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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Joined an allegedly reputable dating agency. Feel that I have

Customer Question

Joined an allegedly reputable dating agency. Feel that I have been misled and depite trying to deal with this positively the agency will not discuss refuning my fee £1,000 plus. Do I have any rights?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Max Lowry replied 3 years ago.

Max Lowry :

Hi, welcome to Just Answer. I will help you with your question.

Max Lowry :

Can you tell me how you were misled please?

JACUSTOMER-5mzk0qqx- :

Max, I too would like there to be no confusion.

I feel severely misled by my interview with you in August of this year. It was reasonable to infer from what you said that there was an element of active matching, whereas in truth at the regular level you are acting solely as a mailbox. If I had understood that at the time I would not have joined, as I am fully aware that based purely on a photograph and few lines I am disadvantaged against younger, slimmer more photogenic women. I don’t have a problem with this, I know it is the way of the world but I do expect people to show me the respect I and every other client deserves and that is to be truthful. I respect that. At no stage in this meeting did you suggest that this was not a suitable level for me and indeed I asked you a very direct question about my suitability for the service and you assured me that “I had nothing to worry about, you will be fine”. Naturally that reassured me and encouraged me to sign up as I believed that I could trust that assurance. My decision not to go to a higher level was based purely on the fact that it would be unlikely that I could make more than five meetings a year, given my work and family commitments. Whether you suggested that the higher level was more suitable a year before, I certainly have no recollection of it and I would be impressed if you could recall that far back , however it is not relevant as it did not form part of this conversation when the contract was struck.

I would imagine that I am not alone in being very vulnerable in these strange circumstances where you reveal your hopes and aspirations and signing up to something like this is a significant emotional and financial commitment, but I admit I was vulnerable and hopeful, spurred on by your positive representations. I realise that I should have treated this like any of my other contracts which I enter into and taken it away, read it with care and if necessary referred it to my lawyer, who you may wish to consider is one of the leading authorities on Agency law in the UK. I didn’t do any of these things, which is my mistake, however I am sure that with most contracts there is a cooling off period and some reasonable provision for cancellation. You presented it in a very casual way at the last minute (or possibly even after I had paid?) with no encouragement to read it carefully and certainly without drawing my attention to any of the terms. I was certainly vulnerable and foolish to do so, but nobody should profit from that as I assume that you have some duty of care in these circumstances?

There are two acceptable outcomes to this, one you can cancel my membership and refund my fee on the grounds that I am not suitable for your service and the service sold to me was not suitable for my needs and we draw a discreet line under this and I do not discuss my experience, or you make it work. My definition of making it work is that by the end of 12 months membership I have had a reasonably selection of suitable men to choose from and I have met several of them socially, even if these have not led to a romantic relationship, it will have been a pleasant experience and may have broadened my social life which in turn might improve my chances of meeting someone significant. I do not think that that is unrealistic given it is your business.

Given your current refusal on the first option and my unwillingness to involve my business lawyer in my personal affairs at this stage, we are left with your proposal to which I add some conditions which will ensure transparency in our dealings and avoid any more confusion.

  • Firstly, I would like a copy of my signed contract not the blank sent to me.
  • I would like to know the total number of men that fall into my target age range and the number who have joined since August.
  • Then I would like to know the subset whose criteria I might match and who might consider me to be their type.
  • Finally I would like see a selection whom you have canvassed prior my next meeting, so that I know that I am not wasting my time if I select them.
  • Please confirm what proportion of the suitable age range is on the members only intranet and provide me access to it

Please confirm that this is acceptable and if so then I would like to meet in the London office late afternoon (5ish) on 15th November. If that date is not suitable then my next opportunity will not be until 27th November at about the same time, in which case it would be fair to freeze my membership for November as there is no activity or prospect of it before this meeting.

I look forward to hearing from you and being able to move forward with trust and renewed hope.

JACUSTOMER-5mzk0qqx- :

Please see my letter to the agency and below is its response.

JACUSTOMER-5mzk0qqx- :

Dear Fiona

We have now had the opportunity to further review your membership and we stand by our earlier comments and our offer of Executive Plus for one month, you were fully aware of how Regular membership worked, you informed me when you came into join that you felt that was all you needed that you did not need the higher level of membership, as it is not our practice to oversell or pressure clients into something they feel they don’t need then was fine. We would still offer you membership if we met you for the first time today and you are very likely to meet someone suitable if you help us with your membership and stay positive.

The details of Regular (and all levels) are on our website and in our information packs, you were aware of us and the membership for some time and took your time considering which level was best for you. You even informed me when we first met that you were deciding between us and another agency so your decision to join us at Regular was one you had thought about.

We have offered to upgrade your membership to Executive Plus but what you are asking for is something we don’t offer to even our Personal Consultant clients and we cannot do that for you.

As a Regular client, we do make a pre-selection for you before you arrive for your appointment but this is done by either an administrator or a consultant if they are free, but we do not offer suggestions or give you behind the profile details. The final selection is made by you.

As an Executive Plus client you will meet with a consultant and they will help you to the best of their ability by advising you about the profiles you like. A pre selection will be done by a Consultant before you arrive for your appointment and they will be with you during your appointment to offer advise but we will not be contacting clients before you come in for your appointments. Advice can also be given about your own profile (we would advise that we have a smile and maybe some colour in your photos). Numbers of available client will not be known until your appointment as it changes on a daily basis (due to new members, memberships ending and of course clients freezing and unfreezing).

We leave you to read the Terms and Conditions before you pay and you were given a signed copy to take with you.

Your membership is currently frozen , please advise when you wish to unfreeze and we will make an appointment in one of the offices for you.

Please also remember that we are a very success agency (and you have personal acknowledgment of this) and our approach works! Our membership methods may not be how you would do things but we have over 25 years of experience and expertise. It would be impossible to provide the level of service you have outlined in your request. Each potential new member ultimately chooses the level that they feel suits them their individual needs, if later they decide they need more from us they upgrade

Sara Eden Introductions

March House

13 Park Street

Windsor

Berkshire

SL4 1LU

01753 830350

JACUSTOMER-5mzk0qqx- :

Max,

Max Lowry :

Okay.

Max Lowry :

So essentially you're saying the service they promised is different, in terms of what they do (i.e. active matching) than what you actually got?

Max Lowry :

Hello?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
HI.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

I see my colleague has opted out.

I'm afraid I cannot view your entire response because it exceeds the word length. Would it be possible to summarise it?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Joined dating agency. In course of the interview the consultant definitely gave the impression that the level of service was active and that she knew the candidates and there was an element of matching and recommendation, whereas the reality is that it is passive and photo only without any element of matching by the agency. Therefore of no greater value than on line. I do not believe that I was mistaken in that impression , but even if I was we have now all agreed that the service is not suitable for me therefore I should be able to cancel it. Their response is that I should pay to move to a higher level, when I have no trust that they can deliver (like going back to teh hairdresser who has given you a bad haircut). Is there anyway I can send the details through in segments to give you all the detail. Just for context, I am a highly intelligent woman who runs her own business with 20 staff and regularly deal with contractual matters, so I don't often make such fundamental mistakes.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Why is the service unsuitable?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Because they appear to have very few men willing to consider women in my age bracket and they will not give any indication of numbers to enable one to make a reasonable assessment. Essentially I am not good stock for them as not easy to place and my argument with them if this is the case they should not have taken my money in the first place. In adddition they definitely gave the impression that there was an element of active matching whereas the reality is that it is just a passive picture post, so people are selected or not on looks alone. If I had understood this there would have been no advantage in joining as this is available on line. An objective assessment of my looks would be 8/10 however I am fully aware that I am not great in photos, hence my desire for a more active and rounded service.


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Did they actually say at the time of sale that they did have a large number of men willing to consider women in your age bracket?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I asked explicitly about my suitability for the service and was told that I had "nothing to worry about I would be fine" ie that I would be appealing to their male clients. This has not been my experience.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
How far into the contract are you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Year long contract frozen at 3 months when it became clear that there was a mismatch of expectation of what the service entailed.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

I know this isn’t going to be the answer you want to hear, and it’s certainly not what I want to tell you. However, I wish to be completely honest with you, so I feel obligated to not give you false hope.

Your point essentially is that there has been a misrepresentation. A misrepresentation can indeed be a misleading statement rather than an actually untrue one. The difficulty here is that its just not particularly clear cut.

All they said was that 'you would be fine'. The plain truth is that you may be fine. The contract has only run for three months and they could well argue that it hasn't been given a proper period of time.

Your point in answer to that is that you have lost faith in them. The doctrine of 'losing faith' is a very high test and much misunderstood. You have to show that you have reasonable grounds to believe that they are not capable of completing in accordance with the contract. Its going to be hard to argue that is the case at the three month point I'm afraid.

Sorry thats probably not the answer you wanted but it is the position that you have and I have a duty to give you truthful and accurate information even though its not what I want to say.

Hope this helps. Please rate my answer OK SERVICE or above and I can answer your related questions.

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