"We believe that no one who signed up in the last four years with Match.com got what they were told they were getting," says Norton. "Many of them got lucky and actually found some to date or had a good experience, but the overwhelming number we have spoken to say that 85 percent of their emails fell on deaf ears, and that's because there was no one there to answer them."
In other words, the profiles of possible romantic matches were fake or belonged to inactive members.
The firms of Harwood Feffer and Lever & Stolzenberg have jointly filed a national class action against IAC/Interactive Corporation (Match.com) alleging that the site uses deceptive and unscrupulous practices to entice people to subscribe or renew subscriptions to the dating website.
Furthermore, the suit alleges that Match.com does little or nothing to police the site and is content to allow thousands and thousands of fake or inactive profiles to remain on the site as a way to encourage more people to sign up.
"Well over half, or conservatively 60 percent, of the Match.com profiles are fake, inactive or fraudulent," says Norton. "People are not getting the legitimate service they believed they were getting when they signed up."
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The cost of a monthly subscription to Match.com is $34. The suit asks that fees be refunded to thousands and thousands of American users who subscribed to the site over the last four years. The suit was filed in Texas where plaintiffs are entitled to treble damages under its deceptive practices statute.
The class action stops short of asking for pain and suffering damages.
"It's a difficult thing to do on a class basis," says Norton. "There is no way to quantify pain and suffering on a mass level, but it certainly is a sympathetic class."
Jeffrey Norton is an attorney with Harwood Feffer in New York City. The firm focuses on class-action law related to consumer fraud, product liability and foreclosures.