Edmonton

Edmonton Matchmakers employee pleads not guilty to high-pressure sales tactics

An employee of an Edmonton dating service has pleaded not guilty to a charge under the Fair Trading Act.

Case is scheduled to go to trial in January 2019

Service Alberta is investigating four other complaints about Edmonton Matchmakers. (CBC Edmonton)

An employee of an Edmonton dating service is fighting a charge under the province's Fair Trading Act.

Sharon Jones of Edmonton Matchmakers pleaded not guilty to a charge of exerting undue pressure on consumers to enter into a transaction. The plea was entered July 26 in a provincial courtroom in Edmonton.

In total, three charges were laid in May. But the Crown has withdrawn two of those charges on the basis that a conviction would be unlikely, said a spokesperson for Alberta Justice. The dropped charges included entering into a transaction representing services that could not be supplied and knowing the consumer would be unable to receive a reasonable beneift.

The charges were the result of an investigation by Service Alberta after two disgruntled customers told their stories to CBC. Among other allegations, they accused the company of high-pressure sales tactics and charging exorbitant fees while producing few prospective matches.

One customer said her only date involved a "partially toothless" man who turned out to be unemployed and homeless.

A conviction for the remaining offence carries a maximum penalty of $300,000 and two years in jail.

Jones' trial is scheduled for January of 2019. 

The province initially identified the accused as Claire Jones but has since said her legal first name is Sharon.

Edmonton Matchmakers was still operating when CBC visited its office two weeks ago. The company has not responded to CBC requests for comment.

Service Alberta is investigating four other complaints against the company and one former client is suing the firm.