The course of true love never did run smooth. So now that we can start going out and meeting people again you might be dusting off those old dating apps to help speed along finding that special person.

Unfortunately, problems with dating apps and websites are one of the fastest growing areas of complaint at Resolver. Complaints leapt by 433% to 5,484 last year. So if you’re thinking about going digital to find love, here’s a few things to watch out for.

The problem with premium services

By far the most complained-about dating issue is app or website premium services, with people either not realising they were paying extra, struggling to get refunds or experiencing difficulty cancelling the services.

Premium services vary considerably across dating apps and ‘unlock’ a range of services for a variety of prices, including allowing direct messages (or a greater number of messages), a wider range of search or filter options (height, age, interests, for example) or additional features like allowing sharing of photos.

Dating app premiums are usually debited from bank accounts, credit cards or (potentially) phone bills through ‘continuous payment authorities’ which can be cancelled by your card or service provider straight away. However, many of Resolver’s users told me how hard it is to contact some dating apps, adding they couldn’t speak to a human or directly interact with customer services – or even find a way to get in touch and cancel. Many others are deeply concerned about being debited hundreds of pounds for services they neither wanted or requested or finding out some of their personal data is being traded too.

Dating apps, charges and getting in touch

Premium services on dating apps aren’t cheap and can add up significantly over the course of the year. This is not helped by the fact that many services are not transparent about their charges – often you only get a price when you sign up and commit.

Many of the people I’ve spoken to have reported charges ranging from £10 to £49.99 a month, with some more traditional ‘tailored match’ services catering for wealthy professionals charging much higher sums. If you’re paying by the month you could end up paying £200 to £300 or more.

Of course, if you’ve not authorised these charges – and the firm can’t prove you have – you might be able to claim them back. Just speak to your bank and tell them that the payments are ‘disputed’.

Matchmaking services

It’s possible to pay much more money for a much more tailored service. Matchmaking services occupy more traditional territory, where the business finds you a series of individually ‘matched’ partners based on your criteria. They often offer some form of guarantee about finding you this person – though not for falling in love!

Complaints about these tailored services have been creeping up in recent years, with people reporting that not only have the dates not been arranged, the quality of the matches has not been as promised.

I’ve heard about some pretty damning dating disasters. But complaining can sometimes be tricky because you have to draw the line between being picky and not getting anything like what you paid for.

Firstly, go through the contract. That will usually specify how many matches will be made over what time period and your minimum criteria (age, profession, etc) for the partner. A business should not enter in to a contract with you if it doesn’t have enough people on its books to meet those criteria, so if that doesn’t occur you are entitled to ask for a partial or even full refund.

Love for free

Of course, there are other options for meeting people – often for free. Why not join a club, learn a new skill or sign up to do something you enjoy? You’ll find like-minded people and even if you don’t find love, you’ll be having fun. Don’t forget to cancel those apps though!

Martyn James is a leading consumer rights campaigner, TV and radio broadcaster and journalist.

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