Australia cracking down on fraudulent dating sites

It’s bad enough for the online dating community having to look out for scammers behind ordinary-looking profiles of their site without having to worry if the dating site itself is going to rip them off. But, following 186 separate complaints about just this type of practise, New South Wales Fair Trading are cracking down on dating sites that are offering substandard service, failing to issue due refunds and not cancelling memberships when requested to

Some of the dating sites in question are being accused of promising to find their members partners, charging them ‘thousands of dollars’ for the privilege, then failing to deliver on their promise. In the face of so much rising competition down under where the online dating is going through an explosion at the minute, both on the Internet and offline as large cities struggle to accommodate singles eager to give speed dating a fair crack of the whip, you would think that dating sites in it for the long haul would up their game, which doesn’t seem to be the case, as the Fair Trading Minister, Antony Roberts, explains.

Refering to Australia’s standing of being one of the world’s largest homes for big-sea fish cruising the country’s miles of reef, he stated that the only sharks he was concerned about at this moment were the human sort “swimming around the dating game.”

The minister also alikened the dating sites in question to the Hotel California, where once you check in, it becomes extremely difficult to finalise the bill, both in the way you are tempted to stay to give it one last shot because of the time and effort you’ve put in to date, which you don’t want to flush down the dunny without some recompense and also that the proprietors just will not stop charging you, even when you ask for the check.

There are two dozen dating sites under suspicion of trading with unfair contracts represented in their terms and conditions and with contracts that present false or misleading representations of what they actually deliver compared to what the customer is led to believe. Ten more are being investigated for unfair provisions in their contract terms.

Given that the Australian dating community reported losing AUS$17M in 2011, a rise of AUS$2M on 2010, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are drawing up stricter guidelines for issuing dating site licenses and pressing owners to post highly-visible warnings and guidelines to its members on awareness and reporting of scammers.

Due to the global volume of this recurrent problem, this ought to be adopted by anyone who launches their own dating site, to protect and keep its membership. We can but live in hope…

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