CHICAGO (CBS) — In today’s busy world, more and more singles are turning to online dating and matchmaking services to find that special someone.
But, as CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman found out, some singles have said they’re getting ripped off by one locally based matchmaker.
“It was Valentine’s Day, I was single, it sounded like something that was worth a shot,” said Alexandra Katzman, about why she decided to try a matchmaking service.
The 24-year old attended a speed dating event in the suburbs, run by a company called Date & Dash.
“I matched with three gentlemen, two of which contacted me for dates,” Katzman said.
When Katzhman signed up, she was supposed to be in a group of singles who were between 22 and 32 years old, but later found out that wasn’t true.
“I had been set up with a 39-year old and a 46-year old. My jaw dropped. That’s horrifying. That’s a 22-year age difference. He is old enough to be my father,” said Katzman.
Date & Dash refused to refund Katzman’s fee after she complained.
Complaints like Katzman’s, and others from across the country, have led to an “F” rating for Date & Dash from the Better Business Bureau.
“The complaints are increasing, year over year over,” said Better Business Bureau President and CEO Steve Bernas.
The last 12 months, the complaints are up over 467 percent, that tells you something,” Bernas said.
The Better Business Bureau has received 96 complaints from 23 states against Date & Dash for things like unauthorized charges, double billing, cancelled events, events with too few participants and, in one case, a woman said she was matched with a sex offender.
Date & Dash claims on their website that they have a 90-percent success rate in matching people.
It’s a claim the Better Business Bureau head finds hard to believe.
“Looking at my complaints, the 96 complaints I have in front of me. I do not think it is 90-percent. It cannot be 90-percent in any way, shape or form,” Bernas said.
Vilius Gavrilenka, the Chicago coordinator of Date & Dash, denies the charges made in the complaints to the Better Business Bureau highlighted in this report.
And he says he can back up his website claim of a 90 percent success rate, which is based on the number of clients who matched up with another client at the same event.
Gavrilenka regularly hosts Date & Dash events at bars like Salud Tequila Lounge in Chicago. He was hosting one there when two CBS 2 producers attended a speed dating event. It cost $35 per person for the night.
“It was supposed to be 15 women and 15 men, you would talk for three minutes with each person, and that would be the night,” said CBS 2 Producer Carly Luque.
But Luque said that’s not what happened when she arrived at the venue near a windshield replacement houston company.
“Instead of meeting 15 people, you really met with five,” Luque added. “If you show up and there’s only four people, four or five people there, it’s a waste of money.”
“It just flat out seemed to me like he is preying on single people,” Katzman concluded.
Gavrilenka says he has thousands of happy customers, many more than the angry ones.
He also says he cannot control who signs up for their events or how many show up and “we never promise any particular number of people at any event.”
Gavrilenka says the attendance depends on many factors including weather, time of the year, and traffic.
If a customer does not like an event for any reason, “the next one is on us,” Gavrilenka said. But the company never gives a refund.
The Better Business Bureau says that if you are considering a dating service, you should always check it out online, to see what kind of ratings and customer feedback they have.