eHarmony 'The Compatible Marriage' a scam?

I wish I had read sites like this one before agreeing to evaluate eHarmony's new "marriage enrichment" program. If I had, I'd have realized that we'd never get the $25 Amazon gift certificate they promised us.

Their new program, "The Compatible Marriage," is basically a re-hash of all sorts of good books and programs that have been around for years. They wrap it in a "scientific" test and profile, but you don't need my background and degree in personality assessments and instructional design to question its construction. (Don't bother looking for any information on its reliability or validity, let alone anything about its development or norms or...)

Long story short, it's a multiple-choice assessment with a horrible navigation structure. At the end, the claim that they'll e-mail you a series of exercises to take. No e-mails ever came. But we found one on the site and went through it. It was interesting. On July 25th, we got an e-mail that we hadn't completed the evaluation of that exercise, and to look for it in the "Announcements" area when we log in. Nothing there -- and, trust me, we know what their evaluations look like, because we answered dozens and dozens of questions as we completed their assessment. (My extremely conservative estimate is that I have at least five hours in their "two hour" test.)

Today, my wife (and just my wife -- nothing to me) gets an e-mail that says they closed the system on August 1st, deleted our accounts, and because we didn't complete all the evaluations we're not eligible for the $25 Amazon gift certificate. But, wonderful folks that they are, they graciously included a $10 Amazon certificate code for our trouble.

Problem is, Amazon's shipping break is at $25, so if I wanted to order something from them, that's the certificate I'd make use of. Imagine this: eHarmony promises a certificate for exactly that amount! What a coincidence! It sure got our attention -- and probably worked for others. And, imagine this, they find a reason not to provide it, and give a token certificate that's far less likely to be used.

Even more interestingly, I logged into my eHarmony account and all my information is still there, including the same little statement that says my subscription is good until 11/1/05. So why did they give one week's notice that we hadn't completed an evaluation that apparently doesn't exist, then "close" our account while apparently keeping it open, and then award us a "consolation" gift certificate for not following instructions that they didn't provide? If I hadn't spent hours following their instructions to the letter (as best they conveyed them -- I still can't read their mind, which is apparently what I needed to do to win the fabulous prize they promised) and had just blown through their evaluations, not bothering to give them several paragraphs of substantive suggestions and error-corrections... well, then I'd be behaving just like them, right?

What particularly ticks me off about the situation is that eHarmony is touted as a "Christian" service. And, I'm sorry, but honesty and integrity are fairly important in the Christian category. Using bait-and-switch tactics to get nearly-free evaluation and troubleshooting services from people who believe you'll deliver what you promise isn't cool.

I expect this kind of behavior from those "Win a free iPod!" banner advertiser types, but not from an organization that claims to be reputable... a claim that, with a little bit of Internet searching, looks more and more dubious.

Watch out for them -- and if they ever release "The Compatible Marriage" to the general public (probably at some inflated price, accompanied by the promise of something or other which they may or may not deliver on as advertised)... watch out!

Anyone else have experience or news about them and their dating service?


Norman Larson said…
Eric, is part of the plot? Or should you inform them how their name is being used in a deception?

Maybe there's a Beter Business Bureau -- or some other entity -- you can complain to.

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