For release on July 8, 2021
Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
Match.com Settles Consumer Protection Lawsuit
Match Group Inc., a global online dating service company, will pay $2 million in civil penalties to settle a consumer protection lawsuit by the Santa Clara County DA’s Office and five other DA’s offices in a state task force. The suit alleges that the company charged customers for automatic renewal without their express consent.
Match.com is the owner of numerous popular online dating sites including Match.com, PlentyofFish, OkCupid and Tinder. The suit alleges that the company’s online sign-up processes failed to clearly and conspicuously inform consumers that they were enrolling in an automatically renewing service and failed to secure their affirmative consent as required by law. The prosecution team also alleged that Match’s post-payment acknowledgments failed to inform consumers how to cancel and that the cancelation process was lengthy and tedious – also violations of California’s automatic renewal laws.
“As with dating, consumers may not want to commit to a lifelong paid web service,” DA Jeff Rosen said. “Companies need to make sure it’s just as easy to opt out of their services as it is to opt in.”
The lawsuit was filed in Santa Cruz County in November 2020 by the California Auto Renewal Task Force (CART), which includes the District Attorney’s Offices in Santa Clara, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz counties and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office. Under a judgment negotiated with the Dallas-based company, entered yesterday in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court, Match Group Inc. was additionally ordered to comply with the following terms:
- Clearly and conspicuously disclose its automatic renewal terms;
- Get consumers’ affirmative consent to the terms through a checkbox 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;
- Allow consumers to easily cancel the service, including online, effective upon request;
- Avoid using misleading online sales information and payment mechanisms.
The company did not admit wrongdoing. Federal and state law requires businesses to provide consumers with clear disclosure of their automatic renewal terms and conditions before charging them for the service. The disclosure must include instruction for the cancelation of the automatic renewal subscription. The law further requires businesses to obtain consent from consumers prior to automatic renewal and provide confirmation of the transaction.