Deanna Dewberry, NBC 5 Investigates Consumer Unit
A six-month investigation into a Dallas dating service reveals surprising new twists with a new owner, a new business name and a new website.
Dallas Singles, a high-priced dating service that has been the subject of a six-month NBC 5 Investigates Consumer Unit investigation, is under new ownership and has a new name and a new website. Meanwhile, the former owners are in the process of settling a $200,000 class-action lawsuit against their former company, another dating service.
The new developments have stunned current members who continued to contact NBC 5 with complaints about the service.
Mary Mathieson, 64, is a retired interior designer from Weatherford who told NBC 5 she paid nearly $6,000 when she joined Dallas Singles. Mathieson said most of the men with whom she was matched defy the company’s promise of personalized match making.
"He cried during the entire conversation," Mathieson said, as she described her recent phone meeting with one of the men from the service. "And he said that his deceased wife had blond hair and he did her hair color and he could do mine too. I didn’t know how to extricate myself.”
After three years with few matches Mathieson said she now wants to remove herself from this expensive match-making service, which was owned by Ted and Rachel Law until this past summer.
Her complaints echo those of other Dallas Singles members who have contacted the NBC 5 Investigates Consumer Unit. Some said they paid thousands for that same personalized service, only to get bad matches or no dates at all.
Complaints like these aren't new to Ted and Rachel Law. They are in the process of settling a $200,000 class-action lawsuit for their former company, another match-making service called The Right One. According to the suit, plaintiffs claim the company failed to make promised matches and set prices based on a customer’s ability to pay. Ted and Rachel Law deny any wrongdoing, according to court documents. But those who feel they have been wronged by The Right One may eventually have the right to a refund.
However, members of Dallas Singles, like Mathieson, are not eligible for a refund under the terms of the class action suit.
In another twist, the company has been sold to California business owner, Toros Yetenekian. It’s now called Dallas and Fort Worth Singles and has a redesigned website.
Yetenekian’s lawyer, Ethan Baker, said the new company did not purchase any of Dallas Singles’ liabilities, so any current members seeking a refund will have to deal with Ted and Rachel Law -- who also have filed for bankruptcy.
Yetenekian owns and has owned many matchmaking services in at least three states.
With at least a dozen lawsuits filed in Los Angeles County alone, Yetenekian is no stranger to bad press or lawsuits from unhappy clients. But Baker is quick to point out most of those suits were dismissed and blames legal trouble on the nature of the business.
“It’s a very emotional service with matchmaking. And sometimes people have the expectations that the company will provide them with love and, you know, we can't guarantee love,” Baker said.
But Baker said he will promise that Dallas and Fort Worth Singles will go to great lengths to find that right match for its members.
"We use compatibility testing that is unique to our company. We have a different customer service outlook and process,” Baker said.
Still, the claims of Yetenekian's dating club members sound hauntingly familiar. In the Los Angeles Daily News, members complained about exorbitant fees and getting few or no matches. The same is true in an article in the Ventura County Star. The NBC 5 Investigates Consumer Unit spoke to one of the women featured in both articles. She’s a California widow and said the service used high-pressure sales tactics to sell her a $35,000 membership.
Her case was settled out of court, and she said she was “made whole”.
But Baker vowed Dallas and Fort Worth Singles will produce happy endings.
"Give us some time, and we'll come back with you with success stories," Baker said.
Meanwhile, Mathieson said it’s unlikely she’ll give the service a second chance. She has filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office and is continuing in her effort to get her money back.
But according to the preliminary settlement agreement, former members of The Right One who used the service between March 26, 2008 and March 7, 2013 may be entitled to part of the $200,000 settlement. Members must file their paperwork by May 23, 2014. Information needed to file the necessary documentation is included at the end the settlement agreement as Exhibit A-2. A final hearing on the class action lawsuit is scheduled for February.