“Your former classmates are trying to contact you! Upgrade now to see their messages!” You’ve received Classmates.com spam and endured their irritating yearbook ads.

While most consider the “classmates are trying to contact you” message a marketing trick, Anthony Michaels of San Diego, CA took Classmates.com at their word and paid $15 for an upgrade only to discover that—surprise!—none of his former classmates were trying to reach him.

Michaels realized he probably wasn’t alone and hired an attorney to pursue a class action lawsuit. The suit alleges intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, fraudulent concealment, and violation of California business and professions code.

Here’s the summons and complaint:

View the classmates.com summons and complaint

Classmates.com’s reputation was already poor: The Better Business Bureau and consumeraffairs.org have been logging consumer complaints against the company for years.

Classmates is innocent until proven guilty, but in the court of public opinion no trial is needed. Their ubiquitous advertising and questionable email marketing tactics have made them an easy target—and have earned them a place in the Responsible Marketing Hall of Shame.

So, what do you think if Classmates.com?

Ever been duped by them?

Can they redeem themselves?

Scroll down to share your thoughts.

. . .
A little irony: While researching this topic, countless sites that featured this story had advertising on them from—you guessed it—Classmates.com. Here’s one:

classmates.com ad featured next to story about lawsuit against classmates.com+enlarge

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. . .
Source (including summons and complaint): Wired.com

Join the discussion 24 Comments

  • Larry Lawfer says:

    I so agree. As a reunion committee member for my high school, I have made every attempt to move our conversation away from Classmates to Facebook for this very reason. One of our other committee members joined Classmates early on and was given a lifetime free membership so he pushes to have all of us on there as well. I couldn’t be more annoyed by them and hope they don’t survive. I have already posted your comments on our FaceBook page.

  • Glad someone’s finally going after them. I purchased one of their memberships, in order to stay in touch with classmates for a 20th reunion event. I didn’t intend to renew that membership, after the event. However, buried in the account settings, there was an auto renew feature. When I received a notice from my bank that I was being charged for a second year’s membership I went to Classmate’s site, only to find that membership fees were non-refundable and I was stuck. Of course, this was my mistake for not thoroughly checking my account settings at the get-go; but you can be certain they’ll never get a dime from me again!

  • This company has spent way too much money on advertising and not enough on product development! How could they even think of having a chance to survive against Facebook! Their ads have flooded the internet and its time for them to go.

  • moon says:

    I did buy a membership from them once, because you can’t contact classmates without a membership, and I really wanted to contact an old friend who had moved away a graduated from another school, and I was able to find him there, but they send me an awful lot of stuff trying to get me to renew my membership. If someone wants to contact you, all they need to do is get a membership, you don’t have to have a paid membership yourself in order for someone with a membership to send you an email, so I don’t know why they would even send such an email about people trying to contact you through classmates when someone who has a membership can already do that if you are registered there. Other classmates who have a membership have contacted me, and I have not needed a membership myself for them to do that, or in order to send a response. They have never sent me one like that, but they do try to get me interested in getting a new membership just to see who signed my guest book, and honestly, yeah, I would kind of like to see who’s been looking at my profile, but not really bad enough to spring for another membership. I registered with them early on, it used to be that you didn’t need a membership to contact others in the first place, but then they made it a paid service. Maybe instead of working so hard to sell membership fees, they should sell advertising space on their site and make the services free to all members, they might get a lot more use that way, as most classmates who stopped in to register don’t actually have a subscription…

  • donquiote says:

    I NEVER purchased a membership to Classmates.com. I think I visited their site once and looked into whose names from my graduating class I recognized. I don’t think I even identified myself (I’m rather sure I didn’t. I usually just lerk on those kind of sites). Anyway, somehow they manage to send me customized ads that keep showing up on webpages that I visit with pictures of people I knew in high school! How do they do that? I realize that somehow they have my IP address and manage to stream me customized ads while I am surfing the web. I would really love to know how to turn off their ability to do this. I have deleted all of my cookies numerous times since the last time I visited their website (which was some time ago, probably two or more yrs). This is very annoying and I find it intrusive and unwanted.

  • Sean says:

    I just got an e-mail saying I have four new classmate signatures in my yearbook. Thanks for the heads-up guys, no way I’m paying for nothing. I had a feeling it was a scam when I noticed how the payment options are done “in one easy transaction.”

  • Leah says:

    Amazing how Classmates still tries to charge for their services when we have so many FREE sites available…they won’t last long! It is a shame since they were one of the original sites to get in contact with your classmates.

  • Wendeedoh says:

    Classmates.com has been auto-renewing my account. When I called them about it, they said that I had agreed to it in the fine print. They will not refund the money and I have not used the site in months, nor do I plan on using it again, unless it is to post negative remarks about the site. I will be telling everyone I know not to join, and to cancel their memberships asap!

  • Oceans says:

    I have never joined and ignored their emails. Their email still coming as of today says a person signed by “page” and is looking for me (dated June 2007!) What a scam. Just block them from emailing. I am sure everyone who did use their service has gone to facebook – at no charge, and they are financially hurting.

  • kenneth somers says:

    I put my name on class mates.com in 2007. when i went back in to look and see who else had joined, I could not find my name. I guess that after i put my name in, and did not pay to join they flushed me out of the system. But since I went back — they keep sending me messages that some one was trying to contact me. But inorder to find out who is trying to contact me I have to pay to join. To tell the truth I do not trust them, I have sent four eMails to classmates over the last 5 weeks and they (classmates) has not answered one of them.

  • Ann Wolfe says:

    I am fed up with Classmates. I lost my password and have contacted them at least a dozen times for a new one. They reply that a new one will be sent, but it might not arrive for 15 minutes. I have not received one yet. They give no phone number or address so it is impossible to phone or write them.

  • Dawn says:

    I just checked my bank account and found out they auto renewed my account with my atm card.I told them I want my money back and that I never got a email stating they were deducted this from my account.I have bounced 2 checks because of this! DO NOT DEAL WITH THESE THIEFS !

  • Heidi says:

    ohhh.. that is not the worst of their scams.. they have others
    Classmates sold my information. I signed up for a free trial with Classmates.com and cancelled my free trial within the 7 day period. I did provide my CC # for the free trial, believing it to be a legitimate company. Apparently they sold my CC# to a company called Privacy Matters, and I was charged $19.95. After finding this, I called Privacy Matters, they did take responsibility, and offered to give me my money back- however when I called Classmates.com to complain about it, they took absolutely no responsibility. The extremely rude Customer Service person I spoke with explained that you have to enter your email address twice before they will give this company your CC #. I explained that I gave them my CC# and trusted them with it, not this other company, and if they are going to advertise, then the customer should have to enter all their information on the SITE of this other company, so that they know they are signing up with this other company, and not make it part of your purchase with Classmates.com. She then rudely said again that we have to enter our email address twice, not once but twice before they will give them your information. I got very mad and told her I would not be using classmates.com again. She said she was sorry I felt that way. I am so upset with classmates.com, I’m not even mad at the company that took my money, because they at least are taking responsibility and refunding my money, but classmates.com for giving my information to other companies without taking any responsibility for violating customer’s privacy.. Apparently privacy does not matter. What makes me even more upset is the Customer Service Rep’s attitude like it’s ok because you enter your email address twice, which I don’t remember doing, however with a name like Privacy Matters, it sounds like a program they use to ensure your Privacy while you are giving your information online, as well as a lot of companies use your email address as a digital signature, so it’s not far fetched to think that someone is entering their email address into a program called Privacy Matters as a digital signature of an authorized transaction. It amazes me at their ability to think it is ok.

  • Lisa says:

    I, too, was duped. I wasn’t aware I had signed up last year…totally forgot. I was checking my credit card charges, and there it was. I emailed them to refund the money. They said I agreed to it in the TOS by not unclicking the annual box. This is unethical as far as I am concerned. If they were truly concerned about uninterrupted service, like the response stated, they could simply email members prior to their account expiring. They rely on unsuspecting people not knowing to uncheck the annual button. This way, they continually scam you out of your money. I am considering contacting the BBB.

  • WildBill says:

    I can’t believe the lenghts of dirty tricks on the site for free users! Repetitious or vague links, you’re ON your high school, you search for a name, and it gives you results nationwide! Not to mention if you click on the wrong area at the right time, your cursor becomes an hourglass for all time. AVOID THIS SITE LIKE THE PLAGUE!

  • Denise F. V. says:

    I let them scan my yearbook. I got a $25 Amazon certificate for letting them use it. Now they are SELLING copies of MY personal yearbook! $59.95 for color, $39.95 for B & W. I did it so my High Point High (MD) classmates could see our yearbook if they wanted to & now Classmates.com is SELLING it! I think I signed something to let them scan it but there was nothing about selling it.

  • Lorraine Massengale says:

    I have not OKAYED renewal of the CLassmate acct. and want a refund immediately!!!
    It was automatically put on my charge card for $30.00. Refund asap.
    LOrraine Massengale

  • Vee Kulik says:

    How Do I join in… I’m Pissed! I have a $70.00 overdraft fee.!

  • Vee Kulik says:

    And I tell you what I’m contacting the BBB in my area and joining any class action suits that are out ther I have an overdrat, I have to get a new debit card, try to get to the bank after work before it closes to sign a form to send to them to get my money back and put up with time and effort of making them do what’s right … simply being customer friendly!

  • They just took 39.00 dollars out of my debit card, and I paid manual for last year, did not give them permission to auto deduct two more years.
    That was money I needed to pay my vet, and now I do not have it.
    How do I get in on the class action. These people are scum.

  • karma says:

    want results. Call the CEO direct,  I got my money back. His name is Mark Goldston. Classmates parent company is called American Online. To reach him call 818-287-3000  then press 3then press 1 for woodland hills officethen press 465then press 2 now you got the CEO,
    legal dept is Tony detoro at 818-287-3316

  • Loretta Welborn says:

    I have been trying for months to cancel my membership with Classmates.com.  They keep making withdrawals from my bank.Guess I will have to close my bank account to get their attention.

  • Tom Smith says:

    This site is a BS way to make bucks. Every day I get a message that “24 people have checked your profile”…now, all I need to do is upgrade to a “gold membership”…and I am eligible for a half price savings, by the way…to find out who those 24 people might be. Sorry, it’s not worth spending that money to find out they are 24 people I haven’t seen in 50 years and don’t give a crap about one way or the other. I doubt there are that many classmates that would check my profile in the first place. I have not heard one good thing about Classmates.com.

  • […] Classmates.com touches hearts to trick souls. Imagine receiving an email saying your classmates are trying to reconnect with you.  Not long after, you realize this information comes at a premium, and you’ve got to pay for a gold membership if you want to rekindle old friendships and plan reunions.   […]

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