Dating Site eHarmony Slapped with Fine for Automatic Renewals
The popular website eHarmony enticed customers looking for love with the prospect of a long-term partner. What they didn't always know was that their only guaranteed relationship was with eHarmony.
The online dating giant agreed to pay $1.28 million to settle a consumer-protection lawsuit filed by four California counties -- Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Napa, and Shasta -- along with the city of Santa Monica over its automatic-charging practices.
eHarmony will also pay $1 million in separate restitution to customers who were unknowingly enrolled into a subscription to the website between March 10, 2012 and Dec. 16, 2016. Eligible recipients will be sent notices of any monetary recovery, which will average about $30 for each affected customer.
The counties' complaint alleged that eHarmony "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 news release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
eHarmony cooperated with the ensuing investigation and "agreed to make changes to their website and provide proper notices," the District Attorney's Office said.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Deng said that as online service subscriptions or club services -- like a monthly product delivery -- become increasingly commonplace, the settlement should spur buyers to be more mindful of what they sign up for and for sellers to be abundantly transparent.
"Sometimes the details aren't very noticeable so the consumer doesn't know what they're getting into. Read the fine print, and know what you're buying," Deng said. "And companies that choose to offer auto-renewal, they need to make the terms very obvious. They need to be sure that terms of cancellation are clear, conspicuous, and noticeable to consumers."
The company issued a statement that did not admit fault but acknowledged the lawsuit prompted a revamping of its practices.
"Without any admission, we have cooperated with the government, which has previously launched similar investigations against a long list of e-commerce companies, and have chosen to settle to avoid the distraction and expense of protracted litigation," said Ronald N. Sarian, vice president and general counsel for eHarmony. "In collaboration with the government, eHarmony has implemented a new industry standard when disclosing terms in order to make the user experience even better."
The settlement amount will be divvied up equally among the five plaintiffs that filed the lawsuit, so Santa Clara County should expect to receive about $241,000, which Deng said will be deposited into a consumer-protection fund managed by the District Attorney's Office to support similar prosecutions and investigations.
© 2018 San Jose Mercury News under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
Posted: 2018-01-13 @ 12:24pm PT
eHarmony should be closed forever for fraud! The success rate of eHarmony is less than 10%. eHarmony is ONLY a 17+ years old obsolete site and a HOAX, based on a big scientific fraud, only sustained by big marketing budget.
The Big Five normative test used by eHarmony, had been proven/revealed as an incomplete and incorrect model to assess/measure personality of persons. It is a HOAX, a FRAUD to use the Big Five normative test in year 2018.
eHarmony was copycatted in several countries like the online dating sites EliteSingles in Canada, Australia, USA, UK, Chile, Mexico; eDarling in Spain, German, France, Russia; also TeAmo in Russia is another copycat of eHarmony; esync (eSynchrony) in Singapore, MiMediaManzana in Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Chile, etc., Marrily in India and LemonSwan in Germany and other countries.
Last May 2016, I suggested USA FT investigate several online dating sites for misleading statements, false claims, overpromises. Like Match, eHarmony, Zoosk, OkCupid, EliteSingles (Affinitas GmbH.) copycat of eHarmony, Tinder and others.