Hugh Pickens writes: "Techflash reports that Classmates.com has agreed to pay up to $9.5 million to its users to settle a lawsuit that accused the social network of sending deceptive emails that made people believe their old friends from high school were reaching out to connect — only to discover, after paying for a membership, that their long-lost buddies were nowhere to be found. Lawyers for the plaintiffs asserted that that Classmates had "profited tremendously from their false or deceptive e-mail subject lines and related marketing tactics." Under terms of the proposed settlement, Classmates.com members who upgraded to premium memberships after receiving one of the "guestbook" emails will be able to choose either a $3 cash payout or a $2 credit toward the future purchase or renewal of a Classmates.com membership. Classmates.com is also among companies that have come under scrutiny for their use of "post-transaction marketing" tactics — in which customers are given additional offers as part of the online payment process, sometimes in such a way that they aren't aware that they're also signing up to pay more. A November 2009 U.S. Senate Committee report said Classmates made more than $70 million through its relationship with post-transaction marketing firms. The Classmates Media unit posted $58.8 million in operating profit for 2009, up more than 24 percent from the previous year making Classmates "the most profitable social network in the world," according to CEO Mark Goldston."
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