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$2,700 Dating Service Called a Boondoggle

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CN) - The dating service It's Just Lunch! is "a massive scheme to defraud single professionals," and its services "are not only grossly deficient and substandard in almost every aspect, but are simply not what the company promised them," a class action claims.

Lead plaintiff Sarah Dunphy sued It's Just Lunch! in Bergen County Court, along with its corporate parent Riverside Partners and director Loren Schlachet.

Dunphy claims she paid $2,700 for the service, only to be provided with men who were married, unemployed and otherwise unsuitable.

The company claims on its website to be "the world's #1 personal matchmaking service," and that it provides "personalized matchmaking & dating services," "quality matches" and "guaranteed dates."

Dunphy claims that "defendants market and sell their Internet dating service as one that is tailored to the needs and desires of busy and successful professionals who do not have the time to search for interesting, like-minded individuals."

It's Just Lunch promises that its matchmaking service "will take the legwork out of dating by outsourcing the search to insightful professional matchmakers [who] will hand-select matches for you based on the information we discuss in your interview and our teams' skilled and successful matchmaking abilities!" according to the lawsuit.

"The truth is, however, that defendants do no 'legwork,' and defendants do not 'hand select' any individuals," the class claims. "Instead, dates are chosen at random, and the dating pool is not based upon any special criteria or demographic."

Dunphy claims that the company "almost completely ignores the customer's stated preferences. Rather, the company forces its IJL franchises to make matches which are driven entirely by monthly quota requirements, and which wholly and categorically disregard the customer's stated interests and preferences."

She claims that while It's Just Lunch claims to hire staff members with "years of experience," it "routinely hires staff members who have no experience, training, or background whatsoever in the field of matchmaking."

"Staff at IJL franchises use a basic scripted sales pitch to uniformly and routinely make the same misrepresentations of fact to prospective customers," which include claims that the company "already has several so-called 'perfect' matches in its database for the customer when in fact no such matches exist," according to the complaint.

Dunphy says the company makes many other misrepresentations about its service, including that is has "thousands of available members in the customer's city, when in fact there are only hundreds or even fewer members available in that city."

She says the company claims that it "has an equal percentage of men and women in its system, when in fact the number of women is grossly disproportionate to the number of men in the system."

She claims that It's Just Lunch claims to be "selective" in whom it allows to become members but then "accepts any and all persons who are willing to pay its fees." Finally, Dunphy says, the company claims to "carefully match its customers with other members, when in fact the matches are made at random and are often done by individuals who have never even met the customer."

Dunphy says she spent $2,700 on the service, but "after being set up with several 'matches,' [she] realized that defendants' services were grossly deficient and substandard in almost every aspect." She claims that the defendants "blatantly misrepresented the nature and quality of the services that they provided, as well as the qualifications of other members in the system."

She says she "was specifically victimized by misrepresentations concerning both the marital and employment status of dates arranged by defendants."

And, she claims, It's Just Lunch is violating New Jersey's Internet Dating Safety Act, which "mandates that Internet dating services issue certain warnings concerning the dangers of Internet dating, and certain advice on how one can protect oneself from such dangers."

The act states that any Internet dating service operating in the state "must make certain specific disclosures about whether it conducts criminal background screenings on those who subscribe to the service." Dunphy claims It's Just Lunch doesn't do that.

Finally, she claims that "IJL corporate has also been the subject of a consumer-fraud investigation conducted by," which found that it misled customers about its service, business practices and membership.

It's Just Lunch did not respond to a request for comment.

Dunphy seeks class certification and damages for fraud and unjust enrichment.

She is represented by William Pinilis with Pinilis Halpern of Morristown, N.J.

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