Introduction agencies provide consumers a service whereby they can meet others with a view to establishing a relationship. These services will usually require consumers to sign a written contract and pay a fee in order to receive introductions.
Shopping around is a very important step when considering this type of agreement. It is important that the service not only meets the personal needs of the consumer but that consumers are aware of the various levels of service and the costs payable. Before signing a contract consumers should be able to:
Generally contracts are binding on both parties.
The Australian Consumer Law allows consumers to claim compensation when a service does not meet a consumer guarantee. You may be able to claim compensation for your costs in time and money because something went wrong with the service.
Where consumers are dissatisfied with the service their concerns should be raised with the trader in the first instance. Consumers should be wary of paying additional monies in order to receive further or more suitable introductions.
In some cultures matchmakers are used to arrange marriages. In Australia, introduction agencies serve much the same function. However, the activities of some introduction agencies leave something to be desired.
The operations of Liberty Network introduction agency were enough to give the whole industry a bad name. It used high pressure sales techniques to persuade clients to upgrade to more expensive services, extracted fees disproportionate to the services offered, provided no refunds, and even accompanies a client to a financial institution to ensure the withdrawal of a large sum of money for the agent. One victim was ripped off to the tune of $31,000!
The NSW Supreme Court subsequently ordered the principal of the agency to refund more than $116,000 to 14 of the agency's clients. She was also banned from ever working in the introduction agency industry again.
Our tip: Whether it be introduction services or household furniture, paying out large sums of money up-front can prove a very expensive mistake.