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Great Expectations / Club1 / Club 1 Complaint - Great Expectations / Club1 St. Louis -- Deception and unprofessionalism

Review by flewis on 2009-10-13
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI -- Please note that Great Expectations has changed its name to Club1.

Though I have many complaints about the unethical and deceptive business practices by the Great Expectations St. Louis office, located in Maryland Heights, my primary complaint is that they misled me about their membership numbers. Before I joined their service I asked their director how many female members they had in my age range of interest (which I specified was about 24-34) in the St. Louis area. I was told I could expect around 125 such members with 3-4 being added each week. After they charged me $5,295 for my membership I discovered how grossly they had misled me: they currently have 22 active women in the entire 18-35 age range for St. Louis and its surrounding areas, and they sign up less than one new female member in this age range each month! When I called the director to ask about this discrepancy, she took nearly two weeks to return my phone call, then told me I was at fault because I didn’t want to date women who were well outside the age and geographic range I said up front that I was interested in. I have also spoken with approximately ten current and recent members through their office. Every single person I have spoken with is dissatisfied with Great Expectations, and interestingly, their complaints are all similar to mine, especially about being misled about how many members Great Expectations actually has. Here is some information about the Great Expectations St. Louis office and my experience with them:

-They currently have only 22 active females in the entire 18-35 age range.
-In recent months they have signed up less than one female per month in this age range.
-They list members as “new in the last 60 days” when they are clearly not new within that time period (they are listed this way for well over 60 days)
-When I called their office to ask about the discrepancy in their membership numbers, their director took nearly two weeks (after multiple calls from me to their office) to return my phone call.
-They currently have a D+ rating and non-accredited status with the BBB as well as multiple unresolved complaints.
-They have numerous complaints on file with the Attorney General’s office.
-They took nearly two months to respond to the BBB and the Attorney General’s office after being contacted regarding my complaint.
-A former employee has publicly described several very deceptive and unethical practices of the Great Expectations office:
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/dating_services/great_expectations_p28.html
-There are many complaints about Great Expectations on online consumer web sites.
-They falsely accused me of scheduling and not showing up for a video/photo appointment when I have phone records proving I never spoke with their office during this period.
-They told me (and their contract also states) that all of their members must have a video and photo taken before being allowed access to their database, but several of their current female members’ profiles do not have both of these.
-Their office charged me $160 to put onto a CD-ROM the photos they took of me when I activated my membership. They then never sent me the CD, forcing me to dispute the charge with my credit card company to receive a refund.
-They violated their own contract, which states that disputes will be resolved via mandatory arbitration with the Better Business Bureau, when they chose not to respond to the arbitration agreement that the BBB sent them regarding my complaint.
-Lawsuits have been filed recently against Great Expectations by the attorney general’s offices of Kansas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and New York City, all alleging misrepresentation of services offered.
-In an investigation report from KTVI’s "Contact 2" a few years ago, several people describe experiences almost identical to mine:
http://www.governmentauctions.org/news/NewsFOX2KTVI.com. pdf

April 18, 2010: I need to update my complaint to reflect further developments, particularly involving a former Club1 branch director named Robert Rance. Since last November, I have been dealing with Rob Rance, who took over the St. Louis branch of Club1 in November of 2009. Although he finally agreed to arbitrate our case with the Better Busines Bureau (as required by my membership contract with Club1), he did everything he could to delay the actual arbitration hearing. First he failed to respond to the BBB's scheduling request, then he told them that he would not be available for nearly two months. The arbitration was finally scheduled for March 23, 2010, and on March 22nd he called the BBB to attempt to postpone the arbitration yet again, claiming he was "under the weather." Because Rob had already delayed the hearing several times, the BBB denied his request and the arbitration was held on March 23rd. After hearing the case, the independent arbitrator decided that Club1 owed me a refund of over $3,000, which Rob was to send me by April 15th. When I did not receive my refund check, I e-mailed Rob, who responded "best of luck getting your money" because he is "no longer affiliated with Club1."

Of course I suspected that Rob was delaying the arbitration for a reason, and knowing that his Kansas City Club 1 branch (which he formerly managed) had already closed, I was suspicious that he was deliberately dragging his feet because he knew that he would not be affiliated with Club 1 much longer. His hope, of course, was to jump ship before having to issue me my refund.

I want to point out that Robert Rance is also affiliated with several other companies, including "Drumbeat Marketing" and "Best of Professionals", both of which appear to be internet marketing companies. Given that Rob Rance has acted to deny me several thousand dollars which his former company LEGALLY owes me, I would strongly caution anyone from doing business with these companies with which Rob is affiliated.

UPDATE 5/24/10

I have demanded to speak with Robert Fisher, the CEO of Great Expectations, but Robert Rance refused to provide me with a way to contact him. He did finally forward my e-mails to Fisher, who after several weeks finally contacted me to say that he would not refund my money because the St. Louis office had closed -- even though it was HIS company that had delayed the arbitration for almost nine months. He also issued me a strong warning not to give his e-mail address to anyone else. To this date I have not received my refund.

I want to point out that Robert Fisher has founded a new company, Best of Professionals, which appears to be an online promotion service. Robert Rance appears to be involved with sales in this new company. Although I have no experience with Best of Professionals, based on my experience with Robert Fisher and Robert Rance through Great Expectations, I would caution anyone about doing business with these two men.
Comments:6 Replies - Latest reply on 2009-10-28
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-14:
Whatever happened to meeting people the old fashioned way?
Posted by PepperElf on 2009-10-14:
like at bars when you're really drunk


tho personally...i'm more of the fan of just looking for friends and not romance

cos it's more important to be with a friend first... and have that turn into something more, than it is to just go on the hunt.
Posted by flewis on 2009-10-28:
I want to add to my original post that Great Expectations has changed its name to Club1, or Club1 Travel. Please note that IT IS THE SAME COMPANY.
Posted by PepperElf on 2009-10-28:
and dang $5000 for a dating service?

was this an actual blind-date set up or were they um "escorts"
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-28:
They got plenty of free dateing services online.
Posted by old fart on 2009-10-28:
For five grand they better be porn stars...

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