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Feeling seriously offended, Ms Fontaine decided to ignore Elect Club’s demands for her to set up a direct debit. I was planning to get out before I had to pay any more money.’She was offered another introduction, this time to an IT worker called Terry, who was in his 50s and from Pinner.
She says: ‘I thought I had better play ball and go along on at least one date, otherwise they would say I hadn’t tried.’They met at Sloane Square, in Chelsea, where Terry emerged from the Underground station wearing an anorak and carrying a rucksack.
‘He said he had had a call from them inviting him to come to some events.
He had been a member of a dating agency in Gerrard’s Cross in Buckinghamshire that had shut down and Elect had bought it. When Ms Fontaine emailed to complain, she received an email back from Daniel Andre, the CEO of the company, saying: ‘Each of our members have specific criteria and their requirement doesn’t especially match your profile, I am afraid. Unfortunately, Elect decided she owed them two months’ membership.
It’s not a selling point, it’s just something I’ve done that means something to me.’Karen Mooney, press officer for the Association of British Introduction Agencies (ABIA), said: ‘People should check before they sign up to any dating agency to make sure it is a member of ABIA, which has a strict code of practice.’ Ms Mooney, who founded Sara Eden Personal Introductions in 1988, said: ‘Companies love to boast that they can do matchmaking but a dating agency is a complicated business.
The most experienced dating guru in the UK, Mary Balfour has been running her London-based matchmaking and dating agency Drawing Down the Moon since the 1980s.
She’s given at Waterstone’s bookshop in Piccadilly, the Groucho Club and other London venues.
As a seasoned guest of TV and radio she talks with passion about the wider issues of relationships and the dating industry.
An internet search turned up the equally worrying fact that he had recently changed his name and that several of his companies had been fined.Ms Fontaine, who was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her charitable work, is now being chased by a debt-collection agency for outstanding fees.‘The thought of coming home to find my flat being stripped by bailiffs has certainly taken the sparkle out of any romantic ideas,’ she says.Mary originally studied photography at the London College of Printing and later acquired a sociology degree and PGCE teaching qualification from London University.Pursuing her passion for learning more about relationships and how to help people maximise opportunities in life, she obtained a certificate in Counselling Attitudes and Methodology from the Westminster Pastoral Foundation and a Certificate in Life Coaching from Newcastle College.
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‘I have messed up relationships myself and that wasn’t the fault of the friend who made the introduction.