George Kidd, CEO of the Online Dating Association (ODA), spoke on Radio 4’s Money Box about the problem of misleading financial information on dating sites.
In the interview, released on the 8th February on BBC Sounds, Kidd discussed the issue of ambiguous information about membership costs, and offered advice on how to prevent getting unexpected charges.
As part of the episode, presenter, Louise Cooper, interviewed a woman who lost almost £300 to Dating.com. She believed she had only signed up for a one month trial membership, costing just £2.99, but was met with an inflated bill after finding out she was also being charged to send and receive messages.
Kidd said in response: “As an ex-regulator, I would be concerned that presenting something that says it costs £3, and highlighting that as the key fact, and not presenting that there could be a further £270-odd of charges within days, is misleading.”
Dating.com do list further costs for interacting with other members in a 12-page long Terms and Conditions document, but the woman in question admitted it was not always understandable.
Kidd argued that online dating sites should make clear which services are free and which require payment, along with information on the length of offers or subscriptions.
He also advised potential daters to take time when choosing which site to use and to ask trusted friends or family members for recommendations.
In January, the ODA launched its “Safety First” campaign in the UK and US. The campaign promotes safe online dating practices and is supported by internet safety, fraud prevention and law enforcement organisations from both countries.