CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- How much would you pay to find love?
Some Charlotte women say they hired what they thought was a local matchmaking service, paid thousands of dollars, and were taken advantage of.
But the Defenders did some digging and found the service is actually a national chain of franchises — with more than a dozen complaints against them in Charlotte alone — and they all sound very similar.
Leslie Dunham is a successful 50-year-old woman and the vice president of a financial firm.
She recently moved to Charlotte and said she didn't know anyone and working from home made it difficult to meet people.
And she didn’t want to do online dating.
“I thought if I'm gonna do it I’m gonna go high-end, where people do a background and a criminal check," Dunham said.
She found this site for Charlotte matchmakers
“I went down and had a meeting with them, they wouldn’t tell me anything over the phone, didn’t want to go over pricing until I was in person," Dunham shared.
In person, she says the staffer gave her a hard sell and convinced her to pay $8,000 for 12 dates.
“She told me if I signed on the dotted line before leaving the office, she would throw in two more dates and she said that’s not bad, 12 dates in a year. So they promised you 14 dates within a year that’s what she said but it’s not written in the contract.
She says she waited three months before they found her first date. A man 15 years older, who she says misled her about what he did for a living, and oh, by the way, his divorce wasn’t final.
“I’ve only had two dates in the last year, neither were compatible, one they referred to the guy as a creep and he’s no longer with the service," Dunham said.
NBC Charlotte tried to talk to someone in person at the fort mill offices but no one was there.
An out-of-town spokesman for the company told NBC Charlotte while they do criminal background checks, they rely on clients to be honest about everything else.
But we also talked to a 50-year-old Charlotte teacher, who wants to remain anonymous, who says one of the dates Charlotte matchmakers set her up on had a lengthy history of traffic stops, including a DUI, that she only found after googling.
She told NBC Charlotte, “He had more than 15 traffic violations in multiple states.”
And she tells a similar story as Dunham.
“I did get set up on a date with somebody that was older than my parameters, didn’t share same religious beliefs, height well below what I asked for," she said.
She said she paid $2,000 for the promise of five dates. A spokeswoman for the company admitted they have they call "variable pricing."
NBC Charlotte checked with the Better Business Bureau and found 12 complaints against the company and a B-minus rating.
“All saying basically the same thing. Yes, I signed this contract and yes that’s what I agreed to do but what they told me I was gonna get I’m not getting," said Tom Bartholomy with the BBB, describing complaints.
NBC Charlotte found similar complaints on Yelp. The head of the BBB also said he thinks there’s a reason the dating service is set up over the state line.
“This is the fourth iteration of a dating company that’s based themselves in Fort Mill and targets the Charlotte market and the primary reason for that is if they were based in North Carolina, they would have to give people a three-day right to cancel," he said.
Dunham says in the year she was with the company they only offered her three matches, none of which met her parameters.
“At this rate, it would be seven years to complete the 14 dates the way we're going now and obviously if anybody had told me that I would never have signed up.”
Both women said they are embarrassed and angry.
“I want them held accountable for what they’re doing.”
Both women say the lesson they learned: do your homework. They researched the service online. Only after they were frustrated with the company.
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