The Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, working with the California Auto Renewal Taskforce, have brought an action against the parent company of Match.com, Tinder and OkCupid, alleging unlawful business practices and demanding $10 million in penalties.
Match Group, Inc., a Delaware company with its principal place of business in Texas, owns and operates the world’s largest conglomerate of online dating services sites.
The 20-page complaint alleges Match.com violated the California Dating Service Contract Law and the California Auto Renewal Law by designing a signup and cancellation process intended to hook in consumers and make it difficult for them to extricate themselves from the contract. They used actions that included misleading billing characterizations, nonconspicuous auto renewal disclosures, elimination of required cancellation disclosures, and imposition of a long and tedious cancellation process, according to the lawsuit.
California requires dating businesses to provide a 3-day right to cancel and a copy of the complete contract to be available to the consumer. Federal and state law require businesses to make automatic renewals clear to consumers, and to get their “express, affirmative consent” before collecting any money.
However, many businesses still do not follow this law.
“Dating services is one of the areas in consumer protection in which companies take advantage of consumers by getting them in and not letting them out,” said District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell.
Santa Cruz County was part of a previous statewide action that obtained a $1,200,000 judgment against the dating site, eHarmony.