Major online dating company settles for $2 million over violations of auto-renewal laws
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – A major online dating company reached a settlement worth more than $2 million for violations of auto-renewal laws.
On Thursday, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced that Match Group, Inc. had agreed to pay $2 million in civil penalties and costs as part of a settlement of a consumer protection lawsuit.
Match Group, Inc. owns multiple dating services including Match.com, PlentyofFish, OkCupid and Tinder.
The lawsuit was filed back in November 2020 by the California Auto-Renewal Task Force, which includes the District Attorney’s Offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties along with Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office.
The lawsuit alleged that Match’s online dating service subscriptions violated provisions of California’s Automatic Renewal and Dating Service Contract laws.
The lawsuit also claims that Match’s sign-up processes failed to clearly and conspicuously inform consumers that they were enrolling in an automatically-renewing service and failed to obtain their consent as required by law.
The prosecution team also claimed that Match failed to inform consumers how to cancel their subscriptions and said the cancellation process was long and hard. This also violates California’s automatic renewal laws.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Match has denied these allegations but Match was able to provide our newsroom with a statement.
“We will always invest in new technologies and work to improve our platforms to make them more informative and user-friendly. While we believe that our cancellation process is very simple and that the notice we provide to users on renewals fully satisfied California’s Auto-Renewal law, we have agreed to take additional steps to make the renewal notice even more clear. We continue to work with CART, as we do all lawmakers and regulators, to ensure that we follow all applicable guidelines.“Match Group, Inc.
On Wednesday, a Santa Cruz Superior Court judge entered a final court judgment on the settlement. It will require Match to have full transparency with consumers about their automatically renewing subscriptions.
“California’s automatic renewal laws are intended to protect consumers from hidden and unanticipated recurring charges and to ensure that consumers are able to quickly and easily cancel automatically-renewing subscriptions,” said Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley. “Companies that violate these laws harm consumers by preventing consumers from making informed choices about how to spend their money. The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office and its CART colleagues will continue to hold companies accountable when they violate these important consumer protection laws.”
The following are the requirements that Match must follow:
- Clearly and conspicuously disclose its automatic-renewal terms.
- Obtain consumers’ affirmative consent to the terms through a separate checkbox or similar mechanism before charging for an automatic renewal or continuous service.
- Email consumers a confirmation of the transaction after they pay which clearly includes the automatic-renewal terms and information on how to cancel.
- Allow consumers to easily cancel their subscriptions, including online.
Match was said to have taken steps to follow and comply with California’s Automatic Renewal and Dating Service Contract laws, the DA’s office said.