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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71050
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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On what grounds do i have legal rights to compensation against

Customer Question

On what grounds do i have legal rights to compensation against a bespoke dating agency who's services have failed to meet my genuine expectations of what i agreed in writing and verbally?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello can you please explain exactly what has happened?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I signed up with a dating agency who offer bespoke matchmaking introductions, paid £5,760 for 6 months service. As per the dating agencies profiling process I provided a set of criteria on what i wanted in a partner preference, physical and personality traits, this profile upon joining was intended to be used as a guideline by the agency to produce relevant introductions.I have received correspondence to my dissatisfaction and request for a full refund email. Elan (company I'm in dispute with) have stated under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, which provides for a 14-day cooling-off period, I have no right to compensation since the 14-day cooling off period has expired. They further stated that my membership is in accordance to clause of the contract of a potentially compatible partner. Finally they stated a section in the contract also reiterates my need to be open minded in this process, and especially that Elan.London reserves the absolute discretion and right to introduce to the client, partners who Elan.London considers might be acceptable to the client notwithstanding that the prospective partner may only match the client profile to a degree. In light of this they have counter offered me a goodwill gesture refund of £2,000 as opposed to a full refund i am seeking.I have since replied with my own final offer stating that refunding me £2,000 and deadline to accept within 5 days is not acceptable. I therefore propose a without prejudice offer, where they refund me 80% totaling £3686.40 plus VAT of the total sum I paid totaling £5,760 including 20% VAT. This offer is based on Elan retaining 20% for any administration and time and effort for their services.Below are my complaint summary;1. On their Company webpage, they claim that their company’s ethos is that they have the perfect formula of attracting the right people, matching them with exactly the right potential partners and giving them the best customer service in the industry.2. As a service provider they failed to offer me the services we agreed to in terms of a partner preferences I made clear during pre signing the contract, some of which they documented and some that have not been clearly documented but were very much part of the consultation.3. As a service provider they refused to take on board my feedback on introductions i rejected to meet and i felt they have been very vocally aggressive. I was clearly informed upon signing up that I'm within my right to veto introductions and that Elan welcome and want feedback to improve introductions. I was never told nor was it made clear that if I veto someone they still count as an introduction regardless of me not having met them.4. Before joining, i met with the founder to go through a detailed screening and I selected an age banding on Elan's profile questionnaire and very clearly stated that my preference is to meet someone at the lower age bracket/ and if at the top end i preferred someone youthful looking, this was acceptable to the founder of Elan, However, the founder of the company reacted quite unfairly when i was sharing my feedback on a introduction in November 2015, i informed her that this particular introduction significantly differed to my age/ youthful looking criteria preference. She reacted by discriminated against my age as a negative factor. She made comments such as ''men at the lower end of your criteria have rejected you just on you because of your age, i can't help that, and having been in the industry for so long this is common''. ''Men prefer younger women'', i'm still shocked by this statement, and have since lost my trust in working with Elan.Élan have failed to commit to making the process of match making pleasant, I was continuously spoken to in a harsh and unpleasant manner, and I was always left feeling intimidating by you throughout the process, the age discrimination is only one example, i even unfairly targeted on my intellect.There have been numerous occasions where the founder of the company has used intimidating/ bullying tactics to justify her disagreement with my feedback and introduction veto's, this has left me feeling extremely disappointed, and I feel they have broken my trust.
I believe I have a strong case and entitled to some money back and therefore proposed a without prejudice offer, where Elan refund me 80% totaling £3686.40 plus VAT of the total sum I paid totaling £5,760 including 20% VAT. This offer is based on Elan retaining 20% for any administration and time and effort for their services. I haven't received any acknowledgement so far.Hope this helps and I hope you can help me.Raj
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. I am afraid I have had to take on a court case at short notice so my time will be taken up with that for the foreseeable future. I will open this question up to all other experts and someone will hopefully be in touch if they can help. Please do not reply in the meantime as it will just assign the question back to me. Thanks
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi. I have been asked to look at this.What was guaranteed that was not provided please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi,I don't think there is a guarantee in the services of a dating agency. If anything, I'm disputing the verbal agreement where I was assured that I would receive a monthly introduction, I was led to believe an introduction is an actual meeting and I've only had one. I'm now told an introduction is anyone they put forward and if I veto it is classed as an intro.I was assured that the services provided will comply with a dating agency professional membership body, and the above example therefore needed to have been made explicitly clear frmy m the outset, which it wasn't.I was assured that I could feedback and veto introductions if I wasn't satisfied, and elan would do their best to find a more compatible introduction. I wasn't given a fair opportunity to feedback as a member of Elan who set up a feedback call became very abusive towards me and in particular displayed a firm unwillingness to allow me to feedback and veto an introduction. This particular call led to Elan making what I feel derogatory comments about me as an individual, my age in particular.I went into this agreement on the grounds that I would have a high chance of meeting someone, as I can veto any recommendations I don't like and only meet those I'm satisfied with, but learnt that I only get one recommendation pet month which is also classed as an introduction. If anything I find this to be misleading.Thanks
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
What does the paper contract say about vetos?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The following clauses are the only terms stated in the contract, Elan has redefined the Veto terms via email, i was always led to believe that an introduction is when I've actually met someone, and if i veto someone Elan will find a suitable alternative until i have actually met with 6 introductions. to date I've only met one.4.4 If the client does not wish to contact that introduced partner Elan.London will affect the introduction of another partner, when available, who would like to be introduced to the client.4.9 Elan.London will provide a minimum of 6 (six) introductions during the six month membership. If six introductions are not met within that time period, Elan.London will extend membership with no extra charge until six introductions are made.7.5 No refund will be payable except where Elan.London has failed to deliver the level of service indicated in this contract and members have not prejudiced the ability of Elan.London to provide the service by changing the specification unrealistically or people they wish to meet.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
How many have you vetoed?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I vetoed x 1 who I met in person, and vetoed x 2 verbally suggested by élan.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Are they saying they wont extend your contract?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
In February they very clear stated that they would finalise the remainder of my introductions in the next month or so, i believe this statement very clearly implied that I will not be extended.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, it could bear that implication. It might mean lots of things. It might be that they will change their mind if that is their intention at the moment.I must admit though that I cannot agree with your fundamental premise. There is nothing in this contract says that you have the right to veto any introduction. Of course, nobody can force you to meet any person but that doesn’t mean it is not an introduction.All this contract guarantees is that there will be introductions and indeed there have been.I do think you could argue that they should not be wholly at variance with what you asked for but obviously that covers a wide range of issues.There is no prospect of recovering in full. They have made introductions and are entitled to be paid.Sorry but that is your position.Can I clarify anything for you?Jo