Last week, US citizen Billy Warner filed a class action against Tinder in California over being forced to pay for right swipes to ‘like’ potential matches after hitting his ‘like limit’.
Billy – who is obviously a keen Tinder user and swipe fanatic – is not amused. Tinder initially provided its app for free but, having enlisted a sufficient number of users, now seeks to make a profit in a deceptive way, says Warner. He also accuses Tinder of failing to notify its users about the new subscription fee, arguing that he only found out when a screen popped up informing him he was about to run out of ‘likes’ and had to pay to get extra ones. To that end, Tinder offers users the option to upgrade to Tinder Plus.
The Tinder Plus subscription gives users unlimited ‘likes’ but also allows them to undo left swipes. In addition, users can browse profiles of Tinder users outside their geographic area. The subscription fee is USD 9.99 a month for users under 30 and USD 19.99 a month for those over 30.
It’s quite natural for businesses to start considering a revenue model at some point. That advertising or paid subscription schemes are the preferred model for services like Tinder is nothing new either. Billy nevertheless holds a different view.
In his complaint, submitted to the California Central District Court, Billy invokes misleading advertising and violation of the California Business and Professions Code. According to Billy, Tinder intends – as outlined above – to deceptively make money by initially offering the service free of charge and subsequently forcing users to pay for unlimited use. He also claims damages for expenses incurred, and no, not for potentially missing out on the love of his life. Billy’s attorney, Todd Friedman, underpins these allegations by arguing that Tinder continues to promote itself as a free app but has every intention of nonetheless charging users a fee.
In principle, the Tinder app is still available for free: no fees are charged – to my knowledge – for creating a profile and using the service. However, a fee is charged once you start using additional features and give your consent. Which begs the question: how misleading is Tinder’s advertising really? Perhaps Tinder would be well-advised to provide unambiguous information about its new paid subscription services.
Although the exact number of Tinder users who have meanwhile joined the class action is unknown, the fact that more users are not amused is evident from their reviews in the Google Play app store.
What does Tinder think about the complaint? IAC, Tinder’s parent company, issued the following statement: “We normally don’t comment on pending litigation, but on this one we just can’t help ourselves: it’s downright silly.”
We’ll have to wait and see whether the California court thinks it is silly too.