Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’ll say it up front: I am old; I am not used to anything to do with
dating; I am a strong consumer advocate; I don’t like feeling foolish.
All these have come together in a personal and financial issue. I was
widowed five years ago. I spent a long time grieving the long true love
of my life. Friends kept trying to fix me up with eligible gentlemen of
my age (sixties) but it led to awkward after-effects in a small circle of
aging Jewish professionals. I decided to try online dating. I signed up
with a very well-known service, after carefully looking for the best
deal. It cost about half of what they advertise, and the person with
whom I signed up assured me that if I initiated at least five outreach
emails/contacts each month and was still single after six months, the
second six months would be free. That’s essentially 75% off so I
signed up, and yes gave my credit card. You can write the story. After
seven months (of no romance) I saw a charge on my credit card for a
full price six-month membership. I have made four phone calls
explaining everything above, and in each and all of them the only
answer I have received is “Mxxxx.com is not a refund company.” I am
angry and frustrated. I can afford the charge but do not want to.


Dear Dunned:

I’m going to generalize my answer, since it applies to most similar
circumstances. You don’t say if you got the name of the original
salesperson, and recorded the date of the conversation. In future, any
time you get what sounds like a deal that’s too good to be true, start
an info file on the details. The second thing you should do is to make a
mark on your calendar a full week before the expiration date of such a
deal. That’s to call back the same 800 number and talk to customer
service. When you are faced with the barrage of vmail options, none of
which addresses your circumstances, keep saying Agent, Customer
Service, or waiting till the last option which may finally include a
sentence like, If you need to talk to a company representative. Explain
what you were promised and get a guarantee of what will follow. Get
the person’s name and id number, regardless of what you are told.
Then monitor your credit card.

Assuming, as has happened to me in similar circumstances, you are
charged for future services, immediately call back and complain, citing
all your previous contacts, including name and id. Get that ino about
any agent you speak with. If you are still told XYZ.com is not a refund
company, an infuriating declaration, immediately dial your credit card
company. Explain the outline of the problem, and say you can
document all the contacts you have had. According to at least one
major credit card rep That’s what companies say when they don’t want
to give a refund. They can say that all they like. But we will reverse
the charge and block that merchant from future contact with your
credit. That option will eliminate the specific site as a future dating
option. But there are many such places to go fishing. And your willing
friends would rather bathe in the yenta glory of a good fix-up, so don’t
count them all out.