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).