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The Hong Kong Consumer Council has advised people looking for love to think carefully before paying a matchmaking company because of lack of transparency in many cases over the services they provide, and at what cost.

The council received 64 complaints against matchmaking outfits in 2018, an increase of 54% from the year before, Apple Daily reported.

In one case, a female complainant was shown photos of a number of male members of a matchmaking company after leaving her contact information on its website.

The woman was persuaded to pay a HK$20,000 (US$2,548) annual fee to upgrade to an advanced membership scheme under which the company claimed several meetings would be arranged for her every week. In addition, she could receive a free six-month membership if she chose to pay for the upgrade right away.

The woman accepted the offer and paid the fee accordingly.

The company sent her information about a number of male members, but no meeting was arranged even though she had agreed to meet them.

When she complained to the company, she was told the problem was that her photo did not maker her look attractive enough. The company then persuaded her to pay an extra HK$25,000 for a professional photography service to increase the chance of success.

Another person complained that he took a three-month membership out for HK$888 with a company, and then paid a HK$6,000 annual fee, on a promise that he would get to meet at least eight women during that time.

However, the complainant later found that the information on recommended female members sent by the company on its mobile app fell short of his expectations in respect of their age and marital status.

He also found that the company renewed his quarterly membership automatically.

The consumer watchdog said people eager to find a partner should never make a hasty choice. They should fully understand the scope and guarantees of the services and the prices among various membership schemes before signing up to any matchmaking services.

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