A premium dating agency has been ordered to refund a client almost £13,000 after it failed to find the woman the “man of my dreams”.
Tereza Burki, 47, paid Seventy Thirty Ltd £12,600 after she was assured they only dealt in “creme de la creme” matches, the High Court heard.
But Judge Richard Parkes QC today ordered the agency to repay her fee, ruling that she had been “deceived” by Seventy Thirty’s then managing director.
Upholding Ms Burki’s claim, he ruled the agency’s then managing director, Lemarc Thomas, was guilty of “deceit” after misleading her about the number of suitors on the site.
The divorced mum-of-three was also awarded £500 for the “disappointment and sadness” she suffered.
Ms Burki originally signed up to the agency in 2014 where she hoped to find a man with “a lifestyle similar or more affluent than her own” and, ideally, “multiple residences”.
She also said it was essential that her perfect match would be prepared to have children, as she had always wanted four.
However it was found that whilst the agency boasted of more than 7,000 members, only about 100 of them were men actively looking for love.
It was concluded that the management consultant would never have paid her money and joined up had Mr Thomas not knowingly given her “a wholly false impression”.
The court heard how Ms Burki had believed Mr Thomas when he claimed that the site had “a substantial number” of potential matches for her.
But the judge said: “My conclusion from the evidence is that there are at the very most perhaps 200 active members of Seventy Thirty, and probably fewer.
“That points to a maximum of around 100 active male members.
“A membership of 100 active men cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as a substantial number.”
He added: “The representations made by Mr Thomas were therefore false and misleading.
“Had Ms Burki known what the true size of the active membership was, she would not have joined Seventy Thirty.”
You shouldn’t promise people who are in a fragile state of mind, in their mid-40s, the man of their dreamsTereza Burki
Giving evidence during the case, Ms Burki told the judge: “You shouldn’t promise people who are in a fragile state of mind, in their mid-40s, the man of their dreams.
“You are entrusting a service you believe is professional, who will take care of your interests and have your best interests at heart.”
Agency founder, Susie Ambrose, said Seventy Thirty had successfully matched over 6,000 lonely hearts and 63 babies had been born since she set it up in 2001.
The Knightsbridge-based agency claimed to have about 1,500 active members and that Ms Burki had been sent five potential matches that fit her requirements soon after joining, though it is not believed she met any of these matches in person.
Despite being awarded £13,100 by the court Ms Burki was ordered to pay Seventy Thirty £5,000 in libel damages after writing a damning Google review of the agency, describing it as “a scam”.
The judge accepted that the agency did have a “sizeable database” and was not “a fundamentally dishonest or fraudulent operation”.
“Ms Burki has not proved that Seventy Thirty lacked the means or intention to operate an effective matchmaking service, let alone that it was engaged in a fraudulent scheme to extract money from its clients for the benefit of its founder,” the judge ruled.
Ms Ambrose said following the ruling: “Ms Burki entered into membership with the wrong assumption about the number of potential gentlemen we would introduce her to. She assumed it would be like internet dating, but we are a niche, exclusive agency, not a mainstream, mass-market online dating service. We are not going to have thousands of members because there simply aren’t thousands of single, wealthy, high-calibre prospects out there.
“We would like to reassure and remind our clients – both prospective and current – that Seventy Thirty has been in business since 2001 and its team of psychologists and matchmakers have developed a dating model with a great deal of success.
“To date, we’ve been responsible for matching over six thousand individuals who have, on the basis of an introduction facilitated by Seventy Thirty, gone on to have long-lasting relationships. Moreover, sixty-three children have been born as a result of our introductions. We are incredibly proud of the service we provide and our very many happy clients.”