Online dating agencies in the EU

2/14/2017

Online dating agencies in the EU: consumers are getting ripped off even though they revoked the concluded contract

Registering on an online dating platform can become costly. For a six-month membership, a consumer paid 329 Euro. Even though he cancelled his contract five days after registration, as he made no more than 15 contacts on the platform, the company charged him a 247 Euro user fee. The angry consumer contacted the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net).

He was not the only one to call for help. Every year, numerous consumers are facing problems with online dating services and call the ECC-Net for assistance.

As a general rule, users of online dating services have a right to withdraw from the service within 14 days. Within this time, the provider must refund the membership fees. There is, however, a drawback: if the consumer used the service by checking the profiles of other users or contacting them, the provider usually argues that the consumer has started using the service and so the dating site is entitled to seek compensation. The compensation often amounts to 50 % of the membership fees or even more. The companies justify the fees by arguing that it's not the duration of the contract that matters with regard to membership but the number of contacts made during the membership period.

Another issue relates to the termination of the membership. In Germany, contracts automatically renew if they are not cancelled within the cancellation period. In Austria, in contrast, the provider must remind the user shortly before the expiry of cancellation period that the contract will renew. The same applies in France for long term contracts. Also the contract can only renew for the same duration as initially signed up for.

Our tips

  • Ask for the duration of the contract and the cancellation period before registration and mark your calendar.
  • Carefully read before signing: The deletion of your profile usually does not lead to the termination of your subscription. The cancellation terms are detailed in the small prints in the contract.
  • If you notice shortly after registration that the service does not meet your expectation, stop using it and immediately ask for the cancellation of your contract in writing, keep a copy. This may help avoiding or minimizing compensation fees. Ask in advance which amount of compensation will be required.

In the above-mentioned case, the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) was able to help. The consumer got the whole amount of money back.

Do you have problems with a trader based in another EU member state, Norway or Iceland? Please feel free to contact us. We are here to help consumers free of charge, out-of-court and cross-border.