Cost of love: Dating site disasters

Cost of love: Dating site disasters

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by Anne Yeager

kgw.com

Posted on February 12, 2010 at 12:40 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 7 at 12:03 PM

PORTLAND -- One single Portland woman is looking for love. But when it comes to the Rose City, she has a philosophy on Portland men.

"Women can walk around naked and men wouldn't notice.  They are so oblivious," the woman said.

In August 2008, she went on Facebook and a dating site popped up asking her if she was interested in meeting local singles.

"I thought, 'well, it doesn't sound too bad.' I clicked yes."

She got a phone call from a company calling itself "GE" or Great Expectations. She was invited into their offices for a "free" consultation.

She says a "GE" representative used high pressure sales tactics to get her sign.

"I asked three times.  Can I think about this? Can I take this home? No, " she said.

Feeling pressured, she paid $1,700, but even before her credit card went through, she knew she made a mistake.

Renaud Kauffmann, 38, moved to Portland from France and wasn't having much luck finding love.

"I was going to do whatever it took to meet somebody, " he said.
 
In November 2008, he went to Great Expectations and was caught off-guard. He says the sales tactics were high pressure and the price was $4,000.

Still, he paid, but later tried calling repeatedly to cancel.

"I was upset and distressed," he said. 

Newschannel 8 did an investigation last May into Great Expectations.

The company told us, at that time, the complaints fell under old management. But now, these new complaints come  under current management.

A Great Expectations insider has come forward, a former employee, to uncover what she claims really goes on inside the dating company.

She told us that all potential clients are told that a criminal background check is done on everyone, but she claims that's a lie.

She says women are told they will date professional gentlemen, but some members are unemployed, they have no car, and no computer to sign onto the dating database.

She also says the portfolios are full of beautiful women who are really "fake" and not members at all.

"You're looking at a picture of someone who doesn't exist, " said Robert Madrigal, who is also an unsatisfied Great Expectations customer.

Sandy Edwards is also a Great Expectations member. Her husband died 15 years ago after a long battle with cancer.

"The first year I didn't want to live, " said Edwards.

Edwards spent $5,000 at Great Expectations in May 2008, but when she didn't get photos she paid for, she became suspicious. She called the Better Business Bureau and filed a complaint.

Ever since then, Sandy says the dating company has shut her out, refusing to answer her calls.

So with all these complaints, Why is Great Expectations still in business?

"What's difficult is that when a company is changing hands, it's not easy to hold owners accountable, " said Tony Green, spokesperson with the state attorney generals office.

Great Expectations has been around Portland for a decade, and, in that time, has filed for bankruptcy and changed owners several times.

"When a new owner comes in, the state can't hold he or she accountable for the mistakes of the past owner, " said Green.

"The company starts with a clean slate because of the nature of the consumer protection laws,"said Green.

There's also the issue of the contract.

In small print, It says there will be no refunds unless a customer becomes mentally or physically disabled to attend events or else they die.

We called and e-mailed Great Expectations owner Joshua Bryan, who lives in Chicago,  five times. We asked if we could get satisfied customers on camera weeks ago.

He said he would but we have never heard back.

The current company director hired an attorney.

He told us the former employee's complaints are "absolutely false." He also calls her a disgruntled employee.

As for all the people focused in our story, it isn't all bad news.

Renaud Kauffmann is now happily married and no, he didn't find his wife through Great Expectations.

The unnamed woman, Robert, and Sandy are still single.

Sandy feels like a fool.

"I think they (Great Expectations) are taking an awful lot of money from a lot of people and not delivering the goods."

 The state attorney generals office is investigating the company.

Experts say if you have a complaint, to call the state, the Better Business Bureau, and even state and local lawmakers.

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