Times caption: Tereza Burki is suing the Seventy Thirty dating agency — run by Susie Ambrose, inset, for the return of her £12,600 membership fee
A piece by Kaya Burgess in today’s Times, emphases ours:
Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match. Find me a find, catch me a catch. Or I may sue you for damages.
A City worker who paid £12,600 to join an exclusive dating agency for rich and successful singletons is suing it for failing to find her a perfect partner.
Tereza Burki, 46, paid the fee for “gold” membership of Seventy Thirty, an agency based in Knightsbridge, London, in the hope that she would find “possibly the man of my dreams, the father of my child”.
The High Court was told that Ms Burki, a divorced management consultant with three children, wanted to find a wealthy and successful partner with “multiple residences” who would want to have a baby with her, but did not like any of the six men whose profiles came up as matches.
Seventy Thirty provides its members with a personal matchmaking specialist, offering to send them on dates with “high-net-worth individuals”, including some who are “prominent and well known”. It is so named after the theory that successful people spend 70 per cent of their time working and 30 per cent socialising.
Ms Burki, who lives in Chelsea, is suing for the return of her membership fee and for damages for the “distress, upset, disappointment and frustration” she has experienced, insisting that she has been let down by the agency, which boasted of the “wealthy, eligible, available men” on its books.
She said that she paid the membership fee in 2014 after liking a number of profiles she was shown of men on the agency’s files. She told the court that she was not then put in touch with any of those men and said that the profiles she was shown later did not match her criteria. It is not clear if she ever met any of those men.
Seventy Thirty, which was founded by Susie Ambrose, a psychotherapist, is fighting Ms Burki’s claim and is countersuing for £75,000. The agency has said that it provides an excellent service and is suing for libel and malicious falsehood over reviews published online by Ms Burki.
Ms Burki told the court: “You shouldn’t promise people [J4MB: She means women] who are in a fragile state of mind, in their mid-40s, the man of their dreams.” She said she had expected an “in-depth analysis of characters” and a “whole scientific approach” to matching partners, but did not believe that the men she was matched with had paid to be members.
Another former member, a woman who asked not to be named, said: “My issue with some of the profiles was they weren’t available. These people weren’t engaged in wanting to meet somebody.”
Lisa Lacob, for the agency, said that Ms Burki was offered six matches from its “gold” members, telling the court that all six were “plainly successful men in her preferred age bracket who were open to having children”.
She added: “Seventy Thirty maintains an extensive database of men and women who can reasonably be described as wealthy and/or successful. Based on the preferences expressed by Ms Burki, the company identified 70 men in its database as possible matches for her. All were Gold members who had paid for their membership.”
Ms Burki denies defamation and malicious falsehood. Jonathan Edwards, representing her, said that his client had been interested in one man she had been shown before her membership went live, adding: “Miss Burki believes that she was sent those details to persuade her to pay up the rest of the money.” The company denied this.
Richard Parkes, QC, reserved judgment for a later date.
• The website Ashley Madison, which is marketed to people in relationships looking to have an affair, was hacked in July 2015. A group calling itself The Impact Team threatened to release the data if the site did not immediately shut down. The details of users were leaked a month later.
• Match.com provoked panic among former members in April when a glitch reactivated scores of old profiles. In the pre-GDPR era, the website kept details of users even after the account was deleted. It has said this will no longer be the case.
• OkCupid admitted in a blog post in 2014 that it had tricked some users into believing they were better matches with each other than they actually were. It justified the move as an “experiment” to understand dating behaviour. It found that when people who only had a 30 per cent score match were told they were 90 per cent compatible, the pair were more likely to strike up a conversation.
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