It’s no secret that dating is a fkn battlefield. Now, popular dating website eHarmony is being sued amid allegations of “entrapping” its users.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accused the US-based platform of breaching consumer law by making misleading statements about its pricing, renewal terms and the duration of memberships.
On Thursday, the consumer watchdog launched Federal Court action against eHarmony, alleging it tried to lure singles to sign up by falsely advertising “free dating”, one-month memberships and early cancellation options.
As it stands, users can sign up for free subscriptions after completing an 80-question compatibility quiz (80!!!! Who has the time?!). However, the ACCC claims these memberships don’t offer the chance to properly communicate with their eventual matches.
Per The Canberra Times, the watchdog alleges the free option only allows daters to see blurred, unrecognisable profile photos of other members.
It allegedly also doesn’t let them engage in ongoing communication. Instead, free members are limited to liking other profiles and receiving and sending a single reply from a premium member with the “icebreaker feature”.
Free users can also send other members a virtual smiley, so there’s that.
Moreover, the website allegedly tried to trap singles into signing up for six, 12 or 24-month memberships, which are automatically renewed, further costing users hundreds of dollars more.
The ACCC’s chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, said the commission is “concerned about the issue of subscription traps in digital services”.
“We remind digital platforms of the need to be clear with consumers about renewals and cancellations,” she said, according to The Canberra Times.
Cass-Gottlieb also highlighted that those using online dating services may be at higher risk of falling victim to misleading or manipulative selling practices.
“Dating apps provide important services that are used by many Australians to meet new people and make connections, and they have become an intrinsic part of many people’s social lives,” she added.
“These are personal services, and consumers may bring a different state of mind to these interactions than a commercial one.”
An eHarmony spokesperson said the company has co-operated with the ACCC amid its investigation. However, they could not comment further due to the matter being before the courts.
“We deeply value the experience of all our members, including our Australian members, and we take our compliance obligations seriously,” they said.
“We intend to fully respond to the ACCC’s allegations in court.”