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eHarmony now has Icebreakers

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The unofficial eHarmony Blog noticed yesterday that eHarmony has added free Icebreakers to their dating service. This allows non-paying and paying members to pick from 11 predetermined short messages and send it to their matches. Icebreakers include simple messages like, "Great pic…love to see more photos!". This type of feature has been used for a long time on other dating services so it is in no way a revolutionary thing but, I do think eHarmony needed to add them.

What Icebreakers do (and this has always been a major complaint with eHarmony members) is it gives free members the ability to see if their matches are currently using eHarmony and are not just potentially old profiles of members who don't log in anymore. If the new members has a match they really like, by sending an Icebreaker and getting a reply back they know it's an active profile and it will be most likely worth signing up to the service to pursue the communication. The only problem here is that eHarmony choices for Icebreakers are rather limited. Replying to an Icebreaker with any of eHarmony's current list of Icebreakers doesn't make sense. Most of the Icebreakers either ask a question or want you to do something like talk or request a picture, so there is no real way to say yes or no to a Icebreaker question.

Icebreakers will also give eHarmony more paying members in the long run for the same reason stated above. This is the second major feature eHarmony has added in the last few months. They obviously are feeling the competition from other serious matching sites like Chemistry and PerfectMatch.com. I wonder what else they have up there sleeve?

Related Story: eHarmony Members can now see "Who Has Viewed Me"

Dating Site Better Business Bureau Report - March 2008, Part 1

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I've decided to do a little more research of my own on the Better Business Bureau in regards to dating sites. This was after seeing an article about rising complaints (see Increased Complaints Registered Against Dating Services).

First a bit more on how the BBB works. To do a BBB search on a company visit this page. The best way I found to find dating sites was to type in the domain name without the www prefix. Just a note here, most free or small dating sites are not found on the BBB. Once you have initiated a search, a list of companies may then come up. Some have nothing to do with what you are looking for while others may deal with separate branches or offices of the company. As an example, do a search on "yahoo.com" and you will get 22 results. Another thing to remember (which I didn't realize at first) is a company doesn't have to be a member to have a report on them. Actual BBB members are denoted with an icon and usually contain a lot more information than companies that are not members. When you click on the name of the company it will bring you to the report page of the company on the local Better Business Bureau website. These local BBB websites are not all the same and some have a lot more information available than others. All the information I am giving below seems to be how most of the BBB websites display their information. Some BBB sites like the one serving Los Angeles displays the information differently. They grade the company and actually shows some or all of the customers complaints. This seems to be an update to the service and may be how other BBB sites will soon follow.

The BBB report page usually contains the name and address of the company as well as the main contacts. It also states if the company is a member and for how long. Further down the page is the customer complaint information. There are numerous categories. Some of these include Contract Issues, Billing Issues, Sales Practice Issues, Service Issues, Refund or Exchange Issues and Guarantee or Warranty Issues. Within each category there are Resolved, Unresolved and Administratively Closed Issues.

Resolved, Unresolved and Administratively Closed issues are where the numbers are shown. With Resolved issues, it can show the following types (this may not be all of them, just the ones I found when looking at dating sites):

  1. The number of resolved complaint issues that the consumer acknowledged acceptance to the BBB.
  2. The company offered a partial (less than 100%) settlement in which the consumer accepted.
  3. The number of complaints the company addressed but the consumer failed to acknowledge acceptance to the BBB.
  4. The company offered a partial settlement but the consumer failed to acknowledge acceptance to the BBB.
  5. The company resolved the issue but not within the BBB's acceptable timeframe.

With Unresolved issues, the following type has been identified:

  1. The company failed to resolve the complaint issues through the BBB voluntary and self-regulatory process.

With Administratively Closed issues, I found 4 types:

  1. The BBB determined the company made a reasonable offer to resolve the issues, but the consumer did not accept the offer.
  2. The BBB determined that despite the company's reasonable effort to address complaint issues, the consumer remained dissatisfied.
  3. BBB determined the company provided proper verification that indicated there was no obligation to resolve the issues of the complaint.
  4. The parties could not provide sufficient information to support their positions nor were they agreeable to make reasonable efforts toward resolving the issues of the dispute.

Most companies have complaints against them. The key here though, is how many complaints are resolved to either the customer or the BBB acceptance. You also have to take into account the size of the company and when the complaints where issued. Instead of showing all the categories I will just show a total for all Resolved, Unresolved and Administratively Closed issues. You can visit the report directly for more details. The point numbers above correspond to the numbered columns in the tables below for Resolved, Unresolved and Administratively Closed complaints.

The complaints listed below are from the last 36 months and tallied for these reports from between March 12th to March 18th, 2008. The first chart lists a summary of the two companies Better Business Bureau reports. These companies are not related to dating services and are just listed for comparison sake to see what other industry complaint numbers may look like.

BBB Complaints - Unrelated Comparison Companies

CompanyJoinedComplaints ClosedBBB Report# of Types of IssuesResolvedNot ResolvedAdministratively Closed
Last 36 monthsLast 12 months1234511234
Microsoft19872217389 Report 12 629838603790 0 5121860
Apple19901375473 Report 12 332073860 0 94165280

The next chart will list some of the major dating services. You will not see Yahoo! Personals in these charts. I did do a search for Yahoo! Personals but was unable to find a separate report for them. I have a feeling any complaints levied against Yahoo! Personals would be applied to Yahoos main BBB report.

BBB Complaints - Dating Services

CompanyJoinedComplaints ClosedBBB Report# of Types of IssuesResolvedNot ResolvedAdministratively Closed
Last 36 monthsLast 12 months1234511234
Match.com1999732277 Report 11 304042110 0 5000
PerfectMatchNo16536 Report 9 8115339 2 6721
LavalifeNo98 Report 6 00400 1 2200
FriendFinder NetworkNo10744 Report 10 2504500 11 01100

The next chart includes some more of the major dating services but in a different format. I tried to incorporate these services in the chart above but the BBB reports are of a different style. In some ways these reports contain a lot more information. But, one of the main drawbacks (in my opinion) is the modified categories of complaints. While the new categories of complaints in these reports give a good overview it doesn't categorize the type of compliant. As example if the complaint dealt with a product, customer service or guarantee.

Here are the Types of Responses with the newer BBB websites:

  1. Making a full refund, as the consumer requested.
  2. Making a partial refund.
  3. Agreeing to perform according to their contract.
  4. Refusing to make an adjustment.
  5. Refuse to adjust, relying on terms of agreement.
  6. Unanswered.
  7. Unassigned.

BBB Complaints - Dating Services

CompanyJoinedBBB ReportRatingComplaints closed
last 36 months
Type of Response
Date.com2005 Report B-39 05311101
eHarmony2001 Report A966 41174346812601
Spark NetworksNo Report F68 2232404150

As you will notice the newer reports contain a Rating. A companies rating is dependant on several factors. Some of those are length of time in business, compliance to the BBB requirements, history of complaints and on how the complaints where handled. There are a 11 grades with AAA being the best and F being the worst. Go here for more details on the BBB rating criteria.

So what can we take from all this? Having less complaints doesn't necessary mean it is a smaller company. It could mean the sites own customer service is very good and have solved all the customers complaints. Of course, most of the sites that have lesser complaints are smaller and also don't actually belong to the BBB. This means there is no BBB logo on the site which makes it harder for the average user to complain to the BBB about the company. Even more important is they most likely don't know that you still can complain to the BBB even if the company doesn't belong.

Since this BBB dating article is much larger than I originally planned I am going to break it into 2 parts. In part 2 of this report, I will discuss in more details my analysis and thoughts behind some of the dating sites BBB reports.

Warning small disclaimer here, since this story was written over several weeks and my math skills may be a little lacking, some of the numbers may be off (I did double check!). Please use the report link of the company in the chart for the most current Better Business Bureau report.

eHarmony now has an Online ID Verification Service

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eHarmony announced yesterday that they have a new online id verification service for its members. This service, which is provided by ReliID allows eHarmony members to validate their full name, age and address. RelyID uses publicly available information for the id verification. Once members are verified they will have a RelyID badge displayed with their profile showing other users that they have completed the process successfully.

I'm glad other large dating services have started to offer this type of verification service. It's a great first step which willl go a long way in helping people trust the information they find in a profile. This should generate a lot more communication for eHarmony members who have been verified. But, how much further can eHarmony go? True.com does criminal background checks and I have seen some other sites like MillionaireMate.com verify photos. It would be great to see all of these services combined. I wonder if this service is available on eHarmony Canada?

For more information on this new verification process read this News Release and for more information on eHarmony, check out our review.

UPDATE - I just notice that Online Dating Insider has some more information on this new verification service including the cost ($5.95) and how the actually verification takes place.

2007 Dating Sites Reviews Choice Awards - Christian

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2007 Dating Sites Reviews Choice Awards - Christian

There are a large number of Christian and religious oriented dating services on the internet. This makes it a difficult choice for singles who are looking for a Christian faith dating site. For this reason, these singles tend to take a long time in researching and are very meticulous when selecting a site to join. Their faith and moral values are very important to them.

We recently reviewed a site called ChristianCafe.com which appears to be an excellent dating service but, it is still new to us so it was decided to wait until next year to reconsider this site for the Christian award. In the end, the Editor's Top Pick - Christian Award will go to eHarmony. While not a pure Christian only dating service, they do promote matching based on Christian principles and have a large number of Christian single members. In fact, I would consider eHarmony as probably having the largest number of Christian members for a dating service. When you are filling out eHarmony's detailed profile and you indicate your Christian faith as very important to you, eHarmony will make sure you are matched up with similar minded members.

eHarmony matching system is complex but it is very successful at matching singles. In fact, on average 90 members of eHarmony get married every day. This works out too over 33,000 members every year (according to a Harris Interactive Poll)! To achieve this eHarmony uses a scientifically proven method to match singles based on 29 key dimensions of compatibility. Because of this system, eHarmony was considered and almost won our Top Pick Match System award.

Read our review of eHarmony for more information about this dating service or visit eHarmony directly.

This Years Runner Ups for this award include (in no particular order): ChristianCafe.com, ChristianMingle.com and BigChurch.com.

eHarmony, a Success Story!

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CNN Money has an informative article about how the online matchmaking service eHarmony was started 7 years ago. eHarmony is one of the few dating sites which was started by a psychologist, Dr Neil Warren, who had years of experience counselling married couples. This enabled eHarmony to present a scientific approach to matchmaking. They continue to do this by having on staff "five Ph.D. researchers who are constantly tweaking the matchmaking software based on their latest findings". eHarmony takes the conservative approach to online dating and believes in Christian values. A lot of other dating services currently are pushing a sexier image.

The author explains as well the process of how eHarmony works, from signups, to creating a profile and then the matchmaking process. The article further goes through the ups and downs of eHarmony's success, including their latest negative press regarding gay singles being not allowed to use the site.

The full article can be found on CNN Money.