Posted: 7/13/2018

By:

Online dating sites have come a long way. There is a variety of dating apps and websites for almost every kind of match you’re looking for. People Media operates sites such as OurTime.com for singles over 50, BlackPeopleMeet.com, SingleParentMeet.com, PetPeopleMeet.com, and is affiliated with Match.com and OKCupid.

phone dating app

Here’s the catch:  Online dating sites have come a long way. There is a variety of dating apps and websites for almost every kind of match you’re looking for. People Media operates sites such as OurTime.com for singles over 50, BlackPeopleMeet.com, SingleParentMeet.com, PetPeopleMeet.com, and is affiliated with Match.com and OKCupid. They boast that every day nearly 20,000 new members join their sites and they have several thousand success stories each week. Unfortunately, for some of their members, the experience has been less than favorable.

Several consumers have shared their experience with Business Consumer Alliance in hopes of getting some help. Complaints highlight issues such as misleading practices, unauthorized charges, inadequate customer service, and difficulties obtaining refunds or cancelling memberships.

One user says that shortly after signing up she noticed that the site used her profile to send “flirts” and messages to other profiles without her permission. When she contacted People Media to delete her account and obtain a refund, they denied the request. Another claims she didn’t receive much help after reporting that her account had been hacked twice. The hacker used her photos, pretended to be her, and sent spam messages to men on the site. People Media simply told her to change her password, which she did but to no avail. “I have tried calling customer service and keep getting hung up on. I’m unable to cancel my membership,” she says. Yet another member told BCA, “LoveandSeek baited me into joining at a fee of $109.00 on my credit card and none of what is advertised is true. It is a total scam.”

An Illinois member who joined BlackPeopleMeet.com under a promotion was charged $29.97 without authorization. After several attempts to reach customer service, she was told she’d have to pay an additional $50 to cancel the membership and another $30 to secure that her profile would not be linked to another one of their sites. Unfortunately, People Media ignored each of these complaints and many more. They currently have an F rating with BCA.

Kim’s Advice:  Before you make any membership commitments, know what you’re signing up for. The main purpose of being on a dating app or website is to find a connection and possibly begin a relationship. In order for that to happen, you have to be able to interact with others. Some sites display profiles of members that are not even active and have not been active for a considerable amount of time. By joining People Media, subscribers agree that although a member profile may be viewed, the profile might not be active and communicating with them is not an option. It’s unknown how many of these “inactive” profiles exist, so you’re taking a risk that the person you’re interested in may not even be available to respond back.

Also, some sites use bait and switch tactics to get you to “upgrade” or pay for select features. For example, one review for People Media said the person received a lot of "messages" from attractive users that could only be viewed if they paid to upgrade their membership. About a week after paying, scores of “flirts” came in, but most were from persons that were less attractive than the people who had sent messages prior to upgrading. After responding to a select few that were acceptable, only a handful of responses came back. The problem was that the responses seemed canned and identical to the others. After a few days of this, the member turned off the automatic renewal feature. Since then, the “flirts” and messages stopped altogether. Dating service JDI Dating employed similar practices and found themselves caught in the line of fire with the Federal Trade Commission.

Instead of wasting your time and money on a service that may not provide all the services they advertise, check out reviews and complaints from others. Check out their BCA Reputation Report, do an Internet search for the company, and check social media for experiences that may help you decide if the site is right for you.

As with any service, always read the terms and conditions before you agree to sign up or pay. I know in this day and age it is easy to bypass all the writing and rush to click “I agree”, but oftentimes this can lead to problems later on. While the dating service may allow you to cancel your membership, they may not provide refunds. In addition, you should check into what information the website or app collects and retains, how your information is used (is it sold to other parties for marketing or research?), and if you can completely delete your profile if you no longer wish to use the services.

In some states, the law allows consumers a 3-day cancellation clause, where they can cancel and receive a full refund if they cancel the services properly. You can contact your local consumer protection agency or attorney general for information.

Beware of any love interest that wants you to wire them money for any reason. This is a telltale sign of a scam. Be cautious about swiftly sharing intimate details about yourself when getting to know someone. Some other signs to look out for are:

  • If the person tries to immediately lure you away from the dating site to communicate over personal email or messenger.
  • Professes love suddenly.
  • Says they are from the U.S. but are currently traveling or working overseas.
  • Plans to visit, but some emergency prevents them from doing so.

Finding love can be a daunting task. Using sound judgment, exploring your options, and doing your due diligence when it comes to dating services, may save you some undue heartache.

About Business Consumer Alliance

Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.

Tags: dating services, dating advice, Kim's Catch

BCA Consumer Ally seal

What is this program?

The Consumer Ally program is free for consumers to join. At BCA, we feel it's very important to educate the public on trends like scams, new laws and providing helpful tips to empower the public in making wise purchasing decisions. This program is an elite community of consumers who share our vision for a safe marketplace. We can't be everywhere at once so we depend on feedback from the public to help our efforts.

  • Free subscription to our e-newsletter
  • Free scam alerts
  • Eligible to win random prizes. We like to run contests exclusively for Consumer Ally members