In love, like life, there are no guarantees. But singles who signed on with a matchmaking service offering connections to other locals say they wound up with dateless, despite paying thousands of dollars up front for the chance to meet other lonely hearts.
Dating apps and other online services aren’t for everyone, leading some folks to seek out matchmaking services, including one woman who found an ad for a site called Silicon Valley Matchmakers. She tells NBC Bay Area that she liked the fact that the company touted itself as a personal and local dating service, as well as the success stories she heard during a required orientation.
But although she paid $8,000 for 16 months worth of matchmaking,she says she realized the service isn’t local at all, and not particularly personal, either: Matchmakers worked with her by phone from a Sacramento office, and her matches were terrible, she says.
“I’m not being picky,” she told NBC. “Same mistakes over and over again. It’s like — ‘Are you listening to what I’m saying to you? Have you looked at my profile?’”
Another single had a similar story after signing up with another purportedly local service, East Bay Matchmakers, saying she feels like she was “taken to the cleaners” after paying $3,000 for six months of service with disappointing results.
Both of these services are actually run by one company called Brotherton Holdings located in Broken Arrow, OK, which has a slew of nearly identical sites: Along with the East Bay and Silicon Valley, there’s Bentonville Matchmakers, Capital City Matchmakers, Central Valley Matchmakers, Monterey Bay Matchmakers, Salt Lake City Match Makers, and Sonoma Matchmakers, to name a few.
Each site has the exact same testimonial from a satisfied customer named “Blake,” addressed to the local office. Though this would seem to indicate that Blake found love locally, the fine print at the bottom of the page notes that “Testimonials are the words of real clients of this or related office. To protect client privacy, we’ve changed the names.”
Not only that, but the same stock photos are used on each of the websites, including one that is so folksy cute that it was also used on a romance novel called You Don’t Have To Be A Star.
It’s also used on Brotherton Holdings’ bare bones site.
The company’s vice president of operations, Mike Carroll, flew to the Bay Area in an attempt to address customers’ concerns, telling NBC that clients sign a contract. That document does not guarantee a specific number of introductions or any specific outcome, NBC notes.
“I deal with professional, intelligent, articulate people,” Carroll told the news site. “They’re smart enough to understand the agreement they’re entering into.”
Although the sites use stock photos for privacy reasons, he insists that the testimonials are real, and that many customers have been successfully matched. That includes a man who paid $4,100 for the service, who tells NBC that he’s now happily engaged.
“We get invitations to weddings, wedding videos and thank yous,” Carroll said.
Customers who complained to NBC want the company shut down, and their money refunded. While the company denied the request for refunds, it’s offering to extend the memberships of those that complained.
Before signing up for any similar service, you should make sure to read the fine print: Will you be eligible for a refund if you aren’t satisfied? What exactly are you getting for your money? Can you pay-as-you-go? Make sure to do your research.