• Report: #641160

Complaint Review: Connections Dating

  • Submitted: Thu, September 16, 2010
  • Updated: Tue, August 16, 2011

  • Reported By: Jennifer — Austin Texas United States of America
Connections Dating
10710 Research Blvd Ste 316 Austin, Texas United States of America

Connections Dating Great Expectations Misleading Sales Austin, Texas

*Consumer Comment: Great Expectations' CEO physically threatened me

*UPDATE Employee: The other side of this industry

*Author of original report: Connections Dating now at the Arboretum

*Author of original report: Lock Out Notice Due to Non-Payment of Rent

*Consumer Comment: OLDER WOMEN ARE BEING RIPPED OFF BY DATING SERVICES

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Everyone needs to be aware that some former Great Expectations offices are now operating as Connections Dating. Connections Dating also uses youhometownsingles.com as portals to generate leads to bring people in for an "interview" for their services.  They have posted street signs in the cities that they operate in advertising their service as yourhometownsingles.com. If you were brought in on that portal you may have grounds for aan advertising fraud claim as this is a bait and switch since nothing on their website indicates you would be doing business with Connections Dating aka Great Expectations

The interview you go through is actually a very smooth but aggressive sales pitch. I personally had the interviewer Linda ask me about how lonely I get and also point out that the older you get the harder it is to find someone. She made the service sound great!

The fees are presented at the end of the very lengthy "interview" for me began at $3795.00 for a 1 year membership plus $29.08 a month for website maintenance. But if you sign now and only now you get $1000.00 off. This is clearly designed to get people to not have time to think about it or research the company. I can not recall the even higher fees for a 3 year or lifetime membership. I figured if a dating service doesn't work for you in one year its not a very good dating service. I'm embarrassed to admit I fell for it at all. Being a professional single I signed believing who but other professionals would pay such fees for a dating service. The owner of the business contends that his business does not use high pressure or misleading sales tactics and told me that he's seen hourly wage workers that can afford his service because they are responsible about their income. I'd be interested to see how many hourly wage workers in his system paid the same fee that I did and feel they got a good value for their money. He also argued that offering different fees to different people and not being transparent about it is not ethically wrong.

The much touted social "events" that I saw when I was in the service were dinner at Cheddar's, an outing to Dave and Busters and a Bunco night. The Welcome sheet I was given states "Do you like dancing, or hiking in the countryside? Do you like wine tours and classes? Do you like bowling or baseball or karaoke? If so be sure to check out your Event Calendar section."

I had heard of Great Expectations but I hadn't heard of Connections Dating and I didn't realize its the same business operating under the same name, you can confirm this through the BBB.org website as the business is listed under the DBA (doing business as) names of Connections Dating, Mad Management and Great Expectations. The owner of the Austin branch, Michael Miess will contend that there's nothing wrong with him charging different fees because they are only occasional specials and always justified. He did admit he applies "specials" on a case by case basis. But again only occasionally. Would be interesting to see his financial books and see exactly how many of his members paid a full fee to a discounted one. Again he contends there is nothing unethical about not telling people about his discounting practice before having them sign a contract with a no cancellation, no refunds clause.

One thing I couldn't find on the internet is a complaint about this service not allowing people to join after a screen interview. If the interview is an actual screen and not a sales pitch designed to get whatever money they can out of people you'd think that someone at sometime would have failed the screen and complained about discrimination.

On the subject of Michael Miess, if you do a google search for Michael Miess and dating scam the first two results are a link to a Democratic Underground post pointing to a Consumer Affairs complaint from a Melissa of Round Rock, TX on 1/23/08 where she mentions him by name as the owner of the Great Expectations business she dealt with.

There is also a link to a story by Jeremy Finley of WSMV TV out of Nashville, TN where Michael Miess was interviewed as a "former owner" of one of the Great Expectations franchises. Happily the woman involved with that complaint eventually got her money back but only after the WSMV story.

During my interview I was not presented with the opportunity to view the entire member database.  Linda brought in a few selected profile numbers and brought up the profiles and then showed me the profiles on her screen. You can not view the member database until after you sign and contract and after you allow them to take your photos and video for your profile. Thats right even though you've paid, you can not even see the other members until AFTER you have photos/video taken. This gives them the opportunity to claim that they incurred costs on your behalf if you later find their service is not what you were lead to believe and start to fight. Its a way for them to open the door to argue for keeping at least part of your money for their efforts.

Connections Dating also issues you the log in and password for the service. There are no instructions for how to change the password and in the few weeks I was on the service I could not find any way to change the password. This means Connections Dating can log in anytime, as anyone. Any message you transmit through their service can be viewed by them at anytime. You have no user privacy.

By chance I recognized someone in their database who I knew in passing through a friend of mine. Once I had his phone number from my friend he told me he was surprised that I had seen his profile listed as active since his contract ended with them months ago. He had also been very dissatisfied with the service and stated that hardly anyone in the service responds to contact attempts. This was my experience too. I sent contact attempts to 5 guys, I got one "no thanks" and after 19 days the others were all still at "no response".

Where one "active" profile is inappropriately labeled as active, there could be others so its reasonable to wonder how many "active" profiles are actually active, especially when others make claims of people not responding to contact attempts ever. And with the control that Connections Dating has over passwords and ID's no user can be certain that even a "no thanks" response came from the actual user they were trying to reach. Do I know that they do this? No however their system create the possibility for this type of profile abuse. Only Connections Dating can take down profiles, so once you leave the service and don't have access anymore you can not confirm that your profile is no longer used. I took a screenshot of the inappropriately active profile to prove its status.


The cities which currently have Connections Dating offices are:
Austin
Baltimore
Washington D.C.
Hartford
Stamford
Milwaukee
Richmond

If you feel that you have been ripped off by this company I urge you to step forward and speak up. Keeping quiet about deceptive trade practices is what allows businesses to keep engaging in those practices. Rip Off report is a great forum for this. But also report them to your BBB and to your State Attorney General's office. It's only if enough people report the incidents that authorities can do anything about it.

To date I have not gotten a refund but I'm not done fighting. If I get the full refund I'm seeking I will post that here.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/16/2010 09:58 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Connections-Dating/Austin-Texas-78759/Connections-Dating-Great-Expectations-Misleading-Sales-Austin-Texas-641160. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
2Author 3Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

Great Expectations' CEO physically threatened me

AUTHOR: Frederick - (USA)

I, too, have had a miserable experience with Great Expectations.  I won't go into the entire story because it would take FAR too long, but suffice it to say that I entered into an arbitration hearing with the Better Business Bureau against Great Expectations, and the BBB determined that I was owed a refund due to GE's misleading business practices.  This arbitration decision was legally binding, and both parties were required before the hearing to sign documents agreeing to abide by the decision of the arbitrator.

Unfortunately, the CEO of Great Expectations, Robert Fisher, who lives in Houston Texas, felt that the law did not apply to him, despite the fact that the Great Expectations membership contract also states that all disputes will be resolved by legally binding arbitration via the BBB.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to get Fisher's phone number, and when I finally did and called him, he ignored my phone calls for two weeks.  When he finally answered and I explained who I was and why I was calling, he began screaming obscenities at me, called me a "piss-ant" and several other vulgar names, and THREATENED ME PHYSICALLY if I continued to demand my refund (which I am legally owed!).  He screamed at me so much he resembled a cross between a psychopath and a second-grader.  It was a bizarre experirence.

Needless to say, my next phone call was to my lawyer.  I should add that Robert Fisher is currently operating a company called Drumbeat Marketing, and based on my experience, I would obviously suggest that anyone be very cautious before doing business with any company that Fisher operates.
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#2 UPDATE Employee

The other side of this industry

AUTHOR: connectionsdating - (United States of America)

Hi my name is Barbara Klein .  Ive been working in this industry as an advisor/counselor  since 2008.  Ive met many, many people.  Ive met a lot of people at all different stages of their life, and they need a little bit of assistance, getting out into the dating scene.  And thats what I do, I assist them and help them change their lives because if I dont help them, they will go home and do the same thing theyve been doing which is being alone.

Some people come in and they have unrealistic expectations and they think that we are miracle workers in fact we have helped thousands of people become successful in finding the person they will spend the rest of their life with.  When people come here and they havent found their significant other right away they think we are the bad guys, but the minute they fall in love and become successful we become the good guys.  Some people are in a rush and think because they joined, the next week they will be getting married, when in fact we tell everyone that it takes time and its a numbers  game and its a matter of who walks through the door and when and our philosophy is that it only takes one.  Some people come in and they think this is a runway for models.  Even though we tell them that we have all walks of life here.  We have blue collar, white collar, college students, nannies, presidents of worldwide corporations. And we dont discriminate.  However our screening process is the way that we weed out the riff raff.  For example; a man comes in here whos 40 years old, selects all the 20 year olds, and is told no thank you by them.  All of a sudden is mad at us.  So if he wasnt dating those kind of women before he got here, why would he think hes going to start dating them, because he is in a membership?  And then be mad at us because he hasnt been successful and was told no thank you.  But if he was more realistic in his selecting, more than likely he would have already been successful.  The whole thing here is to find the right one, but we are not magicians nor can we cannot predict the future.

We have a full staff, we are open 6 days a week, we are always joining new members, and the membership is always changing.  We have activities, we have a lot of fun, we are hands on, and there are many people that have become successful by using our service.  We dont mislead, we dont misrepresent.  We make it very clear to each member what our obligations are.  We do everything with our efforts to help them.

We have thousands of members and the fact that there are a few unhappy people shouldnt  suggest that we are not trustworthy.  Any business that is researched online has complaints.  And it doesnt mean that every business is to be perceived badly, because we know that you cant make
everyone happy all the time, but we do our best. 
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#3 Author of original report

Connections Dating now at the Arboretum

AUTHOR: Hal - (United States of America)

So pretty amazing how Connections Dating gets locked out of their old business space by their landlord on 9/27/10 for non-payment of rent and then magically reappear just down the road at a space in the Arboretum (a high end, upscale shopping center for those of you not from the Austin area). Oh yes and they changed their business phone number too.

I hope the old landlord gets wind of this.
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#4 Author of original report

Lock Out Notice Due to Non-Payment of Rent

AUTHOR: Hal - (United States of America)

On 10/5/10 it came to my attention that the Austin Connections Dating Office located at 10710 Research Blvd. Suite 316 has a public notice on the front door that the property manager has locked the business out of the space due to non-payment of rent.

Michael Miess has swtiched business names once before Great Expectations to Connections Dating, it's likely he'll reboot again as a different dating "service".
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#5 Consumer Comment

OLDER WOMEN ARE BEING RIPPED OFF BY DATING SERVICES

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

WHEN I WAS SINGLE, I STAYED AWAY FROM THE MEAT/MEET MARKET SCENE OF DATING AND MATCHMAKING SERVICES. I WAS TOO BUSY MAKING MONEY AND TRYING TO KEEP A ROOF ON MY HEAD.

I HAD HEARD ALL MY LIFE IT WAS A RIP-OFF.

A ROOMMATE OF MINE HAD CHECKED OUT SUCH A SERVICE IN DALLAS,TEXAS AND FOUND OUT THAT IT WAS A RIP OFF. THEY WERE USING OUTTAKES OF FASHION AND GLAMOR PHOTOS AND CLAIMING THEY WERE CLIENTS. YOUNGER GIGILOS AND CALL GIRLS WERE HAVING ACCESS AS WELL AND NOBODY'S CRIMINAL HISTORY OR HISTORY OF SEXUAL KINKINESS WERE BEING  CHECKED EITHER.

TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, AIDS HAD JUST COME OUT AND PEOPLE WERE DYING LIKE FLIES AND EVERYBODY WAS AND STILL IS VERY PARANOID ABOUT THAT. WHAT IS A PERSON'S HIV/AIDS STATUS? WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN? WHAT ABOUT THIS PERSON'S MEDICAL HISTORY? WEIRD, STALKING  EX SKULKING IN THE BACKGROUND? CHILDREN FROM HELL FROM A PREVIOUS MARRIAGE?

THERE ARE LOT OF CONTEMPORARY ISSUES THAT MATCHMAKING COMPANIES TURN A BLIND EYE TO FOR THE ALMIGHTY BUCK.

AND DID I MENTION THAT IS YOU ARE NOT WHAT THE FASHIONISTA FASCISTS CONSIDER DROP DEAD GORGEOUS YOU WILL PAY MORE--- A WHOLE LOT MORE?

AND SINCE OLDER PEOPLE--ESPECIALLY OLDER WOMEN--ARE CONSIDERED LESS DESIREABLE  THAN SOME BIMBO CHICKADEE--THEY WILL PAY THE MOST OF ALL AND PROBABLY BE MATCHED WITH WHOMEVER THE MATCHMAKER GUY CAN CON INTO DATING HER. OR GIVEN A LIST OF FAKE NAMES OR EXPIRED NAMES...

THERE ARE LOTS OF WAYS TO MEET PEOPLE FACE.

COMPUTER DATING SERVICES ARE EVEN WORSE.

THERE IS ONE E-HARMONY.COM THAT NO LONGER ADVERTISES ON NETWORK TV. I SIGNED UP ON A "FREE" WEEKEND WHICH MEANS THAT IT IS FREE TO SIGN UP BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY TO RETRIEVE ANY MESSAGES. I MANAGED TO SCAN SOME PROFILES AND HUNT SOME OF THE PEOPLE DOWN --- I FOUND OF THE SEVEN THAT I MANAGED TO LOCATE--TWO HAD NEVER SIGNED UP, TWO WERE MARRIED, TWO HAD NO IDEA HOW THEY GOT  THERE, AND ONE WAS A BISEXUAL SWINGER WHO WANTED TO KNOW HOW THE HELL I HAD GOTTEN HIS NAME SINCE HE WAS TRYING TO HAVE A COMPLETE SEX CHANGE.  SO MUCH FOR THAT RIP-OFF.

HINT: YOU CAN HUNT THEM DOWN BY THEIR PROFESSION AND CITY AND STATE LOCATION AND FIRST NAME. TAKES SOME DOING AND A LOT OF COMPUTER BATCHING PROGRAMS... LOL

MAYBE ON LINE DATING SERVICES DO WORK BUT I DON'T CARE TO TRY IT AFTER MY LITTLE EXPERIMENT  WITH THEM....

IF YOU WERE JEWISH, I WOULD TELL YOU TO TALK WITH YOUR RABBI OR WHOMEVER YOU FEEL THE CLOSEST TO. MAYBE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES WORK LIKE THAT TOO? DO  NOT GO TO THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH IN DALLAS,TEXAS BECAUSE THAT PLACE WAS ABOUT NOTHING BUT MEAT AND REQUIRED A CREDIT CHECK APPLICATION FROM POTENTIAL MEMBERS BACK IN 1971. NO THANKS. I GUESS THEY ARE ALL LIKE THAT...

HOW TO MEET SOMEONE? JUST BE OUT IN PUBLIC AND FIND A PRETEXT, I GUESS. MAKE SURE YOU RUN A COMPLETE CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECK ON THE PERSON. YOU COULD BE SURPRISED--UNPLEASANTLY SO BY A HUMAN TRAFFICKING CHARGES AND CHARGES OF FAMILY VIOLENCE ,DRUG AND/ OR ALCOHOL CHARGES. THEFT, ETC.

I THINK THE BEST WAY IS THROUGH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. EVEN CO WORKERS ARE GOOD. GET THE WORD OUT. THEN WAIT. IT WILL HAPPEN. I WAS REMARRIED AT 43 AFTER A FAILURE OR TWO AND IT IS GOING ON 19 YEARS NOW...

IT WILL HAPPEN.

TAKES TIME THOUGH.
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