The people affected by these bureaus said that some of these 'matchmakers' operate individually with no office, but they ran big ads on media for publicity. They also allege that they promise princess-like-beautiful-girls to the prospective grooms, but in the end having nobody to match.
One Sardar Kamran Khan (40) returned to Pakistan from the UK after 15 years and ran an ad on media seeking a match for himself. After publishing of the ad, he said, marriage bureaus made a beeline to his house. "A marriage bureau official claimed to have girls as beautiful as 'a princess in a fairy tale' in store. I paid them as they demanded but even after spending Rs 23,000, the 'princess' is nowhere in sight," he said.
Mostly the working class fell prey to them. "Mostly, middle class or overseas Pakistanis contact marriage bureaus, where they are cheated as a matter of routine," the Daily Times quoted another victim as saying.
Charges of matches vary from case to case. A woman matchmaker charges around Rs 3000-6000 for local matches, Rs 6000-12,000 for intercity matches and Rs 30,000-40,000 for overseas matches.
Consultation is subject to registration with these bureaus, fee for which starts from Rs 5000. The twist is that submission of fee is no guarantee that the matchmakers would offer one the services they claim they would, said one of the victim of these marriage bureaus.
"First, I submitted Rs 5000 registration fee with a marriage bureau and they promised to find an excellent match for my daughter. Having taken the money, they even refused to recognise me. That's so quite unfair," the paper quoted one Mrs Tahir as saying.
Manager of a prominent marriage bureau said that some cheats had come to Islamabad in the guise of matchmakers and opened marriage bureaus to fleece people. Such elements, she said, should be dealt with firmly to save future of the families seeking perfect matches.