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November 27, 2006

eHarmony’s Free Trial: For Dating Blindly Only*

Filed under: Internet,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:55 am

eharmony large We have all seen the TV commercials for eHarmony, an online matchmaking service, with psychologist Dr. Neil Clark Warren. He touts the free personality profile offered on his website that matches you to potential mates based on 29 key dimensions of compatibility.

With 12 million members, surely your match might be among them. So it was great news to read their newspaper ad about 10 days ago promoting a free weekend to “try eHarmony for free.”  “All weekend long you’ll be able to communicate with people you’re matched with for FREE!”

Buried in the “help” section was a “special notice” sure to disappoint many:

*MOUSE PRINT: “FastTrack and Photos are only available during the free weekend if you are a paid subscriber.” [website 11/17/06]

So, if you find the person of your dreams on paper, you will have no idea what they look like. Pardon the shallowness, but looks do matter. Now, since it is “free communication” weekend, you can simply ask for a picture, right?  Not exactly.

“Free communication” is a term of art used by eHarmony, and refers to an anonymous, structured communication system (“guided communication”) that uses sets of pre-defined questions that can be sent to the potential love of your life. You must go through four stages of “guided communication” before you get to more “open communication.” You cannot use “Fasttrack” that bypasses the canned questions and permits more opened-ended, but anonymous emails.

So, it appears you neither get to see nor really communicate instantly with your matches during the “free” weekend. For that, you need to subscribe to eHarmony for fees ranging from $59.95 (one month) to $251.40 (year).

• • •

26 Comments

  1. Reminds me of a $1000 “shcolarship” I got from a tech shcool after I got my A.A. degree from a local junior college. The classes cost $300 per unit… Get the picture?

    Comment by John A Elson — November 27, 2006 @ 8:48 am
  2. No surprise!! Have you ever seen anything advertised on TV
    as “FREE” that really is free.

    Comment by Charles M. Sylvester — November 27, 2006 @ 1:36 pm
  3. If you have to buy something to get it, it isn’t free, it’s included.

    Comment by John A Elson — November 27, 2006 @ 2:09 pm
  4. Wow, I never thought I’d see a bigger personals scam than Friend Finder Network (adultfriendfinder/alt.com/outpersonals and dozens of other sites run by the same guys) but 60 bucks a month just to see someone’s picture and ask them a non-canned question? And all with “FREE!!!” plastered all over the place? That really takes the cake.

    Make no mistake, that “free” weekend is just to increase the number of subscribers they can claim to have. If you sign up, years after you’ve become disgusted and stopped visiting, I bet they’ll still include you in their match results.

    Comment by raindog — November 27, 2006 @ 3:18 pm
  5. I go to the bar free every night. Take that Dr. Clark Kent Warren von Richtofen!

    Comment by Shawn — November 27, 2006 @ 3:53 pm
  6. I was just last night trying to decide between e-harmony and perfectmatch. This has helped me to decide!

    Comment by Shannon — November 27, 2006 @ 6:09 pm
  7. The other thing they don’t even bother to PUT in the fine print is that they won’t make gay/lesbian matches AT ALL. If you fill out the form as a female person they ONLY let you search for men. I just find it a bit disingenuous that their ads claim to find your “true love,” but they leave out a substantial portion of the dating population that’s also looking for “true love.”

    Comment by Amy — November 29, 2006 @ 8:54 am
  8. That does sound a bit scamish and their ads have always creeped me out but after hearing rave reviews from a few friends and coworkers I tried it. I’m not sure if their system really works or if I was just really lucky but after about 4 months I ended up meeting my finance. So in my case at least, it was well worth the $60+.

    PS. I agree with Amy’s comments. Being straight it didn’t directly effect me but being that I live in Atlanta I have lots of friends in the gay community and that aspect was one of the reasons I almost didn’t give them a shot. I’m glad I did but still find that aspect distasteful. I’ve heard they are funded by some Christian organization that is trying to get their divorce rate down (Christian’s have the highest divorce rate of any religion) but I’m not sure if that is 100% true. Neither my finance nor I are Christian though and it didn’t stop us from meeting.

    Comment by OG — November 30, 2006 @ 7:13 pm
  9. Are any of my comments going to be left on here for all to see, or are they all going to be deleted? I think I raised some valid issues.

    “Christian’s have the highest divorce rate of any religion”. Where does that come from? I’d like to see the MOUSEPRINT on that study.

    Comment by Shawn — December 1, 2006 @ 3:41 pm
  10. It’s true- look for the Barna divorce study.

    Comment by Jennifer — December 4, 2006 @ 5:33 pm
  11. BTW, I tried to post a link but it was no go.

    Comment by Jennifer — December 4, 2006 @ 5:33 pm
  12. I guess it could be true because i really don’t know any divorced Jews and when Muslim men get tired of their wives they just kill them.

    Comment by Shawn — December 6, 2006 @ 2:35 pm
  13. OK, I’d rather find, and be involved with soemone of similar interests & lifestyle-religious practices included. (But who cares about the Christian divorce thing? Get a life!)
    As an eharmony member, I’d consciously decided it was worth a try-my fish pond is pretty small. The “mouse-print” affected me as much or more than potential members—eharmony sent me 6 matches from that special offer every single day—and they didn’t distinguish between member and non-member matches! In the vernacular-that sucks! I sit there and spin my wheels participating through the canned stages, hoping/trying to contact someone who can’t participate in anything but canned stages-and the no-photo thingy—when’s the last time someone’s appearance wasn’t a factor in how you dealt with/felt about them?(Be honest!)And I don’t know their member “status!” And that’s a major PITA, and the “single”(!!!) reason I won’t be renewing!
    When I spot someone across the room in my social circle, I know we at least have that social circle and probably mutual friends as a meaningful starting point—not so with those 29 magical “dimensions!” Good luck folks!

    Comment by John — December 10, 2006 @ 8:41 am
  14. I joined eHarmony several years ago for 3 months, and found that most of the potential “dates” did not respond to any of my canned questions. I think the reason they didn’t respond was that they weren’t paid members. I find this true of many of the e-dating sites. I also think eHarmony has certain personality “traits” they empahsize, rather than really true matching. I only met one person throughout the 3 months, and we went out a few times, but he wasn’t my “soul mate”. Word to the wise- don’t do it! You’d only be wasting your money.

    Comment by nyspirit54 — December 25, 2006 @ 9:01 am
  15. They do not disclose until you have spent an hour answering questions what the
    fees are. Moreover you cannot even tell people that you cannot respond until ood for business.you pay the fees, minimum $60.00 bucks for one month. Therefore all your matches think you are ignoring them., not good business. They should call it E Baloney

    Comment by Mark J — December 29, 2006 @ 4:44 pm
  16. To make matters even worse about eHarmony, when I took the “free” personality profile, it told me that I
    was such a unique individual, that it would require extra time for me to find a match. That’s real
    desirable when you are paying $60/month.

    Dr. Neil Clarke Warren has never BEEN single, and has no clue what it is like or what it is like to try
    to “find” a match.

    Comment by Kevin — February 14, 2007 @ 1:05 pm
  17. Although I’m not currently an Eharmony subscriber, unlike the rest of you, I think it’s a great service. After using a least a half dozen Internet dating sites in the past 4 years, I won’t use anything but Eharmony. So, I’ll balance the opinions expressed here by responding to the objections raised.

    It’s not “funded by some Christian organization.” It’s a business with a specific mission. Dr. Warren started it with the intent of promoting stable marriages, hence the reason it matches heterosexuals, not homosexuals. This is a free market economy, therefore they can identify heterosexuals as their target audience if that’s what they desire for their business model.

    Their ad specifically cited “Free Communication,” and their communication process does NOT necessarily include photos. Each member has the option to determine if/when his/her photo will be revealed to matches so even if EHarmony had chosen to include that as part of the freebie, you still might not have seen a photo anyway.

    If you don’t like their Guided Communication process, don’t sign up. That’s what they offered for free and that’s their prerogative. I’m unware of any other dating website that has offered a trial run with no charge of their services although probably somebody has.

    Speaking of their service, no one searches for anyone. You’re matched based on the 29 dimensions that are revealed by the profile each individual comletes. At first thought, it seems to be beneficial to know who is a paid member before taking time to contact an individual, but, as a currently non-subscribing member, if an interesting fellow contacted me, I’d be willing to rejoin. Therefore, even though I have been frustrated at times by fellows who not only don’t respond but don’t even bother to close the match, I’m glad that I did NOT know who is a member. That way I communicated with all my matches instead of a subset.

    As a non-paying member, I CAN communicate to a limited degree with my matches. I can either close a match or put it on hold by selecting from some pre-written responses … not any different from what I do on Yahoo! Personals where I also am currently a non-paying member.

    Finally, although you can easily find the fees without answering the questions that create your profile, I found the personality profile to be accurate and insightful, and it was a useful tool so that my matches & I could get to know each other a little better.

    OK, I just thought of one more item. After 2+ years of being an on-again, off-again member and not yet having found my “soul mate,” I still believe that I have benefitted from the service. My interactions with my matches have introduced me to interesting fellows I would have never met, have forced me to clarify what I want in a husband and a marriage, have solidified my determination not to “settle,” … well, I won’t write an interminable list, even though I could include a few more items!

    Comment by Melissa — February 14, 2007 @ 3:53 pm
  18. I tried this service a couple of years ago … and it was a pathetic joke. They send you matches of people who aren’t even subscribers … as well as people who have a subscription that has expired. I know this because girls were being sent my info even though I didn’t renew. I put a message on my “page” saying this … and someone there finally saw it :) … and stopped sending “me” to women looking for matches. They are a very deceiving company. Ever notice that for a company that gets a lot of people “together”, they seem to have the same models week after week … year after year :(

    Comment by bob — February 16, 2007 @ 11:06 pm
  19. EHarmony sent me some of the worst dates I have ever had! The men I was matched with had virtually NOTHING in common with me, and some even had mental issues (clinical depression, ADD, bipolar disorder, etc….) in addition to actually be separated, not divorced. I can honestly say that I would NEVER use the internet again to find a date, let alone a relationship. You’re better off meeting people on your own through friends and family or while pursuing your own interests.

    Comment by TA — June 17, 2007 @ 10:31 pm
  20. I know this one from personal experience, NEVER EVER EVER give our your credit card thinking they won’t bill you. The ‘free’ limited access is as good as none, in fact, many scam dating sites have done the trick of making fake potential friends to lure you into thinking once you pay, you’ll be set to meet people.

    Comment by Josh — August 12, 2007 @ 5:12 pm
  21. Hi there

    I tried E Harmony and it did not really work for me and the costs seemed to be hidden. I am now using elea models and i have met the girl of my dfdreams so i am very happy. Take care Adam

    Comment by Internet Dating Support — August 27, 2007 @ 5:09 am
  22. Amy, thanks for mentioning that. The fact that they only allow straight people looking for “true love” and not also gay people looking for “true love” is one of the reasons I chose to never use their services. I don’t deal with any company that blatently discriminates like that.

    Comment by J — October 30, 2007 @ 5:55 pm
  23. The free communication weekend is a ripoff, after spending an hour answering questions, then you see you must pay a high fee inorder to see pictures. The free process to talk to anyone is so long and laborius that it would take the whole weekend just to get thru one profile, so in essence, there is nothing free about it and its a waste of time.

    Comment by Debbie — January 2, 2009 @ 12:12 pm
  24. I agree,their exclusion of gay users is certainly an issue that would be nice for them to fix. To play the devils advocate,they do use a rather complex matching system using a personality test. Adding gay users is not as simple as just allowing the database to query same sex matches. They make a lot of claims that about their “Scientific matching” and if we take them at their word,that there was some testing to make sure that this system actually works,it would be a significant cost to test to see if their model works for same sex matches and if not to develop a new one. If the answer were as simple as just changing a few lines of SQL code I would say there is no justifiable reason for their site to discriminate but if it costs a signifigant amount of money,then I understand why they might choose to serve one narrow segment of society.
    I think however this is not the case. It turns out that e-harmony, to settle a lawsuit, made a separate gay dating site (compatiblepartners.net). This is a significant cash outlay in maintenance and development. It would seem that it would be much easier to setup a new front end to the e-harmony database and let a few thousand gay people do a free beta test to prove or disprove the validity of their model for same sex couples,which presumably is similar to the way that the side was presumably created for mixed sex couples. If it works,there is no reason not to allow same sex couples. If not,then they can reasonably explain to anyone who complains that the system simply does not work for same sex couples. In fact,they could even allow it to match same sex couples,with giant red warnings that tell you that the personality matching just will not work,and your throwing your money away. If you want to flush your cash down the toilet,go for it. The fact that they decided to spend all the money on a different site suggests to me that the model may well work for gay couples,and that they just want to exclude them from the eharmony site. Im not sure if it has similar matching,but that would be even more evidence that they want to discriminate. (Keeping their e-Harmony brand “gay free” certainly seems sort of sleazy to me)

    Comment by Michael M — July 5, 2009 @ 8:40 am
  25. I have not heard very many good things about eharmony. My sister got rejected 100% when she put in her profile information, they came back to her saying they found 0, yes, ZERO suitable matches for her!! Pretty hard to believe that not one of their 12 million members was a match!

    Comment by Natalie Cook — August 20, 2009 @ 10:43 am
  26. When eHarmony launched in the UK, I thought I’d give it a try as I’d not really got anywhere with the traditional sites, where people seem obsessed with age & looks. However, after spending an hour filling in the questionnaire, I got told “there are no people that we can match you with” & my application closed.

    Bearing in mind what some people on here have said about the people they’ve been matched with, I feel quite insulted! lol. A large number of sites do now seem to be employing slightly underhand tactics to get people onto their site & then request payment to completely fulfill what you’d expect from their free offers.

    I’ve recently been using Match & Match Affinity, but both of these are incredibly expensive & the people I speak to seem quite highly strung! The best results I’ve had so far are from Find Me Dates, which is relatively cheap too!

    I guess you just have to keep trying different sites until you find one that gets you a result!

    Comment by Reece — May 15, 2010 @ 8:25 am

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