"it's Just Lunch" Dating Service Overcharged Customers; Settles With Attorney General Cuomo
ALBANY, NY (July 6, 2007) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced today a settlement with the nationwide dating service It's Just Lunch International and its three New York State franchises for exceeding the limit a consumer can be charged for social referral services. The company will pay fines and costs to the state and reform its business practices.
"State laws limit how much a dating service may charge, and also require that consumers be provided with numerous other protections," said Attorney General In-Charge of the Buffalo Regional Office Russ Ippolito. "With this agreement, It's Just Lunch will change its business practices and offer fair contracts that clearly spell out rights to New York consumers."
Many of It's Just Lunch's clients paid $1,500 for two six-month contracts that were signed at the same time. The contracts ran consecutively and the Attorney General's Office found that this practice was merely a device for circumventing state law that limits the amount a consumer can be charged for a social referral services contract at $1,000 per year. The It's Just Lunch contracts also violated state law by prohibiting consumers from filing lawsuits against the company and by failing to include many consumer-friendly provisions, such as a guarantee of a specific number of social referrals per month.
The New York franchisees are located in New York City, Albany and Williamsville. They have agreed to stop exceeding the $1,000 statutory limit and make necessary changes to bring their contracts into full compliance with state law. They must also provide three free social referrals to clients who paid over $1,000 and simultaneously signed two contracts on or after January 1, 2006. All three franchises must pay a $6,000 fine plus $1,000 in costs, totaling $21,000.
In addition, It's Just Lunch International, based in Palm Desert, CA, has paid a $45,000 fine and $2,000 in costs to the state. The company has also agreed to implement policies and procedures to ensure that future New York franchisees understand their obligations under New York State law.
The Attorney General's website contains a Dating Service Consumer Bill of Rights, clearly outlining state laws that apply to such services. The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Dennis Rosen and Senior Investigator Peter Eiss of the Buffalo Regional Office.