Last week, a putative deceptive advertising class action lawsuit was filed against Dallas-based online dating company Match Group, Inc. (“Match”) in connection with certain premium paid features available on Match’s OkCupid platform.
What is the nature of the claims against Match?
OkCupid’s A-List Feature
Match’s OkCupid service offers users both free accounts and optional, paid features. Those who sign up for OkCupid’s “A-List” service and pay $10, $15 or $20 per month (depending on the length of subscription) receive a variety of premium perks, including ad-free content, additional search filters and the ability to see a full list of everyone who has “liked” them.
Deceptive Advertising Lawsuit
In February, Illinois resident Chad Perkins paid to access OkCupid’s A-List service. However, according to court records, his “likes” list included individuals whose OkCupid profiles had since been deleted. When Perkins contacted a Match customer service agent, he was informed that the inclusion of deleted profiles “was a bug” and that Match is “working on a fix so this doesn’t happen going forward.”
On April 20, 2017, Perkins commenced the subject class action lawsuit against Match in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Case No. 17-cv-2988) on behalf of all OkCupid A-List users whose lists of “likes” included deleted user profiles. The complaint alleges that Match violated Illinois State’s deceptive advertising statute by marketing “A-List memberships to Plaintiff and the Class under the false pretense that more OkCupid users ‘liked’ them than the number, if any, who actually had.”
Perkins’ complaint further claims that Match has operated OkCupid in violation of the Illinois Dating Referral Services Act, which requires dating referral services to have written contracts with their customers that contain certain statutory requirements and prohibitions.
Protect Yourself from a Deceptive Advertising Lawsuit
As the above-referenced case illustrates, companies that offer online paid premium services can routinely come under scrutiny from class action plaintiffs, as well as federal and state authorities. Accordingly, it is critically important that such businesses work closely with knowledgeable marketing counsel to ensure that they steer clear of regulatory pitfalls.