The five plaintiffs — David Robinson of Florida, Allen Stone of New York, Nancy Malsom of Iowa, Claire Kilcoyne of Washington and Michael Bourne of Tennessee — are seeking refunds of their membership fees, compensatory damages and an injunction to end the practices.
The plaintiffs were not available to discuss the case with The Times, but other Match.com users who are following the lawsuit were ready to talk.
“I am lonely, and [Match.com] took advantage of that, and I am furious with them,” said Cleveland divorcee Cindy Kuick, 46.
Ms. Kuick said she signed up for a free trial with Match.com. She couldn’t find anyone interesting and was not planning to subscribe.
Then, “all of a sudden, these really nice-looking guys who make $100,000 and up and were the right age started ‘winking’ at me and e-mailing me,” said Ms. Kuick. The only way to connect with these men was to subscribe, which she did. But when she tried to reply to them, “their profiles were gone.”
Over the next few months, Ms. Kuick “winked” at many profiles, only to find they were inactive, while men who “winked” at her were “way too old,” “way too young” or “low quality, to put it politely,” she said. When she complained to Match.com, the customer-service representative “hung up on me,” said Ms. Kuick, who is now active on the rival eHarmony online dating service.
Anne Devney, a 50-something from Seattle, said she is done with online dating after her Match.com experience. “I would much rather run through hell with gasoline on my shorts,” she said.
One of the “scammy guys” she met on Match.com said he was a widower with a child. Three weeks later, he asked Ms. Devney for money because he “somehow ended up in Africa,” his child became “desperately ill” and the hospital wouldn’t accept his check or credit card. “I do credit collections for a living,” Ms. Devney said when asked why she didn’t fall for the ruse.
She added that another potential match from Texas proved to be a fake, too. “I spent six bucks of my own money investigating the guy, but he doesn’t live in Texas, and there’s no record of this business that he’s supposedly been in for 20 years,” said Ms. Devney, adding that she supports the lawsuit because “I would like my $50 back.”
Knoxville lawyer John Neal, 56, is an active member of Match.com, but he too has had many exasperating experiences with it.
“There’s a huge amount of scams on there” and “spectacularly fraudulent” profiles, especially from women who appear to be based in Africa and Russia, he said. “I’ve complained and complained and complained to Match,” but received only a form letter that doesn’t address the issues — plus there’s no evidence that the scammers are taken off the site, he said.
As an example, Mr. Neal sent The Times an active profile of a North Carolina woman who said she spoke English and had a “graduate degree.”
“I consider myself an ecxellent spelller of wordes,” the woman wrote. “I is quite the good at grammar as well … .”
Mr. Neal thinks the class-action lawsuit has merit because its complaints are “dead-on.” After all the time and money he has spent on Match.com, he added, “I can count on one hand” the number of genuinely serious women he has met on the site.