Markets in everything, part III

Had your fill of But lacking in guts today? Try an on-line break-up. Did you know you can hire someone to do it for you?, founded in 2002, offers a range of options for heartbreakers who have $50 but not, as cofounder and president Ren Thompson puts it, “the nerve, or the know-how,” to write their own good-byes. According to Thompson, between 1,200 and 1,500 men and women annually turn to the Dublin, Calif.-based company for a custom-tailored “Dear John” or “Dear Jane” letter with that special admixture of grace, verve, tact, and distance.

For the less old-fashioned, Thompson or one of his six breakup representatives also break the news by means of a “Happy Ending counseling call” lasting roughly 15 minutes on average. The conversation doesn’t always begin on a happy note. The most common reactions, Thompson says, are “Is this some kind of joke?” or “Are you recording this?” But once people get over the skepticism, Thompson says, it’s a learning experience. “They have an inkling there’s a problem. Now they have some real closure with real answers. We try to help them look at it as a new beginning.”

Starting afresh is also behind the philosophy at and its male-oriented counterpart For $89, New Jersey-based scribe Erica Klein (who works by day as a direct-mail copywriter) will conduct a telephone consultation and compose “The Gentle Breakup Letter,” which she e-mails to the client to write out in his or her own handwriting. Would-be heartbreakers answer eight key informational questions on the order form and then choose from three “emotional styles”: “Light and Casual,” “Straightforward But From the Heart,” or “Super-Romantic” (though Klein can’t recall any client opting for the latter).

“We’re good at caring and compassion,” noted Klein.

Just look at one company’s client testimonials:

I met what I thought was a sweet girl. We dated a couple of times then I realized she was completely psycho. She would not take any of the hints I gave as I didn’t want her around but one phone call with a follow-up letter from did the trick I never heard from her again. Thanks! Charlie M.

One of the companies also performs furniture and pet retrieval, for fees ranging up to $400.

Here is a previous installment of Markets in Everything.


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