eHarmony Lacks 'Scientific' Date-Matching System, Suit Says

Apr 13, 2009 6:00 PM PST
LOS ANGELES — eHarmony.com says it has a "scientifically proven system" to match its customers with appropriate partners but, according to a lawsuit, it has no such system.

The suit, filed at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Friday, seeks class-action status and alleges that because eHarmony has no matchmatching system, consumers are oftentimes hooked up with scam artists.

Plaintiffs Lynda Kelly of Northern California and Miranda Soegi of Los Angeles said they both were duped by the online-matchmaking company because “rather than using a rigorous matching system and other procedures that ‘make sure only sincere singles seeking long-term relationships are matched,’ eHarmony did not employ any meaningful measures.”

Kelly, the suit noted, was hooked up with a scam artist from somewhere in the African continent whose only intent was to steal money.

A one-month subscription to eHarmony costs about $60, but longer subscriptions are cheaper.

The federal suit, which seeks $5 million in damages, claims Pasadena, Calif.-based eHarmony’s advertising is misleading and the company is in violation of California’s Unfair Business Act.

“eHarmony has marketed itself, and has been able to charge premium prices for its services in the marketplace by claiming that its patented matching technology is based on more than 35 years of empirical and clinical research on what goes into successful relationships [bringing] together singles using a scientifically proven set of compatibility principles,” the suit claims.

But "eHarmony has known about the deficiencies in its matching system as it always has known that it could not ensure its members that their matches were safe and compatible," the suit said.

eHarmony spokeswoman Pamela Holmgren said that the accusations by the pair are bogus but would not elaborate.

"We will defend this case vigorously," she told XBIZ. "We have reviewed the complaint and believe its allegations are baseless and meritless."

eHarmony earlier this month launched Compatible Partners, which is marketed to gays and lesbians.

The company launched the division after a settlement with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, which claimed eHarmony violated the state’s Law Against Discrimination by not offering a same-sex matching service.

In the settlement, eHarmony denied violating the law, claiming its business model has been based on its expertise. The company said it has researched thousands of opposite-sex marriages to understand what makes opposite-sex couples compatible.

eHarmony was founded in 2000 by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist with once-close ties to the Christian evangelical group Focus on the Family.

eHarmony offers its services in the U.S., Australia, Britain and Canada.

Its website says that 236 eHarmony members marry every day in the U.S. as a result of being matched on the site using eHarmony's patented "Compatibility Matching System."

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