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Charges laid against Entre-Nous

Matchmakers charged under Ont Consumer Protection Act

 The Ontario government has laid six charges against Entre-Nous after receiving two complaints against the gay matchmaking network.

Representatives of the dating service and the government appeared in a Scarborough court Jan 19.

Entre-Nous Consulting Inc and employee Patricia Salib have both been charged under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act with two counts each of failing to deliver on a valid contract, failing to deliver a refund within 15 days and unfair practices.

“Two consumer complainants attended the office of Entre-Nous Network in Toronto, and following an intensive interview process, contracted with the company,” says Mark Skaff, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services. “The consumers paid deposits of $500 and $3,700 for the provision of a defined number of referrals to ‘suitable’ matches.”

The clients are now alleging the business didn’t live up to its matchmaking promises.

Salib and other spokespersons for Entre-Nous did not return Xtra West’s calls.

Anne Hart of the Ontario Better Business Bureau (BBB), says her office has “numerous files” concerning Entre-Nous. Ten complaints have been filed against the company in the past three years; six of them are now closed, she says.

Because Entre-Nous is a Toronto-based company, all consumer complaints about the matchmaking service in Canada are sent to Ontario’s BBB.

This is not the first time Entre-Nous has been in court.

In 2006 Terry Wong of Toronto filed a small claims suit against the company for alleged misrepresentation and allegedly failing to live up to its contractual obligations. Last June, Wong won his suit and was awarded close to half of the nearly $8,000 he claims to have paid to the dating service.

Judge R Priddle ruled that while Entre-Nous did not attempt to scam Wong, the company did not completely play fair, either.

“In this case there can be no doubt that [Entre-Nous’] form of contract is, at least in some aspects, one-sided as alleged by the plaintiff,” Priddle ruled.

But the judge also noted that Wong bore some of the responsibility.

“It would be easy to suspect that business ventures like that of [Entre-Nous] are ‘scams’ that hope to ‘fleece’ unwary and gullible customers,” wrote Priddle. “But the latter, as they become disenchanted when they discover there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, plead that they were misled and rely on common law and statutory provisions to discredit the vendors and justify refunds.”

In January 2008 a Vancouver man also filed a complaint against Entre-Nous in BC small claims court. Court documents show the plaintiff, Gregory M, was seeking compensation for the nearly $10,000 he claims to have paid Entre-Nous for matchmaking services.

In an affidavit, Gregory alleges the company misrepresented itself and lied about the number of members registered in the Vancouver area. They settled out of court five months later.

During a phone interview with Xtra West last September, Gregory confirmed that his claim against the matchmaking service had been settled, but couldn’t comment further on the details of the settlement.

Under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, the maximum fine a corporation could receive is $250,000 if convicted. The maximum penalty for an individual is $100,000 and/or up to two years less one day in jail, Skaff says.

The case returns to court Apr 20.