THE TRUE COST OF FIND­ING LOVE

CityPress - - Business -

If you are sin­gle and look­ing for some­one spe­cial to share your life with, you can go on dates un­til you find “the one”, or, if you want to speed up the dat­ing process, you can find love through on­line dat­ing web­sites or even agen­cies that spe­cialise in match­ing up sin­gles. But how much does it cost the av­er­age per­son to go through this courtship phase be­fore they get en­gaged, mar­ried and start on those 2.5 kids in a house with that white picket fence?

There are a plethora of on­line dat­ing sites to choose from in South Africa.

If you don’t feel like head­ing to the near­est bar, you can meet other sin­gles in your area who like the same stuff you do with the click of a mouse.

Free dat­ing sites in South Africa in­clude Let­sMeet, Sin­gles2Meet, DateCorner and LoveAwake. How­ever, there are a lot of dat­ing sites that do charge fees. Sites such as Thun­der­bolt City, EliteSin­gles and Dat­ingBuzz have free ba­sic sub­scrip­tions.

How­ever, they lure you in by al­low­ing you to up­load your pho­tos, search for matches and re­ceive mes­sages from oth­ers. But if you want to re­ply to a mes­sage or up­grade from sim­ply be­ing able to send smiles, likes or one lin­ers, you usu­ally have to pay for the plea­sure.

With Valentine’s Day fast ap­proach­ing, it’s best to find out how much it will cost you be­fore you whip out your credit card. Gen­er­ally, the longer you sign up for a dat­ing site, the greater the dis­count.

Thun­der­bolt City and Dat­ingBuzz, for ex­am­ple, charge users R99.95 a month for 12 months, but the fee jumps to R179.95 a month if you only sign up for a month.

Also watch out for au­to­mated re­billing. With cer­tain dat­ing sites, if you don’t can­cel your sub­scrip­tion, you will be charged again au­to­mat­i­cally.

It’s easy to for­get this and end up pay­ing hun­dreds of rands for a ser­vice you’re no longer us­ing.

There’s a way around this though – sim­ply can­cel your sub­scrip­tion as soon as you’ve joined. You can al­ways re­new it if you are happy with the ser­vice.

DAT­ING AGEN­CIES

Dat­ing agen­cies are an­other pos­si­bil­ity, but can be more costly than on­line dat­ing. Na­tional dat­ing agency Cor­po­rate Dat­ing, for ex­am­ple, which is head­quar­tered in Umh­langa, KwaZulu-Natal, charges clients a one-off fee of R4 500.

Fiona Dorse, the owner of Cor­po­rate Dat­ing, says: “I charge a one-off fee, but some of my com­peti­tors charge a fee like this yearly, which I don’t find fair as you could meet the per­son you want to spend the rest of your life with on the first date. I once had a client who took over seven years to find the per­son she mar­ried.

“I charge a fee like this be­cause I want to make sure that my clients are se­ri­ous about find­ing some­one. I want them to be emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially sta­ble.

“Fi­nan­cial is­sues are, af­ter all, one of the top rea­sons for di­vorce.”

She warns sin­gles to be vig­i­lant when us­ing on­line dat­ing sites.

“Some peo­ple worry about the stigma [of us­ing agen­cies], but then use dat­ing sites and open them­selves up to fraud­sters, mar­ried peo­ple or peo­ple who are just af­ter a quick sex­ual fling.

“With my com­pany, you shouldn’t run into trou­ble as clients agree to al­low me to do crim­i­nal back­ground checks us­ing their ID num­bers.”

– Angelique Ruzicka

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