Every year, millions of Americans search for love using dating apps and matchmaking services.
A company called "Colorado Springs Matchmakers" promises to pair people with other singles in southern Colorado, but people some say they are paying money for multiple dates that never happen.
As you get older, it can be hard to find single people with similar interests who live close by to you.
While there are various dating apps that you can join for free on your phone or computer, Colorado Springs Matchmakers promises local dates from their bank of pre-screened, carefully selected clients.
After paying thousands of dollars up front, one Springs woman is questioning when the dates will come her way, and she's not alone.
Kristine Hembre is in her 50's, divorced twice and looking for companionship.
She stumbled across Colorado Springs Matchmakers online and later met in-person with a relationship specialist.
"She (the relationship specialist) was real encouraging that their company had ample supply of men in my category of desire---people my age, my income, my education."
Kristine forked over nearly $4,000 as part of a "client fee" in order for the company to send her potential matches.
"On the contract, they promised me 8," Kristine said. "The way they (the company) described it was that it was supposed to be plentiful. If I went on a date one weekend and it wasn't the right person, by the next weekend they would have someone else is the way it was portrayed to me."
Kristine signed on with the matchmaking service in January 2019, but says things didn't start off as she had envisioned.
"My ego was struggling with the feeling like I was the new house on the listing and I should have had some dates by now," she said.
To-date, Kristine says she's only been on two dates.
Colorado Springs Matchmakers is located in an office suite on the 9th floor at the Plaza of the Rockies downtown.
Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross stopped by in-person on Aug. 29 to ask about Kristine's case, but he was told nobody was available to talk on-site to answer questions regarding its matchmaking services.
Anthony, a representative for the Colorado Springs company did return a message via telephone on Aug. 30, but was advised by the company's owner, Shane Weisberg, not to talk with KOAA 5.
"We tell our clients up front that the frequency of referrals is not guaranteed and that it depends on the available pool of candidates at the time," Weisberg said via email. "We tell our clients up front that matchmaking takes time."
Weisberg told KOAA 5 that one person's complaint is not a news story. Digging deeper, we found a history of complaints.
8 people have documented issues against Colorado Springs Matchmakers with the Better Business Bureau in the last 3 years.
News 5 Investigates discovered Weisberg is also affiliated with multiple other dating sites which have racked up dozens more complaints. Weisberg is connected with BC Matchmakers in Vancouver, Spokane Matchmakers, Santa Barbara Singles and Corpus Christi Matchmakers.
Combined, the BBB has received a total of 54 complaints. As of 7:00 p.m. MT Tuesday, the number has increased to 55.
A group of women in Canada told CTV News in Vancouver last year that they all paid money to be paired with single men with similar interests. All were promised a certain number of referrals.
"It was over $1,000 in American money," one woman told CTV.
Another woman paid as much as $8,000.
While some referrals and dates did occur, Marion Whiting says she got matched with a man who had hygiene issues.
"I couldn't sit this close to him for his body odor," she said. "He said that he kissed a girl once when he was 16 but he didn't really like it."
The local BBB Office in Canada revoked BC Matchmakers' accreditation seal in October 2017.
Around this time, the country's consumer protection agency also investigated BC Matchmakers after complaints from customers who alleged the company misrepresented the currency charged, misrepresented the price and didn't issue refunds to those who canceled.
The company denied wrongdoing, but signed a voluntary agreement to address those issues in their contract.
"We just took a look at that big picture and the complaint volume here and said, 'You (BC Matchmakers) don't pass our standards of trust at the moment,'" Evan Kelly, the BBB's Mainland BC Communications Advisor told CTV.
Circling back to Kristine's case, we asked her what else she received for $4,000.
"They provide you with suggestions on how to date and invite you into this wonderful family of their matchmaking company," she said.
Kristine showed News 5 the "tip sheet" the company provided with advice like being sure to smile and stand up straight.
She says the company never disclosed how many singles they have in their database, or how quickly they'd send her possible matches. They are two questions she wished she had asked beforehand.
"I didn't do my typical sort of research," she said. "There are other dating companies in town so I don't know if I did the kind of due diligence you should do but they certainly sell it well. They have good sales people. They talk a good talk and I got convinced."
Weisberg confirmed Kristine did go on two dates, but said the company also referred other candidates who Kristine did not find compatible. Therefore, a physical date was not arranged.
Regardless, he says the company still owes Kristine 6 more dates and wants her to find a successful partner.
Weisberg added that if Kristine isn't satisfied after going on all 8 dates, he would refund half of her money. He couldn't say how soon those dates would occur and reiterated that matchmaking takes time.
Weisberg also said there are numerous success stories within his company, and advised KOAA 5 to check out their testimonials on his website.
News 5 informed Weisberg that we are more than willing to listen to anyone willing to share their success story with his company in an on-camera interview.
Below is the full statement Weisberg issued to KOAA 5:
Please see numerous success stories from our Clients on our website. Colorado Springs Matchmaker's sole job is to help our Clients achieve their relationship goals. This work is done while our Clients are being moms and dads, teacher/doctors/lawyers/nurses, and more. Online sites do not do the work Colorado Springs Matchmaker does. Online sites give their customers "access" to a database, but the Client (who has been matching themselves for their entire life) does all the work. Online sites do not screen or qualify their customers. Online sites do NOT know if their customers are even single or have a criminal background. For this reason, online dating sites can be free or very cheap. Colorado Springs Matchmakers does ALL these important things. We work while our Clients are at work; at their kids' sports games or musical competitions; and while they are taking care of every other aspect of their lives. Our job, is to handle their relationship needs. Much of what a Matchmaker does goes on behind the scenes. The Client does not see or know about most of the searching or screening or matching we do for them. This is the benefit of using a Colorado Springs Matchmaker: we do ALL the work. Our work is personal from the very beginning. When a Client reaches out to us by phone or through the internet, they receive a phone call from an actual human being; not a robo-call or voice recording. We speak to each potential Client and talk to them about why they are interested in a Matchmaker, and how important a happy, healthy relationship is to them. The phone call is a "mutual evaluation". If the potential Client likes us after the call and we like them, we invite them in for an Enrollment Consultation. The Enrollment Consultation is a very personal, face-to-face meeting in our office. During this interview, Colorado Springs Matchmakers fully explains our matching process, explain our rules for Clients, and we set realistic expectations for them as well. These rules include being committed to completing your matchmaking program. Each Client of Colorado Springs Matchmakers selects a matchmaking program that consists of meeting a certain number of referrals. While our job is to match our Clients to people who share the same relationship goals and who meet most/all of their preferences, it is the Clients job to meet ALL of their referrals and provide us with "Feedback" after each referral. This feedback allows us to make the necessary adjustments and corrections to make each future referral better. Because everything Colorado Springs Matchmakers does is done "by hand", our fee-structure and costs are very different than the online dating sites. The commitment we ask from our Clients is also different from that of most online-dating users. Clients who are sincere about finding their "someone special" appreciate this. We are beyond thorough about what the Client can expect from us. Our Company and our contract are clear and honest. Our contracts, in conjunction with printed information personally handed to the client, as well as a series of emails sent directly to each client, consistently reiterate the same terms, guarantees, and expectations. We tell our Clients up front that they may not like everyone they meet through us. We tell our Clients up front that their frequency of referrals is not guaranteed and that it depends on the available pool of candidates at the time. We tell our Clients up front that "MATCHMAKING TAKES TIME". While these things are certainly not "selling points", they are the epitome of honesty. The contract is designed to make certain our Clients embark on this journey with realistic expectations, and that they fulfill the obligation they have made to themselves to find and meet their "someone special".
If you are entering an agreement with a matchmaking service or dating app, be sure to read over the terms and conditions prior to signing it. Also, make sure everything you discussed is in-writing so you have it as a reference.
If you are uncertain about a specific fee or cost, ask about it up front and seek clarification. Do not write a check or hand over a credit card if you aren't sure about the services you are signing up to receive.
Always seek clarification about cancellation charges and fees, billing and refunds if that information is not already outlined in your contract.
If you have a problem or issue you'd like News 5 Investigates to look into, feel free to contact our team at News5Investigates@KOAA.com