In New York City, Janis Spindel, who charges clients between $50,000 and $500,000 a year to find the "woman of their dreams," says membership jumped 41% in 2009 from the year before and is up 46% so far this year. Premier Match, a New York City–based agency where annual membership costs a minimum of $5,500, logged $1.5 million in sales last year, a 30% increase from the previous year. Founder Christie Nightingale says her business "hasn't faced the recession."
The rationales quoted are the usual, familiar to any Bravo viewer: the clients are "too busy" to date; they're wary of "gold-diggers," they presumably want it all in a woman - and are used to paying for what they want. These businesses frequently seem to combine the familiar - a know-it-all "yenta" type - with the trappings of modern business-speak. (Richard Easton plays the other side of the coin, being a between-us-guys all-business type.) If you're so-inclined, there's an ever-widening pool of upscale matchmaking options, from those who promise beauties to those who provide psychological insight in their pairings. But caveat emptor: not shockingly, big bucks don't automatically equal lifelong bliss. Says Time,
Last year the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) received 2,519 complaints from disgruntled customers of matchmaking businesses, up 4% from the previous year, helping put dating services - both online and offline - among the top 100 industries that consumers complain about. "Complaints to BBB about high-priced matchmakers are often very impassioned," says Alison Southwick, a spokesperson for BBB. "Imagine shelling out thousands of dollars and in return getting set up on a date with a married man."
Of course, the obvious question is: why the upswing, and why now? Are those who've stayed employed working extra-hard? Is there suddenly a surfeit of "golddiggers" that these self-proclaimed catches need to avoid? Or could it be that more qualified people, with experience in consulting, recruitment or head-hunting, have seen the opportunities inherent in this line of work? It's hard to believe that the recent barrage of matchmaking reality television has been anything but a run-in-the-opposite-direction deterrant, but who knows? After all, the mayor of Seaside Heights, NJ has called Snooki's arrest for drunken buffoonery good PR for the town.
$100,000 Matchmaker, Make Me A Match [Time]