Firstdate.fi’s dating service has charged consumers monthly fees even if they have cancelled their membership. The company has not responded to the Consumer Ombudsman’s requests for clarification.
The Consumer Ombudsman and National Consumer Advisory Services have received about 60 reports concerning the Firstdate dating service. Swedish company Firstdate International Ab is behind the service.
The service is marketed with a €0.10 trial period. However, the website does not clearly explain what sort of agreement the consumer who has ordered the trial period commits him/herself to, and at what price.
Consumers have been charged fees totalling EUR 24.90 or 28.90 per month – even after they have cancelled their membership. Although the service is in the Finnish language, the company has not consented to handle claims in Finnish, requiring consumers to make their claims in English.
The Consumer Ombudsman requested clarification in August 2013 from Firstdate International Ab regarding the company’s marketing, contractual terms and conditions, and problems connected with invoicing. The firm did not deliver any explanation by the due date, nor did it react to the Consumer Ombudsman’s requests.
Subsequently, the Consumer Ombudsman sent Firstdate International Ab a request for clarification in November 2013 accompanied by official advice of delivery and bolstered by a penalty payment of EUR 5000. However, the company could not be reached, so the request for clarification was returned to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. Because the Consumer Ombudsman has not been able to hear anything with regard to the imposition of penalty payments from Firstdate International Ab or make a decision concerning penalty payment conviction, it has been necessary to terminate the processing of the case.
The Consumer Ombudsman has sent a request for action to the Swedish Consumer Agency as well as to the Swedish office of the European Consumer Centres Network. However, for the time being the European Consumer Centres Network has also been unsuccessful at contacting the company.
Consumers can contact the credit card company or bank that has issued the card and demand reimbursement of the payments charged by Firstdate. The credit card issuer has the obligation to return the money paid with a credit card by a consumer if the company does not deliver the order, refuses to compensate for a clear fault in the product, does not respond to a complaint, or the consumer is unable to establish contact with the firm.