CALIFORNIA — Dating website eHarmony, Inc. reportedly paid $1.28 million this week to settle a consumer protection lawsuit for allegations that it misled consumers. The California-based online dating website did not “clearly and conspicuously explain the automatically-charged subscription fee, did not provide the consumer with their dating contract, or explain their right to cancel as required by law,” according to a lawsuit filed in Santa Cruz County Superior Court and brought by the district attorney’s offices of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Napa and Shasta counties, along with the Santa Monica City’s Office.
“Online contracts and subscriptions are more commonplace, and consumers need to be informed of their rights,” said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Deng in a news release. “Companies need to make sure that their customers know exactly what they are paying for, what their rights are, and how often they will be charged.”
According to Deng, eHarmony has agreed to pay up to an additional $1 million in restitution to previous or present California customers who were enrolled in the automatically-charged subscription fee between March 10, 2012 to Dec. 13, 2016. Notices will be sent to eligible customers, Deng said.
eHarmony cooperated with the investigation, agreed to make changes to its website and provide proper notices, Deng said.
According to its website, “Los Angeles-based eHarmony (www.eharmony.com) launched in the United States in 2000 with its patented Compatibility Matching System® which allows eHarmony members to be matched with compatible persons with whom they are likely to enjoy a long-term relationship. Millions of people of all ages, ethnicities, national origins and religious and political beliefs have used eHarmony’s Compatibility Matching System to find compatible long-term relationships.”
When contacted Tuesday morning by Patch, eharmony responded with this statement from Ronald Sarian, vice president and general counsel:
“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.” – Ronald N. Sarian, Vice President & General Counsel, eharmony