Home Columns & Editorials 65 and Single Again Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms Part 3 of...

Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms Part 3 of a Series

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Why do people get hooked up with on-line dating services like EEK-Grominy and Lighter Dot Com. Well, if you believe all the hype shown you in the 90 second TV commercials it is because you want to find the right partner, that special someone, someone to marry.  Of course it is also possible that maybe you just want to meet for a short term relationship, and if you believe the comments on many of the social media sites it sounds as if some just prefer a very short relationship–one night. Of course that probably wouldn’t make good TV ad copy during the family viewing hours, would it –Endless one-night stands for $14.95 per month for 6 months?   Suffice it to say though that people of all ages desire affiliation with the opposite sex. This is basic human nature programmed into us genetically.  As we get older the prospective dating  pool gets progressively smaller and the opportunities to meet shrink proportionately. So, here comes a service with lists of people complete with pictures and personal info. Initially you think, “What a seemingly wonderful way to preview people and pick the ones you want to meet. Sign me up for a date dot com.”

This type of service seemed to come on the scene in the mid-1990s and has blossomed a hundred fold over the past 20 years. It corresponds with a similar rise in the social media and commentary the likes of which we have not seen before the rise of computers and now smart phones.  There are now, in 2014, countless numbers of dating services. I could fill the rest of the page with names of these dot coms. A couple are free. Some of them are “apparently” free, that is, until you want to see your contacts. The vast majority though require payment up front and a sign up minimum duration of 3 months to 1 year. Most of the for-pay services will automatically re-up you, charging your credit card unless you give them advanced notice that you want to be cancelled immediately. Even then the social media commentary indicates that you need to be watchful of your credit card charges because, time and again, these dot coms apparently re-enlist you whether you want it or not.

Major complaint issues:

Low response rate –  One of the biggest complaints about the dating dot coms is the low response rate—most often quoted as 1% to 3% by consumers.   The Lighter Dot Com official site ambiguously touts rates of 63.5% to over 75% but if you closely read their information you can’t seem to pin it down.  After you quickly discount the positive slant written at the hands of the Lighter Dot Com advertising people you will find masses of dissatisfied customers complaining about the low response rate. To be fair I note that there are also some positive commentaries listed on the various social media sites. Many of these seem to be written by people in their 20s and generally relate to dating around and the large variety of people available to date.  Indeed several people do tout the one–night date experience but here is a representative sampling of complaints by actual customers on the social media sites:

–On Lighter Dot Com there seems to be more attractive women but it seems much harder to  reach them.  I’ve sent out over 100 messages and have gotten 3 replies.

–The men to women ratio must be at least 25 to 1.  My response rate is less than 1%.

In my experience the response rate to my overtures has been in the 1% to 3% range. Let us look at the statistics that Lighter Dot Com presents on me.  By the way there is no means of verifying any of their presented statistics.  They say that my profile has been viewed 760 times from mid-February through mid-September.   I have gotten 6 responses (to my well over 300 overtures—they apparently don’t present or keep track of my overtures). They also note that apparently there have been 17 overtures (winks, flirts, favorites, e-mails) directed at me. The responses/overtures are lumped together as 23 connections, which is an erroneous term because it implies two parties coming together. This was often not the case.  This also introduced a new issue– attention I am not seeking/do not want to respond to. The reasons include:  1) great distances from me. 2) Large age gap, 3) bizarreness in their descriptions or responses directed at me, 4) obvious health issues.

I went through all 23 “connections” and broke them down as follows:  6 were overtures indeed initiated by me, and 17 were overtures directed at me. Of the 17 directed at me, four had no picture, three had little or no information stated on their profiles, five were from much greater distances than I want go—Kalamazoo, Phoenix, China, two were far older than I, two had obvious major health issues, and one supplied seemingly bizarre info that was an absolute turn-off to me.  I answered the four no-picture overtures with a simple “Picture please”. I did not respond to the people with little or no info on their profiles or info that was a complete turn-off to me—I’m leery of being scammed.  I continue to correspond with the two major health issues people. I sometimes responded to the great distance people noting that the distance was a major factor, and I’m sorry to say that I did not respond to the age issue people because I just don’t have an acceptable answer. I do feel horrible about that. These people are, like me, lonely too.

There are a number of articles and publications available that attempt to address the low response rate. One representative article, obviously penned by a Date Dot Com employee summed it up as: 1) no established etiquette for on line communication. 2) on-line daters commonly use a shotgun approach, 3) we are more critical on-line, 4) are you being realistic?, 5) sometimes chemistry is just off, 6) not all our members are paid subscribers.

The last two issues seem to hold the most water. Sometimes the “chemistry is just off” is very plausible but, I think somewhat difficult to ascertain without face to face encounters. Words and pictures are not nearly enough to go on.  The last issue–Not all of our members are paid subscribers—is perhaps the most significant issue and cited over and over again in the social media.

Paid subscribers and “free” often short, 3 day to 1 week trial subscriptions, opens up a big can of worms and allows you to see how statistics can get jacked up and misrepresented. Most of the Dating Dot Coms constantly advertise and approach you with come-on specials where you can, free for a weekend or a week, join their Dot Com and try it out.  You fill out all the info, supply the pix and are immediately entered into the array of subscribers–people available.  Actually they have just hooked you and your profile.  But when you begin to make overtures to others you quickly find out that you have to pay to find out who has responded to you. When you don’t pay, your profile is not taken down but remains in the mix indefinitely.  As a result people keep responding to you and the dot com keeps e-mailing you telling you that you have 10 winks, 4 favorites, 2 messages and such and the contacts and messages increase infinitely as time goes by.  This goes on indefinitely with them hoping you will bite.

Some of the Dating Dot coms, though not the majority, post a time indicating how recently people have been responsive.  If there is indication that a person has not responded for three weeks or more, chances are that that person is no longer active or able to respond because they didn’t pay up yet, quit, or died, but are still being advertised as available. Obviously there are a significant number of people posted that cannot respond to you.  Some lawsuits allege 90%.  This is very frustrating.  This skews the statistics. It adds to the DOT Coms “contact” rate but ultimately contributes to your low response rate.  A representative comment on the social media says:  “I joined Lighter Dot Com and after a couple of months discontinued my membership.  A year later my profile was still on there.  Lighter Dot Com is using old and inactive profiles to expand their base.”

This ongoing column is dedicated to those of us—post 60’ers–  after “the sinking”.   If you identify with it, please come into the lifeboat and take a seat.  This is the ongoing saga of coping with the post 6o and single again dilemma.  I am open to ideas, feedback, and information that maybe helpful to all of us.  You can reach me at tel: 330-562-9801 or e-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com  

Author’s note: The names of the various dot coms have been changed

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Skip Schweitzer, of Mantua, can be described from early on in life as an avid outdoorsman and old car restorer and aficionado. He comes from a long line of great lakes fishermen and hunters. He is a taxidermist and a retired psychologist. His grandfather Charles, a machinist and fisherman who fed his family with fish during the Great Depression, was one of the original auto restorers at the Thompson Auto Museum, now the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum. Skip learned to hunt, fish and restore cars from his father Roy and learned the value and appreciation of antique automobiles from his grandfather. Skip has, over the years, restored upwards of 25 automobiles including many Fords, Studebakers, Buicks, Jeeps and VWs. Skip has written extensively on automobiles and outdoors for several newspapers, magazines and auto publications this past 20 years. His current antique automobiles include a 1930 Ford Model “A”, and a 1970 Volkswagen Cabriolet. Skip’s most frequent bylines are, Outdoors With Skip, and The Old Road.