Christian Mingle Umbrella to Pay $1.4 Million in Fine and Refunds

Spark Networks USA LLC will need to pay a fine and refund a number of customers after failing to clearly outline its terms of auto-renewal, Santa Monica’s Consumer Protection Division has ruled.

Berlin-based Spark is the parent company to brands including Christian Mingle, Jdate and Silver Singles. It will pay a fine of $500,000, and give out restitution amounting to $985,000.

“Automatic renewal is one of the critical areas in consumer protection today,” Chief Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky.

“Consumers always have the right to know where their money is going.”

An official statement added that Spark had “cooperated” with law enforcement as the case progressed.

The umbrella company must now have a clear and conspicuous opt-in checkbox for auto-renewal – one which is not hidden amongst other terms and conditions.Consumers must also be able to cancel easily.

“The separate check-box is the key,” Radinsky said. “Otherwise, it’s confusing and consumers can’t properly consent. Companies have too many ways to hide the auto-renewal terms.”

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s office was also involved in the $2.2 million judgment against eHarmony in January. That ruling also came after auto-renewal infractions.

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