The premium version gives the customer bonus features that are not included on the free version of the app. The lawsuit against the company was initiated by Allan Candelore who claimed that the pricing policy was in violation of both the Unfair Competition Law and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act.
A spokesperson for Tinder attempted to justify the price differences and, in an email, stated, “Younger users are just as excited about Tinder Plus, but are more budget constrained, and need a lower price to pull the trigger”. Sean Rad, the co-founder of the company’s claimed that the “intent is to provide a discount for our younger users... It’s not about necessarily optimizing for the dollars we bring in. It’s about optimizing for the number of people we can bring in.”
However, such a policy seems to make sweeping generalizations about people’s income based on their age.
The Superior Court of Los Angeles County that oversaw the case had ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Judge William Highberger also used an interesting choice of words in regard to his ruling. “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.”
The Judge found that the Defendant’s arguments in support of the pricing structure disparitywere inadequate. He noted that Tinder’s argument was just an arbitrary assumption that younger people have less disposable income than older consumers. This is not the first time that Tinder has been subject to scrutiny for age or gender discrimination with its app.
However, it should be noted that it is not always against the law to charge different consumers different prices. Companies often employ a tactic known as personalized pricing to set unique prices for different individuals. Problems with different pricing occur when anti-discrimination laws protect a certain class. California is also known for having some of the strictest anti-discrimination law in the country. It is common practice for some bars or clubs to offer a “ladies’ night” where drinks or admission is reduced for women. While such promotions are permitted in some states, they are illegal in California.
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