Match.com, the world's largest online dating service conglomerate, paid $2 million in civil penalties last week to a state task force comprising six different California district attorney offices.
The consumer protection suit, filed by the California Auto Renewal Task Force in November, alleges the company's online sign-up processes failed to "clearly and conspicuously" inform consumers that they were enrolling in an automatic renewal service and did not secure the consumer's affirmative consent as required by law.
The suit also alleges that Match.com failed to inform customers how to cancel and that the cancellation process was lengthy and tedious, which is also a violation of the state's automatic renewal laws.
Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell said Match.com's automatic renewals took advantage of consumers by "getting them in and not letting them out."
On Wednesday, the Dallas-based dating company was ordered under a judgement negotiated in Santa Cruz County Superior Court to settle as well as comply with five terms.
The $2 million settlement was not only in civil penalties and costs but also victim restitution and permanent injunction against future violations, according to the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office.
The settlement also orders that the company clearly disclose automatic renewal terms; get affirmative consent to the terms through a checkbox before charging for automatic renewal; email consumers a confirmation of the transaction after payment with renewal terms; allow consumers to cancel their service easily online effective upon request; and to avoid misleading online sales information and payment mechanisms.
"As with dating, consumers may not want to commit to a lifelong paid web service," Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. "Companies need to make sure it's just as easy to opt out of their services as it is to opt in."
The global company owns and operates many popular online dating services including Match.com, PlentyofFish, OkCupid and Tinder.
Despite settling, Match.com did not admit to any wrongdoing, according to the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office.
California's Auto Renewal Task Force, which includes district attorney's offices in Santa Clara, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz counties and the Santa Monica City Attorney's Office, filed the lawsuit in Santa Cruz County.