Appeals court rules that Tinder’s pricing violates age discrimination laws

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A California appeals court has sided with Allan Candelore, a man suing Tinder over the pricing for its premium service, Tinder Plus.

Specifically, Candelore and his lawyers argued that by charging $9.99 per month if a user is under 30, versus $19.99 per month if you’re 30 or older, Tinder is discriminating based on age, in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Unfair Competition Law (those are both California laws).

Tinder co-founder Sean Rad defended the pricing at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conferenceback in 2015 by saying, “Our intent is to provide a discount for our younger users.” Apparently a lower court agreed with Tinder’s reasoning, particularly the argument that younger users have less money to spend.

However, the appeals court came to a different conclusion:

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. 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. Because nothing in the complaint suggests there is a strong public policy that justifies the alleged discriminatory pricing, the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrer. Accordingly, we swipe left, and reverse.