Thursday, March 6, 2014

Los Angeles Singles - A Singularly Bad Experience

Their website, Los Angeles Singles, claims they are “Los Angeles’s  #1 Dating Service for High-Calber, Sincere Singles”, claiming that the people on their books are “quite a catch”. They begin with a “personal consultation” and the offer of “quality singles” “you have always dreamed of dating”.
  
Several months on, I am well over $1000 down, no match, and enduring considerable upset dealing with people who not only did not deliver what they promised, but showed a breathtaking lack of understanding and sensitivity when my circumstances changed.
  
They came to me by accident. Having given up with dating agencies and having failed to meet even a halfway decent man on three continents, I inadvertently found Los Angeles Singles online. Having lived in LA for five years, I had toyed with the idea of meeting someone but, having had bad experiences, had not pursued this actively. Then, ads kept appearing on my Facebook page along the lines of: “Bill the fireman is just five miles down the road from you and really wants to meet”.
  
I managed to resist. Bill the fireman might look all right at the moment, but what would he be like after his next job? I didn’t want to be a fireman’s wife, swabbing Bill’s disfigured face over breakfast every morning. I didn’t want to be a fireman’s widow, either (although that might be preferable to the disfigurement scenario).
  
But once you click on any similar ads, they’ve got you, and somehow, this particular the matchmaker pursued me. I decided to fill out their form, but changed my mind halfway through. Then the phone-calls started. Non-stop. And so I found myself in Brentwood, in an office, being assured that there was a veritable plethora of men out there who would be “perfect” for me.
  
These people, I quickly discovered, operate like Timeshare merchants. They shut you in a room to do the form-filling and then, when you get them face to face, they show you pictures of how your life could be if only you were to surrender everything about the old you and hand over everything to them – which, in this case, was $8000 for “the 12 man package”.
  
Pictures of overweight, smiling couples in hideous wedding gear adorned the room, and already I wanted to run. If Bill the fireman was going to be a pain in the arse, imagine being married to George the overweight salesman in a pink shirt for the rest of my life.
  
I was asked about my dating history and the type of man I liked. I specially stressed tall. Over six feet. Apart from David the plump ginger cheat, I had never been out with a man under six feet in my life, nor did I intend to start (have you seen how many wild bears there are out there?). The interviewer tried to stress that sometimes life could take you by surprise and you might go for someone entirely different. This did not bode well. At this point, I knew they had absolutely no man over six feet who wanted a short, dark, clever, funny, successful, and not bad looking Welsh bird.
  
What about Danny DeVito, she asked. Wasn’t he an example of an attractive short man? Nooooooooo, I screamed. She pushed me on the subject. Wasn’t there ANYONE under six feet I might go for? At a stretch, I reckoned James Spader (Boston Legal – lawyer, albeit acting one). I could do Mark Harmon (NCIS – cop, albeit acting one), too. Or that lovely Latino bloke from Law and Order: SVU (cop – okay, another acting one). 

She looked slightly relieved. Finally, she thought she was getting somewhere. But I still want Judge Alex, I wailed (TV courtroom show, but real life ex-cop, lawyer, Judge – and an ex-pilot, too. Uniform. Tick, tick, tick, tick). Tall, dark, handsome, clever, funny. TALL! Are you listening to me, woman? Her sigh shook the building.
  
I negotiated them down to $2000 for the 12 man package (don’t believe them when they say their rates are non-negotiable – they are; they whacked mine down in the hope of future publicity), although they told me that I could have more dates, should I need them (trust me, a dollar a man was not even going to come close to their finding me what I wanted – I could already see that).

I told the interviewer I had changed my mind. Then the pressure started. It would be such a shame if, having come so far, I were to leave now . . . I would be “so easy” to fix up with someone . . . I was so eligible . . . so funny . . . The flattery was piled on, quickly followed by a contract and a pen. Like I said, it’s like a Timeshare: they grab you at a moment of vulnerability. I even ended up crying when the key low points in my romantic history were repeated to me. So I ended up staying.
  
After several weeks (and many phone-calls from me), they sent me the details of an interested man. Five feet seven. FIVE FEET SEVEN! That's not a man, it's a hobbit. The bear could eat him for breakfast and still have room to consume an entire McDonald’s chain. Not only that, he was living in rented accommodation – at the age of 60 – and spent our phone-call moaning about how unhappy he was in his job (that’s another thing I can’t stand: people who hate what they do and do nothing to change it). He also told me that he didn't like TV and didn't watch it. Quite how they thought that putting him together with a TV writer was a good idea is anybody's guess.

I complained. As a homeowner (one in the UK, one in Spain, plus a US rental), I at least expected someone who owned his own home. I’m not after anyone’s money, but “high caliber” carries a lot of expectations. They did not offer me anyone else - quite obviously, because they clearly had no one.

Then, my circumstances changed owing to a personal situation back home and I told them I might have to return to the UK. I was very distressed and was told there would be no problem with my having a refund.

None was forthcoming. Not only that, no one returned my calls. It was only when I left a voicemail with the threat of legal action that they got back to me; this was followed up by a letter telling me that I was entitled only to a partial refund, as I would be charged $1000 for the consultation and $125 for the one-man intro - a man I never even met because he did not fulfil even the most basic criteria. Yes, it’s in the contract - in very small print, of course - but to me the contract is null and void because they 100% could not and did not offer what they told me they could in that consultation. The additional clause, claiming that they will offer someone "close" to what you want is, of course, ridiculous, when what they offer is a million miles away from the essentials you stress.
  
So, I find myself, in my mid-Fifties, pursuing a company for having taken $1025 on the grounds of their having grossly misrepresented what they could offer me.

They are having none of it and, again, are ignoring my correspondence, so the best I can do is share my experience and warn others not to be taken in.

In my opinion, these people couldn’t match a match to its box.


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