$320,000 to look for love

A West Coast farmer has spent almost $320,000 with a dating agency – without meeting one woman.

The man from Cleve on the Eyre Peninsula, who does not wish to be identified, is taking legal action against Affinity Consulting International based in Queensland.

It has led to the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Mark Bodycoat, to issue a warning when using such agencies.

The man first contacted Affinity, which has links to the Church of Scientology, in March last year.

An agency employee is alleged to have told the farmer if he spent $5000 he would receive a “basic introduction service”, the court papers say.

He paid the money on the same day using his credit card.

The court documents say that during the next three days, he paid a further $65,000 after the employee, Shannon Courtney Grant, promised him “extra services” including that she would be his personal consultant and fly from Queensland to his home to help him produce an introduction video.

It is also alleged that later that month, Ms Grant told the man she wanted to quit her job and move in with him but she could not cease her employment until he paid Affinity more than $250,000.

In total, he claims to have paid the company $319,890 between March 13 and June 6, of last year.

He is suing the dating agency and Ms Grant in the District Court for breach of contract as well as breaching the Trade Practices Act and Fair Trading Act and is seeking unspecified damages, interest and costs.

In his statement of claim, the farmer alleges the claims made by Ms Grant that Affinity “would provide the best personal service to ensure that a client’s dream of finding their perfect partner became a reality” were “false” and “unconscionable”. The Office of Consumer and Business Affairs received 23 complaints last financial year concerning introduction agencies.

The majority of the complaints related to the failure of agencies to provide introductions as represented in the advertisements or in the contract.

Mr Bodycoat said yesterday consumers had to ask questions, shop around and find out exactly what an agency was promising to deliver before signing up.

“Most complaints focused on breach of contract issues and on failure to deliver on promises, as perceived by the client or as promised by the company,” Mr Bodycoat said.

A defence has not yet been filed. Any court date would be set after a defence is filed.

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