But when he paid the money and logged back on, he was crushed to discover that not a single one of the profiles he’d been shown could be contacted.

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Searchmate had so far suggested four – two of whom she’d already seen on rival site Plentyoffish.com, a free site, and who had both already declined to date her.

In November she received a letter from a Searchmate adviser saying that her membership was “not progressing as expected”.

In total, the site offered the man four suitable profiles “in his area” – none of which met his criteria.

One of them lived hundreds of miles away in Ireland and would be unreachable without an expensive ferry or plane journey.

One woman who is no stranger to the various pitfalls of dating services is Aileen Edwards, a 61-year-old health worker who cares for dementia sufferers. In her spare time she enjoys theatre, swimming and the great outdoors.

She says she “isn’t looking for a major spark” but is searching for a man with a good sense of humour to share her life with. The first blow was when she fell victim to a scammer on an online dating site.

They were good-looking women in his local area with similar interests – world travel, theatre and cooking.

He didn’t hesitate to pay the £180 for 12 months’ membership as pretty much everyone he’d seen so far he would have gone on a date with, so there seemed to be a lot of potential for meeting someone special.

After filling in the questionnaire, the man registered for the site and was delighted with the follow-up email he received.