Tinder is charging straight men over 50 almost five times more than some other users to sign up for its premium service, according to a recent investigation by an Australian consumer advocacy group.
The consumer group Choice enlisted 60 mystery shoppers to sign up for Tinder Plus—a “premium subscription plan” that gives users the ability to undo accidental swipes, change their location, and dish out an unlimited number of “likes”—and compared the rates they were offered.
Overall, the price range for users under 30 was typically lower than for those over 30: the former being charged between $6.99 and $16.71 per month for the service, the latter being charged between $14.99 and $34.37.
The cheapest deal, at $6.99, was offered to queer females aged under 30. City-based straight men over 50 were meanwhile given the most expensive rate, at $34.37. Choice investigators could not find a pattern to explain the differences, and have appealed to Australia’s consumer watchdog, the ACCC, to investigate whether Tinder might be in breach of national consumer law.
This controversial pricing structure has been baked into Tinder Plus from the beginning, though—with users’ age and location influencing how much they pay for the service ever since the premiums service launched in March 2015.
Around that time, Tinder co founder Sean Rad defended the dynamic pricing model at a TechCrunch Disrupt conference by claiming that “our intent is to provide a discount for our younger users.”
“It’s not about necessarily optimising for the dollars we bring in. It’s about optimising for the number of people we can bring in,” Rad explained, to audible groans and laughter in the audience. “If I live in an emerging country or somewhere with an emerging economy, I can’t afford to pay as much as someone who lives in the US. There are some things we have to consider.”
Tinder settled a $23 million class-action age discrimination lawsuit—filed on behalf of some 230,000 people—in January last year, after it was alleged that the company charged users over 30 twice as much for its subscription services. As part of the settlement, Tinder agreed to stop charging people located in California, where the case was filed, different prices based on their age.
Choice investigators allege, however, that the company’s pricing is also influenced by other factors such as sexuality and gender.
“We know that Tinder is using age to set different prices. But even within age groups, we saw a range of prices, demonstrating that there are other factors at play that Tinder is yet to explain,” said Turner. "It is really concerning that we don't know what information about us Tinder is using to determine these personalised prices."
In a statement to Vice News, a Tinder spokesperson claimed that “Tinder is free to use and the vast majority of our members enjoy our app without upgrading to the paid experience. However, we do offer a variety of subscription options and paid a la carte features designed to help our members stand out and match with new people more efficiently.
“Tinder operates a global business and our pricing varies by a number of factors. We frequently offer promotional rates—which can vary based on region, length of subscription, bundle size and more. We also regularly test new features and payment options.”
Follow Gavin on Twitter