Tuesday, May 21, 2024

I impulsively booked a first date in Malaga with a man I met on Hinge…then he ‘ghosted’ me when I asked him to pay his share of £800 hotel bill: Fashion PR, 29, shares her dating disaster

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A fashion PR who was talked into booking a three-day trip to Spain as a first date was left hundreds of pounds out of pocket after her military man date ghosted her.

Claudia Harris, 29, repeatedly chased up date James, whose name has been changed, after she paid £800 for a hotel in Malaga last summer.

Although the pair hit it off before the trip, Ms Harris said the holiday felt awkward and the ‘vibe was not there’, with her date reporting bank problems and promising to repay her his half of costs before simply ignoring her messages.

His ‘ghosting’ behaviour particularly upset Ms Harris, from Harpenden, Hertfordshire, as while attempting to regain the £400, she was involved in a car accident which saw her forced to temporarily stop working.

Despite enjoying the Malaga sunshine and even getting new tattoos with her date, the fashion PR eventually realised she had been scammed, describing it as a ‘really low moment’. 

Claudia Harris, 29, went on a first date with a man she met on Hinge in Malaga, paying £800 for a hotel last summer

Ms Harris repeatedly chased 'James' for his share of the hotel bill, but he ignored her messages and ghosted her

Ms Harris repeatedly chased ‘James’ for his share of the hotel bill, but he ignored her messages and ghosted her

Ms Harris photographed her trip as she attempted to 'make the best' of the situation after failing to hit it off with James on holiday

Ms Harris photographed her trip as she attempted to ‘make the best’ of the situation after failing to hit it off with James on holiday

Ms Harris downloaded Hinge on the recommendation of a friend and ended up matching with the ‘first person she came across’ in May 2023.

After experiencing instant fireworks and chatting all day and night, she impulsively agreed to book a three-day trip to Malaga together for their first ever date.

Messages she shared on social media show the couple exchanged lots of messages and discussed how they were excited for ‘good food, wine and company’. 

On arrival, which she reached a day before her date, Ms Harris paid the £800 hotel bill as agreed, with James promising to pay her back following an issue with his bank account.

But when he flew out from the UK the following morning, Ms Harris described how things started going wrong with their fun chat over the phone not replicated in real life.

Claudia said: ‘When I got to the hotel I paid on arrival. The agreement always was that we would split it when we were out there.

‘He arrived the following morning and it was just not the same. He was the same person but the vibe was not there. It was a struggle. Conversation was very minimal.

‘I thought, I’m in Spain for three and a half days. What the hell am I going to do? We just made the most out of it.

‘We got tattoos, cocktails and walked around the city. We made the best out of a s****y situation.’

Ms Harris said that while James bought his own meals and drinks during the holiday, his silence on the final day raised ‘red flags’ on her way to the airport.

A series of screenshotted messages reveal the last message Claudia ever received from James last June, stating how he was unsure how the pair could ‘make it work’ but that he would send the £400 ‘first thing in the morning’. 

After trying and failing to get her £400 back, she was left ‘really upset’ as she ‘could not afford’ to lose it.

Ms Harris had even agreed to get tattooed along with her date, despite the pair never having met in person

Ms Harris had even agreed to get tattooed along with her date, despite the pair never having met in person

Ms Harris, from Harpenden, Hertfordshire, said their initial connection online felt like 'the sign I had been wanting from the universe to do something different'

Ms Harris, from Harpenden, Hertfordshire, said their initial connection online felt like ‘the sign I had been wanting from the universe to do something different’

As a last resort she told James that she’d report him to his barracks if he didn’t send her the cash – which he never did.

Further screenshots show her desperate attempts to get her money back and she admits she was involved in a car accident and wanted the payment issue to be ‘resolved asap’.

The singleton revealed she had always been ‘so against’ dating apps, but after matching with the army man and speaking on Facetime until the early hours the pair decided they ‘needed’ to meet in person.

But her awful experience has caused her to swear off the apps and said that they were now ‘absolutely not’ for her.

Ms Harris said their initial connection online felt like ‘the sign I had been wanting from the universe to do something different, out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. I didn’t even second guess it.

The pair FaceTimed every day in the run up to the holiday, but as soon as it was over she did not hear from him again.

The fashion PR said: ‘That night I messaged him about the money. Two days later he replied and said he was so sorry but he had been back to back with training.

‘I sent him my details. Ghosted. I thought he must be busy so I tried again two days later. Ghosted. I thought this was really weird and tried one final time. Nothing.

‘That’s when I got really, really upset.’ I got into a car accident which led me to the decision to leave my job.

‘I had no income for a long time so that was money I could not afford to lose. My brother had to give me a bit of money. It was such a low moment. I’m never going to see that money again.’

Ms Harris reported her date’s profile to Hinge to prevent him doing the same to other women and said she is ‘now done’ with dating apps and their lack of safeguarding.

Messages show how Ms Harris tried repeatedly to get her money back, even threatening to contact her date's barracks

Messages show how Ms Harris tried repeatedly to get her money back, even threatening to contact her date’s barracks

Ms Harris was persuaded to book the trip on impulse after she and James hit it off online

Ms Harris was persuaded to book the trip on impulse after she and James hit it off online

She added: ‘My friend told me to go back on Hinge. I re-downloaded the app and his profile was the first person I came across [again].

‘That really concerned me from a safeguarding perspective. I thought this could be happening to anyone. You actually don’t know who you’re talking to.

‘Now looking back I think “how dangerous” of me. It could’ve been a lot worse. I’m quite impulsive by nature. Now if that opportunity presented itself again I would take a few steps back.

‘It takes a few months to get to know someone, not a few minutes. The dating app culture makes you rush the process. It shouldn’t be a rushed process at all.

‘It’s forcing you to go against everything we stand for as women and being safe. There’s no safeguarding in place for women.

‘I am done with the dating app culture. You have to be lucky to find a genuine connection. I don’t think it’s going to happen for me on a dating app. Absolutely not.’

Hinge confirmed that the user in question was banned after Claudia’s complaint.

The app said that any user who encounters potential harm, including fraud, is encouraged to report it through their in-app reporting resources so that they can investigate and take necessary action.

In 2022, Selfie Verification was launched as an additional step to help users confirm that people are who they appear to be in their profile, empowering them to make more informed decisions about who they interact with. Once a selfie is confirmed, a ‘Verified’ badge is added to the user’s profile.

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