Matchmakers

Texas Attorney General Shuts Down Lone Star Introductions

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Lone Star Introductions, a matchmaking service operating in the state of Texas to help singles find love, was forced to cease operations and pay restitution to its former customers. According to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, the judgment came from a lawsuit against the Massachusetts based company ‘for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Texas Internet Dating Safety Act.’

A state district court issued an injunction that calls on the dating service and affiliated dating sites, including eLove Matchmaking, International Dating Ventures and International Introductions, to cease operations in the state. Lone Star Introductions was using multiple company names to pursue its aggressive tactics, and was informed by the state of Texas two years ago that they were being investigated.

The attorney general says the company uses lead generating companies to mine online dating services for customer contacts, then uses the information to make cold calls in Texas, without registering as a telemarketer. They would pressure prospective clients to meet in the Lone Star Introductions offices to sign expensive contracts for dating services which they would then not provide.

According to website Courthouse News, Lone Star Introductions was particularly ruthless when it came to getting money from vulnerable clients. According to court documents, once Lone Star would get a phone number, they "use high pressure and coercive tactics" to try to get targets to sign up, including "incessant phone calls," coercion and manipulation. "Defendants charge consumers between $7,995 and $12,995 for prospective dating introductions," the state says.

Lone Star calls its telemarketers "counselors,” but according to Paxton’s office were little more than aggressive telemarketers.

Courthouse News goes on to note the following from the lawsuit: "Consumers who complained to defendants and requested to cancel their contracts are harassed and threatened by defendants with financial ruin and criminal prosecution. One consumer alleges that an eLove representative 'yelled four-letter curse words at [him], threatened to destroy [his] credit, prosecute [him] for a felony, and report [him] to the Texas Attorney General's Office' when the consumer attempted to cancel his contract."

According to Paxton’s office this type of harassment and threat to consumers violates debt collection regulations. Also, the “Counselors” at Lone Star Introductions failed to comply with the Texas Internet Dating Safety Act, which includes advising customers of safe dating practices.

The final judgment ordered the defendant to pay $500,000 in civil penalties and pay $20,000 in restitution to customers.

New Dating App Spritzr Lets You Play Matchmaker For Your Single Friends

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We all have that friend: the one who dates jerk after jerk, ending up in a string of relationships so bad they make you question why anyone bothers dating at all.

A new app helps you give that friend's hopeless love life a lift. Spritzr allows you to refer potential love interests to single friends using Facebook. With you as matchmaker, you no longer have to put up with your friend's endless parade of unsuitable suitors.

To sign up for Spritzr, you must first indicate if you're a Dater or a Matchmaker. If you choose the latter, start suggesting friends to each other. Friends who indicate mutual interest will be sent notifications and can connect. If mutual interest isn't established, no notifications are sent and no one is the wiser.

Online Dating Services View Age as a Marketing Tool

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Last month, Tinder rolled out its new and highly anticipated premium service Tinder Plus, which had been teased in the press with few details for months. But rather than praising its new features, Tinder has been criticized for discrimination. The company charges $9.99 per month for users in their twenties, but once you hit the magical age of 30, the price jumps to $19.99.

Compare this to the price daters pay for a service like eHarmony ($18.95 per month with a 12-month commitment as of this posting), which touts its match-making capabilities, and Tinder seems like a rip-off. After all, the monthly fee for eHarmony includes a lot of filters to help find a more "quality" match - an extensive questionnaire, a detailed profile, and a “communications process” - all aimed at helping you find a lasting relationship. While people do find good matches on Tinder, it's a lot more hit-or-miss.

Still, people seem to prefer the game-like swiping of Tinder. And according to experts, they will probably pay for it – even if they are 30 or older.

A recent article in The Washington Post claimed that there is a war among dating services like Tinder and eHarmony, who are categorizing daters and their behaviors according to their ages. Tinder assumes that younger daters are their target market (after all, the service began with heavy promoton on college campuses before it was unleashed on the greater population). eHarmony however, is going after the more “seasoned” dater, who has had enough with all the hook-ups and wants a real relationship.

The online dating industry is said to be worth about $2.2 billion, with one in ten adults averaging more than an hour a day on a dating site or app. This rise in popularity isn’t a coincidence – it’s gone hand-in-hand with the amount of time we spend on our phones – a near-constant accessory. Tinder appeared at the right time and made online dating seem like a game, and more importantly, removed its stigma.

The popularity of Tinder however has had a cost among daters. There is an assumption that the app is only for hooking up, and that people using dating apps aren’t serious daters. At least, this perception has been what traditional dating sites like eHarmony have been pushing. It founder Neil Clarke Warren told The Washington Post: “They put all their money on one variable: looks. That fills me with quite a few little chills… I have presided over the funerals of more marriages than any psychologist, and it is miserable.”

eHarmony isn't the only one speaking about Tinder's flaws. “There are limits to the percentage of single people who will become active Tinder users and repeating ‘casual daters,'” Morgan Stanley analysts told their clients in February. “And in our view, Tinder is reaching those limits.”

So what does this mean? Is Tinder trying to embrace their young daters as the future of dating, or does eHarmony recognize they will never have a service that’s so addictive and easy to use?

Both services offer very different ways of meeting people, and attract different types of users. But it will be interesting to see who will pay for them going forward.

Tinder has Helped Grow eHarmony’s User Base

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Dating apps like Tinder have taken the dating world by storm – and some argue have rendered traditional online dating a thing of the past. While sites like Match.com and eHarmony offer matches based on preferences and compatibility, Tinder offers the ability to look at a photo and instantly decide whether or not you’re interested.

In a recent article in Business Insider, eHarmony’s Vice President of Brand Marketing Grant Langston looked at Tinder’s success as a boost to his business. For instance, he’s seen a surge of new subscriptions since Tinder launched in Australia – 2.5 million members, up from 2 million the same time last year.

“The press [Tinder is] receiving is bringing lots of people to the online dating world, including people that find Tinder isn’t the right choice for them,” Langston told Business Insider. “Globally, this trend has helped us tap into new markets and led to an increase in our membership numbers.”

But why are more people choosing eHarmony when Tinder seems to be taking off? For one thing, Langston argues that people who would have never joined an online dating site before find it a little easier to start when they use a dating app. It’s made online dating in general lose its stigma.

Langston also attributes the surge in subscriptions to the high quality matchmaking that is eHarmony’s business model, compared to Tinder’s superficial match-making process. With Tinder, choosing a match is entirely dependent on photos and a couple of sentences, which aren’t much better odds for finding love than meeting someone at a bar. There isn’t necessarily any kind of compatibility – aside from that initial physical attraction.

People who are matched on eHarmony however, are compatible in specific ways. Matches aren’t made via liking the same music or TV shows or someone’s photo, but based on similar dispositions and compatible personalities – which is a bit more complex and relational. Langston says that eHarmony’s matching creates a foundation for a relationship to start, where Tinder is more fleeting, intended for a hook-up. So when people are disappointed with the matches they are meeting through Tinder, they look to other more serious online dating options, which is when they gravitate to eHarmony.

Langston also noted that eHarmony’s growth in the past year has been due to young professionals ages 23-33 flocking to the site, looking for people who are more compatible whether or not they are looking to marry.

According to Langston, eHarmony owes much of its recent success to the fact that Tinder isn’t producing many serious relationships. Then again, it seems that despite the appeal of Tinder, people are looking for something deeper.

Match.com Will Now Find You A Date…Who Looks Just Like Your Ex

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Everybody’s got that one ex in their back catalogue. The one they think they’ll never get over. The one they’re sure is the love of their life. The one who convinces them they’re doomed to singlehood forever, because no one will ever compare.

You'll probably never get that ex back but now, thanks to a partnership between Match.com and a new matchmaking startup, you might have the chance to date someone who looks just like them.

It’s got to be one of the most unusual (or maybe just downright creepy) dating services out there at the moment. Match has teamed up with Three Date Rule to offer a “white-glove approach” to dating for the white-glove price of $5000. For that paltry sum, you can send in photos of your ex that Three Date Rule will use to find you a new suitor.

“If you like one facial structure, you will probably like someone with a similar facial structure,” explains Three Day Rule founder Talia Goldstein. In addition to finding a lookalike, TDR coaches will interview you in person and even go on pre-dates with potential matches to vet them before making an introduction. Why go through the gruelling work of weeding out weirdos when you could hire someone else to do it for you?

Three Day Rule matchmakers are a team of highly-educated dating experts known for their intuition, compassion, trustworthiness, and genuine desire to help clients find meaningful relationships. Most had successful corporate careers before making the transition to matchmaking, often at Fortune 500 companies. What sets the company apart from the competition is its unique blend of traditional matchmaking techniques (like in-depth personality assessment) with cutting-edge facial recognition technology designed to determine what clients are most attracted to.

The powerhouse partnership between Match and Three Date Rule is beneficial on both sides. "We know there is a segment of busy professionals on Match who would love to have a high-touch service to help them find a compatible partner," says Amarnath Thombre, President of Match. "People come to Match because of the quality and scale of our membership base, and now with Three Day Rule as a partner, we can combine the convenience of a white-glove matchmaking service with our huge community of high quality members."

For Three Day Rule, Match’s support means improved access to its current markets and eventual expansion to other markets. “With Match's support, we will be able to further build out our team of matchmakers and realize our vision of becoming the most recognized, trusted, and respected matchmaking brand in the country," says Talia Goldstein.

Top Relationship Experts Team Up With Online Dating Sites

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Two is hardly enough to call it a trend, but if online dating sites collaborating with relationship experts does become a thing, I am fully in support of it.

Earlier this fall, one of America's longest-serving advice columnists, E. Jean Carroll, began a new partnership between HowAboutWe and Elle magazine. The arrangement, called Elle dating, is part of HowAboutWe's media partners program. Joining forces with a fashion magazine may not seem like the natural course of action for a dating site, but HowAboutWe believes the alliance could go a long way towards helping people who might otherwise object to finding love on the Web warm up to the idea.

Carroll's Elle column has long been an important fixture for the magazine. A membership to HowAboutWe through Elle will cost $30 per month, and for $500 an Elle reader can get a one-on-one telephone consultation with Carroll and the services of Tawkify, the small matchmaking firm she founded two years ago. Carroll hopes that her influence will bring a sense of serendipity to HowAboutWe that can be lost in other online dating services.

Are You Interested is also jumping on the expert bandwagon. AYI.com recently announced that author and relationship expert Laurel House will join the site as its resident dating coach. Laurel has appeared on numerous television shows, including E! News, Weekend TODAY, and most recently MTV, where she was the ultimate "It Girl" dating and confidence-boosting coach for an episode of the channel's MADE show. She is also the author of QuickieChick's Cheat Sheet to Life, Love, Food, Fitness, Fashion and Finance on a Less than Fabulous Budget and the upcoming book No-Games Guide to Love.

For her collaboration with AYI, House will post written and video content to the site's blog to help guide singles through the online dating experience. She will be available via AYI.com's social platforms to offer personalized dating tips to members, and will act as a face of the AYI brand in media interviews.

SNAP's Chief Executive Officer Clifford Lerner commented, "We believe Laurel's depth of experience and professional expertise is unmatched and will greatly help singles looking to connect online. She is aware of what single men and women are looking for in the online dating experience and her ability to guide them in their search for love will only better the AYI.com experience."

My favorite collaboration between an expert and a dating site remains the inimitable Dr. Helen Fisher, who serves as leading expert on the biology of love and attraction for Chemistry.com, but I'm excited to see more professionals in various dating and relationships fields lend their support to the online dating movement.