I refer, of course, to the prosperity of dating agencies. Unfortunately for Mr Clarke, two of them, Together Introductions and Companions Introductions, have gone under in the past six months, a rather high rate of failure in such a small industry.
One observer puts it bluntly: 'People aren't ready yet to spend money on intangible things which may make you feel better.'
John Alexander of Pannell Kerr Forster, the accountants who seem to make a speciality of rescuing failed Lonely Hearts, is particularly worried about the 'prompt collection of outstanding fees'. His feeling is natural enough: he and his fellow liquidators see little hope in recovering the pounds 250,000 in bad debts left behind by the latest collapse. This is spread among 500 to 600 clients, who each owe around pounds 500. But Mr Alexander's phrase does reveal a lack of understanding of these agencies' clients.
Clearly if they do get knotted, they're not going to admit that their new- found happiness is the result of meeting through a dating agency. And if they fail to click, they will certainly not feel like coughing up.
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