DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some customers say a Dallas-based dating company conned them into pricey contracts, then failed to deliver on promises. It’s a company Consumer Justice has investigated before.
Divorced for 28 years, Katherine Clark says she thought it would be fun to try a matchmaking service. “It just seemed like it was 2018 and I wanted to do something for myself.” She was told there were thousands of members who had gone through background checks. “So I thought out of thousands there’d be a few that I’d have fun with.”
Clark says she sat through four hours of high-pressure sales tactics at the offices of Dallas & Fort Worth Singles. “There’s always been times in your life when you look back and say, ‘I knew it,’ ” said Clark. “There were things and I questioned them… but they had answers for me.”
“HE WAS MARRIED!”
Clark says the manager, Nicole, told her the service was $30,000. “She took my credit card and driver’s license and I asked ‘what do you need that for?’ and she said ‘we need it for the background check.’ ” Clark agreed to pay $10,000. “When I got home, there was a match in my email… and he was married!” She says she made it clear to the matchmakers she was not interested in men who were recently separated or fresh off a relationship. The next day she received a second match, but said the man’s lifestyle was not equivalent to hers. “It was right there in black and white, this was not a match for me,” said Clark. She says she spoke to the man on the phone and both agreed they were not compatible.
Clark complained to the matchmakers and was assured the next man would meet her criteria. “They sent me his profile and he was married!” said Clark. “I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Clark says employees told her she needed to give the man a chance. “You can’t put me with someone who’s been married 100 years and divorced five minutes. We’re not in the same place in life.”
After three poor love connections, Clark had had enough. Still, employees promised to make a match. “She goes, ‘I have the perfect guy in mind for you. I’m going to call him and call you back.’ ” Clark says the employee never returned her call. That’s when she disputed the $10,000 charge on her credit card and posted a review on Google. The next day she received a call from Nicole. Clark says Nicole told her she had quit the company but still cared for her clients. “She said ‘you know you wrote a bad review and there’s a clause in your contract that says you can’t do that.’ ” She says Nicole warned her to take it down, saying “the company has sued people in the past for that and they will sue you.”
Linda Burton says she contacted Dallas & Fort Worth Singles because she wanted to find a partner. “I’m not going to hang out at a club somewhere or a bar.” Burton, who is divorced, moved to Texas in late 2017 to be closer to her grandchildren. By Valentine’s Day, she was ready to dive into dating. “I was walking through the grocery store and I saw all these flowers and I thought, I’m not getting any.”
At the first meeting, Burton says she was asked for details of her finances. “She started asking me my income level, what I had for savings, what I had in retirement,” said Burton. She says she was told they would only use the information to find her appropriate matches.
Then she says Nicole asked for her driver’s license and credit cards to run a background check. She says Nicole then called Burton’s credit card company and had her limit raised to $23,500, the maximum allowed. Burton says that’s when Nicole finally mentioned the cost. “She said ‘we usually start out at $50,000’ and I think that’s when my jaw dropped and I was like I can’t afford this.” Burton says Nicole told her to dip into her retirement account. “She said ‘all my girls take it out of their 401k.’ ”
Burton says Nicole directed her to initial several places on a document “to indicate we’ve talked about this and that” while Alba repeatedly interjected with the names of men she apparently planned to match with Burton. That’s when she says Nicole grabbed her debit card and told her she couldn’t use this. “And I said ‘well what are you going to use it for?’ and she said ‘well how are you going to pay for this?’ And I said ‘I haven’t agreed to do this yet’ and she said ‘yes you have, you’ve been signing legally-binding documents here.’ ”
Burton left the meeting desperate to find the money she thought she owed. She tried to take out a second mortgage on her home; when that didn’t work she maxed out her credit card and took the rest out of her 401k. She called Nicole to tell she couldn’t pay the full $50,000. She says Nicole later agreed to charge her $38,000.
Burton says the first two matches didn’t go further than the first date. The third match was a 70-year-old man, which was older than she wanted. She was told her preferences were “not guaranteed.”
She says she felt exploited and alone. “And I started thinking ‘I need to find a way to share this or to find out if there are others or if it was just me.’ ” That’s when she decided to file a complaint with the BBB.
“I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS.”
Dallas & Fort Worth Singles is also no stranger to the Dallas Better Business Bureau. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my ten years,” said BBB spokeswoman Phylissia Clark. Clarks says several former employees have contacted the BBB to report the company’s practices. “They believe the company tends to target older people or people that are in emotional distress – people that are vulnerable.” The company has an F-rating.
Consumer Justice found close to 30 lawsuits filed by Dallas & Fort Worth Singles against customers. Former employee Brandy Clift says she applied to be a matchmaker but they assigned her to the legal department. “I was either suing people for bad reviews or calling people to take down reviews.” Clift says customers who stopped paying for the service would be sued for breach of contract. “Of course they didn’t get any services,” she said. “This isn’t set up to service people.” Clift quit after a week.
The company’s owner, Toros Yetenekian, declined to be interviewed but sent us this statement: “Dallas and Fort Worth Singles staff has reached out to both Katherine Clark and Linda Burton in an effort to resolve their concerns. We are always willing to provide the service they contracted for according to the stated written terms.”
Yetenekian also told us the lawsuits were filed against members who owed money or wrote false statements about the company; he says all of the cases have now been dismissed.
Business filings link Yetenekian to at least seven other “Singles” companies across the country. Representatives with the Los Angeles and New Jersey BBBs told us they are monitoring the company. Both have received complaints similar to the ones filed with the Dallas BBB. Yetenekian previously owned the matchmaking company “The Two of Us.”
Consumer Justice recently spotted Yetenekian and his attorney leaving the attorney general’s office in Dallas. Both declined an on-camera interview. The attorney general’s office would not confirm or deny an investigation, but several customers told Consumer Justice they were interviewed by representatives from the AG’s office.