Swipe at heart in ageist row

By Gigi Eligoloff

Consumer watchdog finds dating app heavyweight Tinder charges older users more for its premium service.

It’s February, the month in which the still wild-at-heart embrace all things overpriced and romantic.  Gooey greetings cards, long-stemmed roses (smelling of nothing)…and M & S Dine in for £20 meal deals will all be selling out like vegan duck croquettes. February will also be a month when dating apps spike with Tinder, leading the flirty finger-swiping pack. But Tinder may find it has lost some of its cash rich older clientele since consumer watchdog Which? has caught them in an apparent ageist act.

The app, owned by the Match Group, was recently found to be charging it’s older users more than younger lonely hearts for their premium service. Basic Tinder is, as most of us know, free, but their premium membership which offers extras like more daily ‘likes’ and something they call the  ‘rewind’ feature carries a subscription. Talk about taking the shine off your potential soulmate.

Tinder has claimed that this pricing anomaly is less about charging older users more, and more about offering discounts to younger users.

There’s an unusual twist in this particular tale too because it’s not only the over 50s being charged more because those lonely hearts aged 30-49  were actually being charged the most.  Perhaps those pernicious ‘When are you going to settle down’ comments are more widespread for this age group. Either way, if the premium service which Tinder offers is the same for any age, then the price must be too.

Photo credit. Urosh Nou

Pricing algorithms aren’t new – most quotes online are now generated by those cold hard computers, programmed to add or subtract amounts based on certain qualifying factors, just like car insurance. Actually there’s an idea – dating app subscriptions which are based on how careful, safe and reliable you are as a partner would be a fantastic idea wouldn’t it?  And Tinder isn’t the only dating app offering an entry-level free service with various other ‘premium’ levels offered to gain advantage in the dating pool. Costs range from £4.99 per month for a minor ‘boost’ on Tinder plus, up to £34.99 for premium membership of the U.S based and female skewed brand Coffee meets bagel.

Tinder has claimed that this pricing anomaly is less about charging older users more, and more about offering discounts to younger users. Quite the spin. While most users, young and old, are no doubt very happy with the free service where you can candy crush your way through endless potential partners. Some people will always want more. The app quoted costs for their premium option 48 percent higher for those aged 30-49 and for users over 50, they were charged 46 percent more on average for a 12-month subscription.  We can only wonder why the over 50s are not being over-charged as much as the 30 and 40 somethings. Perhaps it’s because a third of us are apparently having  the best sex of our lives. And, who wouldn’t want a piece of that, right?

Which? has reported its findings to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and called on them to investigate whether there has been a breach of UK law.

What do you think about pricing algorithms?

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