Tinder is charging young gay and lesbian users MORE for premium

Tinder is charging young gay and lesbian users and over-30s up to 48% MORE for its premium Tinder Plus service than young straight users, investigation reveals

  • Tinder charging young gay and lesbian users and over-30s more for Plus service
  • That is according to an investigation into the app by the consumer group Which?
  • Its findings suggest possible discrimination and a potential breach of UK law
  • Tinder said it’s ‘categorically untrue’ pricing discriminates by sexual preference
  • Tinder is charging young gay and lesbian users and people over 30 up to 48 per cent more for its premium service, an investigation has revealed.

    Consumer group Which? said its findings suggest possible discrimination and a potential breach of UK law by the popular dating app. 

    Tinder said it was ‘categorically untrue’ that its pricing structure discriminates by sexual preference.

    It would not explain why people are charged different prices for its Tinder Plus service, rather than just a blanket fee, but did admit that older people have to pay more in some countries.

    The dating app claimed that this price difference was ‘a discount for younger users’, but Which? found that this is not made clear to people using the app.  

    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.

    The EHRC, Britain’s equality regulator, said it was looking into the issue and called the findings ‘concerning’.

    Tinder is charging young gay and lesbian users and people over 30 up to 48 per cent more for its premium service, an investigation has revealed

    Tinder is charging young gay and lesbian users and people over 30 up to 48 per cent more for its premium service, an investigation has revealed

    Which? found that gay and lesbian people in the 18 to 29 age bracket paid £60.15 on average. This was 37 per cent more than heterosexual users aged under 30 (who paid £44.06 on average) and 30 per cent more than bisexual users under 30 (£46.09)

    Which? found that gay and lesbian people in the 18 to 29 age bracket paid £60.15 on average. This was 37 per cent more than heterosexual users aged under 30 (who paid £44.06 on average) and 30 per cent more than bisexual users under 30 (£46.09)

    WHAT WERE THE KEY FINDINGS OF THE INVESTIGATION? 

    Some gay and lesbian users are paying more to use Tinder’s premium service than heterosexual users, a Which? investigation has found.

    They were found to pay an average premium of more than 10 per cent (£6.74) compared to bisexual users and more than 8 per cent (£5.28) compared to heterosexual users.

    The trend was driven by the youngest age group, with gay and lesbian people in the 18 to 29 age bracket paying £60.15 on average.

    This was 37 per cent more than heterosexual users aged under 30 (who paid £44.06 on average) and 30 per cent more than bisexual users under 30 (£46.09).

    When it came to age, those in the 30-49 age bracket paid 48 per cent more (£24 difference) and over 50s paid 46 per cent more (£23.19 difference) on average, for a 12-month Tinder Plus subscription. 

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    The consumer group asked almost 200 mystery shoppers to create real profiles and make a note of prices quoted for Tinder Plus, a premium package with perks such as unlimited ‘Likes’ and ‘Rewinds’ and the ability to undo accidental selections.

    The research showed some gay and lesbian users were paying more, with an average premium of more than 10 per cent (£6.74) compared to bisexual users, and more than 8 per cent (£5.28) compared to heterosexual users.

    This trend was driven by the youngest age group. 

    Which? found that gay and lesbian people in the 18 to 29 age bracket paid £60.15 on average. 

    This was 37 per cent more than heterosexual users aged under 30 (who paid £44.06 on average) and 30 per cent more than bisexual users under 30 (£46.09).

    The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to charge people of one sexual orientation more than others unless there is a clear justification for this.

    When it came to age, those in the 30-49 age bracket paid 48 per cent more (£24 difference) and over 50s paid 46 per cent more (£23.19 difference) on average, for a 12-month Tinder Plus subscription.

    Which? found that the full extent of how personalised pricing is applied is not clear on Tinder’s app — with no explanation to customers that their personal data could be exploited in this way.

    It is occasionally justifiable under UK law to offer age-based price variations for the same product or service, such as discounts to over-65s or students, where it can be shown there is a legitimate basis for this. 

    When it came to age, those in the 30-49 age bracket paid 48 per cent more and over 50s paid 46 per cent more on average, for a 12-month Tinder Plus subscription (stock image)

    When it came to age, those in the 30-49 age bracket paid 48 per cent more and over 50s paid 46 per cent more on average, for a 12-month Tinder Plus subscription (stock image)

    WHAT KIND OF DETAIL IS BEING TRACKED BY TECH GIANTS? 

    Tinder, Hinge, Netflix and Tidal can all track user activity even when ‘Do not track’ is selected on the phone’s setting. 

    Facebook, Linked, Instagram and Spotify have access to your messages alongside the majority of dating apps. 

    More than half the sites listed on vpnMoniter, including Tinder, Match and Happn, are also able to gain access to numerous hardware and software information about your mobile device. 

    These include the operating system, timezone, signal strength and location data even when the app is not in use. 

    A number of sites including Facebook and Instagram save extensive data about third party sites users visit, including ‘purchases, ads seen, sites visited, device information, and service use.’

    These also included Twitter, Spotify and Netflix.

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    However in this specific example, it was not clear why over-30s were paying more, Which? said.

    The investigation suggests that Tinder has an algorithm that is opaque and unpredictable. 

    Across the entire mystery shopping exercise, quotes for a year’s access to Tinder Plus ranged wildly from £26.09 to £116.99, with 20 different prices quoted in total.

    Which? analysed Tinder’s terms of use and privacy policy and found that users were not made aware of such vastly different pricing.

    Instead the dating app refers only to processing individuals’ data to ‘deliver and improve’ its services, and (among other things), to ‘help keep [users] safe, and provide [users] with advertising that may be of interest’.

    Which? said that Tinder should not be using personal data to determine what prices it charges users. 

    If it is, the consumer group said, users will not be providing explicit consent to this type of processing, making this a possible breach of UK data protection law.

    Tinder, which is owned by the Texas-based Match Group, made $1.4billion (£1million) in global revenue in 2020.

    A Tinder spokesperson said: ‘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 to help our members stand out and match with new people more efficiently. 








    ‘Tinder operates a global business and, in some geographies, we offer discounted subscriptions to younger members. In addition, we frequently offer promotional rates — which can vary based on factors like location or length of subscription. 

    ‘No other demographic information is considered in our pricing structure.’

    They added: ‘It is categorically untrue that our pricing structure discriminates in any way by sexual preference.’ 

    Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: ‘Our research uncovered concerning evidence that people using Tinder could unknowingly be facing higher charges because of their sexual orientation and age. 

    ‘This suggests possible unlawful price discrimination, whether or not it is intentional on Tinder’s part, and potentially unlawful processing of personal data.

    ‘We are calling for the EHRC and the ICO to investigate this issue further. 

    ‘If regulators decide that Tinder’s personalised pricing is breaking the law then the dating app giant must face strong action.’

    A spokesperson for the EHRC said: ‘As Britain’s equality regulator it is our job to protect, uphold and enforce equality laws. We take reports of discrimination very seriously.

    ‘This report of potential discrimination by Tinder is concerning. We will consider these findings by Which? and respond in due course.’

    HOW DID ONLINE DATING BECOME SO POPULAR?

    The first ever incarnation of a dating app can be traced back to 1995 when Match.com was first launched.

    The website allowed single people to upload a profile, a picture and chat to people online.

    The app was intended to allow people looking for long-term relationships to meet.

    eHarmony was developed in 2000 and two years later Ashley Madison, a site dedicated to infidelity and cheating, was first launched.

    A plethora of other dating sites with a unique target demographic were set up in the next 10-15 years including: OKCupid (2004), Plenty of Fish (2006), Grindr (2009) and Happn (2013).

    In 2012, Tinder was launched and was the first ‘swipe’ based dating platform. 

    After its initial launch it’s usage snowballed and by March 2014 there were one billion matches a day, worldwide.

    In 2014, co-founder of Tinder, Whitney Wolfe Herd launched Bumble, a dating app that empowered women by only allowing females to send the first message.

    The popularity of mobile dating apps such as Tinder, Badoo and more recently Bumble is attributable to a growing amount of younger users with a busy schedule.

    In the 1990s, there was a stigma attached to online dating as it was considered a last-ditch and desperate attempt to find love.

    This belief has dissipated and now around one third of marriages are between couples who met online.

    A survey from 2014 found that 84 per cent of dating app users were using online dating services to look for a romantic relationship.

    Twenty-four per cent stated that that they used online dating apps explicitly for sexual encounters.

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