The shidduch system is a long-known ally to my people.
My siblings all wed through it. Via friends and relatives, none were through "professional" shadchanim.
My parents were wed through it. A relative, as well.
My grandparents were wed through it. For one set, twice (second marriage after the war). Also, friends and relatives.
Simply put, my people know no other way to marry.
Yet something has definitely changed.
There are a few shadchanim who play it "old school"; no references, no photos, not even a meeting. These masters take matchmaking to an art form. They exaggerate, they push, they sell every individual, just to achieve the desired goal: a date. Not a marriage, a date.
A friend of my mother's was saying - and my mother was quite surprised and horrified to hear it - that the current method of "shadchanim" is to send to a marriageable male eight different girls' stats.
That's not how the system works. A shadchan is supposed to call up a guy, gushing, "Have I got a girl for you!" (without the girl's knowledge, so she won't be hurt by a rejection) and proceed to sell her, and only her (not her cousin and classmate as well while she's at it). Then she calls up the girl and proceeds to do the same thing.
Asking a guy to select a girl like a card from a fanned deck? "Pick a card, any card." Um, no, then you are not a shadchan.