ADDISON (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas dating company is at the center of complaints alleging high pressure sales tactics, claims of lying and taking advantage of a man with Alzheimer’s disease.
“How dare they take advantage of him,” said Stephanie Saladino about her father, Paul Planz who suffers from the disease.
Stephanie and her husband David Saladino took care of Planz in 2014. Against their wishes, Planz still had a valid driver’s license and used it the day he went to the dating service Dallas Singles, now called Dallas & Fort Worth Singles and signed a $15,000 contract.
“He got dressed in a suit, drove in a car up to Addison, said he was going on a job interview to fix someone’s air conditioning,” said Stephanie Saladino. “He would so easily get confused, he couldn’t comprehend the numbers. He wasn’t able to convey his thoughts,” added David Saladino.
When the Saladino’s found out, they contacted the company that day.
“They said, ‘well, we’ll refund his money.’ Everything except what he spent that day,” said Stephanie Saladino. But the refund never happened. The Saladino’s attorney eventually sent a letter from Planz’s doctor to the company that showed he was suffering from memory loss and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease when he signed the dating contract.
“Definitely he was targeted, it’s really upsetting,” said Stephanie Saladino.
And according to a Dallas & Fort Worth Singles former employee, he wasn’t the only one.
“It really started taking a toll on my conscious,” said Nina Gill, who worked as a Matchmaker and telemarketer for Dallas & Fort Worth Singles for five months before resigning in February of 2016.
Gill said she wasn’t allowed to tell potential clients the name of the business over the phone because they could do a search and see negative reviews.
“I’m tricking them into coming into the office and then potentially paying thousands of dollars,” said Gill.
Gill said her worst experience was when her manager had her repeatedly call an elderly client.
“She had me call and harass a lady – a 72-year-old lady! I called her five times in a hour. [Because] the lady wrote a bad review to the BBB, Better Business Bureau,” said Gill.
Bad reviews about the dating service are nothing new. Phylissa Landix of the Dallas Better Business Bureau said the company has an F rating.
“Complainants reported high pressure sales, misleading, not disclosing a price structure before taking credit cards,” said Landix.
The BBB issued an alert about the company, according to Landix, after other customers reported they had to write a review before receiving the service or a complaint must be removed if they want a resolution.
“Well, the BBB is concerned because we want it to be a safe place where people can give their opinion without feeling threatened,” said Landix.
Another customer name Daniel Wright said he knows all too well what Landix means. He received several texts from company’s office manager asking him to write a positive review before he ever went on a date.
Wright went to Dallas & Fort Worth Singles to talk about their service after finding them online. He said hours of high pressure tactics turned into a $15,000 bill.
“You sign the receipt and you’re like ‘what the hell?’ ” said Wright.
CBS11 sent a news manager to Dallas & Fort Worth Singles to go through the process. She made an appointment Friday for that Monday and received texts all weekend.
“Friendly but a hard sell. I feel pressure already,” said the CBS11 manager.
When she was done, her experience mirrored Wright’s. Both Wright and the CBS11 Manage were told they had matches “right away”. Both said the dating counselor requested a lot of personal information.
“Gross income, what kind of car you drive, number of credit cards,” said Wright… “Criminal, health history, financial,” said the CBS11 manager.
Both said the counselor was very complimentary to Wright and the CBS11 manager.
“You are exactly what a lot of our clients are looking for,” they told Wright… “You have the right look,” they said to the CBS11 Manager.
Both also claimed the cost wasn’t as clear cut.
“She picks up my credit card, I said ‘wait, what is happening, you have to tell me how much I’m paying.’ She said ‘1,000 a match and a minimum of 15 matches,’ ” said Wright.
“She said ‘it’s 10,000.’ I said, ‘10,000 for what?’ She said ‘well you buy matches,’ ” said the CBS11 manager.
Wright said despite the agreement to pay $15,000, the company failed with the few matches set up for Wright. He said his matches were “way off base,” not even close to what he was looking for.
Dallas & Fort Worth Singles responded to CBS11 by sending a statement that claimed Paul Planz was of sound mind when he signed the contract and that Planz’s credit card company denied his request for a refund.
The statement reads in part:
However, if Mr. Planz was suffering from some sort of mental impairment at the time of enrollment, Dallas & Fort Worth Singles can understand why his daughter has been so upset. But the company has repeatedly requested “proof” of Mr. Planz’ Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia and that has never been provided. The company’s position has always been, and remains: Please provide Dallas & Fort Worth Singles with some sort of proof of Mr. Planz’ dementia and/or Alzheimer’s in or around May of 2014 when he enrolled with Dallas & Fort Worth Singles. Certainly Dallas & Fort Worth Singles would take that information under consideration when reviewing a refund request. To date, however, no such proof has been delivered, despite numerous requests.
Editor’s note: CBS11 has emails showing the Saladino’s attorney sent a letter from Planz’s doctor to the attorney for Dallas & Fort Worth Singles on October 8, 2014 showing he was suffering from memory loss and experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
The company also said the allegations by the BBB, former employee and client aren’t true.
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