In the meantime, she contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau, which provided some information on her consumer rights.
Searchmate has disputed Aileen’s claims and said it had not received any correspondence from her after the letter was sent in November.
A few dating sites are members of the ABIA (see below) and there are several benefits to choosing one of these, namely: It's wise to work out your criteria before you begin searching, as the ways offline agencies work can vary.
It claims to offer a “safer and more credible alternative” to dating websites.
So in May last year Aileen stumped up £1,295 for membership.
The difficulty with choosing the dating site for you is getting past the fact that you more or less have to sign up to see what they're like.
Though there are review sites which will give you a feel for what to expect, eg:
“Getting sucked into this made me feel really stupid,” Aileen said.
“My daughters said online dating wasn’t good for me anymore, so I started looking for alternatives.” Aileen then came across Searchmate, a bespoke dating service which featured on the first series of Channel 4's The Undateables.Searchmate offered to upgrade Aileen to its “Platinum” membership, a service via which customers are assigned their very own matchmaker who will proactively look for potential matches outside Searchmate’s client base.When Telegraph Money spoke to one of Searchmate’s agents, we were told matchmakers would go to “great lengths” to find matches for singles, for example putting up posters in local sailing clubs (if the client listed sailing as a hobby), or even posting advertisements in newspapers. She said she sent several emails to Searchmate’s agents since November but did not hear back.She says she “isn’t looking for a major spark” but is searching for a man with a good sense of humour to share her life with. The first blow was when she fell victim to a scammer on an online dating site.He claimed to be a high flier in a major American toy firm, but then managed to convince her to give him £200 for medical treatment, encouraging her to take out credit cards.In November she received a letter from a Searchmate adviser saying that her membership was “not progressing as expected”.