Service Alberta is investigating four new complaints against a matchmaking company stemming from a CBC Edmonton investigation.
Minister Stephanie McLean said her department received the complaints after two dissatisfied customers spoke out against Edmonton Matchmakers in April.
“I was absolutely heartbroken, both as the minister responsible for consumer protection and the minister of the status of women,” McLean told Edmonton AM in an interview on Wednesday. “People being taken advantage of, especially women — it’s really troubling.”
McLean also expressed her gratitude to the women who publicly shared their stories.
“I’m thankful to the women who have come forward bravely and shared their stories because it does encourage others to come forward,” she said.
In April, Margaret Clark, 67, was the first to raise concerns, shortly after launching a lawsuit against Canada Introductions, Inc., which operates as Edmonton Matchmakers.
She accused the company of using high-pressure sales tactics that convinced her to pay $10,494 for a membership at the Edmonton office located at 7915 104 St. in December 2014.
Clark said she only received one referral in more than two years and the match was incompatible. But the company refused to refund her money.
Service Alberta investigated in 2015 but concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to take action against the company, prompting Clark to launch a civil suit and tell her story publicly.
“That’s what needed to happen,” said Clark. “My goal going forward was that this would never happen to anybody else. And hopefully there will be some closure for people at some point.”
Her story encouraged several other women to contact CBC News. Val Taylor said Edmonton Matchmakers used the same high-pressure sales tactics to get her to pay $7,344 for a membership.
Taylor said she clearly stated that her matches must be employed but her sole coffee date was a “partially toothless,” homeless man who “continuously chewed and destroyed plastic utensils.”
Taylor said she immediately called the company, arguing the match didn’t meet her criteria and shouldn’t count as an introduction. But Edmonton Matchmakers disagreed.
The contract states that after clients receive their first referral they “will not be entitled to any refund.”
‘No longer in business’
On May 1, Canada Introductions filed a short dispute note, in response to Clark’s claim. It states Canada Introductions “is no longer in business” and the operations were transferred to another company, also doing business as Edmonton Matchmakers, in March 2016.
In response to CBC inquiries and requests for interviews from the company, Rich Nichols, a strategic crisis communications consultant based in Dallas, Texas, contacted CBC News and provided written responses.
He said that AB Singles, Ltd. operates Edmonton Matchmakers. The new company…