Consumer Reports Survey Finds Online Dating Can be Frustrating, Time-Consuming, but also Produce Long-Term Results

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Popular Free Dating Sites OkCupid, Tinder and Grindr did marginally better than paid sites.

Dating in the digital age is big business, with daters turning to a slew of popular apps and sites in the hopes of finding that very special someone. The chances they will find someone are good, according to Consumer Reports, which discovered a substantial 44 percent of survey respondents who tried online dating said the experience led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage.

Consumer Reports surveyed almost 115,000 subscribers about online dating--a subset of some 9,600 respondents who used an online dating service in the past two years rated the sites for effectiveness and value. Traditionally well known for reviewing products (like refrigerators) and services (like banking), the survey was new territory for the nonprofit organization, which learned from the survey that 20 percent of respondents are either divorced or have never married and may benefit from the investigation.

Readers were asked to rate sites and apps based on overall satisfaction and satisfaction with the quantity of matches, quality of matches, amount of information provided about the potential dates, value, ease of sign-up/profile setup, ease of making changes, search features, filter features, privacy settings, appearance, and messaging features. Popular free sites OkCupid, Tinder and Grindr received marginally higher ratings than paid sites. Ashley Madison, which had one of the highest fees for some of its services, was among the lowest scoring online dating services.

“While the prospects of finding a long-term match were surprisingly good amongst our survey respondents, our survey suggests that online dating can be as frustrating and emotionally fraught as off line dating” said Margot Gilman, Consumer Reports Money Content Development Team Leader.

While long-term success is possible, our ratings suggest online dating can also be highly frustrating. Respondents gave online dating services the lowest satisfaction scores Consumer Reports has ever seen.

Complete ratings, survey results, and a field guide to popular dating sites are available at CR.org, or on newsstands in the Consumer Reports February 2017 issue.

Disappointment was inevitable but also expected. CR’s survey found that among those reluctant to try online dating, 21 percent of women and 9 percent of men said it was because they knew someone who had a bad experience. The survey also found that twenty-eight percent of online daters who used more than one service tried four or more.

CR’s survey shows some consumers are concerned about dipping into Cupid’s digital world because they fear being scammed The survey found among respondents hesitant to try online dating, 56 percent of women and 41 percent of men had this worry. But the story suggests ways to protect yourself.

“If a person you haven’t met face to face wants to quickly leave the dating site’s messaging app—and the privacy it offers—to talk by phone or send messages to your email address, that can be a red flag,” Gilman says. “Beware of ensuing pleas for money that might involve expenses for family members, medical problems, or a business deal gone sour.”

For daters ready to commit to online matchmaking, CR recommends the following tips to help craft a better profile:

•Use recent pictures, ones taken within the past 12 months, maximum. Everyone needs at least one good, close-up headshot.
•Consider tone. You don’t want your profile to sound like a résumé or to come across as bragging about how wonderful you are. Show that you’re human and humble through a joke, a self-effacing story, or a humorous anecdote.
•Get the reader’s attention on your profile by keeping it brief but interesting.
•To make a strong first impression, do more than use a string of adjectives describing yourself. Instead, describe your best qualities using anecdotes.
•Never lie about your age or what you do for a living.

Consumer Reports online dating services ratings are based on 9,636 Consumer Reports subscribers who completed the 2016 Online Dating Survey. Respondents told CR about their experience with one or two dating websites or apps between 2014 and 2016. The survey reflects 13,532 ratings.

The complete article, including dating websites and apps ratings and online dating tips, is available at CR.org, or on newsstands in the February 2017 issue.

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About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit, consumer organization working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has achieved substantial gains for consumers on health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other issues. The organization has advanced important policies to cut hospital-acquired infections, prohibit predatory lending practices and combat dangerous toxins in food. Consumer Reports tests and rates thousands of products and services in its 50-plus labs, state-of-the-art auto test center and consumer research center. Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, works for pro-consumer laws and regulations in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. With more than eight million subscribers to its flagship magazine, website and other publications, Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, payment or other support from the companies whose products it evaluates.
FEBRUARY 2017

© 2016 Consumer Reports. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®, ConsumerReports.org® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

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Rocio Guzman
Consumers Union
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