Valentine's Day Mailer Burns Out

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A Valentine's Day mailing to media by eCrush, San Francisco, an Internet matchmaking service, never really caught fire, so to speak.


The mailing, which was sent to more than 1,500 newspapers and radio stations nationwide last month to promote www.ecrush.com, included publicity kits with magenta-colored books of matches inscribed with "stop carrying a torch" and "light the flame."


The company, however, did not pack and label them according to U.S. Postal Service regulations on flammable materials, so it has since extinguished the mailing.


"We were approached about this by a New York Times reporter, and when we found out, we stopped the mailing immediately," said Karen DeMars, company president and co-founder. "We didn't know about the law. After all, we are only a 12-person company."


Usually, matches are the lifeblood of eCrush's service. Here's how the service works: eCrush matches people with their secret crushes for free without risking rejection. Through a proprietary and patented database process, users log on to the site and, in secrecy, enter the names of romantic interests.


The eCrush database searches for matches - two people who have listed each other as crushes. When a match happens, both users are informed simultaneously. To maximize the chances, eCrush gives users the option of having an anonymous e-mail sent to their love interest saying they have been "eCRUSHed" and encouraging them to enter their own crushes to see whether there is a match. Reportedly, the company has made 300,000 matches.


But this time, matches were not exactly a good thing for the company.


DeMars said the USPS never told the company to discontinue the mailing. "We sent them out last year, too, and nobody said anything," she said.


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