The dating game can be a minefield, so much so that some prefer to entrust their quest for love to professional matchmakers.
Alas, it turns out that even seasoned professionals can't conjure up a prince charming.
A 49-year-old woman who said she asked local dating agency Lunch Actually for a good-looking match resembling her ideal type is claiming that they misled her and set up with an "uncle" 10 years her senior as part of a three-date package.
However, Lunch Actually founder Violet Lim said the woman's account was riddled with false allegations. Despite the company's efforts to follow up with the woman and resolve the matter amicably, she has "refused to speak" with them, Lim told AsiaOne today (Sept 14).
The woman's allegations first surfaced on Friday (Sept 11) on website All Singapore Stuff.
Identified as Ms M, the woman claimed she had paid Lunch Actually $2,939.40 for a three-date package with the added benefit of "choosing the type of look" of her matches.
She wrote: "[The sales executive] promised that this package, unlike the $1,000 plus ones, I could choose who I want my match to look like."
Ms M then sent Lunch Actually several photos of her ideal match, which included her friend and other public figures.
She had gotten a discount on the package, reportedly priced at about $5,000, and was won over after a sales representative told her that she had a match in mind for her, she told Lianhe Wanbao.
However, according to the woman, Lunch Actually misrepresented her date's looks and financial status.
Date was "old and not good looking": Ms M
"They said he's a COO of F&B, stayed in central but he actually stayed in Bukit Batok HDB. [sic]," Ms M wrote.
He did not resemble the pictures she had provided, she claimed, and was "old and not good looking".
Ms M made several other disparaging remarks about her date's looks, saying that he looked "so skinny" despite reportedly being described as fit by Lunch Actually.
"This unpleasant episode has deterred me from looking for another life partner completely," the divorcee and mother of one said.
A photo of her date with his eyes censored was also shared on All Singapore Stuff. (It was taken down after Lunch Actually contacted the site, Lim said.)
Ms M, who said she has lodged a complaint with Consumers Association of Singapore after being denied a refund on her package, also alleged that Lunch Actually's staff were "very careful" and communicated with her on the phone, with "no written trace".
She also questioned why her Terms of Service agreement (TOS) with the company was no longer accessible via the online link they had provided.
We are not an unethical company: Lunch Actually founder rebuts woman's claims
In a public post on Sunday (Sept 13), Violet Lim, the founder of Lunch Actually, addressed Ms M's allegations, clarifying that it had been "clearly explained" to her that she would not be able to choose the looks of her matches.
Lunch Actually also focuses on common values, personality compatibility and life goals rather than reducing their clients to photos, she explained.
The Signature Package which Ms M purchased includes a Personal Dating Consultant who handles the client's matches, date arrangements and date feedback.
This offers more personalised attention as compared to some of Lunch Actually's other packages in which a team of matchmakers handle the client's needs, however, it does not allow selection of matches based on looks, Lim said.
She added that Lunch Actually had never claimed that the man was good looking, or that he lived in a central area.
Furthermore, the 59-year-old man, identified only as Mr X, was within Ms M's age preference.
Lunch Actually believes phone conversations allow them to "develop a closer relationship" with clients but are not averse to following up with them on email if requested, Lim explained.
Regarding Ms M's complaint about not being able to access her TOS agreement, Lim clarified that the link to the document is only valid for a limited time due to security and privacy reasons.
Ms M should have been able to save a copy of the TOS after signing it, and could have emailed Lunch Actually to request a copy, Lim said.
"What has really distressed me is that in her bid to pressure us to give her a refund by going to the media, Ms M has dragged an innocent party Mr X into this furore."
Mr X is aware of the "uncalled for" and "hurtful" remarks Ms M made concerning him. However, he has chosen to forgive the woman, Lim told AsiaOne.
Lunch Actually is not unethical, nor does it practise hard-selling, she added, citing the company's "three-day cooling down period" for all their packages and memberships.
All Lunch Actually clients are entitled to cease their membership within three days from the date of payment and receive a refund less an administration fee of $642.
The fee covers the time and effort spent by the Lunch Actually consultant on a profiling and consultation session which usually lasts between one-and-a-half to three hours, as well as the processing of the membership.
"Honestly, we are very upfront with our clients," Lim said, revealing that she is open about the fact that it often takes multiple dates for clients to find their match.
"That's the reason why our packages have multiple dates."