OPW -- June 22 -- OPW had a chat with Norah Hart, the attorney representing Sean McGinn, the 'cuddly but toned' man who filed a recent lawsuit against Match.com. This is the lawsuit that says Match.com misleads consumers about potential matches with inactive members. It is Hart’s assertion that “Match defrauds the consumer of their time and personal investment every time a person pays Match’s subscription fee and writes to a member who won’t have the ability to read what they wrote or see their profile.”
The one main thing that they seem to be pinning the case on is the fact that when you look at a profile, you cannot tell if a person is a subscriber or a free member. You also cannot tell how long its been since they’ve logged onto the site beyond three weeks. It is this practice that they want to go after Match.com for. Should they win, this would have a significant impact on every dating site that doesn’t list subscriber status or caps activity reporting on their members at three weeks or so.
Norah Hart contends that, “When a subscriber cancels their subscription, their profile continues to appear to be that of an active subscriber. Nothing indicates to the viewer their limited access to read e-mails or respond to them.”
The problem with this argument is that just because someone cancels their paid subscription to a site, it does not mean that they are canceling their membership. They might be paring back their involvement in the site because they are evaluating a new relationship. They may just be taking a month off the subscription because they want to save money. It also does not take into account winking, which is a free feature on Match for all members, regardless of paid status.
Internet dating is like fishing. Those with paid memberships just cast out further and more frequently. Those with idle unpaid memberships are waiting for the big fish. The question is, should the dating site identify the pro fishermen from the amateurs? I think the amateur fisherman would rather keep their hooks in the water. The fish, meanwhile, would want to see when someone last logged in. That's the best indicator of activity and the potential to respond. Still, is 3 weeks long enough? How about 3 months? Anyone who hasn't been active in 3 months would be very unlikely to respond.
Hart goes on to contend that her client is, “The perfect example of a man who is really attractive, extremely eligible and gainfully employed. He’s writing to people and hears nothing back from them. Is that because they’re not interested? That’s highly unlikely.”
What she isn’t taking into account is that there could be numerous factors contributing to his failure on the dating site. His photo, profile, what he says in his emails, and even his dating strategy could be letting him down.
As Hart is seeking a Jury trial, it will all come down to what the people decide and how strong Sean McGinn’s claims of anguish can sway them. Of course, the argument may be diluted by the fact that he did eventually find his girlfriend on match.com according to a recent report on Fox News.