eHarmony has agreed to pay a total of $2.28 million in a settlement after it was found to have mislead consumers in Northern California.
According to the Office of the Napa County District Attorney, the dating site will pay $1.28 million in civil penalties and a further $1 million in restitution to members.
The charges are the result of a consumer protection case filed against eHarmony Inc. in Santa Cruz.
It alleged that the platform signed customers up to a rolling membership auto-renewal without making it explicitly clear that it was doing so.
The amount users would be charged month-on-month was not made clear, and neither was the process for cancelling a subscription.
eHarmony also “failed to adequately inform its customers of their three-day right to cancel under California’s Dating Service Contract law”, napavalleyregister.com reports.
In a press release, Deputy Napa District Attorney Patrick Collins said: “California law protects consumers by requiring companies to clearly disclose the amount of the charges, when the charges will renew, and how to cancel future charges.
“Consumers are entitled to know what they are agreeing to pay. Our office is committed to enforcing consumer protection laws and ensuring a level playing field for companies that comply with the law.”
In future, eHarmony will have to properly disclose the nature of its rolling memberships and make auto-renewals clear to consumers.
It will also be forbidden from collecting overdue membership fees from members that were signed on before the ruling.
The lawsuit was jointly prosecuted by the Napa, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Shasta County district attorneys and the city attorney of Santa Monica.
Ronald N. Sarian, Vice President & General Counsel at eharmony, released the following statement:
“Since eharmony’s inception, we have endeavored to give appropriate contract notices and disclosures to our subscribers. We remain as committed today as we were 17 years ago to providing a high-quality user experience. Without any admission, we have cooperated with the government, which has previously launched similar investigations against a long list of eCommerce companies, and have chosen to settle to avoid the distraction and expense of protracted litigation. In collaboration with the government, eHarmony has implemented a new industry standard when disclosing terms in order to make the user experience even better. With the settlement now behind us, we look forward to continuing the important work of helping singles find enduring love.”
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