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FriendFinder is in some ways a little tacky. The homepage contains a simple search for singles in your area and lists features of the service such as blogs, an interactive magazine and chat rooms. It also has a ticker tape of the number of members online, the number of new photos that have been received this week, and the total number of active members (more than 3 million at the time of this review). One unique feature of FriendFinder is that the personal profiles are categorized by men, women, alternative lifestyles, pen pals and activity partners - which make browsing through profiles a little more efficient.
Creating an account is free and fairly painless. The free standard membership requires the usual personal information; once entered, you can send Instant Messages and have limited access to search and browse profiles. In addition to the free membership, Gold and Silver memberships are also available. Gold and Silver membership status grants you unlimited communication with other members, gives you a highlight profile in search results, lets you view member videos, view member poll results, email alerts, unlimited profile viewing, and faster technical support (within 12 hours instead of 2 days).
FriendFinder also enhances the experience by providing access to daily horoscopes, photo ratings, free e-greeting cards, and an e-Magazine.
Some information, such as pricing, is not easily found in the online material. In fact, only one reference was found in the help pages that premium membership costs as little as 25 cents a day. With so much competition in the dating service market, it would behoove them to provide as much information as possible for potential members.
The experience provided by FriendFinder is adequate, if lackluster. You can find services offering more options for the same price in our top-ranked selections.
Note: Great Expectations appears to no longer be in business.
Great Expectations comes up far short compared to the other services reviewed. With good name recognition, and tenure that pre-dates the internet, we definitely expected more.
Great Expectations has a different approach than the other dating services reviewed. First, you must live in an area that is serviced by a Great Expectations branch. (If there is not a location near you, then you are diverted to their on-line service). However, if you happen to live in one of their serviced areas, you fill out a quick application with your name, age, address, income, phone number and email. From there you are taken to another information gathering page covering what you are looking for in a mate and a few more details about yourself. The information is gathered and a representative from Great Expectations contacts you by phone for a face to face meeting where you complete the screening process. Once this is finally done, and you sign up for their service, you can search through thousands of members.
It's free to submit an application which will start the screening process. Great Expectations points out there is no obligation to submit the application. The word "obligation" implies that at some point there will be a fee but that information is not given on the website. This is important to remember; more on this later.
The website is very shallow on information. If you don't fill out the forms fast enough you are kicked out by the site and will need your user name and password to get back in. However, you don't select a username and password in the sign-up process so you have to call your local branch for assistance; available hours vary by location. Also, if you neglect to answer all the questions on the initial form, you will continually be returned to the top of the form. At this point you will have to go back to the home page and start from scratch because the form will not accept any information that you try to add. The whole event can be very frustrating and would easily be fixed with some minor programming.
No pricing information is given until you go in for your face-to-face interview. This consists of additional questions to complete your profile; but the real reason is to speak with you in person to convince you to sign up for the service. The price of their service varies by location but usually starts at $6,000 - yes, you read that right. As you can imagine, if this information was posted on their website, they would receive far fewer respondents. As it is, this price can be negotiated down by 50-80% or more - but that's still more than any other service in our review. For this price, you get a "professional" photo shoot, video greeting, and access to other members that have supposedly been pre-screened for criminal records.
Also, you'd better be prepared to sign up when you attend your initial interview. Typically you'll be advised that they can only offer you a negotiated deal for their services at that time. Once you leave their office, the price will resume to it's full $6,000 and you will forever be unable to reduce it. This kind of a hard sell puts undue pressure on the consumer and is frankly rather insulting. Oh, and once you sign the contract, you're locked in - there is no money-back grace period offered.
They also offer additional services, such as photo touch-ups, online access, and mailgrams - but be prepared, these cost hundreds of dollars each.
One appealing feature of Great Expectations is that they periodically host parties and events in your area exclusively for members, which can be lots of fun. Although these events also cost extra, they give you the opportunity to meet other members face-to-face without needing to talk with them first.
The idea of going through a screening process and attending member parties sounds great. However, the problematic website, high cost, relatively low membership, and hard-sell attitude make Great Expectations a great dating service - to stay away from.
Online Dating Services
To help you find the Best Online Dating Services, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Friend Finder and Great Expectations.
Online dating has come of age. Today millions of people across the country - and the world - have found the advantages that online dating brings. From the comfort of your own home or apartment, you can browse through hundreds of pictures and profiles, strike up dozens of conversations, and date as often as you like.
To meet the needs of all these daters, many online dating services have been created. Each brings to the table a unique perspective, target audience, or feature set that appeals to various segments of the dating market.
Are you interested in a long-term relationship or a more casual affair? Do you want to browse through potential candidates or let the system choose your ideal matches? There are dating services that cater to these and all sorts of special needs.
When evaluating the different online dating services, there are certain factors you will want to consider. Some of these include:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best online dating services available today. We hope this information helps you start your next relationship!
Online Dating Tips
Meeting potential candidates at a dating website is far more effective and convenient than scouring the bars and night clubs week after week. Meeting singles online has many benefits including the amount of singles to choose from, the ability to learn important details about a person before you even talk, and the opportunity to preserve your privacy. Your approach with dating websites will be far more effective if you follow these tips:
A well written, honest profile that is upbeat is a great way to capture the attention of potential candidates that would make a good fit. Sign on regularly to look for communication from potential dates but make sure you aren't too quick to share personal information with those you meet online.
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