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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/online-dating-consumer-law-advice-for-business/online-dating-consumer-law-advice-for-business
If you provide an online dating service, we strongly encourage you to review your terms and conditions, as well as your business practices, to ensure that they are fair. We recommend that you read the CMA’s summary which explains the terms and practices we consider to be a problem.
Dos and don’ts for online dating service providers:
- clearly and prominently tell customers from the beginning what personal information you collect about them, where it is collected from, and explain how it is used. For example, explain if you collect information from linked social media accounts
- before sharing customer’s data with any other dating websites (including any controlled by you), explain to your customers that you do this and provide them with a list of websites where their data may appear. You should also obtain their permission to do so
- explain to customers what filters and/or search functionalities are available on your service
- be clear from the beginning about how and when customers’ subscriptions renew and how they can cancel this
- let your customers know a reasonable time before if their subscription is about to renew, and before payment is taken
- allow customers to exercise their statutory right to cancel within 14 days of signing up to any contract, or renewing a fixed term contract
- give customers adequate notice of any changes to your prices or terms of service, and give them the right to cancel with a pro-rata refund if they do not wish to accept these changes
- make claims or promises about the nature or membership of your service that you cannot back up or are untrue. For example, claims about how many members you have should be based on the number of regular users rather than historical figures for all current and previous users of the website
- mislead customers by creating your own dating profiles to communicate with them and not making it clear and prominent that these profiles are provider generated
- require customers to accept that they may communicate with profiles generated by you, or on your behalf, unless customers are advised about this practice in a timely and clear manner and the relevant profiles are identified as such
- make it difficult for customers to cancel their membership and/or delete their data when they cancel their membership
Why is this important?
People need clear information about your services so that they know what to expect and can make an informed choice about whether your dating service meets their needs.
Under consumer law, if your terms or practices are unfair (including because the terms are unclear and/or the practices are misleading), you could face action by the CMA or Trading Standards Services, as well as directly from consumers in certain cases. Unfair terms are also not binding on consumers.
Where can I find more information?
- CMA’s work on online dating
- CMA’s guidance on unfair contract terms
- CMA’s short guides for businesses
Please note: these materials do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.