Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christian dating service uses unChristian sales tactics

The "Watchblog" at the Arizona Republic reports on how the local Christian Internet dating site, Equally Yoked Christian Singles in Phoenix, operates:
C[***] P[***] says a sales manager at Equally Yoked Christian Singles in Phoenix blocked her exit, made unauthorized charges on a cutup credit card and told her she would never find a man before the holidays without their help.
P[***], who filed a police report over the incident, says the dating service virtually emptied her bank account to secure a $1,700 membership fee, refused to cancel her contract and demanded that she sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to get a refund.
Other commenters at the blog report similar, though less extreme, experiences:
I feel for this lady, I know from experience what Equally Yoked is like. They used to call me every month or so and literally harass me into coming in for the preliminary meeting. Luckily, I usually so busy I never had time to go in, I am glad I read this article and I will avoid this place like the plague.
and
A friend joined Equally Yoked a couple of years ago and asked me to join with her so we could attend some of their events. I called them and made an appointment. My favorite cousin's wife died, however, the night of the appointment. I called and got Voice Mail to tell them I was too distraught to make the meeting. They called me back at least five times that night leaving increasingly nasty messages about how unprofessional I was cancelling my appointment. It's 18 months later and they finally stopped calling in October. I would never use Equally Yoked.
The Republic notes that Equally Yoked has had eight BBB complaints in the last 36 months, four of which are contract issues, one a billing issue, one a service issue, and one a product issue, at least six of which were not resolved in a way acceptable to the consumer ("The consumer failed to acknowledge acceptance to the BBB" or "BBB determined the company made a reasonable offer to resolve the issues, but the consumer did not accept the offer."). For the BBB, that's good enough for a "satisfactory" record for a company that's an accredited member. That kind of complaint record would certainly make me avoid such a company, however.

Other complaints about Equally Yoked in other locales can be found online at ripoffreport.com.

The service sounds like a Christian version of another dating company that offered services through local offices in major cities at an equally ridiculous price, Great Expectations. That video-based dating service, once shilled for by Harlan Ellison, has received similar complaints about high pressure sales tactics, deceptiveness, and failure to deliver on promises. Equally Yoked has simply taken this concept and applied it to an even more gullible segment of the population than those who think video dating is a good way to meet people--those who think that an organization catering to Christians (and which suggests, but never actually says that it's run by Christians) couldn't possibly rip them off.

The online dating services that charge minimal fees are clearly a much better deal--they have more people participating, they can often be used without cost or at a minimal monthly cost, and they don't have sleazy salespeople pushing you to sign ridiculous contracts. The one potential advantage of the expensive services is that they may perform criminal history checks, credit checks, and checks to make sure their clients are unmarried, but these are also all checks you can obtain on your own online at a much lower cost. And if you're really looking for someone on the basis of membership in a particular religion, wouldn't a church, mosque, or temple of your favored sect be the best place to search?

9 comments:

Brian Moore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Moore said...

People need to stay the hell away from any "dating" service that provides anything more than a social networking system, and even those seem kind of sketchy.

(I need to learn how to type)

Jim Lippard said...

cderenberger said...

I agree. I think many of the christian dating agencies could care less about our biblical principles. Actually, I just read online that Bigchurch.com just got sold to Penthouse, what does that tell you?
January 20, 2008 5:42 AM

Subtle, cderenberger, but I'm deleting your comment because your profile shows you have two blogs about Internet marketing and search engine optimization, so I think your link to "christian dating agencies" is actually intended to promote them, despite the apparent criticism of your comment. That would make your comment evidence of its own truth.

Tammara Nelson said...

Interesting to read this today - In that I recently divorced I just conversed over the phone with Equally Yoked this afternoon. The conversation quickly became a disappointment when one of the first questions the representative asked was; "Do you have a bank account?" That raised an immediate red flag for me in that she had not yet explained how their program worked!

Also, when I asked how much the cost of membership was the representative also told me that she didn't even know! It's hard to believe that the representative that does the initial phone screening would not even know how much the membership is! It seemed to only be a ploy to get me to go to one of their offices, which I have decided to not do since the initial phone conversation went the way it did.

Unfortunately, many Christian organizations have integrated the same tactics the secular business world does, which I feel is quite sad. Thanks for letting me vent!

Jim Lippard said...

Tammara: I think you dodged a bullet!

SimplyHIS said...

So I know this was posted a couple yrs ago... but just as Tammara explain, a similiar phone conversatin happened with me just a couple days ago. And then today when I didnt show for my appointment due to being snowed in. Something in my spirit wasn't at peace with how they were speaking, which lead me to my research tody. Thanks for posting! It helps to know and understand why I did not feel at peace and to not get caught up in it.

David said...

Equally Yoked is the biggest rip off I have ever seen. First of all it is more than double the price of other sites. I paid 895.00 for a two year agreement. My monthly payments where 39.70 a month after paying 100.00 down, and you are locked in for two years. If you think your not, just go 1 day past your due date and they will call you wanting their money. They do their best to get you to sign an Debit auto draft form that they can automatically take it from your account. if you miss they hit you with all kinds of fees. If you chose to pay by phone they charge an 11.00 convienience fee, or 7.95 if you pay online. Everything is slanted towards Equally Yoked and the customers have little rights. You would be better off to go on the free dating sites, because you will find many of the same women on there that are on Equally yoked. Provide them your bakground check and require one from them. you can get them for 9.95. I was an idiot for signing on and I continue to pay for nothing. But I thought I would pass along my bad. Equally Yoked will not quote you a price over the phone, they use high pressure sales techniques and misleading statements to get you in. But once you sign the contract your hung.

jens4jesus said...

I was the manager for Equally Yoked when it moved to Garden Grove, Orange County, CA. We didn't call it a "dating service". We referred to Equally Yoked as a tool to fellowship with other Christians in a safe environment.
Our location prayed with each person. We never used high-sales tactics. We had a lot of success in bringing couples together. However, I am not shocked with how EY evolved. When EY was sold to some corporate husks, it changed dramatically. I left the company because they were getting too secular.
When I managed, I made sure we asked the hard questions. We felt compelled to keep the wolves out of the flock. We asked how they became a Christian...being "born" into it or told they were a Christian by a parent doesn't make them a Christian; it is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Equally Yoked comes from the Bible. God is trying to warn us to marry a person with similar goals and beliefs.
The hard part was the ownership change. Once that occurred, it wasn't about the sheep staying safe, it was about money. Also, there are laws that don't allow discrimination. The price would go up substantially when there was a wolf trying to enter...that is why we didn't quote prices over the phone. Anyway, it was a great idea in the beginning, a vision given to Pam by God (founder) but unfortunately, she sold her dream and made it a nightmare.

cici k said...

You have your information so wrong and some kind of a nut. Equally yoked has been around for 30 years and sounds like you where fired or let go for acting in an unchristian like behavior or a disgruntled x employee as you say you are. If you where a true Christian then you would not be posting such things as this. May God Bless you!!