NewsNews5 Investigates


More unhappy customers want refunds from local matchmaking company

Owner defends business model, stands by contract
Posted at 12:12 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-30 14:38:59-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — More people are coming forward with complaints against a local matchmaking company profiled in a report that aired on September 3, 2019.

Some local singles are paying as much as $5,000 hoping to find love, but say they aren't getting the dates and compatible matches they believe they were promised.

When you sign up with Colorado Springs Matchmakers, you are buying a service which doesn't come without risk.

Shane Weisberg, the company's owner, says matchmaking takes time and there's no guarantees the people they set you up with will lead to a long-lasting friendship or marriage.

Some customers feel they were sold empty promises and just want their money back.

Three local singles all say they were convinced Colorado Springs Matchmakers would help spice up their love life by pairing them with other compatible singles.

"We love to help you find love," the company's web sites advertises. "Our professional matchmakers get to know you in-depth and hand-select quality matches for you."

Debbie, who asked us not to use her last name, says she paid $2,500.

"She (relationship enrollment specialist) gave me a discounted price and said that members on Colorado Springs Matchmakers, you won't find them on any other dating web sites."

Michael Donnelly forked over nearly $5,000.

"They promised from their ad, basically a good match," Donnelly said. "I mean you're not having to deal with crazies."

Kristine Hembre, who was profiled in our original report paid nearly $4,000.

"She (relationship enrollment specialist) was real encouraging that their company had ample supply of men in my category of desire---people my age, my income, my education," Hembre said.

After signing up, all three singles says they started to question the matchmaking service, pointing out their "first dates" appeared to be with random people they didn't have much in common with.

"I made it clear I wanted someone tall, a little rough around the edges, good health---somebody that would like to get out and walk, hike, raft, things like that," Debbie said. "I said if I could pick someone to what they look like---Kris Kristofferson."

Debbie says her first match was with a retired police officer, but claims the company failed to disclose some important information about him.

"He got injured on the job and is now receiving disability," Debbie said. "He had just finished having his second spinal cord surgery and wouldn't be able to meet with me for a couple of months because of the surgery. He said he couldn't drive or sit up."

Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross asked, "How many dates were you promised?"

"5," Debbie said.

Ross asked, "How many dates did you go on?"

"Well this first one, they said they wouldn't count it against me," Debbie said. "I never met him, it was just over the phone. They said because of his physical health they would start all over again."

Debbie says the second date was the last straw.

"The second person I met with that I didn't want to, he showed up with a pair of super tight sweat pants with a black shirt tucked in and it was stained down the front," she said. "It looked like he hadn't bathed or washed his hair in at least a month and it was just a disaster."

Ross asked, "When was the last time you had a successful referral?"

"Never," she said. "It has just been awful."

Michael Donnelly shares the same opinion after he paid the company for 8 dates.

"The first lady they introduced me to, said she was on hold and she didn't want to even meet."

He says the company then sent him two more matches, but alleges both women backed out of meeting when he says they were into watching sports, and he wasn't.

"In my profile I said I like to bike, I hike, I ski, no mention of all about watching any football or anything with a ball in it."

In Hembre's case, she too says she hasn't had successful results with the company.

"I'm not a big fan of making a lot of trouble for people," she said. "I just feel like I was sold something that wasn't real and I had the money and that's why I did it."

However, if you ask Weisberg, he says the "small" group of people voicing concerns aren't giving his matchmaking company enough time to make things right.

"When they (clients) come to us, we explain to them that we will only match them when we feel like we have someone who has real potential for them," he said via a Skype interview. "When they interview with us, they appreciate that. They like that. That's a selling point, but when they are at home and when they are alone, they don't appreciate that as much. The truth of the matter is that if singles were really really good at matching themselves, they wouldn't be single."

Weisberg says he has more than 700 clients in his database in Colorado Springs and more than 4,600 across his five companies.

Some of those clients have filed lawsuits and won, claiming the company collected their money and didn't deliver the services they were promised.

We asked Weisberg why he thinks judges ruled against him.

"Small claims court judges don't have to rule by the letter of the law," he said. "They don't have to rule by the contract. I've been to small claims court a handful of times. Small claims court judges rule based on the emotion in the courtroom. When a damsel in distress or a guy who is emotional goes in front of a judge versus a matchmaker, sometimes small claims court judges buy into the emotions of the story. We tell our clients that matchmaking takes time."

Weisberg says because matchmaking takes time, he doesn't put a set time frame in his contracts for how quickly he'll be able to deliver dates.

It's also important to note that not everyone has had a bad experience with Weisberg's company.

"On my 7th date, I found the woman that I am currently with and it has been almost a year now that we've been together and in fact we are getting married next year," Brad Leppla said.

Leppla admits the first couple of dates didn't work out, but decided to give the company more time.

"They were listening to me and really narrowing the search to meet the parameters I had set," he said.

However, Donnelly says he has given the company a chance, but says it didn't live up to his expectations.

"It has been a disappointment," he said. "I thought for sure I would have met somebody the way they profess to have this nice database."

He and Debbie say they would like a refund.

"I want to be made whole," Debbie said. "I did not get what I signed up for, what I was promised, and expected or anticipated."

Weisberg, who lives in Texas, stands by his company's business model and says his contracts are crystal clear.

He adds his company conducts criminal background checks on all of its clients and verifies their marital status to ensure they are single.

Dating service tips:

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.

Additional information from Weisberg:

Weisberg tells News 5 that Hembre was satisfied with their services and did go on multiple dates with one man. He also added that at the time of our original report, Hembre had been matched and gone on a date a few weeks prior.

Regarding Mr. Donnelly's case, Weisberg says his marijuana use has limited the pool of candidates.

Donnelly did disclose that he was a marijuana user by putting "420 friendly" in his profile, but Weisberg says he failed to say "how much" marijuana he used.

Weisberg says the daily marijuana use was deemed problematic for some of his matches.

As you/Mike can imagine, this added stipulation can make things a bit more difficult. It is not insurmountable by any means, but it does make the process take a bit longer. Any time a client adds a restriction or mandatory preference to their profile, the pool of people for them is reduced. Also, in an effort to make sure that his next match is a great one for him, we are taking our time to make certain we adjust and correct the flaws in the previous matches. This is called feedback and it is a very integral part of our program, and thoroughly explained to Mike and every client before they decided to join our service. It must also be noted that clients do not hire us for 1 match. We do not offer a 1-referral program because Colorado Springs Matchmakers, and our clients, know that it will take more than that. They hire us to provide them with a block of matches. As explained to every client in our office, the first 1-3 matches are a 'feeling out process'...we are getting to know them at this early stage and learning from each match. After working with them for a period of time, we get a clearer picture of their likes and dislikes, their 'must haves' and their 'deal breakers'. This takes time and every client is told this at the time they join. Additionally, as you know from our contract, it states this clearly.

Weisberg says his company reached out to Mike in July 2019 to let him know they were still working on finding a match for him that understood his marijuana use and was not a sports fan.

He says Donnelly emailed the company in August to "freeze" his account.

Weisberg says since Donnelly signed up in January 2019, he has "communicated" with 4 women and physically met 3 face-to-face.

Regarding Debbie's case, Weisberg sent News 5 the following information via email about her first match with the retired police officer:

(NAME REDACTED) is a good looking guy and in good shape. He is certainly not handicap. Unbeknownst to Colorado Springs Matchmakers (because Jerry hired CSM in March of 2018 and did not notify us), at the time we made this referral for Debbie, (NAME REDACTED) had to have 2 disks fused in his neck (neck surgery). As you can imagine, he needed a few weeks to recover. He was in no way incapacitated or handicap, and simply needed a short time to recover from his surgery. Patience would have served Debbie well as (NAME REDACTED) is an excellent catch who made a career of serving the public. This was Debbie's first match. She had no reason to be 'disappointed in the program,' except maybe because it was not racing along at the speed Debbie wanted.

News 5 Investigates also relayed the information Debbie had told us about one of her dates showing up with poor hygiene and dress attire.

"Colorado Springs Matchmakers cannot control what a client wears to a date/meeting," Weisberg said. "There are certain things that are out of our control, much like Debbie's negative talk to her first referral. As much as we cannot control what clients wear on a date, we cannot control what they say."

You can learn more about Colorado Springs Matchmakers and the services they provide here.

Q and A:

Q: How did this story come about?

A: This story came to us through a viewer-initiated news tip. After further investigation, we discovered Colorado Springs Matchmakers was affiliated with other matchmaking companies in the United States and Canada. We discovered a pattern of similar complaints and a handful of lawsuits from clients who believe they didn't get the services they purchased.

Q: How did you find these "unhappy" clients?

A: All three local singles reached out to News 5.

Q: Has any other individual(s) reached out to your station to voice concerns with Colorado Springs Matchmakers?

A: Yes, but if they request that they remain anonymous, we respect their wishes.

Q: How did you find the satisfied Colorado Springs Matchmakers customer?

A: From the beginning, we told Weisberg that we'd be more than happy to speak with any satisfied client in our viewing area. Weisberg put us in contact with two different parties. The first party did not wish to participate in an on-camera interview and therefore, we were not able to broadcast their information. Brad Leppla was the second party who agreed to sit down and voice his support and success with Colorado Springs Matchmakers.

Q: I have a problem with a matchmaking company I already paid. What should I do?

A: News 5 Investigates strongly believes consumers should first try and work out problems directly with the matchmaking service prior to contacting us. We realize that a relationship may have "soured" to the point where communication doesn't exist, but we always encourage open lines of communication. In cases where a contract exists, we recommend clients read over those contracts and if there's a legal question you need answered, contact a local attorney for further advice.

Q: Is Colorado Springs Matchmakers really "local"?

A: Colorado Springs Matchmakers does have a suite on the 9th floor at the Plaza of the Rockies building downtown. This is where potential clients meet in-person with an enrollment specialist. However, the owner of Colorado Springs Matchmakers resides in Texas.

Q: What does Colorado Springs Matchmakers offer that other free sites don't?

A: According to Weisberg, all clients are pre-screened. There are no public profiles and the singles who sign up don't have to do the "matchmaking" work themselves. All clients fill out a detailed profile which then helps a "Matchmaking Institute Certified Matchmaker" pair singles with similar interests.