*Note: this is just my experience with using the local D&D Meetup service one time. I'm sure some others have had similar experiences but I'm also sure that many others have had a good experience using this same service. Put simply, the experience was pretty lame but it was the person encountered that was the source of my disappointment and not the service itself. ****
I used to play a ton of RPG's. I started with D&D/AD&D back in 1980. Over the years, I tried many other games from DC Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes, Champions, Fantasy Hero, Villains & Vigilantes, Super World, Car Wars, GURPS, RIFTS, Talislanta, Palladium Fantasy, and many other numerous titles. The old faithful lineup of RPG's that I continuously played through the 1980's until I graduated high school in 1991 consisted of AD&D, RIFTS, Talislanta, Villains & Vigilantes, and Palladium Fantasy.
A month after I graduated from high school I left for the Army. I didn't play a lot while I was in the military but I did keep up with gaming in general, discovered Magic: The Gathering, and did actually play a few sessions of AD&D. I left the Army in 2000 and returned home. Most of my old gaming buddies had either left the hobby or moved out of town. I had virtually no face to face gaming available. One bright spot is that I did introduce my cousin, Alex, to 3E and we still hook up to play occasionally. We have also been developing a shared campaign world, Toldara, for several years.
I tried to overcome this absence of face to face role-playing by finding other outlets. After some internet searches, I ran across some PBP games, message board games, PBEM games, and also heard of MEETUP. I don't know the exact time frame but I registered for the local D&D meetup around the time of 4E's release. IIRC, the Pathfinder Alpha was out but the completely playtested Pathfinder Core Rulebook was not released yet.
I was on the D&D Meetup site for only a short time before I got contacted. It sounded pretty good to me because the people were in Tulsa; about 25 miles from my location. We agreed to meeet halfway between our locations at Panera Bread. We ordered some drinks and discussed our RPG experience and what kind of gaming we enjoyed. It seemed like a really good match so we decided to meet again and try to gather some more people.
The next meeting took place at their house. I brought my cousin, Alex, with me as a recruit. At this point, there were 4 of us - Alex, me, and the two players we met. The guy - I'll call him "Dick" - was interested in being the DM. He had all sorts of ideas for a campaign world, some adventures, and even some house rules. Dick mentioned that his girlfriend - I'll call her "Jane" - would be playing her first game with us so it might be slow going at first. No problem there. Dick also mentioned that he was talking to 2 other players about joining the game. At the end of that meeting, we had decided on the rules system (3.5E with some early Pathfinder stuff), made characters (Alex, Jane, & me), and decided to meet again in 2 weeks for our first game session.
Two weeks pass and we (Alex & I) show up at Dick & Jane's to play. The other two players - I'll call them "Will" and "Wendy" - had showed up earlier so they could create characters with the house rules available to them during the process. I remember that Will and Wendy had printed out some really cool character sheets from some website. It was nice to see everyone was ready to start playing before the start of the game. We introduced ourselves, had some idle chit chat, and then got ready to play.
The game session lasted for approximately 4 hours. The length was just about right. It wasn't too short for the drive involved. It also wasn't too long and drawn out either. The session was fun with no rules lawyering or any of that silliness. Everyone appeared to have a great time. We ended the session and then agreed to have another meeting in two weeks again.
One week passed and I was looking forward to another game session. I checked my email and received a message from Dick. He explained that the group "just wasn't working out for him" and decided to tell Will and Wendy they would not be invited back. I tried exchanging messages with him and getting a good reason but he wouldn't give one. Eventually, I got pretty irritated because he didn't give a group of strangers a chance to gel and didn't even give the other 4 of us a chance to continue playing with a new DM or one of us taking over as DM. I promptly unregistered from the D&D MEETUP group and have yet to take another chance on gaming outside my circle of friends.
edit - some text got erased when posting - d'oh!