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Using an introduction or dating service

Introduction and dating services can help you meet new people. If you are thinking about joining up:

  • look closely at the different agencies
  • find out what type of service they have to offer
  • ask to see the licence of any introduction agent.

Licensing

An introduction service needs to have a valid licence before they can work.

Once a business has a licence, they must:

  • follow certain rules
  • show their licence number on their advertising and website.

Exceptions

They do not need a licence if they:

  • are a community and non-profit organisation
  • organise other public events such as dances
  • are a prostitution service.

A business doesn’t need a licence to publish or broadcast (such as a website, newspaper or television advertisement) a list of people looking for a relationship, as long as:

  • there is a way for you to contact other participants directly (you don’t need to contact the business to get the contact details of the other participants)

and either

  • they charge you less than $100
    or
  • it’s only a one-off service.

Contracts and payments

Disclosure statement

By law, the business must give you a disclosure statement before you sign a contract. This will set out what services they will give you under the contract.

It must include:

  • who they are
  • what type and levels of service they will provide
  • what criteria they use to match clients
  • how they introduce clients
  • how their complaint procedure works
  • what else you must do.

It also outlines the costs to you. This includes:

  • how much each level of service costs
  • how and when you will need to pay
  • what their refund policy is, including when they will give a refund
  • how much you must pay to end the contract early
  • You have the right to cancel the contract if they don’t do this properly.

Contract

You must sign a contract (‘introduction agreement’) with the business before they do any service for you.

The contract will set out:

  • the cooling-off period
  • their cancellation terms
  • the full details of their services
  • the payment details.

Read the contract carefully so that you know exactly what you are paying for. The business must give you a signed copy to keep.

You have the right to cancel the contract if they don’t do this properly.

Cooling-off period

The law gives you a cooling-off period of 3 business days. During this time, you can change your mind about the agreement.

If you cancel during the cooling-off period, they must refund:

  • all of the money you have paid—less a cancellation fee
  • within 7 days of receiving their notice.

You have the right to cancel the contract if they don’t do this properly.

Payments

They must not demand more than 30% of the price upfront if:

  • the price for the single agreement is $500 or more
  • you paid them $500 or more in the past 30 days (as a total of all agreements)
  • you paid $2,500 or more in the past 12 months (as a total of all agreements).

You can pay the rest, either:

  • at the end of the agreement
  • in equal instalments during the term of the agreement.

Example:

If the contract is $3,000 for 12 months, they must not accept more than $900 upfront.

The balance is $2,100. You can negotiate with the business to pay the balance, either:

  • at the end of the agreement
  • in 12 equal, monthly instalments of $175.

Cancellations

If the business breaks the law

You have the right to cancel without penalty if the business:

  • does not give you the disclosure statement
  • does not get you to sign a contract before you use their service
  • asks for more money than legally allowed.

During the cooling-off period

You can cancel during the cooling-off period for any reason. If you do, the business can charge a cancellation fee.

This fee cannot be more than:

  • $50 (for contracts over $500)
  • 10% of the contract price (for contracts under $500).

Other reasons

If you want to cancel for any other reason, you will need to read the terms and conditions. You may need to pay a fee.