(The following is fiction.)
Suppose you visit a dating site and you are a guy. (But you could be a girl. My remarks pertain to you as well.)
You see profiles of pretty girls. The site makes money by charging you $1 to send a message to her. That’s really steep. Unlimited email has been free for over 20 years. This itself is a bad sign.
You make your profile on the site. A spunky messages you. She’s slim & curvy and literate. No typos in her message. She made the first move. Wow! To you as a bloke that’s unusual and flattering. You decide to reply, even if it’s $1. You find out that you have to buy $25 worth of their coins, which are a fake currency usable only on their site. Ok, the girl is so cute. You hope she is real. You pay with your credit card. You send her a message. You just spent $1.
She replies promptly. She’s online! Way to go!
Naturally you press your luck. A metaphor of your intent. You send a second message. $2 spent. And so on. Sometimes the girl will entertain you with sexual hints. Soon you have spent all the coins. Maybe in a day or 2.
Guess what. While that was going on, another girl made her first move on you. Is this your good luck or what?
It’s what. Over a few weeks you might have spent $hundreds on several girls. None of them ever use email with you. They invariably say — later, when they feel more comfortable. And they never respond to doing a voice chat or live video. Eventually you realise they never will. You find that in the Terms of Service for the site, which you never read when you signed up, the girls are actors. They only interact with you on the site. They are paid to keep you there.
But there is a way to get some of your money back if you do so promptly after you stop buying the site’s coins. You paid with a credit or debit card. Login to your card account and write down the days when you bought coins, and the amounts, which are $25 each time in this case.
Call the number on your card. Tell them there are unauthorised transactions and you want to do chargebacks. Plural. Now here you have choices. Suppose there were $25 charges on 17, 18, 20, 21, 24, 27 November. Tell the bank that you authorised the charges on 17, 20 and 24 November. But the charges on 18, 21 and 27 November were unauthorised. The bank asks if you had first talked to the merchant. You say yes. You called them and questioned those unauthorised charges. They told you that there was a software bug. An inadvertant double billing. Essentially, they pressed the enter key twice on your actual purchases. Sorry about that, they said. But they will fix it. This seemed plausible to you, you tell the bank, so you waited.
Sadly the site did not refund you those 3 cases. So now you are talking to your bank. You may have to give your story a few times. Keep it consistent.
If you have not been making many or any chargebacks on your card before, this helps your case. The bank is very unlikely to call the merchant. But what if they do? The merchant says they disagree with your story. The bank has to decide who to believe. You are their customer. The merchant is not. This is an inherent bias in your favour.
If the bank is also where you have checking or savings accounts, they will likely check your bahaviour with those. It helps if you have been a long standing customer and have not written bad checks. These are circumstantial things.
Another twist. The dating site might actually be associated with a prostitution business in Europe, where prostitution is largely legal. Check this. When you talk to the bank, point this out. Say that you understand it’s legal in Europe, but bring this up as a “casual” conversational point to lessen the site’s reputation to the bank.
Check also where the site is domiciled. Is it a place like Lagos, Nigeria. Or Cayman Islands. Or Crete. Bring it up with the bank.
If the site already has many complaints online, point these out to the bank. And this also increase the chances that the site has several chargebacks with the bank on its record. Eventually if a merchant has too many chargebacks, the bank will stop letting its customers be billed. How many is too many is up to the bank. But legitimate merchants and this site are well aware of this.
The bank might ask you to send it a letter outlining your reasons for chargebacks. Mostly just for its records. They might put this as a hurdle to discourage some chargebacks. No big deal. Play this to your advantage. In the letter, give the links to review sites that have many negative reviews of the dating site. These buttress your case.
The above is a conservative suggestion, to get back half your money by saying the other half was a double billing. You can play it a bit softly by not accusing the site of anything too bad. Say that you believe the site’s story about a computer bug. And that they are just tardy about refunding.
If you want to, get more aggressive about the chargebacks.
Problem? Well the site’s business model is based on deceiving guys. Like Ashley Madison, which admitted to recruiting girls to be falsely looking for guys on their site.