The Moneybags guide to Internet dating

Tired of hanging out at bars, hoping to find love? Thinking of joining a dating site, but not sure where to sign up? In this guide, we explore the various online dating options available, and clarify your rights as a consumer. “A dating service, like all other services sold to consumers, must comply with standards of good quality,” says Rosalind Lake, head of Consumer Protection, Norton Rose South Africa. “If they do not adhere to these standards, then they will be accountable for their conduct under the Consumer Protection Act.”

Why internet dating?
Online dating is both cheaper and easier than conventional dating.  From a value for money perspective, internet dating is a sure way to save. “Online dating will connect you with far more people than you could ever meet in a night out,” says Patrick Mackay of LetsMeet, “you literally get to window shop thousands of people.” It’s also easier to approach someone online – if they fail to respond, you can walk away largely unscathed by rejection.

Should you join a free dating site?
This depends on both your financial situation and what you’re looking for. If you simply want a bit of harmless fun and to meet new people, then a free subscription might be for you. Free dating sites tend to have huge databases, so it’s easy to make new connections. “We’ve just gone past 23 000 registered members,” says Mackay of his free dating website, LetsMeet.

Just remember to be safe, and to report any dubious activity.

What are the cons of free dating sites?
Free service sites may attract scammers and those who have been banned from paid services.  This means you might need to sort through a ton of rubbish before finding a suitable date, which can be pretty time-consuming.

When should I pay for internet dating?
Popular websites such as DatingBuzz ask for a monthly subscription fee (see prices below). The website will automate ‘matches’ based on your profile and requests. Success rates differ, but according to DatingBuzz South Africa Support, they initiate between 13 and 20 long term commitments per year.
Remember that this is an online dating service and not a personalised one. “Before you sign up for any paid service, you must check out the terms and conditions to see exactly what you are paying for and what limitations there are on the services to be provided,” says Lake.

What about premier dating services?
Our researchers found that most premier dating services asking a higher fee tend to put a great effort into finding their client’s the right partner.  Websites such as Corporate Dating (see below) claim to have up to 2 418 success stories in 12 years. You pay more – and you get more.

“Divorce can be one of the biggest financial burdens in your life,” says Fiona Dorse, founder/wwnerowner of Corporate Dating and author of ‘Alone?? Why??’. “Your chances of success are much higher through a paid dating site because you are paired with compatible suitors.”

If you have the budget and are serious about finding a long term partner, then investing in a premier dating service might be a good idea.

Can I get my money back if I don’t find a partner?
“There are certainly going to be circumstances when a consumer would be entitled to a refund of some or all of their money paid, but this will depend on the promises made by the dating service provider and to what extent they have failed to fulfil these promises,” says Lake.

Should a premier service consistently pair you with unlikely prospective partners or fail to adequately ‘screen’ your dates, then they could be held liable. However, should you simply be unable to find a match that makes your heart flutter, this may not in fact be the fault of the dating service – especially if they have gone to extreme efforts to find you a match. In the case of website platforms, which allow people to meet one another based on matching profiles, it is essential that you read the terms to understand your consumer rights before subscribing, as it is unlikely that you could demand a refund should these websites not work for you.

Free dating services in SA

LetsMeet

MatchmeZA

Loveawake

Monthly subscription sites

Thunderboltcity
Initial free membership
Create your profile and upload up to ten photos
Let other members know you’re interested by adding them to your favourites
Find out your top 100 matches
Receive messages and respond with one of our quick “one-liners”

Paid membership
3 days R49.95
1 month R159.95
3 months R359.95
6 months R559.95
12 months R959.40

Click here to visit their site

Dating Buzz
Free initial subscription you get 100 matches max, in order to view more you must subscribe
However in order to interact with other people you pay a subscription.
1 month R159.95 per month
3 month R119.95 per month
6 month R99.95 per month saving of 38%
12 month R79.95 per month saving of 50%

Click here to visit their site

Premier Dating Service
Corporate Dating
R4500 once off sign up fee, which keeps you as a member until you have found ‘the one’.
Contact
Fiona Dorse : +27 82 744 6614

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*All prices and information correct at time of publication and subject to change thereafter.