For more than $450 a date, Sherri Ferrara expected a gentleman. Someone tall and worldly.
At minimum, she expected someone who wouldn’t cuss up a storm and come to dinner in flip flops.
But that was one of several issues Ferrara, 57, had while using the international matchmaking service It’s Just Lunch. Another man didn’t show up to their scheduled date. A third appeared to be a fraud, which Ferrara discovered doing her own research. Now she’s suing the company to try and get back the $2,800 she spent on membership, saying It’s Just Lunch didn’t meet their promised services.
“I cannot believe this is the type of service that you would provide, let alone charge for,” she wrote in an email to a company matchmaker. “You said you vetted potential matches and this is the type of gentleman you ‘matched’ me up with?”
Ferrara, who filed the lawsuit without a lawyer and declined to comment to the Tampa Bay Times while the case is active, is not the only one who has been left unsatisfied by the dating service, which has 10 Florida offices. A Tampa office has a 'C' rating on Better Business Bureau, which closed out eight complaints against the company in the last year.
It’s Just Lunch calls itself a “dating concierge,” searching and setting up dates to minimize the time needed on the customer’s end.
The Miramar office for It’s Just Lunch International has an ‘F’ rating with the Better Business Bureau. In the past year, it closed out 41 complaints against the company -- with 106 complaints over three years. Most echo the same argument: That the person offered as a date didn’t meet their criteria, that matchmakers from the company were hard to get in touch with, that they were passed off from person to person within the company and that they didn’t get the full amount of dates promised in their contract.
One complaint said her match had nothing in common with her despite what the company said.
“He lacked etiquette, dinner etiquette, and he took off his shirt as he walked me to the car,” they wrote.
And at the bottom of several complaints, where customers demand a refund, It’s Just Lunch denies it. The Tampa Bay Times tried multiple times to reach the company by telephone but could not get a comment.
The company has been sued before and lost a class action lawsuit that argued It’s Just Lunch didn’t take dating preferences into account and overcharged for the service. Anyone who had been a member after October 2001 who hadn’t gotten a refund could collect from the settlement.
The chance to claim ended on Dec. 10. Ferrara’s lawsuit was filed in Pinellas County on Dec. 19.
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Online reviews for the company vary. Many echo what Florida customers complained about and what was in the class action suit, saying dates were not actually handpicked for their preferences like the website promises. Other reviews are glowing, saying their matchmakers helped them find interesting people they wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Ferrara’s contract said she could get either six dates or six months of use, whichever comes later.
“All dates will be within the criteria provided by Client at the time of joining with respect to age, religion and parental status,” the contract says.
She hasn’t gotten her $2,800 back yet. But her matchmaker, after the second botched date, sent Ferrara a $25 Amazon gift card.