KD Investigation: Local Dating Service Under Fire
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For many singles out there, true love seems to be getting harder to find. But are dating services the answer?
One service in Green Tree boasts a high success rate, but they’ve also collected dozens of complaints about high-pressure tactics, expensive contracts and bad matches.
They’re newlyweds closing on a new house; but three years ago, Dina and Larry Russo were simply clients of the Green Tree dating service named, the “Two of Us,” which made Dina a startling claim.
“We promise you’ll be engaged by date number six; and sure; enough Larry was date number six,” said Dina.
“Two of Us” claims a client base of 1,800 available singles, and a tried and true method of matching them up.
“We’re an introduction service,” says Susie Taylor, of “Two of Us” dating service. “We’re supplying them with introductions – with meeting people with similar interests, with similar goals in a relationship.”
But for many, love remains elusive. At District Judge Gary Zyra’s office, one woman who we’ll call Maryann, is filing a complaint demanding a refund of some $1,200.
Maryann says she was pressured into signing an unbreakable contract and given matches that bore no relation to her specification as a dyed in the wool Conservative and a fierce anti-smoker.
“I had all duds sent to me,” she said. “I had smokers, I had Liberals.”
Before “Two of Us” opened three years ago, another dating service called “The Right One” operated at the same location.
“Two of Us” says “The Right One” is now a competitor, but the Better Business Bureau in Pittsburgh says it was operated by the same California-based ownership.
“The Better Business Bureau would be concerned that the ‘Two of Us’ and ‘The Right One’ are the same company,” said Warren King of the Better Business Bureau. “In addition to a dozen court complaints against the two companies here at Better Business, there are 25 complaints on file against ‘Two of Us’ going back three years – 43 against ‘The Right One.’ Between the two companies, there’s almost 70 complaints.”
While “Two of Us” calls that a small percentage of its clients, the Better Business Bureau’s Kings says it’s the highest number of complaints against of any local dating service.
KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan spoke with several former clients too embarrassed to appear on camera, but the complaints were the same – bad matches and high pressure sales leading to expensive, unbreakable contracts – some as high as $2, $4 even $8,000.
But in Pennsylvania, the dating industry is virtually unregulated unlike states like New York where such contracts are illegal.
“Don’t be high pressured,” says King. “We’re aware of some dating companies [that] charge up to $25,000 without a cancellation policy.”
Taylor concedes that “Two of Us” presses to close the deal with its clients during the initial interview, but she says it’s the clients who benefit in the end – even if it takes a little time.
“We’re finding soul mates; we’re finding companionship – that’s not something you can put a time frame on,” she says. “But if they keep communication with us, ultimately we’re going to be successful.”