A DIVORCED mum has been awarded a £13,000 payout after an “exclusive” dating agency failed to find her a rich boyfriend.
Tereza Burki, 47, forked out £12,600 to Seventy Thirty Ltd as she desperately hunted for the “man of my dreams, the father of my child”.
She told the High Court the agency had told her it only dealt in “creme de la creme” matches and could introduce her to “bachelors you dream of meeting”.
But despite having more than 7,000 members, only 100 of them were men actively looking for love.
Judge Richard Parkes QC today ordered the agency to repay Tereza’s fee – saying she had been “deceived” by Seventy Thirty’s then-managing director.
He told the court: “Gertrude Stein quipped that whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to shop.
“This case is about a woman looking for romantic happiness who says she was tricked into shopping in the wrong place, paying a large sum to a dating which, she says, made promises but failed to produce the goods.”
The court was told Tereza signed up for the dating agency in 2014 looking for a wealthy man with “a lifestyle similar or more affluent than her own”.
The mum-of-three also wanted her new boyfriend to have “multiple residences” and be willing to provide her with another child.
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 judge said then managing director Lemarc Thomas had told Tereza there were “a substantial number” of wealthy men on the agency’s books looking for love.
Tereza then spent “a large amount of money on a dating agency in the hope of finding a partner who would give her a fourth child.”
The Knightsbridge-based agency claimed to have about 1,500 active members and Tereza had been sent five potential matches that fit her requirements soon after joining.
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 canot 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.”
But he accepted the agency did have a “sizeable database” and was not “a fundamentally dishonest or fraudulent operation”.
You shouldn’t promise people who are in a fragile state of mind, in their mid-40s, the man of their dreams
Tereza, who lives in plush Lennox Gardens, Chelsea, said she “felt very let down and disappointed” that the agency’s claims were “untrue”.
Giving evidence, she said: “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.”
As well as giving her her money back, the judge awarded her £500 for the “disappointment and sadness” she suffered – bringing her total payout to £13,100.
But the mum was ordered to pay Seventy Thirty £5,000 in libel damages after writing a damning Google review of the agency where she branded it a “scam”.
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Seventy Thirty Ltd said: “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.
“Ms. Burki was found to have libelled Seventy Thirty, as the Judge said that we had sourced excellent matches for her. Therefore, her remarks about us being a non-reputable and fraudulent company were deemed untrue and entirely without foundation.
“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.
“We are incredibly proud of the service we provide and our very many happy clients.”
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