Should You Be Able To Sue If You Can’t Find Love Online?

senior man holding his chest

A Brooklyn man is doing just that! A recent piece on reports that Sean McGinn is taking to court due to the “humiliation and disappointment” on lonely hearts “who feel rejected when their e-mails get no reply.”

Sean McGinn alleges the popular matchmaking Web site dangles phony date bait by posting profiles of people who no longer subscribe to its $39.99-a-month service. As a result, lovelorn singles have been “defrauded” out of millions of dollars and countless hours spent sending heartfelt missives in vain.”

McGinn is also demanding that the Internet’s biggest dating site “cease and desist its deceptive practices,” which he claims are “willfully causing emotional harm to the consumer and social harm to society at large.

“Match’s policy causes severe emotional distress and anxiety for some [subscribers], including those who keep writing e-mails to one member after another and never hear back because he/she is writing to people who’ve canceled,” his suit says.

So what are your thoughts on this case? Do you think, or any online dating site for that matter, deceives users with inaccurate claims? Would love to hear what you think. While we’re on the subject on online dating, click here to learn more about my Finding the One Online CD series.

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  1. 1

    Seriously??? Sue them? Ok, I don’t think it’s an issue of defrauding or even worth the paper the lawsuit is on. I don’t think it’s the intention of the websites to defraud their users. If the website gives you a refund that would be enough to suffice any former user. I say it’s a waste of time and energy to sue.

    Eathan´s last blog post…LF48 Is Nervous

  2. 2

    Doesn’t Match guarantee you’ll find “someone special” in 6 months or you get 6 months free? I don’t get why he thinks he can sue.

    Honey´s last blog post…Away We Go

  3. 3

    I have suspected several dating sites of posting fake profiles as a bait-and-switch technique. Because I was willing to date long distance and thinking about moving this year, I was looking at a lot of profiles for men all over the country and in several European countries. I started noticing the same pictures (always a hot guy) popping up in LA, Chicago, Copenhagen, Ibiza, etc. In some cases the profile narrative was the same; in others it was totally different. Seemed fishy to me.

    After I started noticing this trend, I paid more attention to the language of the profiles. In many, although not all, instances they were poorly written, almost in broken English, and they sounded like they were composed by the same person. From the way the sentences were structured, it seemed to me like someone from Russia was writing them (the way the verbs were placed, the lack of articles, etc.).

    Should people be able to sue over this? I don’t think so. Our courts are already clogged with more serious consumer cases. I do think, if the plaintiff can prove he was defrauded, he should be given his money back and the dating service should be fined for fraud. If they continue to post false profiles they should face graver legal consequences. This should not line the pockets of the broken hearted.

  4. 4

    A few men I’ve dated/met through have told me they’re regularly sent profiles that they believe are fake, usually poorly written and in broken English, as Cilla said. Profiles from Russian women seem to be most common.

    My current pet peeve is that if you open an email listing potential matches, you are automatically logged on to the system. Since these are sent daily, even if you’re dating someone and not regularly logging on, it looks like you’re logging on all the time. (Yes, I admit I’m tempted to skim these emails, even if I’m not all that interested in contacting anyone). It’s created some tension with people I’ve been dating, now I just ignore it. Still, it bothers me that match does this, since it does seem like a ploy to make it seem like people are more active on the site then they really are. As we all know, it can be disconcerting to see that someone you’re dating is “online now” soon after your date.

    A woman friend of mine who hasn’t been on match in years has recently received emails from them telling her that she has “new mail”.

    I don’t claim to know about the legal ramifications, but It does seem that some of these tactics are not exactly above-board.

  5. 5
    Curly Girl

    Should you be able to sue? Of course. That’s anyone’s legal right.

    Does the case have merit and will it make it to trial to be tested? I don’t know.

    Are there a lot of injustices that don’t get remedied in the courts? Of course.

    Would this be one of them? Who knows.

  6. 6

    If the guy can read his lawsuit then he should be able to read the piece where it says when the person was last active. Now if he was writing to fraudulent profiles that all said that they were active within the last 24 hours, then he has a point. But if he’s e-mailing the godzillion folks who haven’t been active within the last three weeks, then it’s his problem thinking that he was going to send the ideal e-mail to get them active again.

  7. 7

    You’ve got to be fing kidding me. No way he should be able to sue. Next he’ll be suing his dates that told him they had a good time and would call him later and never did.

    I think most online dating sites use some deceptive practices. I think, unfortunately, that there are fake profiles on just about every site (and it’s likely not even the company that puts them up- some of the commenters on this blog discuss putting up fake ‘recon’ profiles). I think the companies probably could do more to prevent this kind of thing but don’t. But i know there are lots and lots of real people on these sites too, and I don’t believe any of the practices that these companies employ are lawsuit-worthy.

    And a smaller point, on Match can’t you tell how long ago someone logged on? And how can he prove the profiles he wrote to were fake?

  8. 8

    From my experience, I have received e-mails for flirts that have been sent; only to sign in and there are no flirts. And sometimes I receive flirts for profiles that suddenly go missing, and the guy is always good looking. I wonder if these are scams or fake profiles generated either by criminals, hoping to quickly secure an e-mail addy, etc. or the site. I strongly suspect that some of the flirts are not genuine, but sent to drum up business. There is also the problem of writing to seemingly available profiles when, in fact, they are canceled accounts, but still in the search engine for that site.

    There might be grounds for suing for fraud, depending on the stated terms and conditions of the site, but not a lonely heart.

  9. 9

    Never tried match, but I’ve always wondered if those couples in eHarmony tv commercials were actual couples, or actors. Yahoo personals always shows fresh-faced college girls in their ads – I rather assumed they were models and not singles currently on the site. Interesting to see what happens with this lawsuit. Can’t help thinking “poor baby” though about the guy sueing. Does seem kinda whiney.

  10. 10
    Mikko Kemppe

    I agree with Evan that I don’t think this would be something worth suing about. Curly Girl is right of course in saying that yes we should still have the right to sue. Cilla, I think brings up also a very interesting point about a bait-and-switch technique that I did not think about.

    I think this is just another example of the crazy dysfunctional world that we live in. I think we need to concentrate becoming the best people we can and let others waist their energy in other frivolous things.

    Mikko Kemppe´s last blog post…Do Men Just Want Sex? Should My Decision Be To Wait Or Not To Wait?

  11. 11

    @Selena #9 You know I don’t know about the commercials, but lots of people have complaints about eharmony around inactive user profiles in the system. You get sent active and inactive profiles in your matches. I also don’t believe you can tell the last time someone signed in to eHarmony the way you can on Match.

  12. 12
    Curly Girl

    He could be a lawyer and he might have spotted something that is actionable. Doesn’t seem like there are any lawyers on this site, though. Would be interesting to hear their POV on it.

  13. 13

    I think that not only are there false profiles, but lots of shadey things happen. Case in point was when I was on EHarmony and didn’t get any matches sent to me for a while before my term was up. Then suddenly, right before it about to expire I get all kinds of them. And when you’r 3 months is up, or whatever time you signed up for, it automaticall signs you up at teh highest rate if you don’t stop it. That’s terrible, so yes, there are a lot of shadey practices but none lawsuit worthy. i guess if it seems to good to be true it is.

  14. 14

    Yes! does deceive it users. I posted my profile, while I was just looking I recieved 3 emails within a week. I was excited thinking 3 men want to converse with me. So I joined. When I went to my inbox NONE of the 3 had profiles!
    Now if it had been only one I wouldn’t have thought any thing of it but Three?

  15. 15

    To sue or not to sue…that’s the question.
    IMHO and as a person who actually did sue a corporation recently I can tell you that its alot of stress and headache win or lose and it could get damn expensive.
    Only the OP can decide if it’s worth the drama, expense, etc.
    That said I believe that internet dating is a farce. It’s a business. Better to take classes, attend seminars, workshops, or networking/social events of interest and increase the potential of meeting someone face to face with who one may have something in common with plus you get to actually DO something, learn something, GO someplace. It’s too easy to get caught up in VR. Better to interact in real life, get outside, get active…

  16. 16

    People that complain about receiving emails after a long hiatus (cancellation, dating someone, etc.) should just HIDE THEIR PROFILES! It’s really not rocket science, but if you don’t want to receive the annoying emails, just hide your profile (whether you are still a subscriber or not), and nobody will bother you anymore, because if you still receive an email or a wink after the hiding, you know for sure it’s fake and won’t be all tickled to know who this mysterious stranger is. The cynic in me says that if you are no longer active but don’t take the one minute effort to hide your profile, part of you still wants the thrill and wants to keep the options open. There is nothing wrong with that — just stop complaining that you are cheated by the site.

  17. 17

    @ Selena

    I agree, he sounds whiney. Maybe he has the legal grounds to sue for fraud, but to take damages in this case would be ludicrous. As Jennifer said, it starts us down the slippery slope of being able to sue for bad dates, break ups, etc. I hope he is just trying to make a point that this is fraudulent behavior on the part of the site, and it must stop. But my cynical side says he’s just another American with a frivolous law suit trying to make some cash by doing nothing.

    The expectations around these dating sites have become ridiculous! I have received nasty emails from men who didn’t get a response from me, not just to emails but to winks! Can you imagine being able to sue somebody for not winking back to you when you wink at them across a bar in real life?

    In one instance, I had chosen to ignore the scathing email from my unrequited suitor, as do all of them. Then it got creepy. He sent another email, making it clear he knew through friends who I was and where I lived (he referenced points in my neighborhood). I had never seen the guy before and didn’t know who would have given him that information about me. He demanded I send a formal reply, which I did, just to shut him up. He ceased communication with me, but I was ready to report him to the site (and legal authorities, if necessary) had he pursued further. Since he knew where I lived, I was happy he just went away. I wasn’t worried about him breaking in–I have two Rottweilers–but I thought about him keying my car, stealing my mail, etc.

  18. 18

    I’ve used match more than any other online dating services.

    @ Honey #3 Yes, they do. There are caveats though. 1) Your profile has to stay up (not hidden) the entire 6 months. 2) You have to write at least 5 different people each month. You can track your progress & match tells you how many days you have left in the month.

    Match does tell you how long it has been since the member has been active. Anywhere from “online now” to “active over three weeks ago”

    I’ve faced some of the same issues. I’ve received a wink only to log on and find out the profile’s unavailable. I’ve received daily matches and when I click on one I’m interested in I find out that he was last active “over three weeks ago”. Not too long ago, I was frustrated and cleared out all of my connections and within a few hours I had several winks. I’ve dated men who have told me they get emails from Russian women a lot.

    Some match’s practices may be deceptive in order to keep business going, but it also may be just good old fashion computer error. It’s hard to say. I’ve had a positive experience on match, but right now it’s looking like I’ll get the next 6 months free.

    Should this guy be able to sue? Possibly-assuming he can prove that match engages in fraudulent business practices, but not because of humiliation and disappointment on lonely hearts who feel rejected when their e-mails get no reply. I’m assuming match operates the same in every state as far as its rules and the structure of the website. So if I’m seeing what I’ve mentioned above he should be seeing the same thing. If he’s suing because he can’t find a date that’s his problem not Match’s. I have to agree with Selena (#9), he sound’s like a whiner. From the information given, it’s sounds like a frivolous lawsuit to me. If he’s so unhappy, he should ask for his money back.

  19. 19
    Racer x

    I know for a fact that all dating sites post bogus profiles and send out bogus flirts. It’s a way to make you think that the site is more active than it is. If you are on a site long enough you’ll see the same faces you’ve come to know being advertised as “new”. You can call it unethical, bogus, misleading or just plain lieing but having the right to sue?…..absolutely not!!! Whether we like it or not this online dating is a bit of a game. I would admit that when i first started dating online i used to get upset and pissed off at all the games and tactics being played. But after 6 months of being online i realized what it’s all about and now am much more savy as to what’s going on out there. Btw, if you can’t pick out a bogus profile from a mile away, you deserve what you get!!!

  20. 20

    I have personally seen some of the dating sites “bait-n-switch”: !) Showing people as “new members” when the haven’t logged onto the site for months or 2) Just as your subscription is up or you’ve canceled, a flood of profiles you’ve never seen before are e-mailed to you or 3) being very, very general so that you can get as many matches as possible, but then never seeing these “new profiles”. With Yahoo, the only way I got to see new profiles was to literally one-by-one eliminate recycled profiles from showing up and then lo and behold fresh profiles.

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