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Letter to the Editor:
More Complaints

I am writing concerning the fraudulent practices of In my opinion,'s business practices are criminal, and the company operates with a well planned intent to defraud their clients.

A previous reader conveyed the first level of's deceptive practices by offering repeated extended free periods. I accepted the free periods and called to cancel as notified. However, one day I was looking around my profile and found a link to "cancel your membership." This was a surprise, as previously I was told I must call to cancel. But, the site and terms/conditions changed several times a week, so I figured this was a "new" feature. I canceled my membership, online, printed out the confirmation page, which included a clear statement that my account was canceled, including a confirmation number.

Two weeks later they charged my credit card. When I called, the initially claimed that I had not canceled. I asked them to review their records and we spent about 10 minutes going over everything that had occurred I my account (about 50% was correctly documented, but they omitted several calls to customer support - see below). After putting me on hold to check with supervisors and other databases, I was assured that I had not canceled. At that point I revealed that I had a confirmation number. Their first response was that they did not use confirmation numbers. I waited on hold several times as they claimed to be consulting with supervisors - same conclusion. They have never used confirmation numbers and have no record that I canceled.

At about 25 minutes into the call, I mentioned that I printed out the pages of the cancellation process that I completed online and read, word for word, the printed page confirming my cancellation. The response was that I was required by the terms and conditions to call. After arguing this point for five minutes, the agent put me on hold to consult with a supervisor. When he returned the story changed. The new story was that they acknowledge my cancellation - great! Hurray! Not so fast. The new made up story is that I signed up again for a free 3-day trial! I did not sign up for this.

Here's how they get you and why some of the steps are fraudulent.

After canceling the service, the former user is bombarded with messages from prospective matches. The service allows canceled users to log in and view the messages, but does not allow any response. The user can also update/change their profile settings while in a canceled state. However, while logged into the site, the user is periodically greeted with "Sign up for a Free 3-day trial". When the user closes the window, the site then offers a 7-day free trial.

After being bombarded with email, I went to their site, logged in and changed my settings to "hide" my profile in every way I could think of - there's no option to delete the profile. I thought this would save me from the onslaught of email. Early in my conversation with their rep, I mentioned logging in to "hide" my profile so I'd stop getting email. This was the new made up basis of their charge - that I must have accidentally accepted the free 3-day offer.

I am very careful. I did not accept any extended agreement.

I asked that they check my account and see if there were any emails, contacts or other activity on the account after the date - there was none.

I raised the argument, "why would someone sign up for a free trial and then not contact anyone or use the account in any way?" Why was there no email from acknowledging the free 3day trial? Why was there no notification of any kind from that my account was active and being billed to my credit card? When I canceled, they intentionally sent me dozens of notices trying to lure me back. Once I thought I finally got them to stop - it turns out they'd turned my account back on, without my knowledge.

The company appears to have a series of backup scenarios to counter the client. In my case, after I proved them wrong on the first few attempts, they made up a scenario that I had no means to fight - how can I present documented evidence of not doing something when I had no knowledge of it taking place? Their argument is weak. However, I wonder what the next line of attack would have been? What if I'd been in a comma in the hospital at the time? What would the next made up story have been?

I have spoken with 15 users who signed up for the free trial and all claim to have cancelled on time. All fifteen, 100% of those who signed up, were charged by and had to fight to get their money back. The BBB shows nearly 350 formal written complaints about in the last few months. Unfortunately, the BBB flags the cases as resolved if simply responds in any way - ie, they don't have to do anything at all to resolve the issue and the BBB lets them off the hook. At least one can see the number of complaints. I wonder? What percentage of people who are ripped off by take the time to file a complaint? None of the fifteen people I spoke with had filed a complaint. Is 1-2% a reasonable estimate? Are there tens of thousands of users who were ripped off this summer?

Wink complaint:
The automatic wink - key to's success is the automatic "wink". When the user signs up, they are presented with a pre-checked box that indicates will automatically match them with others. What this means is that periodically, you will be sending "winks" to other users without your knowledge. It happens gradually, but eventually you'll end up winking at anyone and everyone within several hundred miles. The lure is that suddenly you have all these people interested in you - wow, I am so popular, this site is wonderful. Then you write back and find out they have no interest in you and never winked in the first place. The next slap in the face is that you start getting rejection notes from dozens of people that you never wrote to in the first place. The biggest problem I had with about this feature is that I UN-CHECKED the box for them to do this. It took several calls to tech support to resolve this. They would tell me the problem, I would tell them I unchecked it, they'd say, yes you did and we'd wait on hold for a few minutes why they tried to figure out what went wrong. They never got it fixed. I would estimate that 95-99% of all communication on is automatically generated by their match engine. When people figure this out, the get upset and they cancel.

On a closing point concerning "winks" - the winks are the basis for luring people to sign up. It's free to create a profile in order to "look around".

Shortly after looking around, you'll get a bunch of "Angela's interested in you... Suzy wants to meet you... " After a few days, temptation leads to sign up for the "free trial". Within a few days you realize that Angela and Suzy had never even seen your profile. You signed up because an automated site, tricked you into thinking you may have found someone of interest.

I hope this note may help dissuade prospective users. I also hope that
others may follow suite in filing formal, written complaints with the
following agencies:

» Texas BBB
» Texas Attorney General
» Your local state Attorney General
» Internet Crime Complaint Center

In my opinion's practices are criminal, illegal, as they intentionally attempt to defraud their prospective customers. From my experience and input from other former clients, it appears the company spends most of it's operating efforts on creating and implementing scenarios to trick and deceive users and then battle with them until they give up their money.
~ Stephen P.

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