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Nearly 2,000 consumer complaints filed against matchmaking services in FY2016

Almost 2,000 complaints were lodged against matchmaking services in fiscal 2016, including by angry mothers and fathers who claimed the services had told them it was the "parents' fault" that their children had not married, the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (NCAC) has reported.

    According to the NCAC, more than a quarter of the 1,983 complaints involved parents who had registered their children to help them find a potential spouse.

    "Talk enough with your son or daughter before signing a contract. But if you get into trouble, contact the NCAC," a center official said.

    Customers complained that services had told them to "keep the enrollment secret" from their children for two weeks after paying a 400,000 registration fee -- longer than a legally mandated eight-day "cooling off" period during which a customer can cancel a contract valued at over 50,000 yen or more and lasting more than two months without penalty. Others claimed the services had not provided any introductions after guaranteeing parents that their child would "be able to marry the following year."

    In one case, a service introduced a foreigner as a potential match without any explanation, and then charged the parents a 2.5 million yen marriage fee. In another case, a client said they paid more than 8 million yen to one of the services.

    Matchmaking services are regulated by the Specified Commercial Transactions Act, which included the cooling-off system. However, some services have failed to pay back fees even after a customer has cancelled their contract within the cooling-off period.

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