Heart Searching: Trading in emotions

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Indy Lifestyle Online
DATING agencies - we all think we know what they're like: shady, disreputable organisations run from seedy backstreet offices or the front rooms of distinctly dodgy get-rich-quick types who prey on people's emotions to take large sums of money, offering only broken dreams and heartache in return.

Well, no, actually. In more than a year, since starting this page, we have featured dozens of agencies, up, down and middle market, catering for everyone from city slickers to country folk, cyclists to skiers, Christians to Muslims, Irish people to Australians, and many more, and one thing is clear: the introduction agency business is as reputable as any, probably more than most. Indeed, given the lack of regulation of the industry it is remarkable just how few rogues do seem attracted to it, and how few complaints are received.

All the more reason, then, after 12 months during which we have focused on the many positive sides of introduction agencies, to devote some attention to the relatively few customers who remain anything but satisfied.

Today's report is the first in a series looking at the down side of a growing business, one that owes it to the public to be beyond reproach - because it is not just taking people's money, it is trading in their emotions.