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


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. 21

    From the quote, it sounds to me like the dude is ticked off that Match allows people to post profiles without subscribing, and doesn’t have any way of letting people know that those people aren’t subscribers. Does Match allow non-subscribers to respond to e-mails (or even read them)? If not, he does have a point. You could be sending messages out to dozens of people who aren’t going to be replying. Would any of those people reply even if they were subscribers? Who can say?

  2. 22

    @K, #17


    @Ava, #4

    I did not know that! I never made an issue of it, but a woman I had a few dates with always had her profile list as being active within 24 hours. This was during a phase when she was so swamped with work she had to cancel dates. It never bothered me. I just decided she probably popped into during work like I did to take a break.

  3. 23

    @Cilla #16- How horrible! I’ve never understood the random bitterness that I encountered sometimes either- and this happened even if i wrote thanks but no thanks. Signing up for an online service does not entitle one to a date, or even a response, but some people get really upset/rude about not getting the responses they want.

    @Texasdarlin #17 ‘humiliation and disappointment’ really jumped out at me too. Really, *humiliated* because someone didn’t write him back? That’s waayy too much.

  4. 24

    I hope this guy is a lawyer looking to make a name for himself or establish a precedent. If he isn’t, he is a fool. If he can’t handle spending the price of dating site subscription to no avail or having some of his emails ignored he isn’t ready for the dating world.

  5. 25

    Just thinking about the plaintiff here: if simply not getting an e-mail back causes him “humiliation” (his words, or his lawyer’s), this is clearly someone who isn’t ready to date. Would he sue a date that didn’t return his phone calls?

    That said, this widespread practice of allowing profiles to be visible even though they can’t make or receive contact is sketchy at best.

    Michael´s last blog post…Talkin Pants

  6. 26

    @Cilla #16

    I haven’t tried internet dating as yet, but it seems to me that if the purpose is to potentially meet more singles than you would going about your everyday life – then there is also the potential of meeting more creeps than you might going about your everyday life.

    The rebuffed “stalker-ish” guy you mentioned sounds like the type who could also create a scene if he didn’t get your attention in your neighborhood bar when you just stopped in for a glass of wine. It IS scary he had some landmark’s as to where you lived. That would bother the hell out of me. Good thing he dropped off the map after you wrote him. To busy harassing someone new perhaps?

  7. 27

    It’s never good to sue, but usually that’s the only way companies “get the message”. Match was absolutely the worst dating site (next to eharmony a close second) I ever tried. It’s a scam when attractive people write you just as your time is up. Then when you try to get your “free” six months they kick you out on a technicality, you didn’t write x amount of “new” people every x days so you don’t qualify. If a class action lawsuit were started, this would cease. There are no guarantees, but dating is tough enough without these marketing tactics that do nothing but discourage people who want to find someone.

  8. 28

    I don’t think there would be enough lawyers in the world to handle all the cases of people who chose to sue when they couldn’t find love online. I agree with the above posts – there is definitely deception with most of the major online dating sites.

    I would say that Sean McGinn should have contacted the Better Business Bureau before he contacted a lawyer. Boy, talk about living in a litigious society!

  9. 29
    Karl R

    Cilla said: (#2)
    “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.”

    This sounds like a member was engaging in fraudulent activities (possibly trying to learn information that could be used for identity theft). could take the position that they’re unable to monitor the activities of everyone using their services.

    Racer x said: (#18)
    “If you are on a site long enough you’ll see the same faces you’ve come to know being advertised as ‘new’.”

    Some sites (not will list a profile as “new” if the user updates some of the information on their profile. Savvy users will occasionally update their profiles in order to benefit from the attention that new members receive.

    However, I think some of’s practices are deliberately deceptive. Most members don’t realize that their profiles stay visible when they deactivate their account. I’m sure would claim that they “permit” their members to keep their profiles visible. However is probably the main beneficiary of this option.

    I doubt the case will get far. At best, will get enough negative publicity from the case to change their policies.

    Selena said: (#9)
    “Never tried match, but I’ve always wondered if those couples in eHarmony tv commercials were actual couples, or actors.” has used real members in at least one advertising campaign, and it was successful enough that they probably continued the practice. If you have a few million members to choose from, you can pick the ones that look like models and movie stars.

  10. 30
    Curly Girl

    Selena: LOL!

  11. 31
    Curly Girl

    Cilla: Have also had weird stalkerish things from online guys. Well, twice. You gotta wonder why they do this–they can’t possibly think that anything good will come of it. Or is it just hostility run amok?

  12. 33

    @ Curly Girl

    Yeah, you gotta wonder. Are they testing to see if they find someone who will put up with that nonsense? Are they not really interested in dating in the first place?

    One guy wrote and told me I was a “dirt bag” for not responding. Gee, and he seemed to think I was so lovely the week before. Interestingly, all he had going for him was $. He was considerably older than my age range (which was VERY generous), paunchy, poorly dressed, and NO interests in common with me. Oh, and he lived in the middle of nowhere, geographically out of my range completely.

  13. 34

    Good golly Miss Molly!

    Seriously, I have always been curious about why someone has not sued the company that advertises that ridiculous cologne that sells for about $3 a bottle where they arrive into a room, and because they are wearing that crap, every woman, Mother, and child attacks them. If for nothing else… than for bodily injury charges.

    What happened to the day when adults were responsible for their own irresponsible choices?

    It still amazes me to this day when my 20 year old son proclaims that I should run out and buy some product because the commercial states and guarantees that it is going to do…

    I think, how niave can you be?

    Ya know what, if you actually want to stand in court, and proudly proclaim that you are that stupid, and still make it through a jury of your peers…then more power to ya.

    And if that makes me insensitive to your proclaimed pain, then I am sorry, because I find it hard to believe that you are that stupid.

    searchingwithin´s last blog post…Trust In The Power of Your Femininity

  14. 35
    Sigrid Macdonald

    If online dating sites are misrepresenting people and being deliberately fraudulent, yeah, the guy should be able to sue.
    But if individuals are displaying inaccurate pictures and profiles, that’s a different story. And I agree that the whole thing would be better off in Better Business Bureau.

    Sigrid Macdonald´s last blog post…New — interview about D’Amour Road on Book Talk with J & J

  15. 36

    I think all dating services should be held to a higher standard than they are being held to now. No profile should show up unless the person is an active member who has used the site in at least a month. I have been on countless dating sites that have misrepresented who their clientele were and how many people were actually users in their dating base. I don’t have a whole lot of money to keep giving to sites that lie. The worst part of these dating sites is the automatic renewal feature. So many people get renewed who don’t want to. Try finding where you can close off your account before they renew you. I actually found Match to be a good site but, don’t ever try BIG CHURCH. I swear everyone who contacted me on there had a scam going!

  16. 37

    I cancelled my subscription to eharmony a year ago and my profile is still up. Can’t get if off — but I can remove my pic and write that I’m no longer available on my profile. The bf did too. But it never gets taken down.

  17. 38

    I’m sure that many dating sites engage in dubious practices and that should definitely stop as it adds to the air of deceit that gets associated with online dating, however, my question to the complainant would be: Sending an email to someone on a dating site is not a guarantee of reply. If he hasn’t heard back, why the hell does he keep emailing them?!

    Natalie´s last blog post…Can you stay friends with Mr Unavailable’s & Assclowns after you break up?- Part Two

  18. 39

    @Shawna, #37

    I read last year the eHarmony also does not accept homosexual clients. I *think* the owner is a conservative Christian. I guess his Christian ethics don’t extend beyond bigotry to homosexual to play fair in business with his customers.

    Block Buster is the same way. Owned by conservative Christians. They edit scenes out of films they find objectionable, but they don’t make public statements about it. If you ask, they tell. In other words they interpret their ethics so they have no problem with using deception in their business.

  19. 40
    Curly Girl

    Wow. Very interesting info here re: online dating. Did not know.

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