By Lucas Owen
GETTING TO KNOW ASHLEYMADISON
AshleyMadison.com is a dating service that offers its members the opportunity to have discreet relationships outside of their marriage or current relationship. The name was inspired by the two most popular baby names in the US in the year 2001, “Ashley” and “Madison.” Founded by Noel Biderman in 2001, Ashley Madison has become one of the most popular dating sites in the world with more than 8 million members. Owned by Avid Life Media, a Toronto based company, its premise was inspired when Noel Biderman, a former Chicago Sports Agent, read an article about how 30 percent of internet dating service users were pretending to be single when they weren’t. He is quoted as saying, “Monogamy, in my opinion, is a failed experiment.” The numbers seem to be working in his favor. Its presence is now in more than 10 countries and continues to grow. It has a 70 to 30 percent male to female ratio.
MY EXPERIENCE ON ASHLEYMADISON
WHAT I LIKED
- Quick and Easy Sign-Up – I was literally a member of the dating site in less than a minute. The process starts with asking you for your relationship status: Attached Male seeking Females, Attached Female seeking Males, Single Male seeking Females, Single Female seeking Males, Male seeking Males and Female seeking Females. From here, you move on to a handful of questions about your geographical location and a brief physical description. That’s it! It literally took less than a minute.
- Easy Navigation – AshleyMadison.com has a very easy interface. I was able to navigate through the dating site with a lot of ease and comfort.
- Anonymity – Given the nature of AshleyMadison.com, I was quite impressed with the seriousness of their approach to protecting the anonymity of their members. A feature called Private Showcase allows its members to post photos of themselves that cannot be accessed by other members unless those said members grant them an Access Key. AshleyMadison.com is also very discreet about how they bill your credit card. The name “AshleyMadison,” does not appear anywhere on your statement.
- Live Chat – I found that the chat feature on AshleyMadison.com was very well done. It was easy to have private chats with other members while being able to maintain my anonymity.
- Member Feedback – Unlike most of the dating sites that I have been on, AshleyMadison allows other members to vote for each other. This voting system is based on 9 different categories: Gives Good Chat, Pursues Fantasies, Worth the Time, Better in Person, Hot to Trot, Salacious, Better over Time, Keeps Promises and Popular. This feature was helpful because it instantly gave me an idea of the quality and authenticity of a particular member based on what other members thought of them. Hence, it was a good “filtering” system.
- Varied Search Options – I was able to search for other members as close to within a 20 mile radius of where I lived and as far away as 500 miles. I also had options to search for Something Short Term, Something Long Term, Cyber Affair/Erotic Chat, Whatever Excites Me, Anything Goes and Undecided. I could also search by Keyword. This meant that all I had to do was type in a word or phrase and receive matches based on them.
- Bold Members – I noticed that most members knew exactly what type of relationship they were seeking from the dating site and were very clear about it in their profiles. Hence, if you choose to join this dating site, be aware of this. A member who is only interested in cyber chatting is not going to be interested in advances for a physical encounter.
- Excellent Customer Support – Unlike other dating sites that I have been on, AshleyMadison.com is not afraid to show their contact information. I found their customer service number clearly published on their site as well as their office hours.
- Panic Button! – Although AshleyMadison.com is loaded with some great features, the Panic Button has to be one of the most ingenuous. Basically, if you are using the dating site and suddenly find yourself in a situation where someone is about to walk in on you, all you have to do is click the Panic Button. This button directs you to another website that is completely harmless. I wonder who thought this one up. Quite brilliant.
WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
- Male to Female Ratio(70/30) – If you are a woman, this really doesn’t relate to you. You will have no problems receiving messages and getting male attention. However, if you are a man, you will have to work harder to get messages. Given the nature of this dating site, this is understandable. Men, you will have to take the initiative here. Don’t sit back expecting to be bombarded by messages from women.
- Pushing Expectations too High – I don’t really want to blame AshleyMadison.com too much for this but the dating site and its marketing campaign does convey a sense of “this is going to be so easy.” In other words, new members may have the idea that just by joining, they are going to be having affairs within a few days time. Again, if you are a woman, this will not be a problem. However, if you are a man, understand that some patience is required. Women on this dating site are not just going to stop everything that they are doing and have a sexual escapade with you the same day you join. Some degree of consistent communication is required beforehand. You still have to engage her mind.
- Receiving Collect Messages – Upon joining AshleyMadison.com, I started receiving several “Collect Messages.” They do require that you become a paying member to respond to them. That was not the problem. The problem was that when I did respond to some of these messages, I would receive an “Automated Reply.” An “Automated Reply” informs the messenger that the recipient is not always available to reply quickly to mail messages. This can get frustrating, especially when you are the one who receives the “Collect Message” in the first place. This may cause a member to question the validity of some of the “Collect Messages.”
MEMBERSHIP AND PRICING
- Free Membership – Create a Profile. Search for Other Members. See Who’s Viewed You. Send and Receive Winks. Reply to Messages from Full Members.
- Paid Membership – Receive Unlimited Mail Messages. Ability to Send Priority Mail. Connect Today with Like Minded People. Exchange Private Photos. Chat, Right Now, in Real Time. Appear First in Search Displays.
- Introductory Package – $49.00 (100 Credits)
- Elite Package – $149.00 (500 Credits)
- Affair Guarantee Package – $249.00 (1000 Credits)
- AshleyMadison.com guarantees that if you haven’t found someone within the initial 3 months after purchasing the Affair Guarantee Membership Package, you will be refunded the entire amount of $249 that you paid for the package.
- Value of Credits
- 5 Credits only for the first mail message. Additional mail messages to the same member are FREE!
- AshleyGifts – Virtual Gifts are available for 20, 30, and 50 credits.
- Costs Per Instant Message Session:
30 Minutes = 30 Credits
60 Minutes = 50 Credits
- Most dating sites will automatically renew your membership at the end of each subscription period. If
you choose to leave a dating site, make sure that you cancel your subscription, otherwise, your credit
card will be automatically billed again.
AshleyMadison.com is a very different type of dating site and it has been no stranger to controversy. In 2009, NBC, a TV Network, banned an AshleyMadison.com ad from appearing during a broadcast of Superbowl XLIII. In the same year, an offer of $200,000 by AshleyMadison.com to advertise on 10 Toronto Streetcars was also rejected by the Toronto Transit Commission. However, AshleyMadison.com has never claimed to be anything that it isn’t. It’s slogan alone, “Life is Short. Have an Affair,” speaks for itself. I found that it was a very effective dating site for those looking for some escape from their current relationship whether it be through chatting, cyber sex or an actual physical encounter.
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