Ethics? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Ethics!

After some very intense and lengthy discussions on this blog about overweight women, the definition of patriarchy, and the value of hooking up, I wanted to take things down a notch.

Witness this site, which is a sign that the apocalypse is upon us. I kid, but not really.

Essentially, the folks at Virtual Dating Assistants profess to do everything that I do as a dating coach – except instead of teaching you how to do it yourself – as I do, they do it for you!

Yes, for only $480.00 a month, you can have an unskilled laborer put in 40 hours a month (at $12/hr with no overhead, apparently) into your online dating love life. For this, you are guaranteed at least two dates per month, and years and years of bad karma. I only have two words for you: Awe. Some.

Finally, the rich and busy lazy can just sit back and just marvel as their calendars magically fill up. All your Virtual Dating Assistant has to do is talk to you for a half-hour on the phone, and he will then know enough about you to write your profile, your headline, a few “initial contact templates”, and all of the future emails that you’ll want to send to attract your future life partner.

Says the website, “Once an interesting candidate is qualified, your 007 Dating Assistant works to stimulate interest, build comfort, and flip her attraction switches.” These guys must really know what they’re doing! I dated for 15 years and I have NO IDEA where these switches are located.

And lest you think you have to DO anything except give your credit card, your VDA will actually set up the date for you. No joke. The email correspondence, the dinner reservations, everything.

You just read your “pre-date executive brief”, charm her pants off, and rest easy, knowing that you may be going to hell, but at least you’ve saved time by subcontracting the most personal of interactions.

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Rodrigo

    People this is clearly a play on the fact that online dating is just a means to meet people and that is what Virtual Assistants is doing. I read complaints about people not being like they advertised online before. This won’t make it worst it will just make people actually get up and meet more people. If your going to draw your own conclusion when you meet them in person anyways. Regardless of what might have been said online, then what is everyone complaining about? OMG people lie… what a revelation… at least they are getting of their ass and meeting more and more people. It comes down to a numbers game. The more people you actually meet in person, the more probable it is that you are going to meet someone that really moves you. Now if you are picky online and never actually give the real person a chance the only thing you are doing is judging without really knowing. So if they get people to meet it is a great things under my standards. I can see why dating coaches would be threatened by this type of service.. because it eats into their profits… thats the bottom line here. But some competition will make them re think their strategy and pricing. The company virtualdatingassitents combined coaching with profile creation. They do both and if coaches find themselves without a job they can always ask them for one. With a VA excuses are out… its dating time and socialization is the name of the game. For some people online is just not the way they do things.. not only that but they just don’t get it. So are they supposed to not get dates just cause they don’t know how to use technology? hmmm
    I find it pitiful that coaches have to come down to slander tactics to try to keep their clients and make them feel bad of what they are doing?? that is crap.. who do you think you are? the church? Get real people… this is exactly what was said about online dating 5 years ago.. Oh no its going to crumble society as we know it..Come ON… ” Maybe going to hell??” I haven’t laughed so hard in a while. half a brain will tell you that its a service and like any other service it is based on a necessity. So people should not blame the service but human beings if it comes to that.

    1. 31.1
      starthrower68

      Rodrigo,

      Not that Evan needs me to stick up for him, but I will anyway.

      Here’s where VA can’t touch what Evan does: if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach him HOW to fish, he eats for a lifetime. You are merely handing him a fish; Evan teaches him how to fish.

      And why not just hire a bunch of women and men for VA clientele to date? Or is that already going on?

      1. 31.1.1
        Joe

        I’m sure the business model of the Virtual Dating Assistant is counting on the fact that they are not teaching the client to fish on his or her own…

  2. 32
    Steve

    Donna Jun 10th 2009 at 11:21 am 29
    I think it’s unethical to trash another website.

    Why?

    Professors criticize other professor’s professional writing. Journalists criticize other journalists opinions. People talk about books, etc…

  3. 33
    Steve

    @Rodrigo post #31

    Hey Rodrigo, are you affiliated with the site in question or a similar site?

    FWIW, Evan’s is only one opinion in this thread. The people commenting on his post don’t seem to think much of the VA system and they aren’t dating coaches whose jobs are threatened either, they are just regular people.

  4. 34
    Curly Girl

    Do you get the feeling that people from the VA site are posting on here?

  5. 35
    Jennifer

    I always like to speak on the phone with someone *at least* once before going on a date with them- I wonder how the VA gets around that?

  6. 36
    Evan Marc Katz

    3 Things:

    1) I highly encourage anyone who thinks that it’s a good idea to have a man from India do your online dating for you to sign up for this service. Seriously. Enjoy.

    2) My clientele and readers are unique in their intelligence and integrity. You won’t find many takers here, Rodrigo.

    3) Logically, if I felt like my job was threatened, do you think I would actually link to the site?

    Ciao for now.

  7. 37
    Rodrigo

    Ok first of all what now everyone that express a different opinion works for VA?? second of all Steve one thing is criticism another is slander… when you put ethics and karma and all that crap in a buisiness review.. that goes more into the slander column.
    Three that company has nothing to do with India… they are outsourcing nowhere near there, so I don’t know where you are drawing your conclusions from.

  8. 38
    Zann

    Hey, I don’t want to sound like Evan’s personal cheerleading squad, but this Virtual Dating service sounds very different from one that provides date coaching. With coaching, you may learn dating skills, improved communication, but you also learn about yourself and what barriers are keeping you from finding successful intimate relationships. But Virtual Dating almost sounds like the opposite. It says: Don’t change a thing, Pal. You can keep all those annoying, obnoxious, lazy and offensive habits you have, and we’ll STILL find some poor sucker to go out with you. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll find you another, and another! As long as you keep those checks rolling in.

    This service is offering simple time & task management. But if I don’t have enough time or smarts to do my own looking, choosing, and setting up my own dates, then I have no business dating. I mean, what’s next? Sending in a sub to handle the foreplay? I’m not convinced this is so much an “ethics” issue as it is a testament to just how busy and important some people think they have to be. If I want to date badly enough and am intrigued enough, I will make the time to meet a guy, and I don’t want to meet someone who considers himself too busy to spend the time to get me to that point. And if he’s too awkward or indifferent to do the necessary background work, the pursuing, the intriguing, how is that going to work once we meet? Someone is trying to make a buck by providing a service that they believe has a market. Nothing wrong with that — it’s the American way. We’re a capitalist society. If this provider turns out to be shabby, unprofessional, or a rip off, they won’t last.

  9. 39
    Evan Marc Katz

    From their website: “Although my lovely wife Tricia opted out of helping build this business in order to focus all of her time on our children and home, I will never forget what she said when I told her on the third date that my all pre-first date email correspondences were sent by my favorite virtual assistant in India “If that wasn’t the most outrageous way a guy has ever gotten me on a date, I think I might be right now!”

  10. 40
    Jennifer

    @Rodrigo #37- It’s actually not slander. Evan isn’t knowingly making any false statements about the site/company. The fact that he actually links to it and invites his readers to have a look and draw theri own conclusions is another point for him in the non-slander column.

  11. 41
    E. Foley - Geek's Dream Girl

    I’ve mentioned this on a couple other posts about this service already, but this totally reeks of Pickup “Artist” to me. Instead of handpicking singles that are a good match for their clients and helping their clients to write appropriate and attractive first contact emails, I feel like this is going to be a game of “Let’s see how many hotties we can bag in a month.”

    E. Foley – Geek’s Dream Girl´s last blog post…Seth Godin, Cat Food, and Your Online Dating Profile

  12. 42
    Steve

    @ Rodrigo, post #37

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure “slander” is a false oral statement about a person or a group. “Libel”, is a false written statement about a person or a group.

    Evan wrote his blog post so libel might apply if he wrote anything that was not true about your site. I don’t think he made any false “factual” claims about your site. Evan, is also not the only person expressing a negative opinion. There are also several commentators in this thread doing that.

    I’m not a marketing professional, nor do I play one on TV.

    However, I think you are making your business look worse by coming onto a web site shooting the breeze about it and crying “unfair!”. From a marketing standpoint I think your best bet would be to hire someone with writing skills far better than mine to proofread your site. Once that is done, should you feel the need to defend you business on someone else’s web site I would recommend doing so in a gracious manor, possibly quoting success rates and offering deals.

  13. 43
    Steve

    @Donna & @Rodrigo ;

    To be completely honest I don’t like it when people try make other people feel ashamed about expressing an opinion about a web site on the web.

    See post #32. I don’t there is a precedent for it being unethical, beyond someone’s ( the owner of the site in question usually ) feelings being hurt.

    People ( at least those in the U.S., within certain confines ) have the right to express their opinions.

  14. 45
    Lance

    Zann in #38 tripped an idea, what if a user is interested in trying online dating but that person is completely clueless about computers and navigating a dating site? Then, it would make sense to have a virtual assistant handle that. I could totally see older singles utilizing this service. Putting the questionable copy of the site aside, I think this is just another niche service that has some kind of audience.

    Lance´s last blog post…How Much Do I Invest in Someone Else?

  15. 46
    Scott Valdez, Co-Founder of Virtual Dating Assistants

    Hello Everyone,

    First of all, let me say thank you for the attention EMK. As negative as it may have been, we see any mention of what we’re doing by leading names in the industry as a good sign (and great feedback), especially since we just officially opened shop today.

    We didn’t expect any matchmakers or date coaches that make money off of introducing men to women or teaching them how to meet women online to be happy to hear that we are entering into their territory with a unique and slightly controversial service that could soak up some of their business (I know if a new outsourcing sector forms for online dating it probably won’t hurt businesses like EMK’s that much but it still could make a difference). The only complaint that I have so far is that I wouldn’t have expected EMK, a respectable figure in the industry, to go as far as to say our clients “may be going to hell” (that’s a very harsh statement where I come from) and call our employees unskilled before they have even had a chance to serve a client.

    And on that note, our employees are not in India. The fact that my partner Mark used a VA in India a number of years back does not mean we set up shop in India for this business. In actuality, our unskilled employees could be from your neighborhood. We are strategically off-shored in Buenos Aires, which is currently the top metropolis for expats in the Americas, and only native English speakers will be interfacing with clients and communicating online. They are highly skilled but we can pay them less because their living expenses here are a fraction of what they would be there. Although the men we are targeting for this service care primarily about saving valuable time or creating time they don’t have in the first place, I don’t think anyone minds a company’s cost savings being transferred on to them.

    And just to set the record straight, Rodrigo does not work for us. He posted those messages before we had even read these blog post comments. I am slightly impressed that he did his research. To my knowledge, our location is only posted publicly online in one spot (see if you can find it and then follow us ;). It’s not that we were trying to hide that we are in Buenos Aires. It’s just that it doesn’t really matter where we are as long as we provide the level of service that our clients expect and demand.

    Anyway, I really hope using our service doesn’t send you to hell or, as an owner, I don’t think I’m going to be able to talk God out of his decision at Heaven’s gates. Also, I will tell my employees that they should ignore your remarks in case they get offended easier than I do. No hard feelings though I really do appreciate all the feedback you all have offered and may still have to share. Comment strings over the last week like this one serve as invaluable marketing research. We have already started considering some basic strategic shifts before the close of our first day in operation based on this kind of feedback.

    Please feel free to get in touch with us or check our website occasionally to see our company develops. We are exciting about the challenges we have ahead of us and are looking forward to some exciting years in the online dating industry.

    Regards,

    Scott Valdez
    Co-Founder of Virtual Dating Assistants LLC

    PS – Thank you to whoever took the time to send the link to this blog post to us through the form on our website. Otherwise, we may have not found it.

  16. 47
    Evan Marc Katz

    A very diplomatic and reasonable response, Scott. Readers, anyone want to take the plunge and let me know how it goes?

  17. 48
    Steve

    Scott;

    With all due respect, it does matter where you are located. There is a lot of anger in the US today about US CEOs and the upper classes taking economic opportunities away from Americans. Personally, I also find it distasteful how people own ever less of what they do.

    It is not their responsibility for that action, its corporate policy. That shoddy work isn’t our fault, that came from our contractor.

    Now you are trying to move this alienating aspect of modern life into one of the most intimate areas of life.

    No thank you.

    BTW, please don’t insult our intelligence.

    No business goes to the trouble and expense to establish operations overseas for the sake of their customers.

    Additionally, even super loyal customers don’t go out of their way to shill the way Rodrigo did for your site. This would be even more true considering your business is targeted at men who don’t even have the time to write their own emails. Someone at your company shot his mouth off. Judging from the style of writing it was the same person who wrote the copy for your web site.

    I find the idea of your business model to be odious.

    I don’t know who you are, but as a human being it is my hope your business does not succeed, but that you succeed and achieve happiness in your life.

  18. 49
    Curly Girl

    Sigh. And I thought this was going to be a calm and boring thread.

  19. 50
    Steve

    @Lance, post #45

    I can’t agree with you buddy. I worked my way through college as a computer lab assistant. I’ve worked in companies for over 10 years that have had every mix of tech savy and non-savy people.

    My father who is in his 70s went to school when the only people who learned how to type were women who wanted to be secretaries. He was one of the most techphobic I’ve come across. He bought an iMac last year and is now emailing me.

    Based on my experience, anyone young at heart enough to date likely already has basic internet skills and if not, has the chutzpah to pick them up fairly quickly ( and at a significant savings from having Scott’s company cut their tofu for them ).

    Okay, I’m starting to come off like a curmudgeon. I’m too young and quite frankly, too handsome to let that happen. :-)

    Have a good spring evening everyone!

  20. 51
    Janet

    On a completely unrelated topic, and hoping that going off point here will serve: Halfway through “Self-Made Man.” Fascinating!!! So a big thanks to whoever recommended this book.

    EMK, you should read this. It will help you so much in your work.

    Just kidding! :)

  21. 52
    Steve

    @Janet post #51

    You have Erika to thank ( post #34 http://tinyurl.com/n8j8eq ). I’m finishing off my half-reads so I can read it too. I’m surprised to learn that my library system actually has a number of copies.

  22. 53
    LK

    Dear Scott,

    I am an actively dating 32yo single woman in NYC who is looking for an honest, genuine, trusting, personal connection. I would be mortified if I found out that my date used this sort of Cyrano-gone-awry “service” you are providing. There is enough deception in online dating as it is. The last thing I need is a third party manufacturing false emotional connections via email and luring me in as an unsuspecting suspect.

    It’s hard enough to trust what people have to say as it is. That is, I suspect, one of my primary roadblocks to finding a relationship in NYC. Your “service” is simply adding fuel to this fire in my opinion. I hope you find a more productive entrepreneurial venue because as a participant in this market I hope your current service does not survive.

    I found it fascinating that your reply primarily addresses the PR you’ve received from Evan’s post and misconceptions about the location of your business. You don’t address the heart of the matter, which is that your business is contributing to lying and deception in the online dating industry.

    LK

    ————————-

    Dear Evan,

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention so that I can keep an eye out for it during my ongoing dating trials and tribulations! As much as I feel a bit battle-weary from dating, I have generally been pretty good at weeding out people who falsely represent themselves. I will just have to screen for this as well.

    LK

  23. 54
    Selena

    What I find curious about this service is that it selects profiles of “beautiful” women for their male clients from other dating sites. So, presumably they might be sending similar VA emails to the same women on the behalf of different male clients. Wouldn’t the women start noticing the similarity in the communications? Wouldn’t it start to appear that they were receiving essentially “form letters” in their inbox? Some women might catch on to this, and start automatically dismissing the men because of it, no?

  24. 55
    Joe

    Let’s see if these tags work…
    [quote]I think you the germ of a great Bollywood romantic comedy[/quote]
    Very funny outline there, Steve!

    Scott, AFAIK EMK is not a matchmaker and does not introduce men to women.

  25. 56
    Joe

    Gah, so much for quote tags.

  26. 58
    Fount

    Scott: “Another difference between their service and ours is that many of our clients are dating without marriage being the main goal…. many do not have expectations aside from having a great time with a hot date.”

    Evan: “You just read your pre-date executive brief, charm her pants off, and rest easy, knowing that you may be going to hell, but at least you’ve saved time by subcontracting the most personal of interactions.”

    Scott, I think if a guy is -that- lazy, he might as well just hook up with a hot call-girl – for a fraction of price of what you are charging (especially if he’s in South America, there are some really hot Latinos whores).

    First off, her attraction switch is already on, no need for the 40-hour work per month from you, that is a waste of time and efficiency. Secondly, he will get instant gratification on his needs, for only a fraction of the cost. Last but not least, no one will feel “immoral” or “cheated” if both side already knew that the long term commitment is nowhere on the agenda.

    1. 58.1
      starthrower68

      Hmmmm….wonder what the legalities are of an ex-patriate escort service? This might explain why the company was uh, vague about their location?

  27. 59
    Selena

    #58

    “many do not have expectations aside from having a great time with a hot date.

    Yeah, that does sound like an escort service doesn’t it?

    You’re way off about the “fraction of the price” thing though Fount.

  28. 60
    Steve

    @Joe post #56. Try HTML tags instead of BBCode. In general most blogs use basic HTML. Web boards use BBCode.

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