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. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 40
    Curly Girl

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

  10. 41

    @Steve #39- I heard eHarmony was starting a seperate site for homosexual clients called ‘Compatible Partners’ or something like that. Has anyone else heard this or did I dream it up?

  11. 42

    If you see the same suspicious profile on multiple sites, it’s possible that it is a scam to attract lonely hearts who will then pay for that person’s supposed emergency or travel expenses, for example. A news organization recently did a story on such scams.

  12. 43

    This is a complaint about the industry that has been held back for years:
    Online dating is like a lottery, except that a real lottery would never imply much of a chance of success* or charge nearly as much to play.

    As such, plenty of people have the right to sue, and many of them would love to get revenge for having essentially paid for nothing (or for bad experiences, such as dates who looked nothing like their profiles). It makes no sense why the services would continue their antics until the inevitable time that legally they are forced to stop when they could change their ways and probably do even better. For example, offer less-involved versions of services that Evan offers or that GBFICS offers, the latter which frankly might make more sense because it could benefit many users in areas unrelated to dating (e.g., consolation prize). By the way, yes, some clients have alluded to an unsuccessful time at online dating.

    *There the analogy falls short because in online dating there is a small, highly desirable percentage that very well might win, albeit many such people don’t feel any need to use dating services.

  13. 44


    Never knew that about Blockbuster. How can they get away with editing objectionable (to them) scenes in commercial films Steve? Wouldn’t the film industry create a HUGE uproar if that were true? It would seem to be illegal without the permission of whomever owned the rights to the film.

  14. 45

    My typical response rate when I was online dating was around 10-15%. I don’t doubt that there are fake profiles on the various sites, but there’s no way 85-90% of them are fake, and that all the women that didn’t respond to me weren’t real but dummy profiles meant to lure me in. Dude’s gotta man up and realize online dating is rough for guys and simply learn how to deal, or just stop online dating.

    Marc´s last blog post…Never Judge a Book By Its Do Rag

  15. 46

    @Marc, comment #45

    + 1

    BTW, I took a walk in your shoes. I got an obnoxious email from a date I had Saturday evening. Even after I talked it out with friends ( who used the “b word” and “c word” – vicious women! ) I was still perturbed. I decided to write about the date on a private LiveJournal page. “I’m walking in Marc’s shoes” I thought to myself. It wasn’t as well written or as funny as one of yours. It did feel great.

  16. 47

    Marc, maybe the question should be, What percentage of the profiles with particularly good-looking pictures are fake?

  17. 48

    Oh, give me a break! Maybe if this guy got a life he wouldn’t have such a hard time finding a woman. Attractive women on dating sites get swamped with responses, so most are not going to respond to a guy who sounds like Mr. Sour Grapes here. I found my sweetie on Match so I know of what I speak.

  18. 50

    Hey, I was born with a huge brown mole on my face and can’t find a date – can I sue my parents from whom I inherited my DNA?

  19. 51

    Sigh. I wish Evan would come back. It’s just better knowing he’s around.

  20. 52

    EHarmony uses/endorses a scientifically-driven compatibility system. The reason that they didn’t provide matching for homosexuals was because there are no longitudinal scientific studies confirming that compatibility criteria function the same way for heterosexuals that they do for homosexuals. Thus, they couldn’t scientifically guarantee their results if they offered the service to homosexuals, which is the whole premise of their service.

    Now that more such compatibility studies are coming out for various orientations, I believe the same company started a separate website for that demographic, which makes sense. I mean, there’s not really an overlap between the two demographics. Although I wonder if they’ll eventually do a site for people who are bi?

    Honey´s last blog post…Good News Follows Good News: Or, LinkedIn Works!?

  21. 53

    @ Jennifer #41. I don’t know if that’s the name of the site, but I definitely did read that eHarmony lost a lawsuit and was required to provide access for homosexuals. From what I recall they did decide to do it at a separate site rather than the existing eHarmony.

  22. 54

    Does Match allow non-subscribers to respond to e-mails (or even read them)?
    Match.Com used to allow non-subscribers to read e-mails; they do not do that anymore.

  23. 55

    I logged into a “married but looking” site, just out of curiosity… profile is half done, I have only been on it 3 weeks, not much effort went into it, I haven’t paid a cent for it, and yet I have 100+ responses from women, and they continue to pile up in my mail box!….

  24. 56

    @ hunter #55:
    Whoa! Sounds like a gold mine for getting some strange! 😉

    @ Michael #54:
    So in effect Match is playing bait-and-switch with subscribers who think they are e-mailing people who are reading their missives, but who are effectively “not real” because they can’t read the e-mails.

  25. 57

    @Joe #52 and Honey# 53- Thanks

  26. 58
    Karl R

    texasdarlin said: (#17)
    “I’ve received a wink only to log on and find out the profile’s unavailable.”

    I received two winks on Friday. Neither of the profiles are available today (Monday). The first was from a 31 year old who is searching for men from 35-64 years od. The second was from a 30 year old who is searching for men from 32-53 years old. The first lived over 1500 miles away, the second over 800 miles away (I’m searching within 10 miles). Both women were attractive.

    I did get a look at the first woman’s profile before it disappeared. She wasn’t terribly picky. She was looking for any man between the ages of 35 and 64 within 50 miles of Los Angeles. It was a New profile, and the text was rather generic.

    Even though I’m clearly not a match for her (by her criteria or mine), she somehow ran across my profile and winked at me. This situation makes me suspicious that it may have been a fake profile generated by to encourage me to continue using them.

    “I’ve dated men who have told me they get emails from Russian women a lot.”

    I suspect that a number of these are genuine. The women are genuinely seeking US green cards, and the men are a means to an end. I know a middle-aged gentleman who is traveling to the Ukraine next week to meet three women whom he has been corresponding with.

  27. 59

    Even though I’m clearly not a match for her (by her criteria or mine), she somehow ran across my profile and winked at me. This situation makes me suspicious that it may have been a fake profile generated by to encourage me to continue using them.
    The profile could have been generated by a scam artist.

    On my Cupid.Com account I had received e-mails which had been deleted for violation of their Terms of Use. According to the message, “The most common scams are Nigerian scams asking you to send money”.
    I don’t know if that’s the name of the site, but I definitely did read that eHarmony lost a lawsuit and was required to provide access for homosexuals.
    The lawsuit should have been dismissed for want of a substantial legal question.

    The Internet is a big place, and there is no want for web sites that concentrate on the homosexual niche market.

  28. 60

    Cilla @ #2,

    LOL! Are you sure those aren’t Nigerian internet scammers?

    I don’t know that suing is worth it; first how would you prove it and second, I would think the legal fees would exceed any damages awarded. I can’t imagine any jury would award much of a sum for this.

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