If you're in the market for an online dating service, you've probably come across Match.com.
Launched in 1995, Match.com is one of the pioneers of online dating and easily one of the largest dating sites out there. This combined with its gigantic marketing engine makes it a huge presence in online dating. According to their 'About Us' page, their mission is to:
"create romantic opportunities so singles are more likely to find someone special. Over the years, we've learned more and more about what people want--and the tools they need to help take the lottery out of love."
If you're shopping for an online dating service (unless you're looking for love by putting out personal ads in your local newspaper) you will almost certainly encounter Match.com offers. Before you sign up with them, however, it's important that you are informed of what you're getting into.
We've put together the top ten things you should know before signing up for Match.com. This way online daters can learn more about this dating site and find out if it is the right choice for them.
At the bestcompany.com's latest tally, Match.com boasted approximately 21,575,000 members across 24 countries. Because of their paid subscription model, they aren't the biggest online dating site-that distinction belongs to Plenty of Fish. But they certainly have enough users to provide a large pool for daters in most areas.
If you're signing up, this makes it less likely that you will be met with slim pickings in your dating area and increases the likelihood that you'll meet someone who fits your unique criteria.
Match.com gives away a good deal of its features for free. This is a big deal because it lets you test the waters before you spend any money. With a free subscription, you can browse Match.com, search for and view matches, create a profile, send and receive "winks," use Match.com's message center and use their smartphone app.
Of course, these free features are designed to get you into a paid subscription. Only with the paid subscription can you send messages to any Match.com member, see who has viewed or favorited your profile, connect with other members via instant messenger, keep track of your connections, attend Match.com live stir events, and take advantage of the company's six-month guarantee.
This guarantee says that if a paying Match.com subscriber is unsuccessful in finding matches within their first six months of members, Match.com will give them six more months of free service.
True to their mission statement, Match.com has developed lots of innovative ways for their members to meet up and get to know each other, and this might be what really sets them apart from other online dating services.
In their online features, Match.com has created fun new ways for their members to get to know each other better, beyond the typical instant messenger conversation or email. To spark relationships, for example, they've developed seven quick games that members can play together, including such intriguing titles as: "Romantic Rip Off," "Gut Reaction," "Drawn Together," and "Name That Dance."
However, not content with just setting the stage for meetings online, Match.com has also gone into the real world to organize what they call "Stir Events" in many metropolitan areas around the U.S. and in other countries. These events let members meet, socialize, and hopefully hit it off in a group setting.
Match.com has invested in a robust technical support team, enough that very few complaints submitted to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) against them are for problems with the actual website. A few complaints describe accounts or profiles that have been accidentally removed from the site, but those are few and far between.
In addition, Match.com's site security in terms of protecting members' information and credit card information is top-notch, especially compared to the lack of security found in dating sites like Kiss.com. If they spot potential fraudulent activity on your account, they will lock down your account immediately to keep your information from being breached.
When it comes to identifying the attributes that matter most to online daters, too many dating sites miss the mark with superficial information like waist size and salary. Match.com, on the other hand, lets members set up their preferences according to a number of variables, including:
Other features allow Match.com members to provide a more accurate and complete picture of themselves to their fellow online daters. One example is the essay questions that let members express themselves and leave longer descriptions of themselves, beyond just eye color and favorite food.
In many cases, this seems to yield better results for Match.com members. Says Melissa, one of their subscribers who left a review on bestcompany.com:
"I tried several online dating sites over a period of about two years and I liked Match.com the best. The site is easy to use, the communication features and settings are convenient--and, most importantly, I felt that the quality of the people I was matched with was much higher than sites like OKCupid or PlentyofFish."
Of course, with the level of quality that Match.com aims for, you can bet the price is going to be higher. Once you move into a paid subscription, you will find yourself choosing between three payment plans, all of which are paid up front:
As you can probably see, the longer you commit for, the less you end up paying on an average monthly basis. This is great if you're already sold on the site. But what if you're not sure it's going to be what you want? What if you are still looking around for a dating site and aren't ready to lay down the money?
Unfortunately, most of the complaints issued with the BBB against Match.com are from members who paid for one of the plans above, only to fall out of love with the service shortly thereafter. They are usually unable to obtain a refund since they had already committed to a specific time period.
This point is worth reiterating: if you are going to get a paid subscription with Match.com, be ready to stick with it and definitely do not expect a refund if you pull out early.
Another thing that has ticked off quite a few former Match.com members is their auto-renewal feature. Let's say, for example, that you purchase a three-month subscription to the dating site. At the end of that three months, you might expect to receive an email from Match.com telling you that your subscription is about to expire and asking you if you want to renew. But Match.com simply renews the subscription.
How can they do this? Because it's written into the terms and conditions of their site. When members purchase a subscription they agree, often unwittingly, to these terms.
Luckily, members can turn off the auto-renewal feature by going to the 'Cancel/Change Membership' page under their 'Account Settings'. They must do this by 24 hours prior to the end of their subscription period at the latest or risk being charged for another period.
According to over 900 reports in Consumer Affairs, Match.com has gotten into trouble with its members in the past for spamming them with emails from their own site and from their partner companies. In many cases, the volume of emails is far more than members bargained for when they signed up.
While Match.com's technical support is first class, it seems their customer service team has performed less admirably. Read through the complaints on the BBB website and you find one story after another of a dissatisfied member trying to get their account fixed or trying to get a refund and being handled poorly by a customer service rep.
Here's one gem from a former Match.com subscriber:
"Rude customer service! I tried purchasing a gift subscription. The customer service representative copied both email addresses down wrong and I was unable to deliver this "gift" on-time. When trying to contact customer service via email, they went un-answered. The first time I called the customer service representative, they copied down the correct information and said I would soon get a confirmation. This information was again never received. I had to call back one more additional time to learn that the order could not be edited and they had to refund the order and re-charge me. The first representative lied to me! When I found a lower advertised price online a few days later, they would not credit the amount in question. Instead of trying to work with me, customer service fought with me. I cannot believe how they treat customers! When I requested to talk to someone in corporate, I was given a P.O. Box."
Other stories speak of similar displays of callousness, ineptitude, and/or rudeness from Match.com's customer service team. Although members should take greater care in reading their terms and conditions before signing up, it's also clear that Match.com needs to better train their customer service reps to deal with dissatisfied customers.
In online dating, you usually come across a jerk or two that you want to cut off from your dating life. For this purpose, Match.com allows its members to block other members. While this feature does prevent blocked members from communicating with you, however, it doesn't keep them from accessing other features, as explained by one anxious Match.com member:
"I worked with inmates for seven years and have personal safety concerns. The block application gave me a sense of safety and security. I later found out (not even two weeks later) that this information is false. The block application only blocks communication. A member can continue to view your profile. I came to find out this information after having a member of Match.com continue to view my profile. I had blocked them and couldn't understand how they were still able to view my site. This individual was someone I recognized from past work experience."
In other words, Match.com profiles suffer from many of the same problems experienced on social networking sites like Facebook. You want to create a profile that is personal and distinctly you, but you also need to be aware that complete strangers and even untrustworthy people will also be able to peek into your love life.
Should you try out Match.com or not? The online dating site clearly provides one of the top services out there and many of the shortcomings mentioned above can be overcome with a little research beforehand. Ultimately, the question of whether you will commit to Match.com or not is up to you. Do your homework and realistically gauge your own comfort level with what Match.com has to offer-good and bad-and then make an educated choice.
To see how Match.com compares to other dating sites, visit our Online Dating Service reviews page. If you've already tried out an online dating service, make your voice heard and submit a consumer review about your experience.