A former eHarmony customer who objected to the company’s new outreach to homosexuals but was denied a refund says the company now apparently is changing its response.
The customer, who asked that his name not be revealed, told WND that a followup e-mail from the “eHarmony office of the president” confirmed that his account was closed and a refund was being processed as he requested.
The issue arose when the dating service, which originally described itself as being founded on Christian principles of long-term husband-and-wife relationships, moved into the “gay” market with a new homosexual-oriented website called Compatible Partners.
The reader wrote to 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.”
On the issue of refunds, the company delivered to WND a statement attributed 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.”
A customer service spokesman for eHarmony separately told WND that no refunds were granted after three days.
The subscriber, however, was unwilling to continue supporting a company that has moved into homosexual promotions and responded to the company’s rejection of his request.
“I did not sign on for this service with the notion in mind that I would also
be financially supporting immoral and indecent behavior. I will not allow
my dollars to be utilized to help match homosexuals with one another. It
goes fully against what I believe and I am wholly disappointed,” the subscriber wrote.
The response from the company was forwarded to WND from the subscriber.
“Thank you for your e-mail, and the opportunity to address your concern. eHarmony has settled a legal action with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division on Civil Rights as a result of a complaint by a New Jersey resident. Although we believed that the complaint resulted from an unfair characterization of our business, we ultimately decided it was best to settle with the state since litigation outcomes can be unpredictable,” the company wrote.
“We look forward to moving beyond this legal dispute, which has been a burden for the company. Helping people find successful, long-term relationships has been our primary goal since inception, and we’re confident that we will continue to deliver the same great services,” it continued.
“Based on your concerns, your account has been closed and a refund has been granted to you.”
WND left a message for an eHarmony spokesman asking if the refund letter signaled a change in company plans and got a statement in response that the company couldn’t comment without the customer’s personal account information.
“eHarmony is committed to delivering highly compatible matches to each of our members on eHarmony.com so they can find the right partner for a long-term relationship that could ultimately lead to marriage. We are also committed to providing world-class customer care and our policy continues to be to evaluate refund requests on a case-by-case basis, consistent with our Terms and Conditions of service,” the statement, attributed to a company spokesman, said.
The corporation has said Compatible Partners has been put online because of a case prompted by a 2005 complaint in New Jersey by Eric McKinley, a homosexual, who claimed eHarmony’s heterosexual-only matching service violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.
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. 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.
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.