Friday, December 21, 2007

Counting Flowers On the Wall, and Other Amusements

It's cost me $36.00 - for which I got two derisive E-mails, several E-mails that were not at all derisive, one Yahoo mail address, one telephone number and one and half hours of conversation over cups of flat white coffee - but I've finally confirmed something I've long suspected. There's no point wasting any of my time or money on on-line dating services.

The title of this piece doesn't adequately convey my opinions or feelings about the on-line dating service I used, but I'd probably get into trouble over trademark infringement if I'd published the original title - the four-letter acronym of the service with an "ox" on the end. Those of my friends who've also resorted to on-line dating consider it the best of the commercial sites they have tried, so it might also be a little unfair.

It's obvious from the special offers I get from the service via e-mail that they have a bit of a problem attracting men to use the service. I'm not surprised by that. From this bloke's point of view the service is woeful.

What I got for my 36 bucks was three "stamps" (yes I'm talking about RSVP for anyone who hasn't guessed already) each of which entitled me to unlimited e-mail contact for one month, with one other RSVP user. Unused stamps expire if they're not used within a month. For more money than I could afford at the time I could have bought more stamps with longer life expectancies.

In contrast, I can go to any Australia Post outlet at any time and buy a book of standard paper stamps that I can stick on an envelope, also at any time, and shove in the mailbox when I get around to it. The stamps don't expire - if standard postage rates go up I can buy additional stamps, of smaller value, to top up the value of the out of date stamps I already own. Within the limits of standard envelope sizes I can put whatever I like in an envelope, address it, shove it in a post box and Australia Post will deliver it. It won't come back with a purple ink hand stamped on the front, pointing to the stamp I bought back when, with the message "This series no longer recognised".

Yes, I'm comparing snail mail with e-mail, which looks like comparing apples with oranges and if you think that, you've missed the same central point that RSVP has missed - if I prepay for a service which allows me to contact other people at my own discretion - which is where Aussie Post and RSVP are no different - I expect, quite reasonably I think, that "at my own discretion" will mean just that - not within an arbitrary time which has very obviously been designed to push me into spending more to increase both the number of people I might contact and the period over which I can do so.

I've used two of those stamps - the first in response to someone who actually initiated contact with me through an RSVP "kiss". That got me the two derisive E-Mails. The second got me the good things - the e-mails that weren't derisive and so on to the hour and half of conversation over coffee, an undertaking to get in touch again in the New Year but not the free steak knives.

And the third I simply can't be bothered using, at least not this year. I've got until the middle of January so the prospect of blowing it early in 2008 can't be ruled out. Whatever occurs, that will be me done with on-line dating.

Leaving the next appalling contrived option to sonsider - joining a book group. Not yet though. For now I think it's time to find a pack of 51 playing cards to while away the time as I wait for the skies to open and Ms Adequate to fall into my lap. It's happened once or twice before so the possibility can't be ruled out completely.

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