Company allegedly renewed services without consent
All the Young Dudes
For a while there, online dating was beginning to look IRLish. Like a singles bar overrun with boorish straight guys, some online dating apps developed a bit of a bad reputation. The rap on the apps? Men were coming to dominate online dating activity and were often indulging in sexist or outright abusive behavior.
Enter Whitney Wolfe, creator of Bumble, a dating app purportedly designed to address some of the malignant masculinity at play in the industry.
Among heterosexual users, Bumble allows contact to be initiated only by women who reach out to men. Other features, such as photo verification, worked to trim fake profiles and eliminate ghosting. In short order, Bumble developed a large, highly engaged base of women users.
Despite its progressive vibe, Bumble has received some negative attention. In fall 2018, the company had a brush with a class action in the Southern District of New York alleging violations of New York’s Dating Services Law, with the plaintiff accusing Bumble of denying consumer refund requests. That case was dropped rather quickly, with both parties walking away before the year ended.
But while the New York case was still breathing, another class action was launched in California’s Northern District alleging similar facts. In this case, the plaintiffs alleged violations of Cali’s Dating Service and Auto Renew codes. Bumble, the complaint read, adopted “uniform practices of renewing consumers’ subscriptions without their consent and knowledge, making it difficult for consumers to cancel their subscriptions, and denying refunds.”
The complaint was later amended to include accusations under New York’s Dating Services Law.
Again, the parties walked away from the suit, but not before hammering out a settlement. A nationwide class of dating service plaintiffs will receive somewhere between $21 and $44 for their pains; a class of California auto-renewal plaintiffs will receive between $43 and $85 for theirs. The deal, which has received preliminary approval, amounts to about $22.5 million. Bumble also agreed to a year-and-a-half injunction and promised to change its terms and conditions.