Looking for Love - read the fine print

In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning consumers to check the fine print when signing up for introduction agency services.

While Valentine’s Day has special meaning for couples it can be an impetus for the unattached to ‘up the ante’ in their search for love and romance.

Mr Stowe said a proliferation of introduction agencies plying their services, many online, offered increased choice for people seeking romance. 

“However, as with all products and services, people need to shop around before they sign up,’ he said. “Make sure you are dealing with a reputable business and carefully read the terms and conditions in any contract. Know what introductions will be made and at what cost. Check refund and cancellation policies.

“If you believe you have been misled or are having difficulty exercising your consumer rights, Fair Trading may be able to help.” 

NSW Fair Trading received 28 complaints and 31 enquiries about introduction agencies in 2015.

Complaints focussed on business practices including termination of contracts, ongoing credit card deductions without authorisation and the failure of businesses to cancel contracts in a timely manner.

Under Australian Consumer Law, services supplied by a trader come with automatic consumer guarantees, including that services are provided with due care and skill and are fit for any specific purpose. Consumers are entitled to seek redress when services do not meet a consumer guarantee, including a refund or compensation. 

You may be able to claim compensation for your costs in time and money because something went wrong with the service.

Mr Stowe urged consumers to be careful, particularly when providing credit card or bank details to someone they don’t know.

“When interacting online, make sure you are satisfied with the security of the website,” he said.

“When things go wrong, contact the agency in the first instance and if you are not satisfied call NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or lodge a complaint online at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or at any Service NSW Centre. People should also be wary of paying additional money in order to receive further or more suitable introductions.”

For more information on dating and romance scams go to http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/dating-romance