Contributed by: ElyseRomano Wednesday, January 31 2018 @ 10:18 am
That dating services sometimes make dubious claims should surprise no one, but rarely do their fishy fabrications make headlines. Unfortunately for eHarmony, a recent misstep has proved to be the exception.
The company's claim that it uses a "scientifically-proven matching system" has been banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority after appearing on a billboard in the London Underground.
"Step aside, fate,” the advertisement boldly proclaimed. “It's time science had a go at love."
In the smaller print below, it continued: "Imagine being able to stack the odds of finding lasting love entirely in your favour. EHarmony's scientifically-proven matching system decodes the mystery of compatibility and chemistry so you don't have to. Why leave the most important search of your life to chance?"
The ASA called the claim “misleading”, saying that consumers would interpret it to mean that scientific studies had proved eHarmony’s matching system offered a significantly greater chance of finding lasting love, when in fact the company could provide no real evidence to that effect.
Though eHarmony did cite two studies, the ASA noted that neither revealed anything about the overall percentage of its users who had found long-term relationships after using the website compared to other sources, therefore neither provided useful insight into the eHarmony matching system’s true success rate.
"Because the evidence provided by eHarmony did not demonstrate that their matching system offered users a significantly greater chance of finding lasting love than what could be achieved if they didn't use the service, we concluded that the claim 'scientifically proven matching system' was misleading," the ASA ruling read.
Romain Bertrand, managing director at eHarmony UK, released a restrained statement in response.
"eHarmony was conceived on the premise that science and research could be harnessed to help people find love,” he wrote. “For over 17 years, eharmony has been matching singles into high-quality, long-lasting relationships based upon sophisticated matching standards designed by PhD psychologists. Although we respectfully disagree with the ASA's findings, we are happy to work with them to assure that our advertising is as clear as possible."
The original complaint was lodged by Lord Lipsey, the joint chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics and a former member of the Advertising Standards Authority’s council. He said phrases like “scientifically proven” should be confined to claims that are “just that”, and not used in “crude puffery” designed to lure customers those longing for love.
“This is a new form of fake news which the ASA has rightly slapped down," he added.