The launch by dating service eHarmony.com of a new website for homosexuals is creating concern among customers who were attracted to the company because of its Christian foundations, but they’re not getting any satisfaction.
WND reported when eHarmony launched its new Compatible Partners website for homosexuals, the result of a settlement of a discrimination complaint brought in New Jersey.
Compatible Partners has been put online by eHarmony following the case prompted by a 2005 complaint by Eric McKinley, a homosexual, who claimed eHarmony’s heterosexual-only matching service violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.
A WND reader who asked that his name be withheld immediately contacted the Pasadena, Calif.-based company with the message: “Please refund my money immediately. I will not support a site that places profit over morals.”
The company responded:
“We are sorry to hear that you are wishing to leave the eHarmony community. It is our goal to help you become one of the 236 members we have, on average, getting married every day.
“We are unable to process your request for a refund. Your current subscription is active through 06/17/2009 and we would love to help you make the most of your remaining time.”
The corporation then suggested the subscriber read stories “about members who did not give up” and to watch founder Neil Clark Warren’s video called “5 Keys to Success.”
The company delivered to WND a statement attributable to a “spokesperson.”
“eHarmony, Inc. has always been a for-profit business, not a political or religious advocacy group. We have always looked to build a diverse membership pool to increase the likelihood that every member could find their match on eHarmony.com. Many Christians have favored eHarmony.com because of its sole focus on creating highly compatible long-term relationships leading to marriage, our secure and guided communications process that allows people to get to know each other at a deeper level, and because we recognize that spiritual similarity is an important component of relationship compatibility. None of that changes because of additional sites that expand the portfolio of brands eHarmony, Inc. owns and operates.”
The company declined to answer how it was responding to customers who want a refund because of moral or religious objections to its changes.
A customer service agent, Ron, told WND that customers are eligible for refunds “within 3 days of when the account was charged.”
After that, customers no longer are eligible for refunds, he said.
Asked about customers who would be upset over the corporation’s move into the homosexual market, he said, “That’s a different circumstance, that’s handled by a separate department.”
But he told WND that division of the company had no phone number he could release.
As WND reported, the company originally said it was “based on the Christian principles of Focus on the Family author Dr. Neil Clark Warren.” It stood firm on its decision to reject homosexuals from its profiling and matching services. Its entire compatibility system is based on research of married heterosexual couples.
In 2005, Warren told USA Today the company’s goal is marriage and that same-sex marriage is illegal in most states.
“We don’t really want to participate in something that’s illegal,” he said.
But Warren began to disassociate himself with Focus on the Family’s James Dobson that year to shed the company’s association with the pro-family group. He said he would no longer appear on Dobson’s radio show, and he bought the rights to books he had published through Focus on the Family and removed the organization’s name from their covers.
eHarmony says it is dedicated to helping people find spouses, not merely casual partners. Since its founding in 2000, the site has matched hundreds of thousands of couples and boasts of being the No. 1 online dating site.
The site matches people using applicants’ responses to an extensive questionnaire and personality profile.
Warren applied research based on studies of heterosexual couples to construct matches for eHarmony users.
But a check of online forums produced a long list of complaints about eHarmony’s billing procedures.
Even at the eHarmony Blog there were reports of trouble.
“We here at eHarmony Blog love eHarmony, but, yes, we agree with you – eHarmony’s Refund Policy is crapshoot. Does eHarmony guarantee anything at all? We scoured their website for every single guarantee they have, and here they are:” the site said.
The references included a notation under “Choose a Plan” for a refund within seven days and a similar reference under the company’s help system.
On the blog, “Lori” reported cancelling her membership beyond the seven days, so there was no refund, but was told “no further monies would be taken.”
“Lo and behold, on January 7, 2008, another $91.80 was taken from my account. This is ridiculous. I am going to file complaints with every agency I can, starting with PayPal,” she wrote.
Another customer reported having an inactive account for 30 months and being charged $1,198.50.
After explaining that the account was set up automatically to renew, the company said: “Your satisfaction is important to us. We have reviewed your account activity,
and as a courtesy, we have processed a refund for two months of subscription
dues on 05/26/2008. A refund in the amount of $79.90 has been issued to your
At a Consumer Affairs site dealing with consumer complaints, eHarmony was a favorite target, generating pages of comments from unhappy customers.
Among the concerns stated:
- From Wilma: “I have paid twice. I think this is a scam to get my money. I’ve tried to do e-mail, but it just pops up how much do you want to pay each time. I’m not doing this any more, unless you give me proof this is not a scam.”
- From Phil: “I sent them numerous e-mails asking them why they sent me the girlie Maxim. They finally answered and said it was a default setting for them. I demanded they stop sending this unsolicited magazine. Two months later, I am still getting it.”
- From Judy: “I was a member & I wish to stop my membership for a while. They keep taking money every month from my account. I am unemployed right now & want to stop. I did everything that needed to be done on the site, but the money is still being deducted.”
- From Chris: “BE CAREFUL giving EHarmony as a gift! Eharmony will continue to charge YOU the gift-giver! It happened to us. We called them to resolve it explaining to them that it is illegal to charge OUR card on a continuing basis WITHOUT OUR approval. … And you know what they said? We have to have the gift recipients approval to not charge your card? WHAT?????”
- From Sharon: “I was told by my counselor that this was a Christian based program. I also thought this program was free for one month. I paid $32.00 and understood that was all I owed. I tried to cancel the program after one month because I was dissatisfied. I also had to have back surgery and physical therapy. I tried calling and e-mail, but was unable to reach them. I am now getting phone calls and bills … and am told I owe for three months. … I am living on Social Security and can’t deal with this anymore.”
Warren, a psychologist with a divinity degree, had three of his 10 books on love and dating published by Focus on the Family. It was an appearance on James Dobson’s radio program in 2001 that triggered a response of 90,000 new referrals to the website, starting a climb of registered participants on the site from 4,000 to today’s 20 million clients.
Now Compatible Partners will use a questionnaire nearly identical to the original eHarmony document to find matches for homosexual users. Slight alterations in wording were implemented such as “I greatly appreciate the beauty of the opposite sex,” to “I greatly appreciate physical attractiveness.” But overall the sites are nearly identical in content.
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