Fri, Mar 25, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Matchmaking firms are violating laws: watchdog

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

An investigation of online match-making services found that a third of the companies were breaking consumer protection laws governing refunds, while some services do not adequately protect the privacy of their customers’ personal data, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.

The consumer rights watchdog said that as many people would like to get married during the nation’s centennial, various match-making Web sites have become popular choices for singles to meet online. However, the foundation said that its latest investigation of these services showed that they may be violating consumer rights, as three of the nine Web sites do not offer consumers a seven-day grace period for refunds that consumers are entitled to when making online purchases, according to Article 19 of the Consumer Protection Act (消費者保護法).

UNREASONABLE POLICIES

Matchbank, 123match and Be2 have unreasonable policies regarding membership fees and dues, such as not offering refunds after three days from the sign-up date for the service or automatically renewing membership status and charging the customer for fees if the member does not ask to cancel their membership, said Joann Su (蘇錦霞), chairperson of the foundation.

“Companies should renew memberships only if the member makes a request, rather than renew memberships unless the member requests that it be terminated,” she said.

INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Su said there was inadequate privacy protection on services such as Matchbank, which has a clause in its terms of membership agreement that the company is not responsible for third parties that gather consumer data from the match-making service.

Eros, another match-making Web site, has a similar clause in its terms of agreement, the foundation said.

The foundation said that such a practice is in violation of the Computer-Processed Personal Data Protection Act (個人資料保護法) and it urged businesses to end the policy.

The foundation also reminded users of matchmaking services to read the terms and conditions carefully before paying fees to ensure their rights as a consumer are protected.

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