You'll never find pop-up ads or flashing banners telling you your system resources are low and to "click here." The publication follows a strict Code of Ethics. We are honored to be serving you.


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