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Can't buy me love online

Match.com is starting to charge people to reply to potential suitors who send them e-mail, a move some subscribers worry could reduce their chances of finding a mate.

    Match.com has started charging people to reply to potential suitors who send them an e-mail, a move some subscribers worry could reduce their chances of finding a mate.

    The popular online dating service, which is one of the few profitable ventures on the Web, said it implemented the policy as it looks for new ways to make money.

    Match.com spokeswoman Kathleen Roldan said the plan could eventually improve everyone's chances of finding a date by making people more proactive in their search for love. "I haven't heard too many negative comments," she said.

    Before the change, Match.com customers had to pay only if they wanted to initiate e-mail contact with someone who posted an ad. The recipient of the e-mail could then respond for free. As a result, many people--women especially--would post ads and then sit back and wait for people to contact them, flirting, chatting and dating without ever paying a dime.

    Now Match.com is asking e-mail recipients to pony up if they want to converse with people through the service after a three-day free trial. People can still put up their profiles for free.

    But some subscribers are fretting over the move, fearing that forcing recipients to pay will discourage people from responding to them. Todd Nelson, a 42-year-old software engineer and Match.com subscriber, said he hasn't gotten any responses to the e-mails he's sent since the service's new policy went into effect. Nelson said he's angry because the terms of his contract were changed midway through his one-year contract, which expires in March. "I won't be renewing," he said.

    Several sites, including Yahoo Personals, one of Match.com's biggest competitors, still don't require e-mail recipients to pay.

    Match.com's Roldan, however, said the company thinks the move will become a trend among online dating services looking to further bolster their bottom line.