Written by Alexandra PalmerAlexandra is a content management intern for Best Company. As she finishes up her degree in English and editing, she spends her free morsels of time rock climbing and hiking. If you catch her inside, she is likely reading poetry, painting, or eating loads of dark chocolate.
Few dating sites are as big-or growing as fast-as PlentyOfFish. This fact alone has earned PlentyOfFish plenty of attention from the media and online daters alike. However, before you sign up with PlentyOfFish, you should know that online dating services can be very helpful, but also very frustrating, especially if you go in unaware. This goes for PlentyOfFish, as well as any other dating site.
On the other hand, if you take the time to learn the plusses and minuses of PlentyOfFish, you can make an informed decision to sign up with them or not. To get you started, here are ten things you should know about PlentyOfFish before you sign up.
1. PlentyOfFish is easily the biggest of the top dating sites.
In terms of the number of registered members, PlentyOfFish doesn't just surpass other top dating sites; it towers over them. With over 80 million members, you could add together the memberships of Match.com (21.5 million), eHarmony (15.5 million), and Zoosk (25 million), its nearest competitors, and still not have as many members. And, as if that number weren't high enough, PlentyOfFish claims to be adding 50,000 new singles per day to its ranks.
What does this mean for you? It means that, in terms of sheer quantity, PlentyOfFish is going to give you access to more potential dates. Whether those potential dates are high quality or not is another matter entirely.
2. PlentyOfFish is not known for their technical support or customer service.
Red flags appear en masse when you take a look at PlentyOfFish's page on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. The BBB has awarded the site a big fat 'F' for flat-out bad customer service. Of 187 complaints filed with the BBB against PlentyOfFish, only two complaints have been resolved with the company. For the rest of the complaints, PlentyOfFish didn't even bother to respond to the BBB's requests. Unfortunately, this kind of neglect seems to be the modus operandi for customer service at PlentyOfFish.
To be fair, PlentyOfFish does provide a help page and an email address and phone number for reaching customer service. Sadly, a survey of complaints to the BBB reveals that many communications via the phone number and email address fall on deaf ears. Here is the complaint one dissatisfied customer left with the BBB:
"[T]here is no way of getting ahold of customer service or management because the voice mailbox is FULL. The company is not addressing ANY customer calls."
When I tried to visit their help page to gauge its helpfulness, their help page was down for maintenance... at 8 o'clock pm. But more about this later.
Needless to say, PlentyOfFish seems to struggle with-or just ignore completely-their service obligations to their customers. If you decide to sign up with them, be prepared to go it alone with little or no help from the site.
3. PlentyOfFish has its share of personality tests.
Most of the online dating sites have them (Zoosk doesn't), and PlentyOfFish is no exception. As part of their Relationship Chemistry Predictor, they give their members 73 questions to answer, all of them designed to measure members' "five personality dimensions" and match them with other members who have taken the test. Likewise, their Relationship Needs Assessment puts members through 100 questions to surmise what the member needs in a relationship. If you look on eHarmony or Match, you find something very similar.
It goes without saying that these kinds of tests and questionnaires aren't everyone's bag. Some online daters just want to do the searching themselves and not have a mysterious algorithm try to tell them who's right for them. For these folks, PlentyOfFish and their "personality dimensions" might be a bit of a turn-off.
4. PlentyOfFish gives members a lot of features for free.
This is one possible reason why their membership is so huge. Unlike the free trials that are offered by other top dating sites, PlentyOfFish actually gives away a ton of features for free. For instance, you can upload up to eight images to your profile, use their Relationship Chemistry Predictor, search and view other members, communicate with other members, and even send them virtual roses.
Even when you do get a paid subscription plan, it is generally cheaper than a comparable plan with eHarmony or Zoosk, about the same price as Match, and only a tad more expensive than OKCupid. The downside: for the paid PlentyOfFish subscription, the only new features you get are better placement on searches and slightly more bells and whistles on your profile.
5. PlentyOfFish goes down...a lot.
As I write this post, their site is down for scheduled maintenance...at 8pm, which would kind of be prime time for online dating activities. I wish I could say this is an uncommon occurrence for the site, but that's just not true.
Apparently, over the last several years, PlentyOfFish's website has gone down on an almost monthly basis to the chagrin of many of its members. Granted, some of these instances have been for scheduled maintenance, but not most of them. Either way, these interruptions have become a running joke with members and prove frustrating to PlentyOfFish members who are in the middle of conversations with one another.
6. PlentyOfFish offers little protection for its members from bad behavior.
Honestly speaking, this site was designed to attract a different crowd than, say, the soulmate-seeking people over at eHarmony. This is evidenced by many of the features offered, including one that lets members create their own instruction manual to educate other members on their "seducing style" and how they prefer to be seduced. This plan includes such classy options as "Approach Me," "How To Date Me," and "How To Sexualy Seduce Me." Throw in the ability to rate people's pictures, and nominate a "Hottest Girl" or "Most Attractive Guy," and this site practically throws down a welcome mat for unsavory daters.
To make matters worse, however, PlentyOfFish does not give members the ability to block other members from seeing their profile. Unfortunately, there isn't much a member can do when other members do start to get out of hand. To see how bad this can get, read this story from one angry PlentyOfFish member:
"This is the second time in a year that I have been stalked by a FREE member on PlentyOfFish, have requested assistance from Customer Service, and have been ignored. I am an upgraded user, pay dues, and believe that should provide me the benefit of some SERVICE from Customer Service. A FREE member by the name of**************** has contacted me, been politely declined, daily accesses my profile, been politely notified by me to cease accessing my profile because I find it intrusive and voyeuristic, and has escalated into accessing my profile more than once a day apparently just to prove a point that he can. This is stalker behavior. If he was standing in front of my house, I could have him arrested for this behavior."
7. PlentyOfFish does not screen for un-dateable individuals.
While many dating sites have recently put safeguards in place to keep out un-dateable (i.e. married) people, PlentyOfFish has not. This angry complaint by one PlentyOfFish member is all too common:
"I was guaranteed a single man. He turned out to be married. Company did not screen this person well. I am very angry. Site needs to do better."
This is yet another instance of PlentyOfFish allowing a wild West environment to prevail on their site. This is what their "Help" page has to say on the matter:
"POF has no tolerance for users who are rude, upload fake pictures, married, use sexual language in their first email, upload nude photos or break our terms of service in any way. Any user caught doing so is deleted. Users who are deleted may not sign up to the service again."
...But there is little evidence that PlentyOfFish actually backs up this threat.
8. PlentyOfFish makes it really hard to delete an account.
Setting up a profile on this site is easy. Deleting an account--not so much. An unbelievable amount of complaints with the BBB against PlentyOfFish revolve around this scenario: member signs up, member sets up profile, member gets tired of PlentyOfFish and tries to delete their profile, PlentyOfFish website allegedly gives them a bogus error message, PlentyOfFish customer services does not respond to pleas for help, and member smolders with hatred.
In many cases, paying members who are unable to close their profiles or accounts simply watch helplessly as PlentyOfFish withdraws money from their accounts again and again.
Whether this is some play to keep their membership numbers high or just an act of supreme ignorance, if you're going to sign up with PlentyOfFish, you should 1) be very wary of getting a paid subscription and 2) accept that once you create a profile it's going to exist on the site forever.
9. PlentyOfFish's auto-renewal feature makes lots of members angry.
At the end of a paid subscription period, PlentyOfFish, per their terms and conditions, takes the liberty of renewing your subscription and taking another payment, whether you ask them to or not, as exemplified by this customer complaint:
"I signed up and paid for a three month trial only. Later realized that they retained my credit card information and proceeded with unauthorized withdrawal automatically once the three months was up. When I informed them that it was an unauthorized transaction, they basically said ***** luck, and I should have read the fine print. They will not return the money and I have no idea what they have done with my financial information."
Given these frustrations, it is recommended that, if you must sign up with PlentyOfFish, you stick with their free subscription and avoid a paid subscription.
10. PlentyOfFish has a history of spamming people who never even registered with them.
Nearly all dating sites have a history of abusing their members' inboxes. They send some emails that are relevant to the dating experience, like match notifications or notifications when someone is interested in meeting you. But then they send you lots of other emails and they give your email address to their partners so they can send you lots of emails, too. But the most unusual complaints about PlentyOfFish come from people who never registered with the site but receive their emails.
One individual complains:
"I did NOT sign up for POF. This is the second time someone is entering my email address as his/her contact info. I do not want an account with POF or any emails from POF."
Another would-be online dater says:
"I never completed the registration and I constantly get e-mails from PlentyOfFish. When I try to unsubscribe, it takes me to an account to complete information that I do not want to complete to fill out a profile. I have tried to message to stop and my requests are ignored."
In this case, if these complaints are to be believed, PlentyOfFish is fairly liberal about how it obtains and uses email addresses. It certainly doesn't reserve its deluge of emails for members only. As with any website, be very careful about who you give your email address to and always read the fine print before you click or agree to anything.
Plenty of Reasons to Look Elsewhere
With so many negatives to dating on PlentyOfFish, why have so many people made it their online dating service of choice? Surely, the number of free features and the membership numbers have something to do with it. It's easy to fall for a dating site when all of your friends are already there. However, we recommend that you shop around for a dating site that is going to make you happy, keep you safe, and take your needs into consideration before you commit to anything, even a free trial.
Have you had a bad experience on a dating site? Maybe you found the love of your life? Make your voice heard and submit a review today!