It's Just Lunch / Poor Customer Service
On 1/13/10, I joined the dating service It's Just Lunch. I met with Director Tsuki Reynoso who interviewed me and decided immediately that I would be a good candidate. I had some doubts, especially given the exorbitant annual membership fee of $2200 and had wanted to think about it, but felt pressured by Ms. Reynoso to make a payment before leaving. While I did sign a contract that Ms. Reynoso completed on my behalf, I was still a little uncomfortable and hesitant and offered to only pay 50% ($1100) on my debit card. After additional research I decided to cancel my membership. I have found numerous complaints online from other members across the country and in Canada. Membership fees vary from region to region ($1100, $1400, or $1600), I suppose that variance could be attributed to how large a city/pool of candidates is, but the one consistent issue is that everyone has been VERY unhappy with the service: either they’re poorly matched; the members are not thoroughly or even marginally screened, etc. I read one story of a woman who had been set up with a married man! Ultimately, I am a traditionalist and I just don't feel comfortable meeting men this way. I also found complaints from former employees who have stated that It's Just Lunch institutes discriminatory and deceptive practices, i.e. they do not accept African American or overweight members. Their directors are encouraged to sign up as many members as possible regardless of whether or not they think they have suitable matches AND they do not set up members on their first date until after three business days, which is the grace-period to cancel the agreement without penalty.
On 1/21, I wrote a letter, which I faxed and mailed on 1/22 notifying Ms. Reynoso of my decision to cancel the membership. I further explained that with the demands of my job and heavy travel schedule, I would not be able to maximize the potential benefits, and if I couldn’t do so there was no point in continuing the service. To be fair, I deducted the $200 administrative fee and since I was unsuccessfully matched on one lunch date (1/20), I prorated the incurred expense of $142.86. These figures combined amount to $342.86. I asked to be reimbursed for $757.14. Late in the day on 1/25, I received a call from their coordinator Lindsay to schedule a conference call with Ms. Reynoso for the next day. I gave Lindsay two available timeslots: 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Lindsay never called to confirm an exact time. The following morning (1/26) when 11:00 a.m. came and went without a call, I assumed that Ms. Reynoso would call me at 2:00 p.m., but by 2:05 p.m. when I had still not heard from Ms. Reynoso, I called her. Ms. Reynoso explained that they have a no-refund policy and offered to put my membership on hold. I explained that I was resolute and that if I felt uncomfortable today, I would feel the same two weeks or two months from now. I also confided that I had recently rekindled a former (serious) relationship, but she insisted on placing my membership on hold. I could not understand her inflexibility. What if I were to marry my ex-boyfriend? Would my membership remain on hold indefinitely? Unfortunately, I signed this contract during an especially vulnerable time and if they are never compelled to reimburse me, that will be one VERY expensive date and lesson learned; nevertheless, I wanted to bring this issue to your attention because at the very least, I think their agreement needs to be modified. I am hoping that an attorney of interest will read this letter as I would be willing to join a class action lawsuit. I have found their behavior deplorable, unconscionable, and question the legality (at least) of their actions and most certainly the ethical and moral implications of being forced to go on dates against my will!
Ms. Reynoso then offered to speak with her management team and call me back the next day. Late afternoon on 1/27, I received a voicemail from her that she discussed this issue with her manager, but that she was about to go into a meeting. I called her on 1/28, but she was at lunch, so I left a voicemail. She never called me back. I called her on 1/29; she had already left for the day, so I left another message. I received a voicemail from her on 2/1. I called her back straightaway, but she was unavailable AGAIN! Oddly enough, each time Ms. Reynoso has left me messages, my mobile never rang. I suspect that Ms. Reynoso was surreptitiously calling me from a mobile instead of her landline to avoid speaking with me directly. I joined this service and attempted to quit one week later, but I feel as though the employees at It's Just Lunch are trying to drag out the process until I give up or too much time passes. It's a matter of principle, I should not have to pay for a service I never have any intention of using. I have also filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau (Oakland, CA) and the State Attorney General and will move forward with arbitration, if necessary, but I have no desire to continue this service and they shouldn’t be allowed to hold onto my money. I would appreciate any assistance or intervention you, any fellow “members” or attorneys interested or in the process of litigation can provide on my behalf.
Unfortunately, after volleying emails back and forth with It’s Just Lunch San Francisco franchise owner, Amy Brinkman, the BBB case has been closed and I am awaiting a response from California AG. On 2/24, I followed up my complaints with an email to Irene La Cota, which was interestingly enough intercepted by Ms. Brinkman, wherein she actually had the audacity to threaten me with a collections agency if I do not pay the balance of $1, 100 by March 13th. Do they really expect me to throw good money after bad? Do they actually believe that I would want to remain a client? Quite frankly, I have a very demanding job and have been travelling heavily over the last month. I resent the fact that I am forced to write letter after letter and file complaint after complaint; I have much more important issues/priorities to be addressing just now, mainly an ailing mother and teenage brother to look after, but I will continue to write letters and file complaints because ultimately I question and challenge the immoral and unethical practices of this organization. I will never go on another date arranged by this organization. I want nothing more to do with them. I regret ever setting foot into their offices and wish that I had listened to that little voice in my head telling me to rip up that contract and run away as fast as I can!!! And whether or not anyone can assist, I hope that for the other members my letter will provide a sense of empathetic frustration and for those considering a membership, this should serve as a cautionary tale and if you have the slightest doubts at all, please heed those subconscious warnings…
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