Be very, very careful with these people. They are veteran sales people and they will win if you are at all interested in hiring a match maker. I am an experience sales and marketing executive and I was taken in by their con. I was divorced for about a year and a half when I went to go see them. I had just signed on with my friend to help him get his start up rolling and was working consistent 18 hour days about 6 days a week.
So, I had no time for just "bumping into someone" special. There is a popular singles bar just down the road from my house in Austin which caters to my age group (35). I'm 6'3" 190lbs and I'm in very good shape (work out a few times a week + fast metabolism = about 8% body fat). I'm not Brad Pitt but I have a high opinion of myself and I'm rarely alone if I stoop to dropping by the bar.
However, a bar does not generally lend itself to meeting someone you want to spend significant time with. So, I filled out a form on VIPSingles.com. Within a couple days I was contacted by a sales rep for Together Dating / The Right One in San Antonio. He wanted me to come meet with his sales manager in San Antonio. I live in Austin, so that's quite a drive. I wasn't sure about it.
Due to my crazy work schedule, he said he could get her (sales manager) to come in on Saturday morning for me. That Saturday happened to be the same day that the hurricane blew in. So, I decided not to go. I wish I hadn't. The sales manager, I think her name was Deborah or Debbie, called me about 20 minutes before I was supposed to be there to confirm that I was coming.
I told her I wasn't due to the weather. She convinced me to come anyway. So I drove through the rain to meet with her. She seemed to be a very charming sincere person on the phone.
I arrived at the Together Dating building. It is in a bank building. The front door was locked and I had to ring a little buzzer at the front door and she came out to let me in. There were a couple young ladies at the front desk who seemed nice. I don't understand how they can sleep at nice and keep such innocent looks on their faces. I guess they have mortgages to pay...
They had me wait in the waiting room for about 10 minutes and asked me to look through the keep sake books there. There were pictures and "feedback" from happy couples who had supposedly met through Together. The entries looked old and the clothes in the pictures were out of style. My guess is they were about 10 years old. Also, I wasn't able to find any really good looking women in any of the photos. So, I was a bit suspicious.
When Debra (spelling?), the sales manager, took me back to her office, I tried to find a nice way to say that I didn't think this would work for me because I have pretty high standards. She told me to not be bashful about my "picky list" and she took out a paper and wrote down exactly what I wanted in a long term girlfriend. I specified strictly "in shape", "in Austin", "great sense of humor", "very active", "financially stable" and "very good looking." Her writing it down made me feel better.
She told me they had over 60,000 members in the area, that she was sure that there would be someone to fit my standards. I wondered how much this service would cost. I had recently sold a business - so I had plenty of cash at the time - but the marble, bank building was making me feel like I was in a lawyers office...and something has to pay that lease.
She joked with me and got me laughing. I started to really like her. Very charming. She took me through about an hour and a half of discussion, forms, personality tests and she told me about the contract. I have some of the forms scanned and published at www.togetherdating-therightone.com which I created after I realized I had been conned out of $6000 and 3 hours of driving through a hurricane.
At the end of the talk, I still wasn't certian but she told me she personally guaranteed I would be very happy with the service. She said she would mark my file (as in with a pen on paper) to make sure she reviewed each match personally. I wondered how they could be managing over 60,000 members with pen and paper...
Despite my doubts and despite only listening to her describe the contract but not actually reading it myself, I decided to do it because I thought my credit card would protect me from any kind of fraud. I have disputed merchant charges for "failure to deliver" and "product not as described" successfully in the past and thought I was safe. I was very very wrong.
It turns out the contract states that you are paying for something totally different than matchmaking. In fact, the word "date" and "matchmaking" are not even in the contract. Once you have received the testing and they have your money, the most you can get back - according to the contract - is 50%. So, if I had changed my mind 5 minutes after they took my card, I'd still have lost $3000 despite them not matching me with anyone. After you take your first phone call (called a referral) and say "ok" to the vague description they give you, you are no longer eligible for any kind of refund - again, stated in the contract - which you can see at www.togetherdating-therightone.com.
I received my first "referral" match a couple days after driving back to Austin. The first referral they gave me did not live in Austin and never returned my phone call. I left voicemail and never heard from her. A week or so later, I called and told my account manager that I she hadn't called me. So, she set me up with another.
Again, voice mail for a woman who did not live in Austin. I left a second voicemail. I was beginning to think I had been scammed. I had no evidence either of these referrals were even real people. I had had enough. I had next to no time and I had already spent hours with them and hours driving back and forth from San Antonio to Austin. I began really regretting signing up, especially after Deb replied to my complaints with "its a numbers game." I had told her I was signing up with them for "matchmaking." I expected to be matched with someone who was excited about meeting someone. People who are excited about meeting someone who has been hand matched for them would return a phone call from that person, right??... It didn't add up. This had to be a scam.
I started raising a stink when they fought me. I work with attorneys frequently and asked one of them about the contract. He said I didn't have a case because it stated that I had paid for testing, which I had received during my San Antonio visit. $6000 for a subjective personality test you could take on just about any free "personality test" website. I had been conned.
I called every day. After many rough and tumble, heated debates with Deb, I was referred to her "manager." This turned out to be Shane, the owner, and Jeanette, the regional manager. Shane seemed to be my kind of guy. I could tell he was a hard charging executive and would understand my lifestyle of trying to fit some relaxation into the very small gaps in my work schedule.
After several discussions, it was apparent that Shane was not going to refund my money. He offered to personally manage my account, to talk about refunds again after I had met up with a few matches. However, I was no longer interested and no longer trusted the Together Dating service. I offered to provide him with $6000 worth of marketing consulting for which he could "pay" instead of a "refund." This was a much better deal than they had roped me into via their contract and he seemed to think it might be a good deal as well.
I had already started the expose' website togetherdating-therightone.com by then and he asked me to take the negative information off the website while we talked. I took the information down and we traded emails back and forth for a couple months. We kept almost meeting to discuss those marketing services and me getting paid. It had definitely become an ego issue with me. I knew I had been given the hard sell...and I had taken the hook hard. I wanted that money back to save my face and I was willing to work my butt off to get it.
But Shane never met with me.
He began to not return emails from me until I sent them a few times. He would not return phone calls. The final blow was when I created a very detailed, multipage marketing proposal just before Christmas and never received a reply. I sent him an email asking him about it and he said he'd get back to me. I still haven't heard from him nearly half way through January of 2009.
Times up, Shane. I'm embarrassed that I didn't read your sneaky contract. But, I've stopping choking on the hook and now I've swallowed it. I accept that I was rolled for $6000. However, I'm going to do my best to make sure no one else gets the same treatment. Every detail I can find about Together Dating / The Right One, both national and local franchises will be published there. I'll focus on the San Antonio, Austin, Denver franchises because I *know* their tactics personally. But, I'll also be exposing the national executives and the national corporation. We already have some embarrassing informatoin about the company's CEO there.