Tinder Rebuffed for Discriminatory Pricing

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Tinder discriminated by charging older users of its upgraded dating app more than it charges people younger than 30, a California appeals court ruled Monday.

Tinder’s basic dating app is free, but in March 2015 it released “Tinder Plus,” with additional features, for a monthly fee: $19.99 for people over 30, and $9.99 to $14.99 for those under 30.

Allen Candelore sued on behalf of a putative class of old-timers, alleging unfair competition and violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court sustained Tinder’s demurrer without leave to amend. Summarizing that order, which it reversed Monday, Division Three of California’s Second Appellate District said the lower court ruled “in part that Tinder’s age-based pricing practice did not constitute arbitrary or invidious discrimination because it was reasonably based on market testing showing ‘younger users’ are ‘more budget constrained’ than older users, ‘and need a lower price to pull the trigger.’”

But as the appellate panel found: “The Unruh Act provides broad protection against arbitrary age-based price discrimination.”

“No matter what Tinder’s market research may have shown about the younger users’ relative income and willingness to pay for the service, as a group, as compared to the older cohort, some individuals will not fit the mold,” Judge Brian Currey wrote for the three-judge panel. “Some older consumers will be ‘more budget constrained’ and less willing to pay than some in the younger group. We conclude the discriminatory pricing model, as alleged, violates the Unruh Act and the UCL to the extent it employs an arbitrary, class-based, generalization about older users’ incomes as a basis for charging them more than younger users.”

Presiding Judge Lee Smally Edmon and Judge Luis Lavin concurred.

Finding no “strong public policy that justifies the alleged discriminatory pricing, the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrer,” the hip panel concluded. “Accordingly, we swipe left, and reverse.”

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