Saturday, December 21, 2013

Buyer Beware: My eHarmony and PayPal Nightmare

(You can find updates to this post by clicking here for eHarm and here for PayPal)

Okay, dear reader, I am swallowing my pride in telling about this experience because my outrage and frustration outweigh my chagrin.

The short version: eHarmony is unethical in their practices. PayPal is of little to no help when an injustice has occurred. I have no plans to ever use them, nor allow them to do me such a disservice again.

The Jubilee version: I thought that now that I have been single for awhile and the stigma of online dating has lessened greatly, I would try it out. What could be the harm? Might even be fun. Meet some people, dip my feet into the dating pool again and see what happens.

The eHarmony website is polished and classy. I felt good about my decision to join. After all, they are purported to be the leading online site for marriages.  Makes sense to use this site since I am interested in marriage, not a hook up. We all have heard about THOSE sites. eHarmony does not seem to be one of those kinds of sites -- from my experience.

There is a series of questions that helps analyze your personality type. It didn't take long and I was impressed with the results. I even learned a couple of things about myself that I hadn't realized before.  A subscriber can put in preferences about distance (60 mile radius? 300 mile radius? Anywhere?), lifestyle choices (like drinking and smoking), and religion, to name a few.

I was surprised with the bevy of match results. I sure had fun those first couple of nights looking through matches and dreaming about the possibilities.  Handpicked, just for me.  Okay, okay, an algorithm does it, but it's close enough.

Everyday there were new matches to explore.  What's not to love, right?

Except, I started noticing that some of those matches were not close to being matches at all. Either eHarmony wasn't as good at matching as they claimed, or other subscribers were putting in different criteria when they filled out their profiles than from the questions they answered for eHarmony to use in order to connect matches. I chalked it up to the former.

Then, it came time to renew my subscription. I decided to decline. I just wasn't as ready to date as I thought.

Unfortunately, I was unknowingly caught in an automatic renewal process. I called eHarmony, found out the situation and had that feature turned off.  I did not protest too loudly in regard to that particular automatic withdraw payment because, eHarmony (and most other match services, I have learned) has a zero refund policy. They send you a tidy little email saying that you may dispute, but they are quite clear in the same email that the chances of hell freezing over are better than a subscriber getting any type of refund for any reason.  Uh, I may have paraphrased there, just so you know.

Ah . . . The light bulb went off! THIS is how they make their money. Silly, naive me.  Deep breaths . . . lesson learned.

I continued on their site despite my frustration because, after all, they got my money. A couple months later, I was curious about when my subscription ended. I clicked on a link that claimed it would take me to my accounts page. I was taken to that page, but never suspected that clicking that link would also grant eHarmony permission to automatically renew my subscription.

Without notification of any kind. Without confirmation of any kind. Without showing on my accounts page that a transaction had even occurred. I did see that coincidence upon coincidence, that particular day was the last day of my subscription. No big deal. I didn't intend to renew anyway.

Fast Forward to the next morning. I was checking my bank account and saw that PayPal (my chosen method of online payment in the past) had sent a request for payment for eHarmony. I called PayPal to get it stopped because it was unauthorized, at least as far as I knew and was concerned. I was told that their system was automated and they could not stop payment "once it was in their system."

I called eHarmony and was told by an agent that by clicking on that particular link  (which initially showed my options for renewal, none of which I selected -- and none of which were the same as the dollar amount I was being charged), I was in fact giving eHarmony permission to set up automatic payments. When I protested, but calmly explained what happened (and that no transaction appeared on my accounts page), the agent shut me down and told me that #1. eHarmony has a zero refund policy and I should look it up in their policy practices; #2. I could take it up with the resolution department via email and she would send me the link to my email address. She did agree, however, to turn off the auto renewal feature, but only after I insisted.

I told her that the policy practices I agreed to, never stated that just by clicking through to my accounts page, I would be granting automatic renewal permission.  She told me that the policy practices had been changed with the last website update and the mere act of using their website, was acquiescence to abide by their new policy changes.

Uh, what?!  Hold the phone!  Seriously?!

I sent in a complaint letter explaining the situation, in detail.  I was told I would get a response within 7-10 business days. I guess they have a lot of complaints to wade through and deny before getting to mine in the pile.  I have yet to hear from eHarmony.  I am not expecting to. I am, however, reasonably sure that they still expect to be paid and will make sure my credit score reflects that.

I called PayPal back, explaining that it was an unauthorized transaction and two separate agents told me that they could, indeed, cancel the payment. The second agent told me she was cancelling it as we were speaking.  Not only was she cancelling that payment, but did she have my permission to "cancel all future requests for payments from eHarmony?"  I gave her a resounding, "yes."

The payment was sent to my bank any way. A third call to PayPal ensued.  I was told that payments cannot, under any circumstances, be cancelled. They can cancel future payments for any company I chose, but once a transaction has been requested and put into their system, it cannot be cancelled.

Oh, man.

Guess what?   PayPal requests payment from the bank a second time if it is denied the first time. I put a stop payment through the bank for the second request. Unfortunately, I was not in time to stop payment on the first request and my account became overdrawn, even though the payment was eventually denied by my bank. But not before racking up NSF charges, of course.

Because I was misinformed by PayPal agents, I was given a $25 credit by PayPal. They told me that they have several branches (one in the Philipines and one in Costa Rico) and not everyone is properly educated as to the PayPal practices and the particulars of how the payment system works. This did little to restore my confidence in PayPal.

I wish I had a good ending to this story.  I do not.  In fact, I see the second payment request from PayPal has been issued to my bank and payment is pending.  Although I was charged by my bank for a stop payment, no stop payment has been enforced as of yet.

The nightmare continues.  Even the sites that claim to want to "help you to find happiness" are just out to grab as much money from you as they can -- and possibly make you miserable in the process.

Objective accomplished.

The only joy I can find in this situation is that I am better educated. Unfortunately, it comes at the steep cost of becoming less trusting and more jaded.

18 comments:

  1. Yikes! What a nightmare!!

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  2. Anonymous6/30/2014

    I have the same problem with eharmony! This site is the worth site I have ever seen.
    Without refund! It's ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am truly sorry you have been having the same problems. It seems eHarm would see that their practices have cost them clients and that they would do something about their reputation. Neil Clark Warren should be ashamed. I guess the almighty dollar reigns regardless of client relationships.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous8/03/2014

    Hi. Just wondering how you went with this? I am having similar problems.

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    Replies
    1. So sorry that you have had similar problems with eHarm. I haven't had any dealings with them, nor have I heard from creditors. I am banned from the site. Evidently they know me by cookies or some other tracking system bc as soon as I type in the address for eHarm, I get a message that until I pay the money they think I owe, I cannot access their site. Fine with me. I hope you have better luck than I have.

      Delete
  4. Anonymous10/27/2014

    Same issue here and about the same result but I find Paypal faultless and I do find that eharmony is the scammer here. If they do end up charging me I am going to use my profile to alert all my matches about this scam!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have since decided that PayPal, though not totally faultless in my specific situation, is a worthy company to do business with and have resumed using them. I am so sorry you have had a similar issue with eHarm.

      Delete
  5. Anonymous5/07/2015

    I turned-off the auto renew feature on the eharmony site before it was to renew and they charged my credit card anyway. I complained and was told I am in a new contract and they will be charging me for 2 more payments so I had a new credit card number issued to prevent future charges. I am disputing the 1st unauthorized charge. This is unethical. I will tell anyone who will listen about their business practices and have filed a complaint with the MA State Attorney General. Eharmony will NEVER get my business again!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. Two more payments! And I agree, eHarm's practices are unethical. Hope you did indeed file that complaint. Others need to be made aware. Thank you for commenting.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous7/14/2015

    I received a lot of matches across the country, not one in my city or surrounding areas in 2 months time. Many of the ones sent were not good matches and some even said they only wanted to date local people. The eHarmony website said to call the customer service number to cancel my subscription because I have one payment left for a 6-month term. The very rude customer service rep talked over me and kept claiming I didn't set my distance specifications correctly even though I gave a radius of 120 miles. I repeatedly told her I wanted to cancel and that the company had not provided what was advertised. After going around in circles with the rep, she finally said I had to write an email to cancel, even though the website said I had to call. She claimed no one there could help me by phone. The upshot is eHarmony is a scam and anyone who is hoping to find a mate should think long and hard before signing up with this company. As commenters have said here and on other sites, this dating service is only about making money and does not care about customer service.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree with you. So sorry you had similar troubles with them. Makes my stomach turn that so many have been scammed. Taking advantage of even one client is shameful. Taking advantage of so many is despicable. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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  7. Anonymous8/29/2015

    Well, I signed up for a six-part payment plan for a years subscription (six monthly payments of $17.40) thru PayPal. After the first month, I got absolutely nothing from eHarmony and, in fact, met a wonderful woman on Match.com, who I think is truly my soulmate. After the second payment went thru, I wanted to cancel the useless service, but found out that I could not cancel eHarmony until all of the payments were made and I was stuck. Or was I...? I went to the PayPal transaction page for that eHarmony order and cancelled all future payments. Then, when the time came around for the third payment to go thru, I received an email from eHarmony telling me that the latest payment was declined and unless I went to the eHarmony site and updated my billing info, I was in danger of my account being cancelled and I would not be able to use their site anymore.
    Well, yippee... That's what I wanted in the first place. Account cancelled and no more money going to this useless service. Problem solved!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you found a resolution! Hurrah! Thank you for letting us know about this feature. Perhaps it will benefit others.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous2/04/2016

      You just saved my life.There's no harmony in e-harmony.

      Delete
  8. Anonymous1/03/2016

    Oh WOW, I have been researching all day on how to get out of my eharmony contract. It's hopeless unless you do as the previous poster has done... In my case I cancelled my credit card. Hope it dosen't hit my credit score at some point. Never would have signed up if I had read about anyone else's cancellation issues. Never would have believed such a huge scam that site is....

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    Replies
    1. It certainly felt hopeless in my case. Glad you were able to benefit from the previous poster. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  9. SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME!! I am filing a complaint with the BBB in Los Angeles. Eharmony's new corporate office is 10900 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA. 90024-6522. Their corporate officers are: Officers and directors
    Paula Croutch-Chief Financial Officer
    Greg Steiner-Chief Operating Officer
    Jason Chuck-Managing Director
    Write them complaint letters. This is fraud and the word is quickly getting out that they are an unethical company whose "front man" is a preacher/counselor in order to appear trustworthy. SPREAD THE WORD. Go onto EVERY eharmony reviews website that you can. File a complaint here at the BBB: http://www.bbb.org/losangelessiliconvalley Then file a complaint with your states Attorney General's office. File a YELP complaint. Tell your friends and neighbors that this company is crooked. They STEAL money from unsuspecting lonely people and get away with it. Make sure to use Paypal and go to the "auto renewal" and "cancel" everything that is not familiar. Companies are doing this now like they are for your credit card and then saying that we gave them consent... blah blah blah!!!

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  10. Thank you so much for this info. Many of us will be taking advantage of the contact info. I hope many who have been scammed will complain and see satisfactory resolutions.

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