A California appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling that had found the dating app Tinder could legally charge different subscription prices based on age.
The higher court ruled in favor of Allan Candelore, who sued Tinder over its variable pricing for a premium service. Among other features, the premium service allows users an unlimited number of “likes” when reviewing the profiles of possible matches.
Users 30 and older were charged $19.99 per month, while those 29 and younger paid only $9.99. The appeals court ruled that the Tinder pricing policy violated two state laws: the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Unfair Competition Law.
The Unruh law, dating to 1959, "secures equal access to public accommodations and prohibits discrimination by business establishments.”
Tinder had defended the practice on the basis that younger people might not have the same amount of discretionary income as older people.
In rejecting that defense, the appeals court found that Tinder has employed “an arbitrary, class-based generalization about older users’ incomes” but that there was no evidence presented at trial that “there is a strong public policy that justifies” the varied pricing.
In its ruling, the appeals court engaged in a little wordplay, adopting terminology familiar to Tinder and other touchscreen users, where “swipe right” means approval (as when a potential date passes muster) and “swipe left” rejection. It made clear its feeling about the lower court’s ruling.
“We swipe left, and reverse,” wrote Judge Brian Currey of the state’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.