Looking for love

Posted: June 17, 2014

DIANE PETERS was looking for love in all the wrong places, or at least one wrong place.

Peters, 44, is pretty, single, a social worker for a Center City medical nonprofit, happy even while wanting a counterpart - a committed, successful male.

A Colorado native who never married or had kids, Peters tried the usual things. She asked friends if they knew "anyone" (meaning an eligible male), went to wine tastings, sporting events, church, some singles events, but couldn't connect with the man of her dreams.

A little embarrassed to be discussing her love life at all, Peters tells me she was feeling some pressure because "my niece is getting married in September. I really wanted a date for the wedding."

She had tried online dating without much success, so she turned to Philadelphia Singles, which calls itself "Philadelphia's #1 dating service for high-caliber, sincere singles." (Diane Peters is not her real name. I granted her anonymity because her supervisor felt that going public could harm her relationship with her clients.)

Some of you are thinking that a bright, educated woman should have known better. I'm thinking it's the result of frustration or even desperation. Nothing else has worked, so why not try this?

It started in January with a visit to the Philadelphia Singles office in King of Prussia, because the agency wouldn't quote her a price over the phone. The contract - which she showed me - promised three introductions for $3,000.

"As a social worker, this was a fee that was not feasible," she says.

When she didn't call, she says, the agency called and invited her back to discuss a discounted rate. She says she was told that as an attractive, single woman without kids, "they would guarantee that I would be popular and would have several dates."

She returned for a second meeting, this time with her best friend, Michelle, who told me that they advised Peters "they would have no problem finding a match for her."

Peters was looking for a man "confident but not arrogant, financially secure, 42-50, sense of humor is a must, have a love of animals, be family-oriented," pretty much the usual wish list. She had one preference apart from the norm - white men who date black women. Both Peters and Michelle are African-American.

Peters says she was told that Philadelphia Singles had "many" white men who date black women. Michelle confirms this.

Peters has dated black men, but grew up in a white neighborhood and finds herself more comfortable with white men.

Assured by the agency that it would easily find her dates, she paid $1,195 for a promise of eight introductions, a deep discount from $3,000.

Initially she told Philadelphia Singles that she would accept dates with black men as well as white - she is leery of being wrongly perceived as hostile to men of her own race - but when the first African-American male who was recommended failed to call her, she told the agency she wanted to hear only from white men.

When one was delivered, he turned out to be unemployed and bookish, not her type at all.

The few leads she got - including a man from Nigeria (well, he wasn't African- American) - made her feel as if "they were in a room throwing darts at pictures."

Feeling that the agency had failed to live up to its promises, she asked for her money back. She was told that her request was passed along to corporate headquarters "but there is roughly a $1,000 expense to bring members on with background checks and processing, etc."

Peters also says she was promised a dating "coach," and that never happened either.

I called Philadelphia Singles, and the manager said I could expect a call from the company lawyer.

It didn't come.

Another promise not kept.


Email: stubyko@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky

Blog: ph.ly/Byko

Columns: ph.ly/StuBykofsky

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