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.
If you've been shopping for an online dating service, you've probably seen a lot of Zoosk ads.
Zoosk is a relative newcomer to the online dating scene, having first shown up in 2007, but it already boasts a sizeable membership. At around 27 million registered members, it has a larger membership than Match.com (about 21.5 million) but is considerably smaller than the massive Plenty Of Fish (80 million). So what does this mean for you?
It means that Zoosk potentially has more possible matches for you. But, as you surely know by now, online dating isn't just about quantity. You want quality options when it comes to finding someone you can enjoy a night out-or the rest of your life-with, although, unlike eHarmony or Match.com, Zoosk doesn't promise you a soulmate. So what can you expect to get from signing up with Zoosk?
That's a question you should probably get the answers to before you sign up and definitely before you pay for a subscription. To help you get to know Zoosk before you take the next step, here are ten big things you should know:
1. Zoosk has an 'A' rating from the Better Business Bureau.
They've had it since 2012. But what exactly does that mean? If you go to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) page for Zoosk, you see this message:
"BBB has determined that Zoosk meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints... BBB accreditation does not mean that the business' products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business' product quality or competency in performing services."
In other words, Zoosk might have its share of bad customer experiences, but they're also very proficient at addressing these complaints once they've been filed with the BBB. According to the BBB, in the last three years, Zoosk has successfully resolved 382 complaints, most of which were about billing/collection or product/service issues. In that same time, only 18 complaints have not been able to be satisfactorily resolved. As a comparison, Plenty Of Fish currently has a big fat D+ from the BBB for failure to respond to most of the complaints they've received.
This is a pretty good sign that Zoosk's customer service is better than average.
2. They have a secret matchmaking formula...sort of.
Yes, most of the top online dating services claim to have their own secret sauce, and Zoosk is no different. While the matching formulas of eHarmony or Match.com have more in common with the matchmakers of olden times, Zoosk's "Behavioral Matchmaking" technology operates more like the alogrithms on sites like Amazon, which watch what you search for and what you click on and then recommend things that are similar or related to them.
That's right: no effort to connect you with potential soulmates based on your responses to lengthy questionnaires. "Member clicks, including messages sent and responded to," explains Zoosk's site, "determine which profiles Zoosk shows first, to pair singles with members with whom they're likely to discover mutual attraction."
This highlights a big difference between Zoosk and eHarmony or Match.com: their focus is not necessarily on establishing long-term relationships or marriages, but on giving people as many dating options as possible.
3. Zoosk's pricing is on par with other top dating sites.
One of the reasons Zoosk's membership continues to grow so fast is that they give away a great deal of their features for free. With a free membership, you can create a decent profile, search for and view other members, and see possible matches for you. On the other hand, Zoosk has, in the interest of their business, geared their site to strongly encourage free members to convert into paying members. They do this by making it nearly impossible to communicate with other members unless you get a paid subscription plan.
Once you decide to go with a paid subscription, you are able to communicate with any member, as long as they don't block you. This will cost you a good amount, and as with most paid dating services, the longer the period for which you subscribe, the less you pay per month on average:
- 1 Month: $29.95/month
- 3 Months: $19.95/month
- 6 Months: $14.98/month
This is on par with what you could expect to pay for a subscription with eHarmony or Match.com. Zoosk's three-month subscription, for example, is about $8 more per month than Match's. Their six-month subscription is just slightly cheaper than eHarmony's and a couple dollars more per month than Plenty Of Fish's.
4. Zoosk charges a one-time activation fee.
If you peruse customer complaints about Zoosk, one complaint pops up again and again: the activation fee. Even though the one-time $24.95 activation fee is clearly shown on the payment page before members hit 'confirm', many members express surprise and outrage at finding the charge on their account.
So consider yourself warned. If you're going to sign up for a paid membership with Zoosk, in addition to the amount you will pay for your subscription of choice, expect to see an extra $24.95.
5. Zoosk's customers sometimes have a hard time canceling.
When Zoosk customers sign up for a certain subscription plan, they pay the full amount in advance. When customers decide to cancel their membership while their subscription is still going, Zoosk does not make it easy. In fact, the vast majority of BBB complaints against Zoosk are from customers who tried to cancel but couldn't, customers who couldn't find cancellation instructions on the website, and customers who have gotten billed even after they've cancelled.
Zoosk's policy on this matter is clear: "There are no cancellations on current subscriptions allowed during the entire subscription term."
If you're thinking of signing up with Zoosk, think long and hard and definitely try out the free version before committing to a paid subscription. Zoosk takes that commitment very seriously.
6. Zoosk uses recurring billing.
Another complaint that resurfaces again and again against Zoosk is that of recurring billing. This is when at the end of one subscription period, they automatically renew your subscription and take a payment out of your bank account or credit card for the renewed subscription. Although this is clearly laid out in the terms and conditions that every Zoosk members agrees to abide by when they get a paid membership, many members neglect to read the terms and conditions. They're usually the ones breathing fire when Zoosk takes out another year's worth of subscription fees from their account without their permission.
In order to avoid this recurring charge, turn off the auto-renew feature of their subscription term. If they procrastinate until after 24 hours before the end of their subscription, their subscription will be automatically renewed and their account will be charged.
7. Zoosk customers sometimes feel cheated by message notifications.
So you sign up for a free membership to try out Zoosk and then receive a notification that someone has sent you a message... but you can't read it unless you get a paid subscription. The BBB page for Zoosk tells the rest of the unfortunate tale:
"So they pay for a membership only to find that the message they received is an automated message and not a message from an interested party. Consumers state they feel tricked into paying for a membership, believing there was an interested person."
Remember what I mentioned earlier about how Zoosk does everything they can to turn free members into paying members? This is one of those tactics, and it makes a lot of members really mad. Just another thing for you to be aware of when signing up for Zoosk.
8. Zoosk will spam you, unless you disable your email settings.
As is common with so many online dating services, Zoosk includes in its terms and conditions the ability to send you emails-lots and lots of emails. Some of these would be the kind that you would expect from a dating service, such as notifications when someone wants to talk to you. But then some emails will be for services that are irrelevant to your online dating experience, often from Zoosk partners who have been given your email address. In some cases, this can add up to as many as 10 to 20 emails a day, as was recently complained about to the BBB by one Zoosk customer.
According to Zoosk, you cannot stop the deluge of emails just by cancelling your subscription. The only way to stop or limit the amount of email they send you is to change it in your settings. If you do sign up for Zoosk, make sure you go to your email settings first and either disable it or put it at a setting that is most comfortable for you.
9. Zoosk subscriptions through their mobile apps can get messy.
At four-and-a-half stars, Zoosk has the most highly rated dating app on iTunes. They also have apps on all the other major mobile app marketplaces. This is very convenient for on-the-go singles who don't want to limit their online dating experience to their desktop or laptop. However, if you do sign up for Zoosk through iTunes or another mobile app marketplace, things can get pretty inconvenient very fast.
As mentioned above, the typical Zoosk member can cancel their subscription right from their account settings. Customers who sign up through an app store, however, find themselves jumping through numerous hoops, often without getting their subscriptions cancelled before their auto-renew date. One member complained of having to work through iTunes and send a written letter to corporate headquarters postmarked within three days of enrollment to fix the situation... and then still not getting the desired cancellation:
"[The] Zoosk website did not update even though iTunes account reflects no auto-renewal and subscription has been cancelled. Zoosk website still shows account is active with subscription going to renew in 6 months. Received emails from Zoosk denying refund and canceling account stating I never cancelled through iTunes. I responded same day but they still denied by refund of $74.99. Should not be my fault if their system does not update accordingly."
Zoosk declined to offer any kind of refund to this customer. Their response?
"I understand you are inquiring about a purchase via iTunes, however, at this time we are unable to locate a Zoosk account using the email address you provided... If the transaction is processed via iTunes, Apple requires customers who purchase a Subscription on iTunes to cancel those Subscription renewals through their App Store on their iDevice, or through their iTunes Store on their computer."
In a process that is obviously less than clear, this Zoosk member is stuck getting the runaround from both Zoosk and Apple. Bottom line here: #1 dating app or no, you should be very wary of getting a paid subscription through Zoosk's mobile apps.
10. You should make sure Zoosk works in your area before you start a paid subscription.
Yes, Zoosk has 27 million members, but that doesn't mean any of those members live in your metro area. Especially if you live in a rural area or an area with low Internet usage, you might find some slim pickings on Zoosk, or any other dating site for that matter. Consider this sad story from one Canadian Zoosk member on the BBB website who realized he or she wouldn't be able to accomplish much unless they got a paid subscription. And that's when things got really disappointing:
"It was then when I realized in my area there are no active female users. And unless this company expects me to drive 500+km to 'meet' someone, which is what they seem to advertise, then it's basically worthless. There was one 'recently online' person in an 80km radius of where I live... I am not saying Zoosk may be a bad service, I simply don't know. What I do know is: it is not feasible to use it where I live, and I feel like I have been slightly cheated."
To avoid this situation, make sure you use the free trial to see if there are enough people in your area to make the service worth it before you pay. Judging by this story, this is not always clear. If you're on the fence about it, I would recommend that you err on the side of caution and not go for the paid subscription. Historically, Zoosk has not been known to offer refunds for this sort of complaint.
Know Before You Zoosk
As with any online dating experience, you can gain a lot of peace of mind by slowing down and educating yourself before you sign up or get into a paid subscription. It's especially important to remember that everything on Zoosk' site is designed to turn you into a paying customer, from their ads to what they will and won't show you. You can control your relationship with them much better by seeing what other members have said about Zoosk, seeing how they rank, and checking out the fine print on their FAQ pages. Then, when you're ready to get into a serious relationship with them, you'll be informed and empowered.
Have you had a bad experience with Zoosk or another online dating service? Maybe you found the love of your live? Make your voice heard and submit a review today!