So you're on your favorite dating site and you've spotted someone interesting when you're suddenly kicked out of your account. Or you can't figure out how to invite them to chat.
There are tons of things that can go wrong online dating sites, and that includes the software you're using, your account, and their customer service. Close encounters with awkward daters and jerks are par for the course, but what do you do when the product or service you've paid for stops working?
The good news is, these product and service don't have to ruin your online dating experience. As a consumer, you have the ability to take control by getting informed. For starters, get familiar with these nine most common product or service problems and how to deal with them:
Although a few, like Kiss.com (see below), have declined to provide customer service personnel to their customers, most of the top online dating services have invested heavily in this area. Still, despite this investment, the customer service at dating sites can sometimes go bad.
One of the worst customer service stories in the annals of online dating comes courtesy of one disgruntled Match.com customer who tried to get a refund from the company:
"The rep was rude and asked me personal questions like 'Do you have a boyfriend or something?' I find that invasive and unprofessional. Bottom line: I told them I did not subscribe and I want a refund, whether or not I have a boyfriend is irrelevant."
As in pretty much every industry, putting an off-his-game customer service rep together within an angry customer is a recipe for disaster. Still, as a consumer, you have a right to be treated with respect by the companies you do business with. This lack of professionalism is not something you should take lying down.
What to do about it: Ask to talk to his supervisor. If the customer service rep won't connect you-or if the supervisor is equally unhelpful-file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) immediately and detail your interaction with them as accurately as possible. Also, submit a negative review of the dating site.
The only thing worse than bad customer service is no customer service at all. On a site where customers are bound to have questions about how to work the product or about billing, nothing is as frustrating as having no one there to help you figure it out, especially if you're paying for it.
Kiss.com, for example, is notoriously bad at this. A review of Kiss.com by PCMag.com found that the site provided no customer service at all to help frustrated customers. In fact, they didn't even provide a company email or telephone number, just a "Contact Us" form. This kind of un-helpfulness should be suspicious to any online dater and signal the need to move on to greener pastures.
What to do about it: Get out of that relationship ASAP.
Some online daters have returned to their accounts only to find that, unfortunately, their logins no longer worked. In some cases, this can mean that the online dater's account has been hacked by a cybercriminal. In other cases, the online dating service had spotted attempts by hackers to break into the account and had locked down the account as a precaution.
Of course, the former situation is one that no online dater wants to experience. The latter, however, is actually a good thing: your online dating service is proactively watching your back to keep out cybercriminals.
What to do about it: If you've been locked out of your online dating account, contact your site's customer service team (if they have one) ASAP to find out what's happened.
Being locked out of your account is one thing, but what if you try to access your account and you find that it's been removed altogether from the site. Such was the story of one baffled Zoosk customer on the BBB website:
"I posted 'my story' and it was deleted. I reworded it and posted it three more times, and they deleted it. No profanity. Apparently they were messing with me over 'my story' and kept deleting it. There was no profanity or any kind of personal information (I read their policy). I think someone was having fun at my expense."
What to do about it: File a complaint with the BBB to get the situation resolved. As bizarre as these stories are, there is little indication that online dating customer service teams take them seriously.
When you first read advertisements for online dating sites, you get the impression that your city or town is teeming with available singles just waiting for you to introduce yourself. The harsh truth is, however, your online dating service might not be as popular in your area as you might've been led to believe. This makes for either a very unfulfilling online dating experience or a lot of driving.
"I realized in my area there are no active female users. And unless this company expects me to drive 500-plus kilometers to 'meet' someone, which is what they seem to advertise, then it's basically worthless. There was one 'recently online' person in an 80-kilometer radius of where I live. I do not feel this service should be advertised in such a way in a part of the world that it is basically worthless."
This is especially likely in rural areas or areas where Internet usage is relatively low.
What to do about it: Find out before you sign up. Contact the site's customer service team and get the answer to this crucial question before hitting 'submit.' Also, use your own judgment and your knowledge of your area's citizenry. If you've already subscribed, you might be stuck, but you should at least contact your site's customer service team to attempt to un-subscribe and get a partial refund.
Sure, everyone should be wary of the dangers that cybercriminals pose, but what about when you suspect that your own online dating site might be hazardous? When you're considering giving a site your credit card information, you should take an extra measure of caution then decide whether you can trust them with that information or not.
In one example of this danger, one reviewer at PCMag.com found that, when she attempted to make a payment to Kiss.com, her bank placed a fraud alert on her account. She also received concerned texts, emails, and phone calls from her bank. To top it all off, when she revisited the site, her browser threw up an insecure site warning. This site might as well be surrounded by bright orange caution cones.
What to do about it: Never give your financial information to a site deemed 'insecure' by your web browser. And if your bank is verifying that your online dating site is not to be trusted with your information, that's a surefire sign that it's time for the "it's-not-me-it's-you" talk.
The Internet is full of sites who make it hard to figure out how to use them, and online dating sites are no exception. In an effort to replicate the dating experience in cyberspace, some of these sites can create an experience that is silly or just plain confusing.
"Initially, I was given three matches, and their site does not give you any way to ask any questions," said one disgruntled eHarmony customer, "so you have to guess a lot what you should do. Also, if you try to contact a person you are [given] no other option [but] to send them a set of silly questions to break the ice."
PlentyofFish similarly struck out with Jeffrey L. Wilson, PCMag.com reviewer:
"The first images you see when you visit a profile page are photos of other people, not the person you're interested in checking out. If some of those recommended profile photos look similar to the person you'd intended to check out, it's very easy to click to those images and accidently go to a new page. It happened to me. Twice."
What to do about it: Communicate your dissatisfaction to customer service and then be patient. Unfortunately, these types of product problems are usually tied up in the company's development process. They might fix the bug causing your problem right away or it might mean a major overhaul to the way they've engineered their site, in which case you could be waiting awhile to see the change you want.
In an area like online dating, you're bound to see some questionable choices by advertisers. For instance, Wilson, who is African-American, found the race-centric ad preferences were the most shocking. For him, advertisement after advertisement on PlentyofFish asked if he "wanted white women or needed help finding a white woman."
"When I set my profile race to white, I was served mostly ads that wanted to know if I wanted Latinas or sugar mamas," said Wilson. "It came off as low-end and borderline offensive."
What to do about it: Let your customer service team know. With so much of online advertising happening behind the scenes in algorithms, online dating companies might never see the ads that are being shown to you. This means they won't know if the ads on their site are offensive unless customers report them.
Few product problems are as frustrating as this one. You sign up and pay the subscription, which is sometimes hefty, with the expectation that you will meet someone and strike up a meaningful relationship. Some dating sites tout the power of the algorithms and formulas they use to match you up with potential mates. They also employ a myriad of tools-flirts, winks, etc.-to try to make it happen. Inevitably, for all the people who do successfully hit it off on online dating sites, there are many who will not. That is the risk that online daters assume.
What to do about it: Either accept that risk up front or don't sign up. Just as in the real world, no website can guarantee your success in love. And dating sites build into their terms and conditions the caveat that the online dater is not guaranteed success, so there is no chance of daters legally challenging the "lack of results" on their sites. However, to make your dissatisfaction known and to motivate dating companies to improve their services, you should always submit your own review of their product.
Then, once you sign up and problems do arise, know that if you can't resolve your problem with your online dating service, you can always turn to the BBB and consumer reviews to make your voice heard.
Have you had a problem with your online dating site? Or maybe it led you to your soulmate? Make your voice heard and submit your consumer review today!